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Israel expressed "deep disappointment" Thursday over a meeting the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held this week in Syria with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, saying the organization must play a role in peace efforts.

Calling Hamas "a terror organization in every way," Israel's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it expected Russia to stand by Israel in its struggle against Hamas.

"Hamas is a terror organization whose declared goal is the destruction of the state of Israel...Hamas is responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, among them immigrants from the Soviet Union and also Russian citizens."

Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, make up a quartet of Middle East mediators. The U.S., EU and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group. Russia insists that Hamas should not be isolated.

But Israel is not the only country that has expressed disappointment over the Russian president's trip to Syria. On Wednesday U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters that Washington was cautious over any nuclear deal that included Syria. His comments came after reports surfaced that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad had discussed the possibility of nuclear collaboration in Damascus earlier this week.

Russian news agencies quoted Assad as saying that he and Medvedev had discussed the possibility of building power plants, including nuclear ones, in Syria.

In September 2007, Israeli warplanes bombed a site in eastern Syria, which the U.S. later claimed was a nuclear installation aimed at building an atomic bomb with aid from North Korea.

Also this week, Turkey and Russia agreed on a $20 billion project in which Moscow will build and own a controlling stake in Turkey's first nuclear power plant, as the two Cold War-era rivals try to build a strategic partnership.

The Middle East was a staging area for Cold War conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union for many years until the USSR collapsed in 1991. Are the Russians making a comeback into the region?

Recently there have been debates and articles published warning about the revival of Cold War-style regional confrontation due to Russia's recent activities in the Middle East; I disagree. Russia has no interest in repositioning itself as a regional superpower, nor does it have the desire to maintain a military strategic foothold in the region. Unlike the United States and China, Russia is not dependent on the Middle East for its energy supplies. The Russians are interested in economic opportunities, and for the past several years Russia has been re-establishing economic links and developing new interests in the region, including cooperation with Israel.

Although Russia differs with the US and Israel over its policy towards Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, its objective is to establish regional stability. For instance, Russia and the United States share the objective of the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and agree on many issues about Iran's nuclear file. Russia's engagement in the region should be viewed positively. The advantage Russia has over the United States is its ability to talk to all parties. The Russians are back, but this time in a positive way.

Follow Jamal on Twitter

Originally posted to mosaicnews on Fri May 14, 2010 at 05:33 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oh yeah, typical russian style - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    supporting every thuggish regime/organization on the planet (with the exception of Chechen terrorists of course).

    On a separate note: (I don't mean to hijack this diary but it's kinda interesting and provides a glimpse into the russian way of doing things):

    Russian authorities say the group of freed Somali pirates who hijacked an oil tanker are likely dead. The pirates originally captured by the Russian navy were released in an inflatable boat in open seas with no navigational equipment hundreds of miles from shore.

    Read more:

    Barack Obama: "Israel is a stalwart ally of the United States. As the only true democracy of the Middle East it is a source of admiration and inspiration..."

    by Borat Sagdiyev on Fri May 14, 2010 at 05:53:36 PM PDT

  •  The global financial (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Terra Mystica, Alec82

    crisis has seen a number of changes.

    The US and western Europe's relative might has been shaken. That doesn't mean that Russia or China will inevitably dominate but for Israel the value of its off and on role as a satellite of American and western European interests is not as it was before the crisis.  

    Israel survived the financial crisis well, mainly because of Stanley Fischer's good management, but israel is small, insignificant, and not that important in the scheme of things without solid healthy-US backing.

    I think that Iran and Syrian remain relatively strong because of the quick bounce back in oil prices. The Arab world is  awash with money even with the collapse of the property market in Dubai.

    Egypt remains a mess but not too much of a mess than before.

    So we are likely to see, now and then, Israel's desires ignored.  

    Previously I posted under the user name palestinian professor, which is now deprecated. I now post under my late grandfather's name simone daud.

    by simone daud on Fri May 14, 2010 at 06:08:19 PM PDT

  •  Does the Meshaal meeting signal some change, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis, elliott, Alec82

    either in the Russian outlook or Hamas's?

    Seems like this is a signal of moderation on Meshaal's part.  Did he have to satisfy some conditions to get this meeting?

    "Dega dega dega dega. Break up the concrete..." The Pretenders

    by Terra Mystica on Fri May 14, 2010 at 06:47:15 PM PDT

  •  The ex-Soviets in the current Israeli government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are going ballastic over Russia's new engagement in the region. Some thought Russo-Israeli relationship could compete with the US.  That's doubtful now, Russia's too independent and unpredictable.

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