Russia Consolidates Power in Middle East

Two stories that illustrate how Russia is building its power in the Middle East as America’s influence shrinks to almost nothing.

Story #1.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Iran has signed contracts worth $21 billion to buy satellite equipment and aircraft from Russia, Manouchehr Manteghi, the managing director of Iran Aviation Industries Organization, said in an interview with Russian agency Sputnik on Saturday.

Manteghi said the contracts had been signed at the MAKS-2015 air show in Russia last month.

Story #2.

Russia has stepped up its military involvement in Syria in recent weeks, with U.S. officials accusing Moscow of sending combat aircraft, tanks and other equipment to help the Syrian army.

Russia’s sudden military build-up this month in support of Assad and a refugee crisis that has spilled over from the region into Europe have lent new urgency to attempts to resolve the Syria conflict.

The new U.S. tack on Syria could bring together Russia, Saudi Arabia and countries such as Turkey and Qatar, which support Syrian opposition groups.

U.S.-Russian relations have slumped to a post-Cold War low over the Ukraine crisis, though the two sides shares concerns about the threat posed by Islamic State, while disagreeing on the approach.

UPDATE:

Let’s add a 3rd story:

(CNN)Iraq says it has reached a deal to share intelligence with Russia, Iran and Syria in the fight against ISIS militants.

The announcement on Saturday from the Iraqi military cited “the increasing concern from Russia about thousands of Russian terrorists committing criminal acts within ISIS.”

The news comes amid U.S. concerns about Russia’s recent military buildup in Syria and would appear to confirm American suspicions of some kind of cooperation between Baghdad and Moscow.