Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 16, 2008

Saudis Bribe Russia Against Iran? No.

Are the Saudis trying to buy of Russia? That is what Kommersant reported yesterday:

[In] February, Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, paid a brief visit to Moscow to conduct negotiations with the then President Vladimir Putin. At that time the prince conveyed a personal message of King Abdullah, where Riyadh expressed its concerns over Iran’s growing impact in the Middle East. The authorities of the kingdom suggested that Moscow should scale down its cooperation with Teheran. In exchange, Saudi Arabia offered beneficial contracts.

Currently the well known Saudi weapon dealer Prince Bandar is in Moscow and is said to have specified the offer to pay Russia for distancing itself from Iran.

A Kremlin spokesperson denies the rumors:

"Any claims that military-technical cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia is in any way linked to Russian-Iranian dialogue are inappropriate and do not correspond to reality," said [Kremlin spokesman Dmitry] Peskov on Wednesday.

In this case I tend to believe the Kremlin spokesperson. The rumor might fit U.S. or Israeli intentions but it does not fit the real releations.

The weapon deal in preparation between the Saudis and Russia has a volume of some $2.3 billion over several years. That is less in financial volume than two days of oil production each for Saudi Arabia and for Russia. Such a modest bribe is certainly not big enough for Russia to give up on a strategic partnership with Iran. For comparison, the recent Saudi deal with Britain to buy Eurofighter planes is worth some $20 billion.

The Saudis will buy some weapons from Russia, T-90 tanks, BMP infantry carriers and helos, to have fun driving around and flying over their dunes. The helicopters may be useful for this or that ride of a prince to some foreign whorehouse but not for war. The Saudis don't fight their wars. They pay others to fight for them.

This small weapon deal is a simply a mild snub to the U.S. by the Saudis with the additional value of getting some access to Russian thinking. Russia has no reason to give up its good relations with Teheran. Iran is their direct land access route to the Gulf.  For several reasons such access might be very useful in the future.

The Saudis are more or less under U.S. control since Roosevelt signed a pact with King Ibn Saud 63 years ago. Unless the U.S. gives up fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan against those radical Salafi movements instead of going against their Saudi Wahabbi financies the Saudis are safe and the old pact will hold.

The Kremlin is certainly able to understand that.

Posted by b on July 16, 2008 at 18:54 UTC | Permalink


It's active speculation to envision the Saudis, as a favor to the House Of Bush, making an attempt to pay Russia to stand off in case of an Israeli strike on Iran, followed by an Iranian strike against Israel, followed by a quickly escalating American involvement in defense or Israel, followed by a Middle Eastern regional war with an ending no one can accurately predict.

Speculation. Right. How many carrier battle groups do we still have in the Gulf? And how long have we maintained them there?

Posted by: Jemand von Niemand | Jul 17 2008 3:37 utc | 1

How many carrier battle groups do we still have in the Gulf? And how long have we maintained them there? Zero in the Gulf for now.

In two month or so there will be a carrier surge because some will end their tour while other go on station. For a while there will be four or five 'available'.

Posted by: b | Jul 17 2008 5:03 utc | 2

We are living a very dangerous moment. When a high ranking State Department guy talks or gets near the Iranians the vibes tell me that those contacts are a smoke screen to justify a posteriori future aggression: " we did all we could to no avail". I think the Russians are as venal as everybody else. Let's remember that a few days ago we were told that aircraft carriers had moved into the Arabian sea. Everything is coming together as when a youth pants for a visit to a whorehouse disregarding all the dangers and future catastrophes.

Posted by: jlcg | Jul 17 2008 5:44 utc | 3

Guardian: US plans to station diplomats in Iran for first time since 1979

The US plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years as part of a remarkable turnaround in policy by President George Bush.

The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section - a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country.
The White House announced yesterday that William Burns, a senior state department official, is to be sent to Switzerland on Saturday to hear Tehran's response to a European offer aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff.

Burns is to sit at the table with Iranian officials despite Bush repeatedly ruling out direct talks on the nuclear issue until Iran suspends its uranium enrichment programme, which is a possible first step on the way to a nuclear weapon capability.

Posted by: b | Jul 17 2008 6:51 utc | 4

Smoke. Bush = theft, brutality.

Posted by: waldo | Jul 17 2008 13:58 utc | 5

The following two news articles by IRNA seem to confirm your view B:

Iran, Russia ink oil, gas accord

Head of Russian Federation Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines said Moscow opposes imposing any kind of sanctions against Iran, because such sanctions would hurt mutual trade and economic ties.

Recep Safarev on the sidelines of a joint meeting with heads of chambers of commerce of Ardebil province on Monday told IRNA, "Iran is an independent and influential country in the region of Middle East and has plenty of common interests with Russia."

Referring to the western countries pressure on Russia to sever economic and political ties with Iran, the official said " Russia, because of its long-term interests and the necessity of having a strong partner in the region of Middle East insists on continuation of cooperation with Iran."

He continued, "US and its European partners in imposing sanctions against Iran and imposing pressure on Russia to cut bilateral cooperation with Iran have political motives and Russia can only resist against such heavy atmosphere when it could have an important partner like Iran.

Safarev said, "Iran, because of its influence in the region can pave the way for expansion of cooperation between Russia and the region Arab countries."


Moscow opposes imposing sanctions against Iran: Official

National Iranian Oil Company and the Russian Gazprom on Sunday signed an agreement on development of Iran's oil and gas fields.

[...]The agreement was signed during an official ceremony attended by Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari and several officials from the Oil Ministry and NIOC.

[...]The agreement envisaged to boost recovery rates of Iran's oil fields and Russian help in transferring Caspian Sea crude oil to the Oman Sea.

The cooperation agreement also included possible participation of Gazprom in the planned peace pipeline that would deliver Iranian gas to India and Pakistan.

Cooperation in the development of Iran's North Azadegan oil field, part of the large Azadegan field in southwestern Iran, was also mooted in the agreement.

The South Pars field in the Persian Gulf has around 500 trillion cubic feet (14 trillion cubic metres) of gas, which accounts for about eight percent of the world gas reserves.

Azadegan is Iran's biggest onshore oil field with an estimated 42 billion barrels of crude oil in place and production started in February by Iranian firms after the Japanese partner Inpex quit the project.

Iran sits on the world's second largest proven oil reserves worldwide and is the number four crude producer and the second in the OPEC.

It also has the second biggest proven global gas reserves after Russia but so far has played only a minor role on the gas export market.

The Russians will sell arms to anyone, Iran today, the Saudis tomorrow. Only a year ago did they sell and deliver some 30 TOR air defense systems to Iran, a deal worth $1.4 billion. Great for shooting down Saudi choppers :)

What made me laugh when I read the story about the alleged Saudi arms deal bribe, was this line here:

"In essence, Russia was offered to become a major partner in the Middle East."

I mean, how funny can it get?

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jul 17 2008 17:06 utc | 6

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