U.S. and Russia Competing for Middle East Influence

Increasing tensions between Russia and the United States have revived the memories of a bygone era that most thought had ended a long time ago, when Moscow and Washington competed in the Cold War for influence in the region of the Middle East.

Today, the two are still competing said analysts, but not like before to fuel another Cold War front. Across North Africa and the Middles East, the footprint of Russia remains.

A professor at George Mason in Virginia said Egypt was the most interesting case where the Russia government stepped in with the hope of an arms sale when arms transfers to Egypt were cut back by the U.S.

With the support, it has given the regime in Syria and its determination not to allow any military action by the West against Syria, Russia once again is a central player across the Middle East, said analysts.

Some analysts perceive that Russia scored at least a tactical victory for global diplomacy in 2013 by brokering the deal on the chemical weapons destruction in Syria, which prevented an intervention by the U.S. military.

One Washington analysts said that now Russia was again on equal footing as a power across all of the Middle East.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to make his mark in the Middle East strategically, in places that are vital to his country, Putin hopes to carve his personal legacy as well, said a professor Waterloo University.

The professor said Putin’s drive into the region reflects his personal interest to be remembered as the Russian leader who brought his country to power and brought his homeland a sense of dignity and great power that has not been around since the Soviet Union’s break down.

However, while tension involving Ukraine evoked memories of the Cold War, analysts doubt a cold war scenario would return between the U.S. and Russia regarding the Middle East.

Another analyst said that in the old days the Soviet Union gave arms to its allies in the Arab world whether they were paid for or not. However, today, Putin looks for profit from his arm sales, an increase in Russian exports and investment by the Russian government in different oil companies.

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