Netanyahu's Moscow Visit Speaks of Russia's Growing Influence in Middle East – Experts

17.05.2013

Netanyahu arrived in Sochi to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The discussion, according to the two leaders, covered a wide range of issues, from the economic component of bilateral relations to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

A short visit to Moscow by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu is evidence of the growing influence of Russia on events unfolding in the Middle East. It may be that Israel is attempting to ‘book a place’ at the Syria talks, says Mustafa El-Labbad, Director of the Al Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

Last Tuesday, Netanyahu arrived in Sochi to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The discussion, according to the two leaders, covered a wide range of issues, from the economic component of bilateral relations to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

“The Syrian crisis has changed the diplomatic landscape. For example, only two years ago Turkey was thought to be capable of toppling the Damascus regime but no action followed. At the same time, it was obvious that Russia is a key player in the Syrian crisis and generally in Middle Eastern politics. The Middle East is no longer under the control of the United States,” the Egyptian analyst said.

After the talks, also attended by Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov and representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry, Netanyahu and Putin said they intend to continue communication at the highest level and between intelligence services to facilitate a resolution of the crisis in Syria.

ISRAEL WANTS TO EXPLAIN

Some experts have suggested that the Israeli prime minister was probably explaining to Putin the legitimacy of the aerial bombing of Syria by the Israeli Air Force earlier this month.

The media reported that Israel launched two air strikes on Syrian territory on the May 4-5 weekend. Reuters reported that the strikes were aimed at destroying weapons destined for the Lebanese Hezbollah party. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that the Israeli attack targeted a research center near Damascus. Neither Israel nor the US officially confirmed the reported destruction of military cargo or facilities in Syria.

Vitaly Naumkin, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who participated in the Middle East Dialogue of the Valdai Discussion Club in Morocco, believes the Israeli prime minister was most likely trying to explain his country's stance on the aerial bombing, but Russia remained unconvinced.

RIA Novosti

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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