Ever since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow’s main partners in the Middle East — Iran and Syria — have largely backed Putin’s war effort.
By contrast, long-time allies and partners of the US in the Middle East, as well as other governments in the region, have largely not joined the US and its Western allies either in supporting Ukraine or sanctioning Russia.
This is clearly not the policy toward the Russian invasion of Ukraine that Washington, Kyiv, Brussels, and other Western capitals had hoped for from the American’s Middle Eastern partners such as the Gulf Arab monarchies, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Israel — all of whom the West has been cooperating with, supporting, and even defending for several decades. Why has this occurred?
There are two main reasons. One has to do with the success of Vladimir Putin’s Middle Eastern diplomacy which he has pursued ever since he first came to power at the turn of the century. This has been aimed not just at improving Russian ties with the anti-Western regimes in the region, but with traditionally pro-Western ones as well. The other is the nexus of reinforcing considerations resulting in America’s Middle Eastern partners concluding that it is not in their interests to join the US and the West in supporting Ukraine or sanctioning Russia — and, indeed, that doing so could well be harmful to their interests.