By Micah HalpernI've Been Thinking:
According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia has offered Russia $15 billion to give up on Assad of Syria.
The Saudis are asking Russia to stop pumping money in weapons and knowhow into the Assad forces. Most importantly, they want Russia to stop blocking the UN Security Council.
In return, in addition to the $15 billion, Saudi Arabia has made other promises to Russia. They promise that Damascus will be controlled by Saudi Arabia. That arrangement would be far more pro-Russia than the Islamist regime that would emerge after Assad.
The Russians said no to the deal for several reasons. One reason is that they probably did not believe that Saudi Arabia could deliver.
More than that, Russia is now at the top of their game in the Middle East. They have created an important nexus bringing Iran and Syria together and, as a byproduct of that arrangement, they are causing great harm to US interests in the region.
Russia now enjoys more influence in the region than it has in decades. There is no way Russia will give that up -- not even for $15 billion.
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