Putin has established Russia as perhaps the single-most important external actor in the Middle East," Christopher Granville, managing director of EMEA and global political research at TS Lombard, told CNBC on Wednesday. Granville agreed that Russia could assert itself as a key player in a regional peace process, although tensions are running so high between Israel and Palestine, let alone the wider Islamic world, that the process looks unlikely to see progress any time soon. "Russia is certainly better positioned to have constructive contacts with different countries and players on both sides of the barricades… wheras the U.S. has cast in its lot — lock, stock and barrel — with one side, broadly that of Saudi Arabia and Israel," he said. Granville said that while Russia was in a good position to deal with all parties involved, it might not want the difficult role of peacemaker, or "honest broker," in peace talks. "Russia is better placed to deal with everyone — although the role of an 'honest broker' in the peace process is an invidious and somewhat doomed role," he said.
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