Claws of the Bear: Vladimir Putin and His Old KGB Associates Seek to Restore Russia's Influence in the Middle East While the US Flounders in Iraq
Blanche, Ed, The Middle East
A longtime observer of the Middle East might have been forgiven for discerning a whiff of Cold War gunpowder when the Israeli military and Hizbullah squared off last summer. During the decades of confrontation between East and West, tile Americans and Russians used the constant wars in the Middle East as a laboratory for their weapons systems and military doctrines: the Israelis fighting with US arms, the Arabs with Soviet hardware.
What the Israelis call their Second Lebanon War, fought during the dog days of July and August 2006, turned out to be more of the same, although the Russians were not directly arming Hizbullah themselves. Iran and Syria, two states reliant on Russian arms, provided the missiles and rockets that allowed Hizbullah to fight the Israelis to a standstill.
But that 34-day conflict underlined how Moscow, its coffers brimming with enormous oil and gas revenues, is once again asserting itself in the region, seeking to revive its superpower status of the Soviet era to counter the US in what some see as a new Cold War.
Putin threw down the gauntlet to the US with his forceful speech at the 43rd Munich Security Conference in February. "Unipolarity is not only unacceptable but is also impossible in today's world," he declared, defining that as a situation in which there is "one centre of force, one centre of decision-making ... one master, one sovereign."
He went on: "I am convinced that we have reached the decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security. We must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue."
The Americans were flabbergasted. Some US commentators saw Putin's speech as the declaration of a new Cold War. But veteran Middle East analyst Patrick Seale …
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Publication information: Article title: Claws of the Bear: Vladimir Putin and His Old KGB Associates Seek to Restore Russia's Influence in the Middle East While the US Flounders in Iraq. Contributors: Blanche, Ed - Author. Magazine title: The Middle East. Issue: 377 Publication date: April 2007. Page number: 6+. © 2009 IC Publications Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group.
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