Russia, Islamic World, Developing Similar Global Geopolitical & Trade Views

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Russia’s moves to Muslim markets is proceeding as Moscow eyes a huge Islamic market fed by Russian Muslim entreprenuers 

Russia and the Islamic nations share many common views on global affairs and geopolitical developments, Syrian Ambassador to Moscow Bashar Jaafari has stated during the ‘Russia-Islamic Forum’ held in Kazan, Russia last week.

The forum hosted over 7,000 attendees from 85 nations. Kazan is Russia’s 5th largest city and has a significant Tartar Muslim heritage and culture dating back centuries.

Jaafari said that Moscow and Muslim nations should send what he called a crystal-clear political message about this shared vision, as it is urgent for the world to hear this. He called for a formal “political declaration” to be signed by Russian and Islamic leaders.

Jaafari explained that the existing model of international relations needs to change soon. “The world needs to quickly move from the unipolar system to the multipolar system,” he said, calling for “more balance” and “more justice.” “Enough sanctions, invasions, overthrown governments,” the ambassador said, suggesting that people are “fed up” with the belligerent foreign policy of Washington and its allies. “Enough is enough.”

The Ambassador accused the US of pursuing hypocritical policies, saying Washington supports Syria’s territorial integrity and independence in name only when voting at the UN Security Council, while still occupying parts of its territory. In addition to targeting Damascus with sanctions, “they steal our oil and gas, and our wheat harvest, causing huge economic damage to our nation,” Jaafari said. He also praised what he called the “century-long history of relations” between Syria and Russia, ties that go “beyond” the strategic level.

Earlier this month, Syria was invited back into the Arab League after a 12-year suspension from the organization.

The decision followed a high-level meeting in Amman between Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq, where all parties vowed to “support Syria and its institutions to establish control over all of its territory and impose the rule of law.”

Damascus also restored diplomatic relations with Riyadh this month, nearly a decade after the nations cut ties.

Russian-Islamic World Trade & Security 

The political rhetoric aside, Russia has been actively reaching out to the Middle East as part of its overall diplomatic and trade pivot to Asia. That has meant cooperation in regional security, most notably via the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which includes Islamic members Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as dialogue partners and observers Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Maldives, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, Turkmenistan and the UAE. Then there is the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) which includes Islamic members Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

In terms of trade, Russia has also been concentrating efforts in Africa, the Middle East and Central and South Asia in a concerted effort to replace Western markets with Asian ones. That includes a huge push towards Islamic markets from Iran to Indonesia.

An Islamic expansion of the BRICS is also on the cards, with Islamic nations Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and the UAE all keen to join.

Illustrating this push towards Islamic markets is last week’s decision to standardize Halal certification protocols in Russia, allowing greater coordination between Russia and other Muslim markets in food supply chains.

Dezan Shira & Associates assist Russian businesses into markets throughout Asia and can advise on research into Asia’s Islamic markets. The practice has offices in Dubai, Indonesia, and Malaysia, in addition to China, and India which also have sizable Muslim populations. For assistance, please contact  

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