Saudi Arabia getting closer to Russia

GreyWing

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Some signs that Saudi Arabia are starting to get a bit closer to Russia and away from the US.

They've just signed up to the s400 air defence system. They've just signed a licensing agreement with the Russian Government to reproduce Kalashnikov's. They've also just announced that Syria's territorial boundaries should be respected. That's a fair bit of change coming.
 

Rover

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Saudi king's golden escalator gets stuck

When King Salman landed in Russia, it marked the first official visit to the country by a Saudi monarch.

However, the trip didn't get off to the smoothest start, when the escalator set up to help him disembark the plane got stuck.


Perhaps a sign from 'above' not to get too close!;)
 

doggle

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'Golden Escalator'!! He had to think hard before he realised he had legs and could actually use them. Haha.
 

GreyWing

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Perhaps items on the Saudi shopping list.;)

Interestingly Russia is also involved with Iran in the Syrian campaign. Flying air support for ground forces from Iranian airfields.o_O

I've seen some of their clips online, it's very very impressive.

One the most under reported stories of recent months is the fact that China is starting to buy oil in non Dollar transactions (Chinese Yuan), Russia have also banned trading in Dollars at their ports and announced openly that they will start to end trading oil in Dollars. Brazil, Venezuela also have announced to star to de-dollar'ise.

If Saudi Arabia are looking for friends before they drop the Dollar as well, as it appears they might be, the show is over. The endless money printer of the West is about to be turned off.
 

GreyWing

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'Golden Escalator'!!

For a second I was wondering if we should add that to the site's swear filter thing. o_O

Experience of similar confusing terms tells me not to search the internet for the meaning.
 

Rover

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Thaad: US to sell $15bn missile defence to Saudi Arabia

6 hours ago

The US government has approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of its advanced Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) missile defence system.

The State Department said the $15bn (£11.5bn) deal furthered US national security and foreign policy interests.

It would boost Saudi and Gulf security against Iranian and other regional threats, the state department added.

The announcement comes a day after Saudi Arabia agreed to buy air defence systems from Russia.

The deal would not alter the military balance in the region, the Pentagon's Defense Security Co-operation Agency said.

What is Thaad?

  • Shoots down short and medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of their flight

  • Uses hit-to-kill technology - where kinetic energy destroys the incoming warhead

  • Has a range of 200km and can reach an altitude of 150km

  • US has previously deployed it in Guam and Hawaii as a measure against potential attacks from North Korea

    The system destroys incoming missiles at altitudes beyond the Earth's atmosphere, making it especially useful in countering missiles that might carry a nuclear warhead.

    The Thaad interceptor is produced by the US company Lockheed Martin.

    Analysis: Riyadh is hedging its bets

    By Sebastian Usher, BBC Arab Affairs analyst

    This latest multi-billion-dollar deal will help satisfy the Trump administration's desire to be seen to be protecting and increasing jobs at home.

    Donald Trump has also made it abundantly clear that he is completely in tune with the Saudi view of Iran as the biggest threat in the region - which is a key rationale behind this new Saudi spending spree.

    He may be less pleased, though about the arms deal the Saudis agreed with Russia during King Salman's visit to Moscow this week.

    It showed perhaps how Riyadh is hedging its bets, as US influence has been diminishing in the Middle East.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41532889
 

Rover

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Following on from my previous post.......

Saudi King Salman's Moscow visit could create new Middle East dynamic

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist, who is based in Russia

Published time: 5 Oct, 2017 13:24 Edited time: 5 Oct, 2017 19:20

King Salman of Saudi Arabia's official visit to Moscow marks the end of a long animus between Russia and Riyadh. While many will welcome this new reality, some traditional allies of both parties could be concerned at the potential ramifications of detente.

The term ‘historic’ is overused. But this time it’s surely merited. The 81-year-old Salman hasn’t ventured to the chilly and autumnal Russian capital to take its waters. The Saudi monarch has instead come to turn a new page in a relationship which has been either non-existent or downright hostile, for decades.

