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Russia Foreign Minister’s Gulf Tour: A Bellwether Of US-Saudi Relations

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Russia Foreign Minister’s Gulf Tour: A Bellwether Of US-Saudi Relations

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Submitted by James M. Dorsey

As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov embarks on a four-day visit to the Gulf, Middle Eastern leaders are either struggling to get a grip on Joe Biden’s recalibration of US policy in the region or signalling their refusal to adapt to the president’s approach.

Mr. Lavrov’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar comes a week after the United States released an intelligence report that pointed fingers at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for allegedly ordering the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Earlier, the United States halted the sale of weapons to the kingdom that could be deployed in its six-year-long devastating offensive in Yemen.

Even though he is not stopping in Istanbul and Jerusalem, Mr. Lavrov is travelling in the region as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is still waiting for a phone call from Mr. Biden and Israel is suggesting that it may not engage with US efforts to revive the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program and could act on its own more aggressively to counter the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Lavrov is certain to want to capitalize on Mr. Biden’s rattling of Middle Eastern cages amid perceptions that recalibration of relations with Saudi Arabia and delayed phone calls suggest that the United States is downgrading the Middle East’s importance in its global strategy, reducing its security commitments, and potentially considering a withdrawal.

There is little doubt that the United States wants a restructuring of its commitments through greater burden-sharing and regional cooperation but is unlikely to abandon the Middle East altogether.

The question is whether Mr. Biden’s rattling of cages constitutes simply signalling US intentions or a deliberate attempt to let problematic allies and partners stew in uncertainty in a bid to increase the administration’s leverage.

Potentially the longer-term strategy may be an unintended yet beneficial consequence of the administration’s conviction that addressing domestic emergencies such as the pandemic and economic crisis as well as repairing relations with America’s traditional allies in Europe and Asia is a pre-requisite for restoring US influence and leverage that was damaged by former President Donald J. Trump.

If so, Mr. Lavrov may unwittingly be doing the Biden administration a favour by attempting to exploit perceived daylight between the United States and its allies to push a Russian plan for a restructured security architecture.

That plan envisions a Middle Eastern security conference modelled on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and a regional non-aggression pact that would be guaranteed by the United States, China, Russia, and India.

In doing so, Mr. Lavrov would be preparing the ground for debate about a concept that has been discussed in different forms at various points by US officials, in which a United States that credibly is getting its house in order would retain its dominant position as the military backbone of a new security architecture.

It would also drive home the point that neither Russia nor China are willing or capable of replacing the United States and that Middle Eastern countries are likely to benefit most from an architecture that allows them to diversify their relationships and potentially play one against the other.

It is early days, but so far, Saudi Arabia has insisted “that the partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America is a robust and enduring partnership” even though it rejected in the same statement the US intelligence report as” negative, false and unacceptable.”

For now, Saudi Arabia appears determined to counter strong winds in the White House as well as Congress rather than rush to Moscow and Beijing in a realignment of its geopolitical and security relationships.

To do so, the kingdom, in the run-up to the release of the report, has broadened its public relations and lobbying campaign to focus beyond Washington’s Beltway politics on America’s heartland where fewer people are likely to follow the grim reality of the war in Yemen, a country that the Saudi-led bombing campaign has turned into world’s worst humanitarian crisis or the gruesome details of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.

The campaign appears designed to create grassroots empathy for Saudi Arabia across the United States that would filter back from constituents to members of Congress.

“We recognize that Americans outside Washington are interested in developments in Saudi Arabia and many, including the business community, academic institutions and various civil society groups, are keen on maintaining long-standing relations with the kingdom or cultivating new ones,” said Fahad Nazer, a spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington.

Filings show that companies lobbying on behalf of Saudi Arabia reported that half of their  2,000 lobbying contacts in the last year were with individuals and groups outside of Washington.

Working with local and regional companies outside the US capital, including Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (LS2 Group) in Iowa and its subcontractors in Maine, Georgia, North Carolina and other states, Saudi lobbyists contacted local chambers of commerce, media, women’s groups, and faith communities among which synagogues.

The lobbyists distributed materials touting the benefits to women in sports and other sectors accrued from Prince Mohammed’s social reforms in a country that banned women from driving as recently as three years ago.

The Saudi focus is unlikely to deter Mr. Lavrov from peddling Russian military hardware during his tour of the Gulf, including the S-400 anti-missile defence system that Saudi Arabia expressed interest in long before the US election that swept Mr. Biden into the White House.

The kingdom has so far not taken its interest any further. Whether it does so during this week’s visit by Mr. Lavrov will serve as a bellwether of whether Saudi Arabia will turn towards Russia and China in a significant way.

So far US analysts appear to be unconcerned.

