Russia is decidedly stepping up its Middle East policy, as evidenced, for example, by the number of visits to Moscow already held or planned for this year by heads of Arab states. The rulers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan, and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, are expected to visit Russia before the end of 2015. Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s upcoming visit to Moscow this year is of particular importance, as it indicates Riyadh’s serious intention to improve relations with Russia. As is widely known, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted the Saudi king’s invitation to visit Riyadh.
An impressive number of leaders of various Syrian opposition groups also visited Moscow this month. The consultations did not reveal any fundamental change in the Kremlin’s Syria policy, but they did reveal the willingness of Russian diplomacy to have more frequent contact with the opposition.