Let’s be clear about something: Saudi Arabia has long been America’s chief ally in the Islamic world. Furthermore, many in Riyadh are convinced their country was chiefly responsible for the collapse of the USSR. Something they claim to have achieved both by depressing oil prices and funding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, who bogged down the Soviet army in a lengthy war of attrition. In fact, the chief architect of the latter policy was Salman himself, back in his days as a mere prince.

In the 1990s, some groups in Riyadh directed their attention to the new Russian Federation, backing jihadists in the restive southern Caucasus. Meanwhile, informed analysts blame the Saudis for exporting Wahhabism, identified by the European Parliament as the main source of global terrorism, which has caused endless headaches for the Kremlin. Ranging from the so-called "Caucasus Emirate” to the rise of ISIS.

Different views

Even a year ago, Moscow and Riyadh were poles apart. The Saudis took a dim view of Russia’s ultimately successful intervention in Syria and the Kremlin was critical of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, a conflict overseen by Salman’s son, and heir apparent, Muhammed.

But suddenly interests have converged. Riyadh is especially concerned about three fundamental issues for the Kingdom: low oil prices, growing Iranian influence in the Middle East and increasingly erratic US foreign policy. When it comes to the first two, Moscow has considerable clout, and the Kremlin may offer a counterbalance to Washington diplomatically.

Saudi Arabia to invest record $10bn in Russia http://t.co/g4LEYBimYNpic.twitter.com/iy0UrzgVtD

In an ideal world, Salman would get two key concessions from Vladimir Putin: an agreement to sacrifice his closeness to Tehran, and a long-term Russia-OPEC deal to manipulate the price of black gold in their favor. However, the former is a non-starter and the latter, faced with competition from US shale, is probably unmanageable. Even if both countries are responsible for a quarter of the world’s crude output.

For its part, Moscow wants the Saudis to curtail the spread of Wahhabi influence in the former-USSR and to understand how placing all their eggs in the American basket has been a mistake. Something, Riyadh may belatedly have wised up to after the debacle in Syria. Because US meddling in that country has been a disaster for Salman, serving only to empower Iran and increase its geopolitical standing.

You see, Saudi Arabia fears Tehran more than anything. For ethnic, religious and cultural reasons which are difficult for outsiders to fully comprehend. Thus, the emerging coalition between Iran, Russia, and Turkey has become an existential issue for the House of Saud. Especially when their traditional American guarantors are rudderless and distracted by domestic issues. Not to mention, the effects of Middle East fatigue in Washington and the new president’s relentless focus on North Korea.

Resource rewards

There’s also the issue of America’s development of shale, a process which completely overlooked the inevitable economic blowback on Riyadh and the Gulf States. While low oil tariffs hurt big producers like Russia, Norway and Brazil, at least these countries have relatively diversified economies to keep things ticking over. However in Saudi Arabia, the “petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87 percent of budget revenues, 42 percent of GDP, and 90 percent of export earnings,” according to Forbes. Which means that every $10 drop in the price is catastrophic for Riyadh. And you can bet the House of Saud is aggrieved at American indifference to its situation, something which may have concentrated key minds in Riyadh.

Nevertheless, if the Saudis are hoping to lock Moscow into a union, they are wasting their time. Because the Kremlin has learned from the Soviet collapse that the all-or-nothing partnerships which the USSR (and the US) developed during the Cold War are a dead-end. For proof, witness Putin’s reluctance to enter a formal alliance with China, despite the apparent benefits, and how he keeps his door firmly open to Beijing’s chief regional rival, Japan.

Put plainly, Russia’s modern foreign policy priority is to be friendly with everyone, where possible, and to avoid the emergence of rigid blocs. This is why it simultaneously maintained membership of the G8, BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, keeping a foot in every conceivable camp.

