10/7/15

Only few days ago I wrote a post on Russia in Syria, Syria – “Geopolitical Chernobyl.”

There have been few additional data points since, which I believe are very revealing as to Russia’s overall intent, yet I am seeing no one in the media discuss it.

The problem with all these pundits and, I fear, also with policy decision makers in government is that they are stuck in a narrow field of vision and are not able to think or look outside the box.

In my posting few days ago I highlighted Russia’s main goals. I will repeat just the important ones here:

  • Have strong leverage against the West by offering to stabilize Syria, and thus stop the refugee problem and eliminate ISIS as a major force. In consideration, gain concessions such as acceptance of Assad, tacit agreement of its Crimea and Ukraine territorial ambitions, and elimination of sanctions against it.
  • Achieve a significant rise in oil price by forcing a significant reduction in oil output by Saudi and other Gulf oil producers.

Those are still absolutely the most important goals. However, an additional goal—a much more ambitious one—is revealing itself, at least to me.

I referenced in the aforementioned post that I thought the future of the Kurdish de-facto state is in doubt and that it could easily be a side target of the Russian/Iranian/Iraqi cooperation, and that Russia may co-opt Turkey in the process.

Over the last few days some major developments occurred:

  • Putin, who before said no ground troops, announced that Russian “volunteer” forces would participate in the fighting in Syria.
  • Iraq is rumored to be asking Russia to actively fight in Iraq against ISIS.
  • Russian air forces repeatedly breached Turkish air space.

Regarding the last development, pundits are speculating that Putin intends to challenge NATO. Indeed, the Turkish president, who spent most of his 12 years plus in power spurning NATO in many ways in spite of Turkey being a member of the alliance, is now declaring that such incursions into Turkey’s territory are a threat to NATO etc., etc. The same pundits have been saying for two years now that one of Russia’s aims is to dismantle NATO by challenging it in the Baltic nations. I always thought that was nonsense as it is too small a prey for Putin. Latvia etc. are simply just nothing to him.

Here is what I believe to be Putin’s grand scheme: He wants Turkey. He will try to pry Turkey out of NATO and bring it into an alliance with Russia and Iran to control the Middle East. THAT will be a major coup for Putin. That will be earth-shattering and is surely his third major goal for the intervention in Syria.

Here is how it all will work according to my analysis of Putin:

  • Completely overpower and subdue the anti-Assad insurgents in Syria. Given his air power and the ground forces now fighting these insurgents, including the remnants of the Syrian army, Hezbollah, Iranian Quds forces and now Russian “volunteers,” that should not take longer than 3-4 months.
  • Once that is achieved, offer the West a deal to stop the refugee crisis and take care of ISIS in consideration of all the issues mentioned above. That would probably be a bigger military campaign and longer but could be achieved, to a large degree, by the end of the summer in 2016. ISIS will not disappear but will be relegated to a “normal” terror group instead of what it is now. The Syrian refugee crisis will be resolved by restoring order in Syria under the Assad dictatorship AND with TENS of BILLIONS of dollars from—you guessed it—the West, which will be used to rebuild Syria generally and enhance and secure Assad’s position there. One simply cannot escape the irony of this plan; it’s nothing short of Machiavellian!
  • By the summer of 2016 Putin will be ready for his master stroke. At the behest of Iran and Iraq, he will want to challenge the Kurds anyway. They are clearly a strong Western allied group and a thorn in the @*# of both Iraq and Iran too. But before embarking on this most difficult task he will want to get Turkey on board too.

Turkey’s problem with the Kurds is well known and the possibility of once and for all dealing a death blow to the ambitions of the Kurds to have their own statehood will be very tempting.

Turkish president Erdogan’s dictatorial tendencies are also well established. His long-term plan to achieve full dominance over Turkey by way of the ballot box was recently foiled by losing elections, which left him very frustrated. As a result, he broke up the peace talks he was having with the Turkey-based Kurds and started a military campaign against them in order to create interior tensions in Turkey in the hope that they will help him win the next elections—all normal tactics by dictators.

The temptation of joining the Russia/Iran alliance will be overwhelming for Erdogan:

  • It is clearly going to be the dominate alliance in the Middle East.
  • He could eliminate the Kurdish problem once and for all.
  • He could become a de-facto dictator in Turkey without fear of criticism from his new allies; in fact they may encourage him to do so, so that he can fit-in with them.
  • Showing a finger to Europe which snubbed Turkey’s efforts to join the EU for years would be just an added benefit.

It is true that the Turkish Sunni and the Iranian Shia are not the best of friends, but they are not as staunch an enemy as the Arabian Sunnis versus the Persian Shia are. Both Turkey and Iran can hatch a respectable arrangement to tolerate each other for a long enough duration to advance their joint hegemonic ambitions in the region.

So that is Putin’s grand plan. In addition to controlling oil prices, in addition to regaining full status as a superpower in the world by getting sanctions eliminated, he will deal a death blow to NATO by getting Turkey to not only leave NATO but to become part of the Middle East alliance controlled and led by Putin himself.

The incursions into Turkey’s airspace are, at best, an accident but probably part of his plan to show Turkey that it is better off with Russia. It prepares Turkey so that when he is ready to make them his offer it will be an offer they cannot refuse.

The biggest problem that Putin’s grand scheme has is the clock. He knows that in order to be sure he must get it done by late 2016 or very early 2017. As long as he has a novice in the White House he knows he can succeed. He cannot take the risk of a new, more serious president. That is his window; which explains the need for his “volunteer” forces. Time is essential. He needs to bring the battle in Syria to an end quickly so that he has enough time to deal with ISIS and then get Turkey to join—all before January 2017.

Fasten your seat belts; we are in for an “exciting” ride in the next 18 months.

Get ready for $100-a-barrel oil again.

Pity on the Kurds.

Oh well, they will join millions of others in the Middle East whose lives this president, Obama, is responsible for devastating.

Nice legacy.