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Russia and Israel: The unexpected alliance

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  • Russia and Israel: The unexpected alliance

    Russia and Israel: The unexpected alliance
    Russia's basic Middle East policies won't change, nor will Israel
    exchange its alliance with the United States for one with Russia.
    By Adar Primor | May.16, 2012 | 4:34 AM | 3

    He has completed two terms as president and a third as prime minister.
    Theoretically, he could be leading his country until 2024, which would
    make him the longest-serving Russian or Soviet leader since Stalin.
    Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin last week generated a wave of
    commentary, which generally concluded that what was, is, and will be.

    Putin 4.0, like the previous versions, believes that Russia still
    hasn't recovered from its crash in the 1990s, so it's not yet ripe for
    pluralistic democracy. Putin 4.0 believes the world is dangerous,
    chaotic and hostile. He will therefore roll back the political reforms
    his predecessor initiated, strengthen the nationalist spirit, stress
    his anti-Western reflexes and abandon the "reset" policy that enhanced
    the relationship between Dmitry Medvedev's Russia and Barack Obama's

    "Russia has no allies but its army and navy," Czar Alexander III used
    to say. The Kremlin has adopted this slogan, according to analyst Dr.
    Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at Washington's Heritage
    Foundation. But other fascinating analyses indicate that Russia may
    actually be seeking a new and rather unexpected ally.

    Prof. Mark Katz of Virginia's George Mason University recently wrote a
    piece entitled "What would a democratic Russian foreign policy look
    like?" in the New Zealand International Review. He concludes that
    Russia's foreign policy wouldn't change substantially, with two
    exceptions: China and the Middle East.

    Katz expects a significant warming of relations between Moscow and
    Jerusalem, for several reasons: Israel has become an important source
    of military technology for Russia, both countries are concerned about
    radical Islam, and extensive cultural, trade and tourism links have
    been forged.

    Fyodor Lukyanov, a veteran Russian commentator, wrote a piece in
    response to Katz entitled, "Is Israel on the way to becoming a Russian
    ally?" In the article for Russia Today, Lukyanov sees no reason to
    wait for a democratic Russia to support Katz's assumption.

    First, the Arab world's deep antagonism toward Russia during the Arab
    Spring puts it in a new position. Second, both Russia and Israel
    oppose democratization in the Middle East because both believe it will
    lead to Islamization in the region and beyond. Third, Israel, as a
    high-tech powerhouse, can help Russia with the modernization it so
    badly needs.

    And here are the two most interesting points in Lukyanov's analysis:
    Paradoxically, he says, if Israel attacks Iran (in a clear
    contradiction of Russia's declared policy ) it may remove the main
    dispute between Moscow and Jerusalem from the agenda. Finally, the
    rising calls in the United States claiming that its "Israel first"
    policy limits America's strategic maneuvering may lead the United
    States to change its diplomatic priorities - in which case Israel
    might seek to diversify its stable of allies as well.

    Reports that Putin has decided to make Israel one of his first foreign
    destinations after being sworn in has of course contributed to the
    debate. Former Israeli ambassador to Russia Zvi Magen has written that
    the Middle East has once again become an arena of competition between
    Russia and Western powers, and that Moscow seeks to enhance its
    relationship with Israel - in part to blunt the growing assertiveness
    of Turkey, which sees the Caucasus as its backyard.

    The Turkish threat, he says, and the gas fields recently discovered in
    the eastern Mediterranean are behind a Russian initiative to establish
    a bloc with Israel, Cyprus and Greece. An alliance between Moscow and
    Jerusalem could become "a new factor of influence in this unstable
    region during a time of great uncertainty," Magen concludes.

    Still, it doesn't seem that a Putin visit, even if it happens soon,
    will lead to a diplomatic earthquake like the one Richard Nixon's
    visit to China caused in 1972. Nor will it reverse Russia's historic
    betrayal of Israel in 1952.

    Russia's basic Middle East policies won't change, nor will Israel
    exchange its alliance with the United States for one with Russia -
    certainly not if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's friend Mitt
    Romney, who has called Russia "America's top geopolitical adversary,"
    wins the November presidential election.

    All this speculation is linked to the Putin era, but as long as the
    Russian street continues to agitate against him, it's likely he's not
    looking toward 2024, but trying to survive tomorrow.

    From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress