Murad Sadygzade: US failed to isolate Russia in Persian Gulf

Kamran Hasanov, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Murad Sadygzade: US failed to isolate Russia in Persian Gulf

In an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza, Murad Sadygzade, a visiting lecturer at School of International Regional Studies at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, summed up the results of the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and assessed the potential inclusion of the Persian Gulf countries in Biden's anti-Russian alliance.

- Why is the Persian Gulf region important for Russia?

- Half of the oil production comes from the Persian region. In the Arab world, the most wealthy states. They have great investment opportunities. Since 2016-2017, these countries have been investing in the Russian economy. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar also claim the role of regional leader.

- Can Russia consider the Persian Gulf as a whole when building relations?

- No, there is no so-called "package agreement". Although the Qatari crisis has been resolved, the unpleasant aftertaste and differences between Qatar and the UAE and Saudi Arabia due to Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood (an organization banned in Russia) remain.

- We now see that the Western media are accusing Russia of provoking world famine, which will also affect the Persian Gulf. Are attitudes in Qatar, the UAE and KSA towards Russia changing for the worse?

- We saw how the Western media covered the events in Libya and Syria without reflecting the objective reality. As for the region's attitude towards Russia, three weeks ago, at a meeting with Lavrov, the Omani Foreign Minister did not condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine, noting that Oman does not want to "get involved in a game of useless accusations" that will lead nowhere. "Arab Street" believes that there is a conflict not between Ukraine and Russia, but between the West and Russia now.

- How do the leaders of these countries react to Russia's actions?

- These countries are well aware of what's what. They balance between Russia and the USA. There are no friends in politics, there are interests. What is happening in Ukraine, they perceive as an attempt by Russia to rebuild the world. And it is beneficial for them. These countries have no voice in international organizations dominated by the West. They do not like the dictates of the US and the EU. A striking example is the Biden administration's pressure on Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi . The United States has suspended the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia and F-35 fighter jets to the Emirates. Unlike the United States, China and Russia are building relations with the GCC without interfering in the politics of these countries.

- What can you say about the OPEC+ countries' recent decision to increase oil production by about 600,000 barrels per day?

- It is better to address this question to an energy expert, but it is obvious to me that the quotations set earlier were the maximum. We have had a shortage of production for a long time, we are not getting OPEC + quotas. Now the world's countries are emerging from quarantine, economic development is underway. The market needs oil, and the increase in quotas is not directed against Russia. It is unlikely that the Arabs, who attach great importance to symbols, would take such a step during Lavrov's visit to the region.

- What is the main result of Lavrov's visit to Bahrain and Riyadh?

- The very fact of the visit is already a great achievement. The visit proved that the thesis of the West "Russia is in isolation" is nonsense. Another important point is grain. Russia and Ukraine account for 60% of Middle East grain imports. Russia is currently exploring the possibility of supplying grain to the Middle East. It is very important that the Persian Gulf countries, despite pressure from the West, do not impose sanctions against Russia. In the case of Russia, whose assets are frozen in Europe, the Gulf countries, which have hundreds of billions of investments in Britain, the US and the EU, may question the reliability of the Western financial system and Western guarantees for the private property protection.

- Joe Biden's visit to the Persian Gulf will take place soon. Can he undermine the results of Lavrov's Middle East tour?

- It is unlikely to happen. Saudi Arabia and its neighbors have experienced the US carrot and stick policy. Despite the information, the US is unable to convince Saudi Arabia to turn against Russia, impose sanctions on Russia and increase oil production. It is unlikely that Riyadh is ready for these measures, even if Biden personally arrives in the Saudi capital. We are moving into a multipolar world where there are independent state leaders like Erdoğan, bin Salman and Xi Jinping. Biden will try to attract the GCC to the anti-Russian coalition, but whether this will be possible is a big question.