With this in mind, Putin may perceive Riyadh as useful in balancing Russia’s current over-reliance on Iran when it comes to the Middle East, and to position Moscow as a bridge between the rival factions. This is something we already see happening in the Korea crisis, where Washington and Beijing are tied to their particular sides while the Kremlin sees itself as an honest broker, enjoying good relations with both Pyongyang and Seoul.

Practical concerns

The Crown Prince, Muhammad, has indicated this scenario is acceptable to Riyadh. “The main objective is not to have Russia place all its cards in the region behind Iran,” he told the Washington Post last spring. It appears Muhammad is the main driver of the pivot to Moscow, conceding how his government has been “coordinating our oil policies recently” with their Russian counterparts.

Bashar Al-Assad’s apparent victory in Syria also makes things easier. While the Saudis would prefer if he departed the stage, his presence is a much smaller issue than the empowerment of Iran. Also, as the analyst Chris Weafer has noted: “since the announcement of the Russia-OPEC oil deal late last year there has been no criticism of Russia's role in Syria from any of the Arab states. That is a perfect example of good business — Russia and Saudi both earn close to $2.5 billion per month more from exports at $54 oil than they would at $45, and good politics.”

Unlike the USSR, and the contemporary United States and the European Union, modern Russia has no particular ideology to export. Thus, its strategic imperative is to maintain positive bilateral relations with as many countries as possible. Saudi Arabia is a significant global player. Consequently, any emerging accord is a positive for the Kremlin. And Riyadh too, of course.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/405777-saudi-king-salman-moscow-putin/
 

GreyWing

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Saudi Arabia has long been America’s chief ally in the Islamic world. Furthermore, many in Riyadh are convinced their country was chiefly responsible for the collapse of the USSR.

I reckon on this they may well have a point.

Following on from my previous post.......

Saudi King Salman's Moscow visit could create new Middle East dynamic

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist, who is based in Russia

Published time: 5 Oct, 2017 13:24 Edited time: 5 Oct, 2017 19:20

King Salman of Saudi Arabia's official visit to Moscow marks the end of a long animus between Russia and Riyadh. While many will welcome this new reality, some traditional allies of both parties could be concerned at the potential ramifications of detente.

The term ‘historic’ is overused. But this time it’s surely merited. The 81-year-old Salman hasn’t ventured to the chilly and autumnal Russian capital to take its waters. The Saudi monarch has instead come to turn a new page in a relationship which has been either non-existent or downright hostile, for decades.

Let’s be clear about something: Saudi Arabia has long been America’s chief ally in the Islamic world. Furthermore, many in Riyadh are convinced their country was chiefly responsible for the collapse of the USSR. Something they claim to have achieved both by depressing oil prices and funding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, who bogged down the Soviet army in a lengthy war of attrition. In fact, the chief architect of the latter policy was Salman himself, back in his days as a mere prince.

In the 1990s, some groups in Riyadh directed their attention to the new Russian Federation, backing jihadists in the restive southern Caucasus. Meanwhile, informed analysts blame the Saudis for exporting Wahhabism, identified by the European Parliament as the main source of global terrorism, which has caused endless headaches for the Kremlin. Ranging from the so-called "Caucasus Emirate” to the rise of ISIS.

Different views

Even a year ago, Moscow and Riyadh were poles apart. The Saudis took a dim view of Russia’s ultimately successful intervention in Syria and the Kremlin was critical of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, a conflict overseen by Salman’s son, and heir apparent, Muhammed.

But suddenly interests have converged. Riyadh is especially concerned about three fundamental issues for the Kingdom: low oil prices, growing Iranian influence in the Middle East and increasingly erratic US foreign policy. When it comes to the first two, Moscow has considerable clout, and the Kremlin may offer a counterbalance to Washington diplomatically.

