The Reportedly Planned Restoration of Saudi-Syrian Relations Would be a Victory for Russia

West Asia’s geopolitical trends are moving along a trajectory that’s aligned with Russia’s grand strategic vision for International Relations.

Russian diplomacy would achieve yet another victory in the event that Saudi Arabia and Syria restore relations sometime after Ramadan like Reuters reported on Thursday that they just agreed to do. That outcome would revive the dormant Arab League and restore unity to this divided regional integration organization. As a result, it would more effectively function as an emerging pole in the global systemic transition to multipolarity, thus further accelerating this long-running process.

The details about their deal presently remain unclear, but it should be taken for granted that Russia and the UAE would both have played a major role in this if Reuters’ report is ultimately proven correct. The first’s game-changing anti-terrorist intervention in Syria made it indispensable to West Asian geopolitics, which Moscow masterfully leveraged to cultivate strategic ties with a wide variety of partners. These importantly include non-traditional ones like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, and the UAE.

As for the second, its transregional diplomatic influence is well-known after it helped broker summer 2018’s Eritrean-Ethiopian rapprochement. Several months later just before the end of the year, it reopened its embassy in Damascus. The UAE’s rising diplomatic renown paired perfectly with its rising global logistics influence via Dubai World’s dozens of ports across the globe to position this country as an independent regional leader with the confidence to pursue its vision of International Relations.

Russia and the UAE’s shared Saudi partner had previously lagged far behind regional processes until earlier this month when China brokered a rapprochement between it and rival Iran. That development proved that Crown Prince and first-ever Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) is finally getting his bearings, coming of age, and beginning to correct prior policy mistakes. Accordingly, it therefore made sense in hindsight that he’d subsequently seek to patch up his Kingdom’s problems with Syria.

Yemen is obviously next on the list though it remains to be seen what’ll happen there, especially since Saudi Arabia’s support of a unified Yemen contrasts with its (formerly?) close Emirati partner’s implicitly preferred one of restoring South Yemen’s independence. In any case, the point is that MBS is on a peace spree and listening to those friendly foreign forces that are offering his country well-intended advice for how best to navigate the complex contours of the global systemic transition.

All things considered, and irrespective of whatever ends up unfolding in Yemen, West Asia’s geopolitical trends are moving along a trajectory that’s aligned with Russia’s grand strategic vision for International Relations. The inevitable revival of the Arab League as a meaningful regional integration organization as a result of the reportedly planned Saudi-Syrian rapprochement could eventually breathe new life into the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), which could eventually clinch related deals with Russia.

Russia’s strong economic presence in member states Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, and especially Syria, which complements newfound trade and investment ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, could be optimized as part of a regional economic strategy if it was multilateralized through a bloc-wide trade deal. This could be brought about by forthcoming negotiations between GAFTA and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which could deal another blow to the West’s failed sanctions and isolation policies if successful.

The overarching geo-economic dynamic at play is that Russia’s Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) remains viable even under the unprecedentedly intense pressure that its economy was placed under over the past year. This concept refers to Moscow’s economically driven engagement with the supercontinent’s many countries, with a priority focus placed on non-traditional partners like the Gulf Kingdoms and regional integration organizations like the Arab League.

This mutually beneficial vector of Arab-Eurasian relations would stand a greater chance of being unlocked upon the Saudi-Syrian rapprochement reviving the Arab League, which could lead to those countries more frequently functioning as one through that platform when interacting with the world. They’re stronger together than apart, just like the countries of all regions, hence why it might only be a matter of time before this happens and West Asia-North Africa becomes its own pole of influence.

By Andrew Korybko
Source: Andrew Korybko’s Newsletter

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