'King Salman of Saudi Arabia's official visit to Moscow marks the end of a long animus between Russia and Riyadh. While many will welcome this new reality, some traditional allies of both parties could be concerned at the potential ramifications of detente.
The term ‘historic’ is overused. But this time it’s surely merited. The 81-year-old Salman hasn’t ventured to the chilly and autumnal Russian capital to take its waters. The Saudi monarch has instead come to turn a new page in a relationship which has been either non-existent or downright hostile, for decades.
Let’s be clear about something: Saudi Arabia has long been America’s chief ally in the Islamic world. Furthermore, many in Riyadh are convinced their country was chiefly responsible for the collapse of the USSR. Something they claim to have achieved both by depressing oil prices and funding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, who bogged down the Soviet army in a lengthy war of attrition. In fact, the chief architect of the latter policy was Salman himself, back in his days as a mere prince.
In the 1990s, some groups in Riyadh directed their attention to the new Russian Federation, backing jihadists in the restive southern Caucasus. Meanwhile, informed analysts blame the Saudis for exporting Wahhabism, identified by the European Parliament as the main source of global terrorism, which has caused endless headaches for the Kremlin. Ranging from the so-called "Caucasus Emirate” to the rise of ISIS.'
Read more: Saudi King Salman's Moscow visit could create new Middle East dynamic
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