Russia and the New Middle East
Russian policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has undergone significant changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moscow’s actions in the region have began to acquire a less ideologically driving and more pragmatic character. However, the Arab Spring and conflict in Ukraine have underscored a more aggressive policy on the part of Russia, the quintessence of which was military intervention in an armed conflict far from its borders, in Syria. Largely Russian intervention to Syria was a tool for Kremlin to resolve internal problems, and a bargaining chip in relations with global and regional actors. At the same time the declining in public interest in foreign policy, as well as the high costs of military presence in the Middle East, in the short term will force the Kremlin to respond to demands from domestic audiences. The resolution of this problem will define the future of Russia in the MENA region. It will either be an ‘honest broker’ in regional conflicts, or have to be content with the role of ‘junior partner’ to Washington, Beijing or other actors.