Military, energy deals crown first visit by Saudi king to Russia

Reaffirming his commitment to regional security, King Salman said that Iran must “stop meddling in internal affairs of the countries in the region.”

New chapter. Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, on October 5. (AFP)

2017/10/08 Issue: 126 Page: 1

The Arab Weekly
Mohammed Alkhereiji

London- Saudi King Salman bin Ab­dulaziz Al Saud completed a successful state visit to Mos­cow, hailed by both sides as a turning point in bilateral relations that could affect regional politics and the world’s energy mar­kets.

The visit was the first by a Saudi monarch to Russia and is in line with the kingdom’s new assertive foreign policy designed to strengthen rela­tions with traditional allies and ex­plore opportunities with potential new partners. The shift follows a perceived lack of engagement from Washington in recent years, despite ties improving between the two countries under the Trump admin­istration.

King Salman, joined by a delega­tion of Saudi officials and business­men, signed several economic and military agreements with the Rus­sian Federation, which is going through an economic downturn be­cause of US-led Western sanctions and low oil prices.

Riyadh agreed to the purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defence system. A memorandum of understanding aimed at helping Saudi Arabia de­velop its domestic military indus­try was also signed. The air defence system, Russian media reported, is worth $3 billion and the sale is to be finalised at a World Trade Organisa­tion meeting this month.

An agreement to establish a $1 billion energy investment fund between the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF), oil gi­ant Aramco and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) was also finalised during the king’s trip.

No political breakthroughs were made on Syria, however. Riyadh and Moscow support opposing sides in the country’s conflict. Both coun­tries did agree on the need to pre­serve Syria’s territorial integrity and state institutions and both are to ad­dress unifying the fragmented Syr­ian opposition in preparation for the next round of peace negotiations.

As the Saudi king’s visit to Russia was winding down, US officials an­nounced that the sale of a THAAD anti-missile defence system, worth an estimated $15 billion, to Saudi Arabia had been approved.

“This sale furthers US national se­curity and foreign policy interests and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other re­gional threats,” a statement by the Pentagon’s Defence Security Coop­eration Agency said.

THAAD, which can detect threats 1,200km away, is designed to inter­cept long-range missiles before or in the early phase of re-entry. The po­tential sale to Riyadh is considered a defensive move against Iranian mis­sile development. The S-400 system can more effectively defend against attacking aircraft and other weap­onry, including ballistic and cruise missiles, inside 400km.

Iran and its proxy groups, such as Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi mili­tia, are seen in most of the Gulf Co­operation Council (GCC) as the big­gest regional threat, with efforts in traditional diplomacy failing to yield significant results.

After Tehran struck a nuclear deal with world powers, Riyadh adjusted its strategy for countering its efforts by expanding its influence in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The war in Yemen is an attempt to restore the country’s legitimate government, which was ousted by the Iran-backed Houthi militants.

Reaffirming his commitment to re­gional security, King Salman, during his Moscow visit, said that Iran must “stop meddling in internal affairs of the countries in the region and halt its activities to destabilise the situa­tion in the region.”

Mohammed Alkhereiji is the Arab Weekly’s Gulf section editor.

As Printed
Editors' Picks

The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

Senior Editor: John Hendel

Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

Regular Columnists

Claude Salhani

Yavuz Baydar


Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

Thomas Seibert (Washington)

Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi


Ibrahim Ben Bechir

Hanen Jebali

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Contact editor

Subscription & Advertising:

Tel 020 3667 7249

Mohamed Al Mufti

Marketing & Advertising Manager

Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

Al Arab Publishing House

Kensington Centre

177-179 Hammersmith Road

London W6 8BS , UK

Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

Follow Us
© The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved