Two months ago Vladimir Putin played a game of chess that cooled the tempers from rising toward a global world war. The U.S. believed the game to be checkers which would be over after a double or triple jump. Fortunately President Obama decided that the board was set up with strange looking pieces and decided not to play the game. It looks however like Mr. Putin never stopped playing.
Sec. of State Kerry visited both Egypt and Saudi Arabia over the weekend, he made almost no statement afterwards nor was there any sort of public communique. Sometimes "no news is good news" but not in this case. No statement means that no deal was struck nor was any wounds healed. Instead, in the background while Mr. Kerry was trying to smooth over diplomatic divides, Russia was negotiating a deal with Egypt to use and construct a naval port in the Suez Canal region.
This is important why you ask? First off, Russia was "thrown out" of Egypt back in 1972 so any deal now would be a reversal of their eviction. A port in the canal area will give them a stronghold over shipping. It would also show not only a "thaw" in relations but a genuine warming. This should not come as a surprise as the U.S. who once always did what we said, now cannot be counted on to either do or not do as we say. As I have said before, "trust" is the most important aspect when business is conducted and is exactly what we have been undermining willfully or not.
We have since the potential Syrian conflict pulled most of our naval assets out of the region, Russia has not. In fact they have slightly expanded their presence and are now off the coasts of Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, the Suez Canal and Libya. The fear has been for several years that Israel will attack Iranian nuclear sites, Russian naval vessels off of their coast adds another piece to the Israeli/Iranian chess game. Like it or don't like it, Russia/Putin have positioned themselves militarily AND diplomatically in a favored position in the Gulf oil region...a position that the U.S. held since the 1940's.
I ask you this, if you were a business partner that had no qualms and had no plans of "changing" the arrangement, would you host your "partner's" foe a week before high level talks? Would you at least issue a press release that "all was made happy" during these high level talks? We have not heard anything from Egypt nor Saudi Arabia and very little from John Kerry. You could almost say "crickets."
One last question and this one involve a little speculation. If you were losing confidence in your business partner and considering to no longer do business with them (not using their currency), how would you act towards them? Have you ever seen a couple before they broke up? One or both start acting a little squirrely, the communication is tense and not as free flowing as during good times? This is what I think you are seeing now. The U.S. is being "distanced." We are being distanced through little or no communiques and even distanced publicly as John Kerry was placed in the back row at the end and by himself after the Asian business summit. I caught some flack last month while pointing this out and was told "tall guys in the back?" I don't think so Tim (Allen). The U.S. has always (in my lifetime) been at the front and at the center of every business, military or diplomatic meeting of any sort...ALWAYS! But this has changed. A lot has changed. So much so that we seem to be playing checkers while the game is chess!