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Why Iran-Saudi fallout will be costly for Moscow

The dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia could promote instability throughout the Middle East, which will be especially problematic for Russia and its policy of not choosing sides.

The ongoing dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia following the kingdom’s execution of Saudi Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on terrorism charges adds to many of the Middle East’s existing problems, but might be especially challenging for Russia’s foreign policy in the region.

As a rule, Moscow has consistently sought to maintain cooperative relationships across the Middle East and, where possible, avoid taking sides in ways that could damage long-term Russian interests. Thus, for example, Russia has supported Palestinian aspirations for an independent state and criticized Israeli settlement policy while building a strong economic relationship with Israel and withholding condemnation of Israeli responses to domestic terrorism.

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