Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit to Moscow where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was significant. They signed agreements that reflect the special strategic relations between the UAE and Russia and Sheikh Mohammed was given a warm welcome.
International relations are complex matters that rely on strategic interests. Even though there are differences on some matters between the two sides, the timing of this visit made it significant as we are currently witnessing an era of huge historical changes in the balance of power in the region and the world.
US President Donald Trump’s strategy is the opposite of his predecessor Barack Obama in terms of dealing with Iran, its destructive roles in the region, sponsor of terrorism and spread of chaos in Arab countries, along with its ballistic missile projects.
Besides, Russia’s goals in Syria are not the same as Iran’s. These differences have started to surface now. The world is now aware that the powerful coalition headed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE is carving a new balance of power in the region through a professional approach to deal with all the sensitive issues to achieve the best outcomes and accomplish goals that serve countries, protect their interests and shape the future.
Iran’s hostile project
The Iranian project is one of the most hostile in the region. Every effort to undermine this project is great success in the right direction. Russia has started to express its differences with the Iranian project in Syria in a less diplomatic way. This is an important development that wouldn’t have been possible without major changes in regional and international balances towards the region and its causes. Russia's agreement with OPEC, Saudi Arabia and the UAE has advanced the stabilization of oil prices, especially since oil prices have been unfair for the past few years. In the end, dealings driven by interests ultimately win.
Russia is also interested in cooperation to combat terrorism and extremism. It is seeking partners who have the right vision and heightened perception in this field. The UAE is an enlightened model from which one can begin and build. It is in this sense that during the visit, President Putin stated that: “Cooperating with the UAE in the field of combating terrorism and solving important issues is of the outmost importance, and it is very crucial to work with the UAE, exchange information on the situation in the region and collaborate in the fight against global terrorism especially at this time.”
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said: “The UAE is eager to confer with Russia on regional and international issues and crises, and looks forward for an active and constructive Russian role in attaining stability and peace in the Middle East in light of the critical turn the region is passing through and (at a time) when it is suffering from complex and unprecedented challenges and threats.”
Seeking to build strategic relations with Russia, developing trade and economic relations, combating extremism and terrorism and consulting with each other on complex problems facing the region are some of the main features of this visit.
This means working within the UAE's political and economic priorities and reflects its leading role in the region and the great impact it has in many fields. The partnership deal Russia and the UAE signed tackles many vital aspects — commercial, economic, cultural, human and scientific fields in technology, energy, security, politics, etc. This means a serious orientation to build stronger and firmer relations that serve the interests of both countries and the desire of the two leaderships.
Finally, the Syrian issue and the Yemeni file were at the visit’s public negotiating table to look for practical solutions that express the nature of the ongoing changes in the region and in the two countries.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad
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