JD: Speaking of the Palestinians and Russia in the same sentence, they’ve stepped up economic ties when Mahmoud Abbas President of the Palestinian Authority visited Vladimir Putin in Russia this week.
KT: You have this alliance between Russia and Iran it’s been a down again up again but recently it’s been up quite a lot. And then you have the Russian alliance with the Palestinians and the Syrians. So Russia is now playing in the Middle East in a way that has not played since the mid 1980s. They have troops on the ground in Syria. They have solid alliances now with Iran and with the Syrian government and they are reinforcing their relations not just with Hamas but also with the Palestinian Authority. So Russia is trying to tell us they are in the Middle East to stay but I think they are also in the Middle East to support the worst possible actors on the ground Iran, Syria and Hamas.
JD: And that then brings up the thought that war in Syria has really been a plus for the Russian military. I believe they are there to stay. Do you not believe that also?
KT: I think the Russians now since September 17thwhich is when the Syrian air of defense downed a Russian cargo jet with 17 soldiers on board since then the Russians have doubled down on their presence and they have backed away from their relationship with Israel. Relations between Russia and Israel have become frankly and openly hostile since the September 17th shoot down which was not Israel’s fault. Israel wasn’t involved in it but the Russians blamed them for it and have gotten away with blaming Israel for it. So Russia has just in these past two months really changed its attitude, changed its approach. It is hostile to Israel instead of cooperating with Israel and it is increasing its military cooperation with both Syria and Iran.
JD: Ken Timmerman with details on the Russian influence in the Middle East through relations with the Palestinian, the Syrians, and the Iranians.