Russia trying to regain its former cold war role in the Arab world

Russia yesterday moved to expand its growing military influence in the Middle East when it announced it is giving Lebanon 10 fighter jets, in the most significant upgrade of Lebanon's military since the civil war ended almost two decades ago.

Russia's defence ministry said it was giving the secondhand MiG-29s to Beirut free of charge. The gift was part of a defence cooperation deal that would see Moscow train Lebanese military personnel.

Russia is also reportedly preparing to sell SA-20 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran.

Or they are maybe just doing business like everybody else. I don't think Russia will regain its former cold war role in the Arab world (an expression I really hate to use because, politically, there is no such a thing as an 'Arab world'). At the height of its power, the USSR was able to engage its military only defensively in Eastern Europe and Cuba. Their cold war role in the ME was minimal. It did not prevent Israel from expanding. Thanks also the the political divisions in the Arab world.
One of the main reasons also for the short lived rule of communism in the USSR is that it was unable, and its leaders unwilling, to propagate and exert its military influence in far and away countries like Capitalism and the US did successfully. In fact, the cold war role on the international level of the USSR was pretty much exagerated by the US in order to instill fear, they have been doing the same with Bin Laden.
Another reason to this rapprochement between Russia and the Arab world could be that Russia, after an initial period of hostility with the Muslim population in the former soviet republics, is trying to ease things with them and secure its borders at home. I see the move not as a defiance directed at the US and Israel but as a sign of consolidation of relations on its frontiers with Muslim republics, a security concern prompted by the Georgian crisis.

P.S. Contrary to what the article linked to here may suggest, Iran is not part of the Arab world.

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Since March 29th 2006