After decades of intense interest and rivalry with the USA, the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the USSR officially marked a period of significant retreat of Russia from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). However, with Russia’s economic recovery and the entrenchment of President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s interest in the region has risen anew. Once again seen as a battleground to contest US hegemony, Russia has expanded its political, military and (to a lesser extent) economic relationships across the region. Most apparent in the military intervention in Syria, Russia has also been engaged with traditional rivals Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, stepping into the vacuum left by the US Obama Administration. Is Russia’s reengagement part of a strategy, or is it mere opportunism? Authors with different backgrounds, experiences and origins examine this question via an analysis of the historical drivers of Russian interest in the MENA region and the factors underlying current Russian policies.
Table of Contents
1 Setting the Stage for Analyzing Russia’s MENA "Return": A Historical Background
Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti, Chiara Lovotti and Youssef Cherif
2 Russia in Syria: Between Past, Present and Future
3 From Alienation to Coordination: A Twisted Path of Russian-Israeli Relationship
Luiza Khlebnikova and Maxim A. Suchkov,
4 Russia’s Relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey: Friends in Need, Friends Indeed?
Annalisa Perteghella and Valeria Talbot
5 Russia in the MENA Region: A Familiar Tale of Economic Means to Political Ends
Christopher A. Hartwell
6 Criticism or Compliance? The Syrian Crisis Viewed by Russia’s Muslims and MENA Christians
Katarzyna W. Sidło and Matteo Benussi
7 European Perceptions of Russia’s Role in the MENA Region
Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti
Chiara Lovotti is an Associate Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Centre, Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).
Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti is a Research Fellow, Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia Centre, ISPI.
Christopher A. Hartwell is Professor of Financial Systems Resilience, Bournemouth University, Professor of International Management, Kozminski University, Visiting Professor, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, and Fellow, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research, Warsaw.
Aleksandra Chmielewska is Coordinator of projects, European Institute of the Mediterranean, Visiting Lecturer, Blanquerna–Universitat Ramon Llull and Institut Barcelona d´Estudis Internacionals, and Lecturer on EU External Relations, ESEI International Business School.