Russia’s military intervention in Syria has the potential to shift the long-term geostrategic outlook for the Middle East. With that in mind, this new RD report takes a closer look at why Russia got involved in Syria, elaborates on the characteristics of a more proactive Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, and weighs the potential risks and rewards of Russian involvement in Syria. 

As the report points out, an important factor to keep in mind is the changing narrative within Russia with regard to the Arab Spring and the rise of radical Islam within the Middle East. While Russia originally saw the events within the Arab world as a type of Western color revolution, that narrative has been revised to include a more nuanced view of the competing interests in the region and the role that ISIS plays in destabilizing states such as Syria. The long-term view is that radical Islam, if left unchecked, has the potential to radicalize the Muslim population within Russia.

How events play out in Syria will have important implications not just for Russia, but also for the United States and important regional powers such as Iran, Israel and the Gulf monarchies. 

Video by Anna Levicheva

The authors of the report are Irina Zvyagelskaya, professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences; Maxim Suchkov, associate professor at Pyatigorsk State Linguistic University; Michael Kofman, fellow at the Kennan Institute of the Wilson Center; Ian Parmeter, former Australian diplomat, and Eyal Zisser, professor at Tel Aviv University.

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