Moscow’s relations with Tehran are currently much more cooperative than competitive, although the two countries’ foreign policy goals don’t always align.
Even as Russia is again engaged in a confrontation with the West, it is confronted by very real threats coming from the south.
The Carnegie Moscow Center hosted Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hekmat Karzai to discuss the country’s political, economic, and military situation as well as future development prospects and security challenges in the region.
With the start of the military intervention in Syria in 2015, and the U.S.-Russian diplomatic effort that accompanied it, the Middle East has become a key testing ground for Russia’s attempt to return to the global stage.
By intensifying its current activities in the Middle East, the Kremlin is pursuing three goals: economic, political, and security.
Vladimir Putin’s announcement of Russia’s withdrawal from Syria is another cynical move by the Kremlin to retain control over the situation.
President Putin’s announcement that he is pulling back from Syria should not have come as a big surprise. He believes he has met most of his goals there—many of which have nothing to do with Syria itself. Russia has found a way back to the table where the world’s board of directors sits and resolves regional conflicts together.
The North Caucasus Islamists’ wish to join ISIS makes some sense. By joining, they would cast themselves not just as regional players but worldwide jihadists. The relations between ISIS and the Caucasus Emirate, however, have been fraught with difficulties.
In the Middle East, it is the regional actors that are at the forefront. They are calling the shots—literally. And they are yet to learn the fine art of co-operation alongside confrontation.
The Saudi-Iranian conflict will compel Moscow to make a hard choice: stand with its Iranian partner or step aside and remain ostensibly neutral.