Saudi Arabia to invest record $10bn in Russia http://t.co/g4LEYBimYNpic.twitter.com/iy0UrzgVtD

In an ideal world, Salman would get two key concessions from Vladimir Putin: an agreement to sacrifice his closeness to Tehran, and a long-term Russia-OPEC deal to manipulate the price of black gold in their favor. However, the former is a non-starter and the latter, faced with competition from US shale, is probably unmanageable. Even if both countries are responsible for a quarter of the world’s crude output.

For its part, Moscow wants the Saudis to curtail the spread of Wahhabi influence in the former-USSR and to understand how placing all their eggs in the American basket has been a mistake. Something, Riyadh may belatedly have wised up to after the debacle in Syria. Because US meddling in that country has been a disaster for Salman, serving only to empower Iran and increase its geopolitical standing.

You see, Saudi Arabia fears Tehran more than anything. For ethnic, religious and cultural reasons which are difficult for outsiders to fully comprehend. Thus, the emerging coalition between Iran, Russia, and Turkey has become an existential issue for the House of Saud. Especially when their traditional American guarantors are rudderless and distracted by domestic issues. Not to mention, the effects of Middle East fatigue in Washington and the new president’s relentless focus on North Korea.

Resource rewards

There’s also the issue of America’s development of shale, a process which completely overlooked the inevitable economic blowback on Riyadh and the Gulf States. While low oil tariffs hurt big producers like Russia, Norway and Brazil, at least these countries have relatively diversified economies to keep things ticking over. However in Saudi Arabia, the “petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87 percent of budget revenues, 42 percent of GDP, and 90 percent of export earnings,” according to Forbes. Which means that every $10 drop in the price is catastrophic for Riyadh. And you can bet the House of Saud is aggrieved at American indifference to its situation, something which may have concentrated key minds in Riyadh.

Nevertheless, if the Saudis are hoping to lock Moscow into a union, they are wasting their time. Because the Kremlin has learned from the Soviet collapse that the all-or-nothing partnerships which the USSR (and the US) developed during the Cold War are a dead-end. For proof, witness Putin’s reluctance to enter a formal alliance with China, despite the apparent benefits, and how he keeps his door firmly open to Beijing’s chief regional rival, Japan.

Put plainly, Russia’s modern foreign policy priority is to be friendly with everyone, where possible, and to avoid the emergence of rigid blocs. This is why it simultaneously maintained membership of the G8, BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, keeping a foot in every conceivable camp.

With this in mind, Putin may perceive Riyadh as useful in balancing Russia’s current over-reliance on Iran when it comes to the Middle East, and to position Moscow as a bridge between the rival factions. This is something we already see happening in the Korea crisis, where Washington and Beijing are tied to their particular sides while the Kremlin sees itself as an honest broker, enjoying good relations with both Pyongyang and Seoul.

Practical concerns

The Crown Prince, Muhammad, has indicated this scenario is acceptable to Riyadh. “The main objective is not to have Russia place all its cards in the region behind Iran,” he told the Washington Post last spring. It appears Muhammad is the main driver of the pivot to Moscow, conceding how his government has been “coordinating our oil policies recently” with their Russian counterparts.

Bashar Al-Assad’s apparent victory in Syria also makes things easier. While the Saudis would prefer if he departed the stage, his presence is a much smaller issue than the empowerment of Iran. Also, as the analyst Chris Weafer has noted: “since the announcement of the Russia-OPEC oil deal late last year there has been no criticism of Russia's role in Syria from any of the Arab states. That is a perfect example of good business — Russia and Saudi both earn close to $2.5 billion per month more from exports at $54 oil than they would at $45, and good politics.”

Unlike the USSR, and the contemporary United States and the European Union, modern Russia has no particular ideology to export. Thus, its strategic imperative is to maintain positive bilateral relations with as many countries as possible. Saudi Arabia is a significant global player. Consequently, any emerging accord is a positive for the Kremlin. And Riyadh too, of course.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/405777-saudi-king-salman-moscow-putin/

I think that's a very decent article. I know it's published on RT, which I don't have a problem with personally. It seems very analytical and has evidence based conclusions.

