Dangerous Rift: Russia's Middle East Policy
by Eugene Rumer
Washington: The Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy. 80 pp. $19.95.
Reviewed by Gregg Rickman
Middle East Quarterly
Rumer's excellent study shows the incoherence of Russian policy in the Middle East. Concentrating largely on the role of the Russian corporate giants and the disproportionate influence they hold on the government in Moscow, he does a great service by calling attention to these "clans" (as they are called) and their deleterious impact on the region and on U.S.-Russian relations. Rumer details the corporations' pursuit of arms sales with Iran and oil development deals with Iraq. He establishes that they proliferated nuclear and missile technology to Iran which is bent on destabilizing the region and thus irritating the United States. The actions of the clans, he explains, act counter to the logical imperatives of the state. This interpretation seems almost to provide justification for President Vladimir Putin's attempt to reign in the clans, thus increasing the power of the state, for its own salvation.
Rumer provides a superior interpretation of the precipitously declining Russian economy and how this goes a long way toward explaining Russian corporate greed and over-concentration on arms exports; this, it turns out, is the one remaining saleable product in an ever-shrinking industrial base.
Rumer rightly predicts a dim future for Russia in the Middle East due to its poor economy, declining industrial wages, and a greater concentration of attention on the "near-abroad" (meaning the now-independent states of the former Soviet Union).
Related Topics: Russia/Soviet Union | Gregg Rickman | Spring 2001 MEQ
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