Skip to main content

Moscow and the Middle East

Iran’s influence in the Middle East is being strengthened not only because of the opportunities created by the frustration of US power in Iraq, but because of the diplomatic protection it has been receiving from China, and most importantly, from Russia. With President Putin recently completing a Middle East tour to flex Russia’s diplomatic muscles and sell arms, now is a good moment to assess his country’s influence in the region.

Russia, by wielding the threat of its Security Council veto, spent much of the past two years whittling away the proposed list of sanctions that might be slapped on Iran for its refusal to honor its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency over its nuclear program. As a result, the sanctions that have been imposed by the UN Security Council are so tepid that they are unlikely to be effective.

Russia sees its relations with Iran as a means to leverage its influence in wider Middle East diplomacy, where the US has successfully sought to exclude the Kremlin from influence since the end of the Cold War. Russia’s other selfish aim has been to exempt from sanctions the Bushehr nuclear-reactor project it is building for Iran, and to ward off a UN-sponsored financial squeeze on Iran that might put at risk the profits Russia hopes to earn from providing nuclear fuel for the reactor, which is due to be commissioned late this year.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/XRVVdtL;
  1. haass105_Gustavo BassoNurPhoto via Getty Images_amazon Gustavo Basso/NurPhoto via Getty Images

    The Amazon and You

    Richard N. Haass

    Sovereignty entails obligations as well as rights, and where compliance cannot be induced, pressure must be applied. And though positive incentives to encourage and enable compliance would be preferable, Brazil's government is showing that there must be sticks where carrots are not enough.

    1
  2. GettyImages-1151170958 ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

    The Meritocracy Muddle

    Eric Posner

    Although populism in Western democracies is nothing new, resentment toward elites and experts has certainly been on the rise. Does this trend reflect a breakdown in the system, or a system that is actually working too well?

    7

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions