Al-Qasabi Participates in Saudi-Moroccan Business Forum    Saudi Arabia to Host ACI Asia-Pacific's New Office in the Middle East    NTDP Launches "MVPlab" to Support and Enable Innovative Technology Entrepreneurs    Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 Award worth SR300,000 launched    Customer service, aviation, parcel, and optical among sectors witnessing more Saudization in coming six months    Commander of Joint Forces Receives Yemeni Minister of Defense    Minister of Defense and U.S. Secretary of Defense Review, in a Phone Call, Strategic Partnership Between the Two Countries    Al-Mudaifer: Saudi Arabia to become global supplier of hydrogen, center for green minerals    stc launches Center3 to enhance digital economy growth in Saudi Arabia    Governor of Jeddah Inaugurates Middle East Education and Training Exhibition    Saudi Arabia records 155 new COVID-19 cases, 3 death    Muscat Stock Exchange Index Ends Trading Lower    KSrelief Distributes 500 Food Baskets to Syrian Refugees in Lebanon    Spare production capacity is not responsibility of KSA alone: Aramco CEO    KSrelief Provides Relief Assistance for 20,537 People Affected by Floods in Pakistan    Cabinet commends Kingdom's performances in global indicators    Saudi Exports Development Authority Organizes Work of Saudi Commercial Mission to Morocco    Ponniyin Selvan: Mani Ratnam's epic drama fires up India box office    Wall Street Closing    Asian Shares Rise    North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan    Ukraine tank breakthrough in south toward Kherson    Elon Musk under fire for inflammatory Ukraine Twitter comments    Saudi National Music Band to perform in Paris Friday    Riyadh symposium underscores need to globalize traditional Saudi dish Jareesh    Chairman of Board of Directors of Saudi Esports Federation Highlights the National Gaming and Esports Strategy    RCU launches Safar art exhibition at AlUla airport    Saudi Arabia retains its seat in ITU Council by international consensus    Fans of Sydney United 58 condemned for Nazi salutes during Australia Cup final    Fans 'died in the arms' of players in Indonesia stadium crush    Al-Manea: Selling gold in installments is not permissible    174 dead in Indonesian football stadium crush    15 cups of Saudi coffee in a day are enough!    Riyadh hosts first Saudi Games on Oct. 27    Movies return to Kashmir with Hrithik Roshan-starrer    Islamic Minister Al-Sheikh: Juristic judgment catalyst to salvage Islamic Ummah    Culinary Arts Commission Registers 13 Foods on Slow Food List of Endangered Food    72% of Children Globally have been Victims of Cyber Threats    Saudi National Football Team Continues Preparations for Friendly Match against Ecuador    Saudi Futsal Team Beats San Marino, Wins Silver in Croatian International Championship    During 2nd Global AI Summit.. AI-powered Early Breast Cancer Detection Program Launched    Triple talaq: India Muslim women in limbo after instant divorce ruling    Film Commission Reviews Film Industry Prospects in Saudi Arabia at Venice International Film Festival    Saudi national volleyball team loses to Kyrgyzstan in Asian Challenge Cup final    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Delivers Speech to Pilgrims, Citizens, Residents and Muslims around the World    Sheikh Al-Issa in Arafah's Sermon: Allaah Blessed You by Making It Easy for You to Carry out This Obligation. Thus, Ensure Following the Guidance of Your Prophet    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques addresses citizens and all Muslims on the occasion of the Holy month of Ramadan    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



GCC-Russia relations: A lot of rhetoric but little substance
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 21 - 06 - 2016

The meeting in Moscow between Russia and the GCC foreign ministers on May 26, 2016 proved to be another opportunity to exchange views and bridge the gaps between Russian and GCC priorities when it comes to regional developments, in particular with regard to Syria. While the meeting produced what some commentators referred to as "candid discussion," it failed to narrow the differences that currently affect the relationship. It is unlikely that this will change any time soon.
The GCC states are aware that the international environment is changing and that the Cold War era, when there was a clear choice between one side and the other, is over. While relations with the United States remain important, they are no longer the only game in town. Instead, the new philosophy in a rapidly changing globalized world is one of promoting and securing one's national interest disregarding past alliances and previous arrangements. The need to diversify international relationships as well as become more self-reliant and independent in foreign policy choices is recognized. It is in this context that Russia-GCC relations must be understood.
The GCC is fully aware that Russia cannot be ignored in the region. Russia's long-standing ties to Iran along with its decision to intervene militarily in Syria are indicators that Russian policy prerogatives when it comes to the Middle East must be acknowledged and understood. While US hesitancy has been noticed, it is also clear that Russian involvement in Middle Eastern affairs will remain. This realization was at the heart of the fourth round of strategic cooperation talks that were held in Moscow at the end of the May.
Yet, the fact that Russia is aligned with the GCC's main adversaries in the region points to the clear limitations in the further development of bilateral ties. While there are several areas with a potential for deeper relations, such as greater economic investment in Russia, military sales, cooperation on oil matters, and nuclear energy, progress is constrained by the fact that the political umbrella covering overall relations remains missing. As far as Russia is concerned, it is trying to balance its Middle East policy between four pillars — Iran, Israel, Turkey, and the Arab states. This is an extremely tricky balance to achieve due to the many contradictions involved. It reminds one of Turkey's zero problem policy via-à-vis its neighbors which, due to inherent contradictions, exacerbated rather than resolved tensions with those same neighbors. From the GCC perspective, Russian policy could likely meet a similar fate and ultimately fall short on its stated objectives. The view in the GCC capitals is that Moscow's short-term tactics are being applied at the expense of a long-term coherent strategy.
What the GCC needs to understand is that, for the moment, Russia is not ready for a more comprehensive partnership with the Arab Gulf region. Moscow is hoping that the GCC countries will be pushed in Russia's direction due to their disappointment with US policy and because issues such as Syria cannot be solved without Russia's involvement. That Russia does not prioritize its ties to the GCC is clear from the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has so far visited the GCC states only once, way back in 2007. Since then, all meetings and exchanges with Putin have taken place in Russia. Visits to the Gulf States in the meantime are conducted by Putin's ministerial colleagues.
In the absence of a long-term strategy, there are no clear indicators as to the direction in which GCC-Russian relations will evolve in the near term. There are clear limits to what the GCC can offer Russia to persuade it to modify its approach to the region, as economic incentives are clearly insufficient to alter Russian policy. At the same time, there are also limits to what the GCC should expect of Russia. Without a doubt, there is a need to keep channels of communication open and maintain a dialogue with Russia. Yet, one should have no illusions that such talks will form the basis of a broader strategic relationship in the near future.
Abdulaziz Sager is chairman of the Gulf Research Center, Jeddah.


Clic here to read the story from its source.