I never really get why Saudia Arabia fears Iran so much.
 

Rover

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Basically religion.-banghead-

Saudi being Sunni and Iran Shia. Two parts of the same religion.o_O

If you wish to make it more interesting Iran/Persia even has historical connections to Judaism. ;)
 

Rover

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Perhaps a more ‘Russian’ view.

What’s Behind the Saudi King’s Historic Visit to Russia (Op-ed)

Riyadh sees Russia as a resurgent global player who could fill the U.S. vacuum

— Update: Oct. 05 2017 — 14:28

The visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz to Russia this week is set to open a historic new chapter in relations between Moscow and Riyadh. But it is not just the fact that the Saudi monarch will come to Russia for the first time since their ties were restored in 1992 that makes this visit remarkable.

With Russia’s return to the Middle Eastern arena, the two regional powers with global ambitions have been naturally predisposed to becoming rivals on issues ranging from Syria to oil and Iran.

Despite all odds, Moscow and Riyadh have been inching closer to mutual understanding — and coordination — on these issues, with the visit of King Salman the most remarkable development in this relationship.

The question remains, however, what motivated the Saudi King to visit Moscow now given how many times this trip has been rescheduled since Salman bin Abdulaziz ascended to the throne in January 2015.

It is likely that the decision to engage Russia more actively has to do with the Kingdom’s long-term foreign policy calculations, while the final push for reaching out to Moscow may have been motivated by Saudi Arabia’s domestic power play.

The Kingdom is entering a new succession stage where King Salman’s son is expected to become the next monarch. The 33-year-old Prince Mohammed lacks the necessary experience and his position as the future King could well be challenged.

His small victorious war in Yemen and the blockade of Qatar look more like a liability to his image now, while his program for revamping the country’s economy draws a lot of skepticism.

Having failed to prop up the image of his son at home King Salman is looking to secure international support for the transition of power to Mohammed bin Salman.Russia with its growing political clout in the Middle East has become the country whose backing may be paramount for this plan.

Observers following Russia-Saudi relations are struggling to interpret King Salman’s trip to Moscow and whether it is a reward for something Vladimir Putin has already done or an advance payment for something that Riyadh expects him to do.

The fear of a contractual obligation is certainly haunting Russia given Saudi Arabia’s previous reported attempts to bribe Moscow into dropping support for Syria’s President Assad in exchange for lucrative energy deals. The answer to this question will also largely determine the political outcome of King Salman’s visit.

For Riyadh, the Middle East is now dangerously misbalanced with the United States scaling down its presence and Iran increasing its influence. Russia is a convenient partner who could fill the void left by the United States and rein in Tehran.

At the same time, Moscow is motivated by its pragmatic interests in the region. It is unlikely to jump in over its head trying to become the power-broker that Washington once was. This arguably leaves Riyadh enough room to project its own power in the Middle East.

Russia too has wide-reaching expectations with regard to the King’s visit. Moscow is visibly confused with the fact that a flurry of meetings with top Saudi officials over the past two years has only resulted in a lot of promises and very little actual cooperation.

In 2015, Riyadh committed to investing $10 billion in Russia on which it is yet to deliver and signed numerous agreements in the energy and defense sectors, none of which resulted in contracts. The head of Russia’s Rostec arms producer famously said last year that Saudi promises of arms purchases never lead to contracts but are rather seen as a political lever.

Despite the fact that the Russian President and the Saudi King met previously, it is this largely symbolic visit of the King to Moscow that signifies the reboot of the relations.

Both countries are approaching it with clear political goals and it would be unreasonable to expect a major breakthrough. The visit can hardly help Russia replace the United States as Riyadh’s key ally but it could become a trust-building measure removing another variable from the Middle Eastern geopolitical equation.

Yuri Barmin is a researcher on the Middle East and Russia's policy towards the region and an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council.

The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/what-is-behind-the-saudi-king-historic-russia-visit-59158
 
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