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» 06/25/2012
RUSSIA-MIDDLE EAST
Putin travels to Middle East "to strengthen Russian influence"
by Nina Achmatova
The head of the Kremlin will visit Israel, Palestinian Territories and Jordan, while the tension mounts on Syria and Iran, Russia wants to boost its image as a superpower.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - With the escalation of tension between Ankara and Damascus, the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the stalled negotiations between the West and Iran over its nuclear program, comes Vladimir Putin's official visit of in the Middle East, the first since returning to the Kremlin last May. As announced by the presidential adviser, Yuri Ushakov, Putin will hold talks on "bilateral and international issues" with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan. "Such a weighty visit to the Middle East - said Ushakov - highlights the significance of the region within our foreign policy priorities and aims to facilitate the strengthening of Russia's positions in that part of the world."

Since the former KGB agent returned to power in Russia, many have spoken of a new Cold War climate, with Moscow determined not to make free concessions to the West, especially in light of the frustrating Libyan experience. The Federation has no intention of cede its role in the Middle East - where it is Damascus' last true ally and an important customer for the arms industry - and wants to negotiate with all parties involved, both President Bashar al-Assad, as well as put pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program. Among the Kremlin's objectives  - contrary to any form of international intervention and officially motivated by humanitarian concerns - is a reaffirmation of the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of a country, after the intervention to topple Gaddafi in Libya. Another source of confrontation with the West is the goal of slowing down the deployment of the U.S. and NATO missile shield in Eastern Europe: one part is already deployed in Turkey and is directed against both Iran and towards the Russian bases in the Black Sea and Moscow wants written assurances that the project will not undermine its strategic deterrence capability.

In Israel, which is pushing for more action against Tehran, Putin will hold talks with both the president and the prime minister. The last round of the 5 +1 in Moscow (18-19 June) failed to gain any results: the ayatollahs' regime continues to demand it be given the right to civilian nuclear energy while the concerns of the West and Israel wants intervention. On 26 June, however, the Russian head of state will make a stop in Bethlehem, where he will meet Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and intra-Palestinian reconciliation agreement. The tour will end in Jordan. Here Putin will attend the opening of a pilgrim hostel on the Jordan River and meet King Abdullah II.

According to Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow, the current Kremlin policy is to restore Russia to superpower status, equating it to China and the United States. For this reason, a compromise must be found with Moscow, despite the unorthodox methods of Putin's Kremlin, forgotten in the brief and conciliatory interlude of his predecessor, Medvedev, increasingly seen as a having a a"loser" in Russian diplomacy and in domestic public opinion.

 


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See also
10/09/2009 MIDDLE EAST
Will it be another ‘Lost Century’ for the Arab World?
by Fady Noun
01/20/2009 MIDDLE EAST
Conflict in Gaza has highlighted divisions in Arab world
by Paul Dakiki
11/25/2008 MIDDLE EAST
Contradictory signals for Lebanon and Middle East peace
by Fady Noun
02/25/2010 SYRIA - IRAN
Assad defends Iran's nuclear ambitions
11/04/2004 Middle East - USA
The Middle East looks at Bush's victory

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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