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Title: Russia in the Middle East: Implications for US Foreign Policy
Authors: Tracy, Michelle
Advisors: Kotkin, Stephen
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: Russia’s entrance into the Syrian Civil War was largely considered a surprise in the field of international relations, with many comparing the recent conflict of Russian and US interests in both the Ukraine and in Syria to the old Cold War Dynamics of the former rivals. This thesis aims to take a historical view of Russian foreign policy in the Middle East beginning with the Soviet Union advisors sent to Egypt in the 1950s through to the present day conflict in Syria. In analyzing how historical Russian foreign policy in the Middle East may inform Russian strategy today, this thesis will address how such an understanding can play a role in both peace negotiations in Syria as well in US Middle Eastern policy more broadly. Specifically, is there room for Russia to play a role in US Middle Eastern policy? My thesis concludes that Russian foreign policy has broadly applied ideological and legal trappings to tactics that in actuality serve a geopolitical driven strategy. In contemporary foreign politics, as can be seen in Syria, Russia uses a defense of state sovereignty as a means of balance against the West, as well as a means of discrediting the current system and pushing towards a more multipolar, regionally oriented international order. Acknowledging this, US foreign policy could made use of Russian regional ambitions by working towards greater cooperation in the Middle East where Russian and US interests can conceivably overlap. In Syria, the US should tone down demands that Assad go, and instead focus on finding a multilateral solution. The Kurds may provide an interesting point of overlap for Russian and US interests in Syria as well, though this must be balanced with commitments to Turkey as a NATO ally as well. Finally, cooperation with Russia in the Middle East may help to address Russian desires for greater regional influence and recognition, while lending some credibility and a new dimension to US policy and influence in the region.
Extent: 95 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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