Original by Igor Molotov published by Russkaya Planeta; translation by J.Hawk
After his special address concerning the Syria ceasefire, Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation with one of the key Middle East geopolitical players, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ben Abdel Aziz al-Saud. The Russian president provided a detailed explanation of the proposal on resolving the Syria conflict contained in the joint Russian-US statement. In spite of the radically different views on the matter, the king not only welcomed the agreement but also expressed readiness to visit Moscow, what is an unprecedented step for the head of the Wahhabite monarchy.
“The two sides expressed their willingness to continue the Russian-Saudi cooperation in all areas. There is interest in resolving the Syria crisis, ensuring stability and security in the entire Middle East and North Africa,” the Kremlin press release stated.
This is the second conversation in the last several days. Last week, the president sent the king congratulations on the 90th anniversary of the two countries establishing diplomatic relations and discussed other matters. One could say that the barriers between the two countries have been partially overcome: Vladimir Putin and Salman ben Abdel Aziz al Saud could meet in the near future.
According to the head of the State Duma Committee on International Relations Anvar Makhmutov, the relationship with Saudi Arabia has been rapidly developing in the last few decades. This was due to the very good relations between the heads of the two states who held regular phone consultations.
“President Putin confirmed the invitation he extended to the Saudi king to visit Russia. And the king accepted the invitation. It’s a matter of time. Both sides desire to hold discussions not only over the phone but face to face. And that’s a very serious announcement,” continued Makhmutov, who is the coordinator for cooperation with the Saudi Arabia’s parliamentary consultative council.
The dialogue nearly ended after the events in Syria. During the whole span of the war, Russia supported the lawful government in Syria, including through the use of its Aerospace Forces. The kingdom, on the other hand, wanted the rapid overthrow of Assad’s government and supported the so-called “Syrian opposition” (which includes the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, the Jabhat al-Nusra) and other formations which fight against government forces. In the Middle East, Riyadh is pursuing the policies of a dominant power, the Big Brother to Arab countries shattered by US bombs.
Still, the sense of self-preservation is forcing the king to change tactics and strategy. The Saudi demarche, and one can’t call it anything else, to the US forces one to wonder about the problems the latter power is suffering from, since the Kingdom spent the last half century under the New World’s close care. A corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences Viktor Mikhin reminds us that the US-Saudi alliance began in the 1930s when Standard Oil received a concession in Saudi Arabia.
“The two sides signed an agreement granting the US a monopoly on developing Saudi oil reserves, the Quincy pact. The US obtained exclusive rights to identify and develop Saudi oil reserves and to procure Saudi oil, in return guaranteeing the Saudis protection against external threats. The two countries have been closely linked since that time,” Viktor Mikhin explains.
Therefore Riyadh’s cautious attempts to rid itself of the overbearing Washington are historic in nature and also very revealing, as far as the US is concerned. Experts believe it’s a consequence of US policies which transformed the Middle East into a boiling cauldron with ISIS, dozens of other terrorist organizations, and unstable borders. Speaking of borders: the US has assigned its ally Saudi Arabia a rather un-ally-like fate, namely break-up into three separate countries, which Russkaya Planeta reported earlier.
The house of Saud understands better than anyone else that right now the Saudis are pretty firmly mired in the US-made mess: on the one hand their main ally, 6th Fleet and all, are themselves willing to end their quarrel with Moscow, which means giving up the US support for Riyadh’s claim to act as the regional hegemon, and on the other hand the Saudi army is seriously stuck in Yemen where it showed its complete lack of fighting power, and the financing of ISIS has led to them being forced to leave Syria due to Russian airstrikes. They have nothing to do in the poor Iraq, but the rich Arab oil provinces are another matter…
Given the emerging situation, the king is going to Moscow to talk. The Saudis need a firm source of support before they are carried away by the wave of Islamist terror led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They likewise couldn’t care less about Erdogan and his Napoleonic projects for unified armies. The world has changed, and no matter how the conflict in Syria ends, it will continue to ripple across the Middle East for a long time. The king knows that very well.