Thursday, April 10, 2008

Russia's Role in the Middle East

Moscow is said to be planning to sponsor a Middle East peace conference of its own. Will this Russian-sponsored conference take off? If so, when? And who will be invited? The New York Sun claims that Russia may invite Hamas: Benny Avni, "Hamas Could Be Included in Moscow Parley" (10 April 2008). If that happens, the conference will be an important event; if not, it won't be very different from Annapolis in terms of lack of progress one way or another, though it will certainly be free from Washington's anti-Iran campaign which was the unstated aim of the US-sponsored conference last year, a fact that is significant in itself. (It will be even more momentous if Russia can bring Iran and Israel to the same table, along with Hamas and Hizballah, though that can't happen now.)

Hamas delegates, on Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation, visited Moscow in March 2006, and in March this year Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Syria, so the inclusion of Hamas is not out of question. But if Hamas were going to be invited, Washington would be vigorously opposed to the idea, whereas Igor Neverov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's North America Department, claims it isn't according to a 10 April 2008 Kommersant article "Russia's Role in Middle East Discussed" (though he may have said what he said because he was speaking in Jerusalem).

No comments: