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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Russia’s New Middle Eastern Policy: Back to Bismarck?

Filed under: The Middle East
Publication: Jerusalem Issue Briefs

Vol. 6, No. 25    March 20, 2007

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has outlined a new Russian Middle Eastern policy and has made a precedent-setting visit to Saudi Arabia, and to other traditional American allies in the Middle East.
  • Russia has been increasing its sales of weapons to Middle Eastern countries, as well as to rogue and semi-rogue states. Russia is using the sale of weapons and nuclear reactors today the way imperial Germany used railroads before World War One – to attract allies, bolster influence, and undermine the dominant power in the Middle East.
  • Russia aims at becoming an alternative world superpower and is increasingly at odds with or opposed to the U.S. and the West.
  • The U.S. and the West should take steps to prevent the emergence of anti-American blocs, and to strengthen Western allies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Middle East in February was exquisitely timed to coincide with America’s nadir in the region, accentuated by controversial surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. Putin visited Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, traditional U.S. allies with very little prior Soviet or Russian presence.

After a combative speech in Munich on February 1, Putin delineated a new Russian Middle Eastern policy at odds with Washington in an interview with Al Jazeera, which coincided with his visit.1 Putin reiterated Russia’s opposition to the Iraq war, and disputed the justice of Saddam’s execution.

The Russian president was critical of U.S. promotion of democracy in the Middle East, citing as examples the empowerment of Hamas and Hizbullah as a result of parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, both of which were promoted by Washington. At the same time, using somewhat faulty logic, he justified Russia’s refusal to recognize Hamas and Hizbullah as terrorist organizations, on the basis of their victories in democratic elections.2 He refrained, however, from spelling out the deeper reasons for embracing Hamas and Hizbullah: the burgeoning ties with Iran, the sponsor of the two radical organizations; an attempt to build ties with major Islamic states and movements, which are supportive of Hamas; and efforts to keep Islamist support from reaching Russia’s volatile and increasingly Islamist communities in the Northern Caucasus and beyond.3

During his visit to the Saudi capital, Putin stunned the world with an offer to sell Saudi Arabia “peaceful” nuclear reactors. In addition, he offered 150 T-90 tanks and other weapons. During his Middle Eastern tour, the Russian president indicated Russia’s willingness to sell helicopters, build rocket-propelled-grenade (RPG) factories, and provide sophisticated anti-aircraft systems – the Pantsyr S-1 (NATO designation SA-22), TOR M1, and Strelets – and topped it off by offering the Saudis expanded satellite launches and an opportunity to join the Russian satellite navigation system, GLONASS.4

During his visit to Qatar, the third largest natural gas producer in the world, Putin also indicated that the Iranian offer to form an OPEC-style cartel of gas producers was “an interesting idea” – after his minister had dismissed it out of hand – and invited Saudi banks to open wholly-owned subsidiaries in Russia.

Putin summed up Russia’s new foreign policy and Middle Eastern policy as follows:

From the point of view of stability in this or that region or in the world in general, the balance of power is the main achievement of these past decades and indeed of the whole history of humanity. It is one of the most important conditions for maintaining global stability and security….

I do not understand why some of our partners [Europe and the U.S. – A.C.]…see themselves as cleverer and more civilized and think that they have the right to impose their standards on others. The thing to remember is that standards that are imposed from the outside, including in the Middle East, rather than being a product of a society’s natural internal development, lead to tragic consequences, and the best example of this is Iraq.

This realpolitik talk was praised in Arab capitals, where the old Soviet anti-Western and anti-Israel stance is still remembered fondly. King Abdullah I of Saudi Arabia bestowed on Putin the King Faisal Award, calling him “a statesman, a man of peace, a man of justice.” Quite a turnaround from the jihad against the Soviets funded by the Saudis twenty years ago, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It is also worth noting that Saudi Arabia officially decries the killing of 100,000 and displacing of 500,000 Muslims in Chechnya, and private groups based in the Gulf support terrorists there. Chechnya, however, was not mentioned during Putin’s visit, and the pro-Moscow secular ruler of Tatarstan, Minitimer Shaymiyev, who accompanied Putin, has received the King Faisal Award from Abdullah for his “service to Islam.”5 The Middle Eastern visit was not only about smiles and economic ties. Weapons sales figure prominently in the Russian agenda in the region.


Russian Weapons Sales to Syria

The Middle East by no means constitutes a new market for Russian weapons. The Soviet Union armed the region for decades, serving as a major arms supplier to such states as Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, and Yemen, often in exchange for mere promises of payment in the future. It was specifically this unpaid debt that led to a halt of weapons sales to Syria after the collapse of the Soviet state. Yet, in 1998-1999 sales resumed of such weapons as AT-14 Kornet-E anti-tank guided missiles, which reached Hizbullah and made their debut in the Second Lebanon War.6 Russia is now planning to sell Syria the more advanced AT-15, as well. Despite the fact that both sides were interested in increasing weapons sales, the unresolved issue of Soviet-era debt prevented any major deals. This obstacle to further development of Russian-Syrian relations proved to be a galvanizing force for Russia’s relations with Israel, especially in the area of counter-terrorism.

Though reestablishment of ties between Russia and Syria began as early as 1998, the relationship did not blossom until 2005. In fact, Bashar Assad’s visit to Moscow in January 2005 proved to be a turning point, as Russia made a decision to write off 73 percent of the Syrian debt, which totaled $13.4 billion. Sources in Moscow mentioned that Iran lobbied Russia for the Syrian debt to be forgiven, with the quid pro quo to materialize in the form of massive Iranian weapons purchases and other contracts.

With the Syrian military in dire need of modernization, and the Russian defense industry seeking to reclaim markets for weapons exports, a sale of Strelets air defense missile systems was concluded in 2005 despite protests from Israel and the United States. The sale of these vehicle-mounted, short-range, surface-to-air missiles was, in fact, a result of a concession on the part of Russia. At the time, Putin had indeed denied Syria its request for more robust air defense missiles, such as the S-300 and the Igla, and for the Iskander-E short-range ballistic missile. Some analysts expressed the opinion that Putin was displaying sensitivity to the security concerns of Israel.7

Syria, in the meantime, was supplying Hizbullah with Russian weapons. In 2006, Israeli forces found evidence of the Russian-made Kornet-E and Metis-M anti-tank systems in Hizbullah’s possession in southern Lebanon.8 The Russian response to accusations that it was supplying terrorist groups with weapons was an announcement, in February 2007, that Russia’s military will conduct inspections of Syrian weapons storage facilities with the goal of preventing the weapons from reaching unintended customers.9

Predictably, such developments placed considerable strain on the already-deteriorating relations between Russia and Israel. Aggravating the situation are reports of possible new weapons deals between Russia and Syria, and the near-completion of further delivery of Russian anti-tank missiles, the very same models as those found in Hizbullah’s possession in Lebanon. The tragic death of Ivan Safronov, the respected military correspondent of Kommersant daily who claimed to possess indisputable evidence of Russian intentions to sell modern Pantsyr-S1 anti-aircraft systems,10 MiG-29 fighter jets, and Iskander surface-to-air missiles to Syria via Belarus, has brought the issue to the headlines.11 Safronov reportedly obtained evidence of a sale at the Middle Eastern arms fair IDEX-2007, the timing of which coincided with Putin’s visit to the Middle East.

While Russia has denied the sale, lest it look guilty of supplying rogue states, the director of the Kupol weapons plant, Sergei Vasilyev, announced at the fair that Pantsyr-S1 systems had already been purchased by three Middle Eastern countries, though only one customer was named – the United Arab Emirates.12 There are reasons to believe that Syria is one of Kupol’s customers. This increase in Russian arms sales to Syria prompted immediate Israeli objections. Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres called for pressure on Moscow to stop the sale of weapons that threaten the security of Israel.13

For several years Russia has been attempting to engage in military cooperation with both Israel and Syria. However, the levels of cooperation with the two states are inversely related and an escalation of arms sales to Syria can only damage the relationship with Israel. Russian-Syrian military cooperation has gone through numerous stages: high levels of cooperation during the Soviet era, which was virtually halted until 2005, and now Russia’s attempt to balance its relationship with both Israel and Syria. However, Russia’s recent eastward leanings might indicate that Moscow is prepared to enter a new stage in its military cooperation with Syria, even if this is to the detriment of its relationship with Israel.


At Odds with the West

There are a number of factors behind Putin’s recent rhetoric and actions in the Middle East. First, by embracing Middle Eastern monarchies and Islamist authoritarianism in Iran, he is signaling that Russia continues to distance itself from Western norms of internal political behavior. This has important implications, since 2007-2008 are election years in Russia. Putin is now loudly rejecting the American approach of promoting democracy and human rights, which has stumbled and sputtered in the Middle East.

Second, Russia is following the Soviet model of opposing first the British and then the U.S. presence in the Middle East by playing to anti-Western sentiment in the “street” and among the elites. Putin’s Munich speech, his Al Jazeera interview, and his press conferences in Jordan and Qatar solidified the Kremlin’s public message of diplomacy, emphasizing its differences with Washington.

Third, the Russian leadership is concerned by the high birthrates of Muslims in Russia, especially compared to the decline of the Slavic Orthodox population. Russia is facing an increasingly radicalized Muslim population along its southern “soft underbelly,” particularly in the North Caucasus, where two wars in Chechnya (1994 and 1999), even though they were effectively crushed, led to the spread of Salafi Islam. Many young Russian Muslims view themselves more as members of the global Islamic Ummah (community) than as citizens of Mother Russia. Keeping Muslim powers such as Saudi Arabia and Iran at bay, preventing them from supporting insurgencies in Eurasia, and toning down radicalization through Islamist education and propaganda is an important policy item on the Kremlin’s agenda.

Finally, Russia is a high-cost oil producer, which benefits disproportionately from current high oil prices. Russia is the largest oil and gas producer in the world, and the largest oil exporter outside of OPEC. As such, it is interested in maintaining an environment of high energy prices, which results, inter alia, from tensions and conflicts in the Middle East. Russia is perfectly willing to sell weapons to both sides of the growing Sunni-Shia divide. This was made clear when the same nuclear reactors – peaceful, of course – and the same anti-aircraft systems were offered both to Iran and to the Arab Gulf states, which are increasingly nervous about growing Iranian military power and nuclear ambitions. ?s one Russian observer put it: weapons sales create allies.14 Russia is using the sale of weapons and nuclear reactors today the way imperial Germany used railroads before World War One – to attract allies, bolster influence, and undermine the dominant power in the Middle East.

February 2007 marked a watershed in Russian-American relations. Two key events – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Wehrkunde security conference in Germany, and his visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan – indicated Russia’s new role as an independent “pole” of power in the post-Cold War world. This is where Russia and its security elites have wanted to be ever since Yevgeny Primakov successfully undermined Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev in 1995, by moving from his Yasenevo HQ, where he presided over the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), to the foreign minister’s chair in the Stalinist “wedding cake” high-rise on the Smolenskaya Ploshchad’ (Smolensk Square).15

The cold shower that Putin unleashed on the United States at the international security conference in Munich should not have come as a surprise. After all, Putin himself and a host of other senior spokesmen, including Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov (one of the “official” heirs-apparent) and military Chief of Staff General Yuri Baluevsky, have said as much in the past.

The list of grievances that Putin lodged against the United States and the West is long. The main complaint is that the American “hyper-power” is pursuing its own unilateral foreign, defense, cultural and economic policies, is disregarding international law, and is ignoring the UN (where Russia has a veto at the Security Council). French President Jacques Chirac would be proud. However, Russia takes its opposition much further than France ever did.

Putin accused the U.S. of expanding NATO to Russia’s borders and deploying “five thousand bayonets” in each of its forward bases in Romania and Bulgaria. He blasted plans for U.S. missile defense bases in Central Europe, possibly in Poland or the Czech Republic, while mocking the stated goal of these installations – to defend against missile launches from Iran or North Korea. Putin clearly stated that the missile defenses are aimed at neutralizing the Russian retaliatory nuclear strike capability – a destabilizing factor in the Russian nuclear playbook.

Furthermore, Putin accused Washington of not fulfilling its obligations under nuclear disarmament treaties and attempting to hide hundreds of nuclear weapons in warehouses, “under the blanket and under the pillow.”

Adding to the rhetorical overkill, Putin blamed U.S. foreign policy for the failure of nuclear non-proliferation, thus implying that North Korean and Iranian efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction are justified or, at the least, can be “explained.”

Putin lambasted NATO members that refuse to ratify the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, criticized the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for promoting democracy, warned against Kosovo’s independence, and rejected Western criticism of Russia’s track record on human rights.

What were Putin’s guiding principles for international relations? He waxed nostalgic about the bi-polar world in which the U.S. and the USSR checked each other’s ambition through a balance of nuclear terror known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Many Russian and Western experts perceive Putin’s speech as proof that Russia is distancing itself further from the Euro-Atlantic community, if not an actual declaration of a new Cold War.


Back to the Future? Moscow’s Neo-Soviet Foreign Policy Offensive

Putin’s speech in Munich, followed by his trip to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan the week after, signaled clearly to Washington that Russia has broken with the West, as some of the more incisive analysts have warned for months.16 Moscow is pursuing a policy openly aimed at checking Washington’s power.

Moscow is using the full array of tools of modern international relations to achieve its goals: from public diplomacy to weapons sales, and from strategic information operations (SIOs) aimed at depicting America as a hyper-power out of control and a threat to the international community, to coddling terrorist organizations. Khaled Mashal, the top terrorist leader of Hamas, visited Moscow for the second time in a year,17 and Putin has repeated that Russia does not view Hamas and Hizbullah as terrorist bodies, despite numerous U.S. and EU resolutions to the contrary.18

Moscow has effectively broken the “united front” against international terror and is now aiming to cut a separate deal – a “hudna” – with Islamists.


Russia as an Alternative Superpower

Putin’s Munich speech has a number of domestic and international “drivers,” which add up to a picture of Russia craving strategic parity with the United States and defining its national identity in opposition to the West.

While Russians enthusiastically embraced private business, designer brands, and Costa-del-Sol Spanish vacations, they were slow to internalize pluralistic values, support freedom of speech and press, and defend human rights. The rule of law in Russia is a far cry from Western standards.

Several years of increasingly loud anti-American and anti-Western propaganda in pro-government and nationalist media have nurtured a generation of Russians who are ethno-centric and reject liberal values. Some 60 percent of those responding in a recent poll supported the slogan “Russia for Russians.”19 Sustained nationalist and anti-American brainwashing have bridged the gap between the old Soviet superpower chauvinism and the new Russian assertiveness, fueled by massive oil revenues and nationalism.

The “America-as-the-enemy” construct promoted by Kremlin-funded spinmeisters (known in Russia as “political technologists”) bolsters the legitimacy of the current regime, headed largely by former KGB officers, as the defender of Mother Russia. It rejects the idea of fully integrating Russia into the global economic and political community, as the other official “heir-apparent,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, suggested in his speech at the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2007.20

On the other hand, Putin’s visit to India, managed by Defense Minister Ivanov, during which he signed a deal for the joint development of a stealth fighter, and his Middle Eastern tour, indicate that Russia intends to play the role of an alternative superpower in the Eastern Hemisphere.

In particular, Russia is targeting the Muslim world, which is seething with anti-American and anti-Western discontent. Russia is providing arms and leadership in global frameworks and organizations, such as the UN. This course of action is bolstered by Russia’s status of observer in the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conference. While lacking the global reach of Soviet ideology, Russia’s policy is, nevertheless, limiting Washington’s freedom to maneuver as it wishes.

In an era of record-breaking U.S. military budgets, Russia does not want to fall too far behind. It is planning to spend $189 billion in the next five years for rapid military modernization. As announced on February 8 by Defense Minister Ivanov, the program includes new nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, a fleet of TU-160 supersonic strategic bombers, and the development of a fifth-generation fighter jet.21 Russia is also restarting the production of a heavily armed attack helicopter known as Black Shark.22 Such a program of military rearmament, with its conventional and nuclear focus, is clearly aimed at balancing U.S. military power, not fighting terrorists in the Caucasus Mountains. It needs the U.S. as “glavny protivnik” – the principal adversary.

Russia is also trying to corner the market in weapons sales, especially to rogue- and semi-rogue states. Russia is the largest supplier of arms to China and Iran; it signed a $3 billion arms deal with Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela over U.S. objections,23 and it is courting Middle Eastern buyers.

Russia is happy to play into the Arab and Muslim street’s anti-Americanism and to show that the U.S., which is facing severe difficulties in Iraq, does not exercise exclusive strategic dominance in the Persian Gulf and in the Middle East. Moscow is back – with a vengeance – in the most important energy depot of the world. Thus, it is no accident that Putin delivered his Munich speech on the eve of his visit to Saudi Arabia, the first for any Russian or Soviet leader, and to Qatar and Jordan, America’s allies in the Middle East.


Where Are We Going From Here?

From Washington’s perspective, the timing of Putin’s speech couldn’t be worse. With Iraq in limbo and Iran remaining truculent, the chances for Russian cooperation in taming Teheran’s nuclear ambitions are in doubt. Russia was recalcitrant in providing necessary pressure on Iran during the negotiations on UN Security Council Resolution 1737 in December 2006.

Moreover, Putin is indicating that Russia is willing to be the vanguard of the anti-American camp in Europe and the Middle East, and from Caracas to Beijing. Russia is putting not just military might behind its rhetoric, but economic muscle as well: Putin publicly entertained Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s idea of creating an OPEC-style cartel for natural gas.24 Such a cartel is far from easy to achieve since most natural gas is piped, rather than traded in spot markets, as liquid natural gas (LNG) is. Gas pricing is locked in with long-term contracts, and cannot be easily set by manipulating supply. Whether a gas bloc materializes, and whether it translates into a military alliance, remains to be seen.

Clearly, however, the new Middle East, in which U.S. power and prestige are threatened in Iraq, and where Moscow is challenging the U.S. superpower status, is going to be a more competitive and challenging environment. Today’s Middle East needs to be viewed with the realism and toughness its history and culture require.


What Should Washington Do? A Neo-Realist Approach

The image of a new Cold War may be too simplistic to describe the emerging relationship in Russia. In fact, Russian foreign policy has a distinctive post-Bismarckian tinge to it: muscular, arrogant, overestimating its own power and underestimating the American adversary it is busily trying to recreate. This policy is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, with dangerous consequences and a high price in treasury and, ultimately, in blood. Clearly, the post-communist honeymoon is over. A realistic reassessment of the relationship is in order.

The United States should remember that it is over-stretched and does not need a new Cold War with a major land power. The U.S. is fully engaged in two regional conflicts, in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in the global war on terror. Over the horizon, relations with China may one day become complicated. This is the time to avoid a rhetorical confrontation with Moscow. Nonetheless, it is good to remember that Moscow values certainty in relations and respects power and action. Deeds, not words, are necessary to send a message to the Kremlin that the U.S. and its allies will not be bullied, but that Washington is not interested in renewed hostility.

The U.S., as a status-quo power in the Middle East, should bolster its relations with pro-Western regimes in the Gulf. While some weapons sales and business projects will inevitably take place, only by maintaining a security umbrella in the Gulf can the U.S. have greater clout in the region than Russia. Washington should be providing military assurances to Gulf countries against Iranian encroachment, which Russia is incapable of giving; it should expand cooperation in the fight against terrorism, which threatens the Middle Eastern monarchies; and it should be competitive in cutting-edge economic ventures in which Russia lacks expertise, while granting access to U.S. capital markets for Middle Eastern business development projects in friendly countries.

It is also time to build bridges to potential Russian allies in order to prevent the emergence of anti-American blocs. The U.S. should also appeal to its traditional allies in Europe and elsewhere to recognize the changing geo-strategic balance in the Eastern Hemisphere, to boost mutual defenses, to coordinate energy policy, and to cooperate on energy security among consumers.

That being said, the U.S. should continue its dialogue and cooperation with Russia on matters of mutual concern, such as energy – especially nuclear energy, non-proliferation of WMD, space exploration, terrorism, and destabilizing sales of weapons.

After a 20-year hiatus, Russia is forcing its way back through the open Middle East door. Washington decision-makers had better take note.

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1. Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Interview with Arab Satellite Channel Al Jazeera,” February 10, 2007, at

2. Ibid.

3. Spengler, “Russia’s Hudna with the Modern World,” Asia Times, February 21, 2007, at

4. Ilya Bourtman, “Putin and Russia’s Middle Eastern Policy,” Middle East Review of International Affairs, vol. 10, no. 2 (June 2006):8.

5. The King Faisal Award was given to Shaymiyev in recognition of his role “in the service of the noble Islamic values.” See “King, Putin Grace King Faisal Award Function for Shamiyev,” Saudi Press Agency, February 12, 2007, at

6. Oksana Antonenko, “Russia’s Military Involvement in the Middle East,” Middle East Review of International Affairs, vol. 5, no. 1 (March 2001):5, at

7. Mark N. Katz, “Putin’s Foreign Policy Toward Syria,” Middle East Review of International Affairs, vol. 10, no. 1 (March 2006):59. Iskander-? is the export version of the Kolomna-designed 9M72 short-range missile currently in service with the Russian Armed Forces. Iskander-E has a range of 280 km., 120 km. less than its Russian Army analog, but still sufficient to hit Haifa and Tel Aviv.

8. “Israel Finds 39 Russian Missiles in Lebanon,” World, October 19, 2006, at

9. “Russian Specialists Will Inspect Weapons Storage Facilities in Syria,” Rosbalt, February 10, 2007, at

10. The Pantsyr-S1 carries 12 57E6 surface-to-air missiles on launchers. It is a close-in air defense system designed to defend ground installations against a variety of weapons including both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, ballistic and cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions and unmanned air vehicles. Its range is from 1 km. to 12 km. It can also engage light-armored ground targets. It was designed by the KBP Instrument Design Bureau of Tula, Russia. Source:

11. “Dead Russian Reporter Was Investigating Arms Sales to Iran, Syria,” AFP, March 6, 2007, at

12. “Russian Military Production Complex Conquers Middle East,”, February 20, 2007, at

13. “Peres Calls for Pushing Moscow to Stop Supplying Arms to Syria,” Ha’aretz, February 12, 2007, at

14. “Putin’s Tour of Mid-East Countries Boosts Cooperation with Them,” ITAR-TASS, February 19, 2007, at

15. Ariel Cohen, “The ‘Primakov Doctrine’: Russia’s Zero-Sum Game with the United States,” Heritage Foundation FYI No. 167, December 15, 1997, Washington, D.C.

16. Dmitri Trenin, “Russia Leaves the West,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 85, no. 4 (July/August 2006), at

17. “President Abbas in Cairo after European Meeting, Mashal in Moscow,” Palestine News Network, February 26, 2007, at

18. Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Interview with Arab Satellite Channel Al Jazeera,” February 10, 2007.

19. “Poll Shows Trust in Authorities Falling,” Ria Novosti, Russian News and Information Agency, at

20. Clara Ferreira-Marques, “DAVOS – Top Kremlin Official Medvedev Woos World Forum,” Reuters, January 27, 2007, at

21. Vladimir Isachenkov, “Russia’s Defense Chief Plans to Build New ICBMs,” New York Sun, February 8, 2007, at

22. “Russia Resumes Production of Legendary Black Shark Helicopters,” Pravda, February 1, 2007, at

23. Stephen Johnson, Ariel Cohen, and William L. T. Schirano, “Countering Hugo Chavez’s Anti-US Arms Alliance,” Executive Memorandum No. 1010, September 6, 2006, at

24. “Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Calls on Russia to Establish Gas OPEC with Iran,” MosNews, at

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Dr. Ariel Cohen is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security at the Sarah and Douglas Allison Center of the Davis Institute for International Studies at the Heritage Foundation.