Saudi Arabia has quietly reached out to arch foe Russia in an attempt to temper Iran’s regional influence and reach a compromise on Tehran’s nuclear program, Middle Eastern defense officials told WND.
The Saudi move already has resulted in the opening of back-door dialogue between the two countries aimed at possibly forging a new alliance, the officials said.
The talks may showcase Saudi desperation in light of the Obama administration’s rapprochement toward Iran, perhaps the House of Saud’s biggest competitor for influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
Already, the shifting U.S. regional alliances have seen Russia’s military relationship with long-time U.S. ally Egypt grow ever closer.
The Obama administration has been cool to the secular, moderate government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which ousted the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies led my Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Ever since the U.S. abandonment of Sisi’s regime, Egypt has grown increasingly closer to Russia, as evidenced by the $3.5 billion arms deal between Cairo and Moscow signed last year.
Earlier this month, Egyptian Defense Minister Sidqi Sobqi and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced in Moscow the expansion of Russian military cooperation, which will reportedly include a historic joint naval drill in the Mediterranean Sea.
Additionally, Egyptian soldiers and officers will reportedly train in Russian military academies, reported the Moscow Times.
Now the purported opening of a new dialogue between Moscow and Riyadh seems to continue the trend of former U.S. allies reaching out to the Russian axis.
There is much bad blood between Saudi Arabia and Russia. The Saudis have been backing the insurgency targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, known to closely cooperate with Moscow.
Moscow has long accused the Saudis of supporting Islamists operating in the Caucuses, primarily Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, as part of an alleged destabilization campaign.
The Russians have also claimed the Saudis, working in conjunction with the West, have been attempting to lower oil prices in a scheme to damage the Russian economy.
The sour relations go back to the Cold War era, when the Saudis sided with the U.S. by supporting the American-aided mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Russian invasion there.