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Julia Roknifard

Ph.D. in History, Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham (Malaysia), RIAC expert

Grigory Lukyanov

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Sciences, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Research Fellow at the Center of Arab and Islamic Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, RIAC expert

Mohammad Waqas Jan

Senior Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute (Pakistan)

This report is the result of a collaborative study performed by the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI). The report is devoted to analyzing the role of Russia and Pakistan in Middle Eastern processes as well as the two states’ policies in the Persian Gulf subregion. Experts determine the areas in which the strategic and diplomatic interests of the two states converge. This work also examines Russian and Pakistani positions towards regional competition, influence of external actors and prospects for cooperation in the sphere of security in the Persian Gulf.

RIAC and Strategic Vision Institute Report #50 / 2020

This report is the result of a collaborative study performed by the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI). The dynamics that both Russia and Pakistan face from the Middle East and the Persian Gulf are of particular importance in identifying areas where the strategic and diplomatic interests of both countries converge. This report includes two papers authored by RIAC experts, Julia Roknifard and Grigory Lukyanov, on the Russian side and SVI researcher, Mohammad Waqas Jan, on the Pakistani side. Julia Roknifard and Grigory Lukyanov analyse Russian policies towards security issues in the Persian Gulf. In addition, Russian authors presented a history of rapprochement between the positions of Russia and the Gulf States in this area within the context of Russia’s «return» to the Middle East. Wakas Jan examines Pakistan’s foreign policy and its growing role in the Middle East security system, which is determined by the region’s geopolitics. He demonstrated the need for the arrangement of new foreign policy guidelines for Pakistan, due to recent changes in the great powers’ policy path and their influence on the regions of South Asia and the Middle East.

Russia and Pakistan are traditionally considered potential intermediaries when it comes to defusing tensions between the Gulf monarchies and Iran. Islamabad’s traditionally neutral stance was a deciding factor in 2019, when Saudi Arabia unofficially selected Pakistan as an intermediary in the talks on the problems between the Gulf monarchies and between Tehran and Riyadh. Pakistan’s strategic neutrality puts it in a favourable light. Since Russia and Pakistan maintain working contacts with all actors, they could advance joint proposals on improving the situation in the Persian Gulf.

As it is discussed in the papers, both Russia and Pakistan’s role within the security architecture of the region has been to maintain stability first and foremost. As such, both countries’ approach has been to preserve the status quo, rather than radically alter it. This approach stands in marked contrast to the US’s role for instance, which, even though it is also premised on promoting stability, imposes certain transformational demands on which US support and assistance remain conditional. In comparison, both Russian and Pakistani support is neither based on any such conditions, nor tied to any overarching policies of intervening directly in the socio-political and economic systems of Middle Eastern countries.

Instead, their relations are based on a long history of diplomatic ties that have maintained a shared socio-economic affinity. One stems directly from the region’s close geographic proximity to both Russia and Pakistan which in itself pre-dates the modern international system. These ties, when approached via a possible multilateral framework (such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), for instance), have immense potential in helping mediate existing tensions within the region. Both Russia and Pakistan, by drawing on their own bilateral relations with the Middle East’s major powers, can thus play a key role in arbitrating existing disputes and tensions, such as the ongoing rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia to help bring about greater stability and less uncertainty.

Russia and Pakistan in the Middle East: Approaches to Security in the Gulf, 3.2 Mb

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