Previous Session: Russia in the Middle East, Beyond Syria, Friday, 30 September

President Putin’s decision to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war in September last year was the most momentous Russian move in the Middle East in decades.  Moreover, as the first Russian military action outside the former Soviet Union since the union’s dissolution in 1991, it was also among Putin’s most significant foreign policy moves of his time in power since 2000.  The move surprised Western governments and policy analysts alike, and they were united in forecasting that it would end in failure.
The reasons for Putin’s determination to prevent the fall of the Assad regime have been examined exhaustively in the past year.  But what are Russia’s broader interests in the Middle East that determine Moscow’s strategic approach to the region?  And what does Russia intend to do in the Middle East in addition to its Syrian intervention and beyond it?
The discussion will examine the place of the Middle East in Russian foreign policy under Putin, looking particularly at Russia’s relations with Iran, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – and common factors linking these.  It will also seek to analyse:
  • the Russian domestic factors that influence Putin in his dealings with the Middle East
  • the consequences of Russia’s Middle East policies for its relations with key regional states and for its dealings with the West, particularly the US
  • where Russia’s Middle East policies are headed.
The discussion will be introduced by Ian Parmeter, a PhD candidate in the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, who is researching Russia’s approach to the Middle East in the Putin era.  Ian served for 26 years in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and had postings in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia and Lebanon, the last as Ambassador.  From 2005 to 2014 he oversaw Middle East analyses in the Office of National Assessments.
The following articles are suggested background reading on the topic. They are not required for participation, but demonstrate the level of discussion we hope to achieve.
Session will be held on Friday, 30 September in the Centre for Arab Islamic Studies Tutorial Room at 11am.

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