Russia back in the picture in the Middle East, says Estonian expert (3)

Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, and presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama (Reuters/Scanpix)
9/30/2015 9:22 AM
Category: International

Russia has turned itself into an important player in the Middle East with its recent moves in Syria, says Estonian Foreign Policy Institute expert Karmo Tüür.

“Russia is not a great power, especially in that region. Until now, it was only marginally represented in the Middle East. But it has been able to come out of the situation dramatically and made itself important,” Tüür told ERR radio.

He said the US and Russia see the situation differently, with the United States wanting the current Syrian president to step down, while Russia thinks the president, Bashar al-Assad, should remain. Tüür added that the public opposition is no hindrance to cooperation.

Tüür said Afghanistan is one example where Russia publicly denounced NATO, but cooperation was widespread, such as with transit.

Cooperation will mean information exchanges about the ISIS, Tüür said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin could offer weapons, logistics channels or bases.

“Russia is using two moments. One is rhetoric in saying that the legitimate ruler should not be toppled, and only current president Bashar al-Assad's forces can put up a fight against ISIS. The last statement is only half true, as al-Assad is the reason why the so called Islamic State is causing terror in the region in the first place,” Tüür said.

J.M. Laats

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