Kawa Hassan, who leads EWI's Middle East and North America Program, speaks to Deutsche Welle Radio's Arabic Service on what the re-election of Russian President Vladimir Putin may mean in regard to the situation in the Middle East. Below are excerpts of his comments.
In the interview, aired on March 19, Hassan said President Putin perhaps will not try to play new political cards in that region.
He said Putin will keep using the threat of radical Islamist groups and the efforts to destroy them as ways to strengthen Russia's relations with regimes in the Middle East.
"Russia is trying to compete with the U.S. in Iraq through investment in oil fields [in the Kurdish region]. In the coming years, the [geopolitical] equation in the Middle East might not change against the interests of Russia particularly in Syria. The growing Russian influence there right now is less the result of Russian leverage and more due to the lack of clear U.S. strategy and vision, as well as to the fact that the EU is currently consumed with internal problems. But if Russia poses a threat to vital Western interests in Syria, that may lead to an escalation [of the rivalry]."