While on a “working visit” to Moscow, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan met June 1 with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the two leaders signed a Declaration of Strategic Partnership between Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
Mark N. Katz
Non-Resident Fellow, AGSIW; Professor, George Mason University
Mark N. Katz is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington as well as a professor of government and politics at George Mason University. He earned a BA in international relations from the University of California at Riverside in 1976, an MA in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in 1978, and a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982.
Before joining George Mason University in 1988, he was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution (1980-81), held a temporary appointment as a Soviet affairs analyst at the U.S. Department of State (1982), was a Rockefeller Foundation international relations fellow (1982-84), and was both a Kennan Institute research scholar (1985) and research associate (1985-87). He has also received a U.S. Institute of Peace fellowship and grant, and several Earhart Foundation fellowship research grants. He has been a visiting scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, the Hokkaido University Slavic Research Center, the Higher School of Economics, and the Middle East Policy Council.
He is the author of The Third World in Soviet Military Thought (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), Russia and Arabia: Soviet Foreign Policy toward the Arabian Peninsula (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), Gorbachev’s Military Policy in the Third World (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1989), Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves (St. Martin’s Press, 1997), Reflections on Revolutions (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), and Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). Links to many of his articles can be found on his website: www.marknkatz.com.
Shortly after the beginning of the Russian military intervention in Syria in September 2015, then-U.S. President Barack Obama predicted that Moscow would soon find itself in a quagmire there.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently been devoting considerable time and attention to diplomacy regarding the ongoing conflict in Syria.
At the recent summit between Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, the two leaders signed agreements that seem to herald a new era of Saudi-Russian cooperation.
On July 13, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi swore in veteran diplomat Ahmed Salem al-Wahishi as Yemen’s ambassador to Russia, a post that has been vacant since 2011.
The overall improvement in U.S.-Russian relations that the new Trump administration envisioned has not materialized as Washington and Moscow continue to disagree on a number of important issues.
Moscow increasingly aspires to play the role of mediator in the Middle East, but how seriously should we take this? Russia, along with Turkey and Iran, has been attempting to mediate between the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some of its opponents in negotiations in the Kazakh capital, Astana, and in Geneva.
A great deal of media attention to Russian involvement in Libya arose as a result of a March 14 Reuters report that Moscow “appears to have deployed special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya.” These forces, reportedly consisting of a 22-man unit, deployed to support General Khalifa Haftar, who controls much of eastern Libya.
The administration of President Donald J. Trump has suggested that one of its foreign policy goals may be to attempt to persuade Russia to distance itself from Iran and even cooperate with the United States against Tehran.
Russia, Iran, and Turkey have taken the lead in attempting to bring about conflict resolution in Syria through the Astana talks that began in late 2016. That these three governments are working together is quite remarkable considering how up until recently, Turkey was actively supporting anti-government forces in Syria while Russia and Iran have been supporting the Assad regime. Relations between Russia and Turkey (which had been quite good despite their disagreement on Syria) went into a tailspin after Turkish forces shot down a Russian military aircraft in November 2015. But after Erdogan apologized to Putin over the incident and Putin expressed more fulsome support than Western leaders for Erdogan during the July 2016 coup attempt against him, Russian-Turkish relations have steadily improved.