Russia is back in the Middle East. The Kremlin is methodically creating a systematic geopolitical challenge to the interests of the United States and its allies. Moscow’s behavior is driven by a quest for prestige and influence, and a search for markets of its arms and other goods—a classic great power pattern.
Oil is in the center of this quest, but it is not only issue. As oil prices are above $55/barrel and Saudi Arabia, the oil market maker , is facing its gravest political crisis since the 1920s when the monarchy was first established, Moscow’s production-limiting cooperation with Tehran and Riyadh puts Russia in the spotlight in the region. However, the Kremlin’s renewed activity in the Middle East is geopolitical, and goes beyond business . As in Soviet times, Moscow seeks to control governments, re-establish military bases, open maritime routes and expand exports. These great power ambitions suggest a broader shift in the regional balance, revealing a return to the nineteenth century strategic competition and raising serious questions about the future of American power.