JAFFA, Israel – Saudi Arabia has ways to influence Russia’s Middle East policy other than oil, a high-profile Saudi journalist with close ties to the royal family suggested on Wednesday.
In an article published in the London-based Asharq al Awsat, Mshari Elzaydi said he was relaying the opinions of former Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
“The minister said that Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam, and where Muslims around the world look up to,” he wrote. “Moscow has to take into account the fact that 20 percent of its population is Muslim, and that they should be treated well. Right now, however, they try to take over Muslim lands, and the language they use to do it is Sukhoi [a Russian-made fighter jet].”
Russia has to understand that only five percent of its Muslim population is Shi’ite, and the others are Sunni, Elzaydi wrote.
“That’s why they cannot continue to support a sectarian regime in Syria that offends Sunni Muslims around the world.”
“In order to win the war on terror, Muslims have to be recruited as well,” he added. “This is why Russia needs to have the Muslims on their side if they want to eradicate ISIS.”
Meanwhile, Russia and Syria have been clashing over a prospective peace summit in Geneva, where representatives of the regime and opposition groups will engage in talks.
Russia has vetoed the participation of the Saudi-backed Army of Islam, which they brand a terrorist organization. The organization’s chief commander, Zahran Alloush, was assassinated by Russia last month.
Saudi Arabia, for its part, says that Russia’s goal isn’t to beat terror, but to ensure the survival of its ally President Assad.