22 april 2014
Russia-US crisis may soon spread to Near East
It seems that the tendency toward a needless exacerbation of US-Russian relations, which started with the crisis in Ukraine, has now begun to spread to the Near East as well. This time the area of confrontation has become Syria. The Russian-US “honeymoon,” more precisely the time allotted for eliminating the Syrian chemical arsenal, will soon be over and all signs indicate that the plan will be fulfilled as agreed. But proposed Geneva III talks have clearly lost traction. Fierce fighting among the members of the Syrian opposition has severely hurt their potential and the chances of even a minimal agreement between those who are generally considered to be the moderate opposition (although the assessments of Moscow and Washington differ here in some respects). According to Yezid Sayigh, “The National Coalition’s reprieve during the Geneva talks also momentarily masked the extent of its incapacitation by renewed Saudi-Qatari competition for influence over the Syrian opposition.” Meanwhile, the designation by Riyadh of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization dealt a serious blow to this organization’s standing in Syria, where it plays a major role in both the National Coalition and the Syrian National Council, that is to say, the very organizations that most of the world community regards as moderate.
Vitaly Naumkin, “Russia-US crisis may soon spread to Near East,” Russian International Affairs Council, 22 April 2014, http://russiancouncil.ru/en/inner/?id_4=3618
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