Putin Meets With The King Of Saudi Arabia Following U.S. Retreat From Syria
As Turkey continued its assault on Syrian Kurds this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Saudi Arabia to sign a major deal bolstering cooperation among the world’s oil giants, with Putin also seeking to ease political tensions in the region.
According to Agence France-Presse, Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov said "it is important for Russia that an Arab country participates in the political settlement in Syria,” adding that "only three non-Arab countries" — Turkey, Russia and Iran — are currently holding talks.
When it comes to Syria, Russia and Saudi Arabia find themselves on opposite sides, as the former supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the latter backs Assad’s opposition.
The situation in northern Syria has deteriorated after President Donald Trump effectively gave Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the greenlight to begin an assault on America’s Kurdish allies in the region.
Analysts have told The Washington Post that Trump’s missteps, most notably of the past few days, have opened a door for Moscow in the Middle East.
“Putin finds common ground with leaders as diverse as Assad of Syria, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Hassan Rouhani of Iran and even Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel,” The Post wrote, and “Russians do not scold the Saudi prince, Mohammed bin Salman, over the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist.”
Withdrawing the American presence in Syria only gives Russia a “freer hand” there, The Post noted as “Turkey’s invasion of Kurdish areas does not directly threaten Russia’s interests.”
Mark Katz, a George Mason University professor who studies Russia and the Middle East, told The Post in a recent interview that Russia is attempting a delicate balancing act in the Middle East that it likely cannot maintain.
“They’re dependent on keeping the pot simmering but not boiling over,” he said, adding that it remains unclear whether this is possible in the long run.