Said former US intelligence official Paul Pillar, a frequent commentator on Middle East affairs: “The attractiveness of doing business with the United States will remain without the coddling, as is true of Saudi choices regarding arms purchases, given that their defences have been built largely around US hardware.”

Dr. James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute.

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johnny rotten

With the end of the dollar reign, the Saudi privilege of the petrodollar also ends, the Wahhabi pedocracy will eventually remain with a handful of sand in hand, as isisrahell also the artificial kingdoms of the gulf are linked to the Euro-American world dominance, Zionist in essence , when this ceases, the need for the bosses to hold control also ends, and the necessary strength gradually vanishes, in the multipolar organization of the world that is taking place, many structures linked to the old power will no longer be useful or even possible, the Saudi pedocracy will be among the first to disappear from history together with the powers that created and sustained it, for reasons that perhaps the Wahabis will never even be explained.

daniel

SF, “Gulf”!? shame on you SF.

Hasbara Hunter

Senile Z.I.O. JOE & Co know that the Greater Yinon-Caliphate & the Divided States of Murica with a National Debt of $27,500,000,000,000.- are Doomed…Jewish House of Wahhabistan is in Great need of new Weapons & Equipment, because them pesky Houthis have destroyed the Old New Stock & are attacking Petroleum tank Farms inside Wahhabistan…Journalist-Chopper Machamad ben Shlomo is a Dead man Walkin’ everyone got him by the balls…ISraHell is desperately trying to find an excuse to Nuke Iran with All kinds of False Flags…Iran will level ISraHell in Response…interesting days indeed, can’t say it’s boring…World Wars have started for less…

JIMI JAMES

More viable and feasable options on the table,seems is of more purposefull indeed,
50 yr kissingers petro terms up,shift to policys at the turn of the friendly card,in good time:

Garga

WARNING: What I’m writing here might hurt your feelings and/or burst your bubble.

We must realize that the strategy of great powers since at least early 19th century in any part of the world (including Europe) was and is based in balance, In this case, balance is not necessarily a good thing.
This means in any region, no country should be powerful enough that it can affect its neighbours.

All the wars in the 19th and 20th century in Europe was ignited as the result of this doctrine in Europe. Later on in western Asia, Iran started to become too powerful so west helped the strange mixture of Marxists, Shi’a religious forces and others to overthrow Shah in 1979. Then they (both west and USSR) pushed Iraq to attack Iran to further weaken both. But they propped Saddam so much that they had to spend much more than they gained from him to weaken Iraq. Turkey wasn’t a problem and Iran was weak enough with heavy sanctions.

Now we are yet again at one those points. Turkey is not the country it was 20 years ago, it has ambitions and determined to make them a reality. Iran pulled itself up despite all the sanctions and is roaring again and it didn’t matter how much they propped Saudis, Israel and Emiratis. Now Iran and Turkey are powerful enough to dictate their terms on their neighbours, so the balance must be restored. Hence the sanctions on Turkey.

OTOH, with Biden’s treatment of Saudis, Russians felt a vacuum (which is not really there) in the Arabian peninsula. They feel they might be able to fill some of it. In the meantime, do not forget that attack on Yemen (and Libya before that) and subsequent atrocities was possible due to Russia and China joining the west to unanimously adopt a resolution in 2014 condemning Ansarallah and later in 2018 and 2020 (UNSCR 2140, 2402 and 2511). Resulting in siege on Yemen, shortage of food and medicine and fuel while arming the invaders to the teeth. Sovereignty and the right of self-governing and the right of determining their own future can go eat a bag of d*cks.
Also remember what countries always condemn Yemeni retaliatory attacks against Saudis.

Ask yourself why?

Now Ansarallah also invited Mr. Lavrov to go to Sana’a and see things with his own eyes, things that his country condemned Yemen for which are a bunch of lies (like child-soldiers and so on). I doubt if he goes there because it might anger their potential arms buyers, the lovely Saudis and Emiratis who are busy genociding Yemeni civilians.

The US and west (need I to say I mean their governments?) are, well, the US and west. Genocidal maniacs that they always were. Why should Russia and China behave this way? (China sold a lot of arms to both Saudis and Emiratis, I have no doubt that Russia won’t hesitate a second to sell Saudis the means to deter the only tools Yemenis have to end the war).

Hasbara Hunter

Humanity is a very fine collection of Brainless Cuntz…a Flock herded by Psychopathic Shepherds from Hell…had them Sheeple been a bit more intelligent, we would have started building a Paradise on this Planet at least 3000 years ago…Lack of Braincapacity seems to be the Major problem…

thomas malthaus

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/putin-assads-revenge-ballistic-missiles-pummel-stolen-oil-convoy-refinery-near-turkish

I can see the headline: Russia and the PKK Sends Tactical Nuclear Missiles Into Eastern Syria. Damascus Is Next.

What will the likes of CNN and MSDNC create next? Biden must be sleeping on this.

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