WASHINGTON – Russia and China still aren’t ready to give up on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since his downfall would give Saudi Arabia a major leg up over the Saudi kingdom’s arch-rival Iran, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

And Russia and China hope to make Iran a strong ally and strategic partner given its vast oil and natural gas potential and the revenue that would generate from it.

But Saudi Arabia and its ally Qatar have been funneling money and arms to the opposition, ostensibly because Saudi Arabia ultimately wants to diminish severely the growing influence of its rival, Shi’ite Iran, in the Gulf Arab states and make the Sunnis the predominant sectarian group in the region.

Analysts see events in Syria increasingly being driven by the Saudis who want to assert their own geopolitical influence by exacerbating sectarian and ethnic divisions.

The Saudis began to reassert themselves when the Obama administration chose to abandon the rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Saudis saw they could no longer rely on the United States as a strategic regional power.

As the Saudis continue their assertiveness, especially toward Iran, Russia and China are becoming more resistant, analysts say.

Russia especially wants to safeguard its strategic naval bases in Tartous and Latakia.

China is concerned with the negative reaction from Western countries to bar Iran from any upcoming discussions in Moscow on the situation in Syria.

Sources say that the Saudis will continue going after Iran, whether Syria plays a role in the dispute or not.

In addition, the Saudis recently insulted a Russian trade delegation by deliberately providing a low-level reception because of Moscow’s support for al-Assad.

The Saudis even indicated that they could find alternatives to their major needs of wheat and iron ore, Peter Lee told The Asia Times.

With Vladimir Putin back as the Russian president, he will be less inclined to go along with anything the West wants, and the Chinese equally are inclined to follow Russia’s position, since they have a major reliance with Iran for oil and other trade, in addition to the sale of military equipment.

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