Russian President Vladimir Putin's Syrian gambit was a fatal mistake that may soon destroy Russia and Putin himself. Putin’s strategy in Syria makes the Titanic look watertight.
It’s gotten so bad for Putin in the Syrian quicksand that a Russian analyst, Leonid Issaev, who actually lives in Russia, just published an article in al-Jazeera entitled, “Russia is at a dead-end in Syria, Russia is struggling and failing to find a way out of the Syrian quagmire.” Mr. Issaev’s thesis is that “the Kremlin’s gamble to use the conflict in Syria to normalize relations with the West after the disaster in Ukraine is not paying off. Moscow is appearing to be stuck in Syria, entangled in Damascus’ and Tehran’s desperate plots.”
For a Russian analyst living in Russia to openly declare Putin’s Syria policy a “dead-end” without fearing for his life shows how truly dire the Syrian situation is for Putin.
I, however,wouldn’t say Putin has hit a “dead-end.” I would say that it is much worse, in fact, a potentially fatal, disaster for Putin and Russia that is worsening by the day.
Putin has been geo-strategically reduced to being a pawn of the two greatest sponsors of state terrorism and genocidal war criminals on the planet earth today, Assad and Iran.
This result was predictable - and was predicted right here on Arutz Sheva, where President Putin was warned in my articles that his policies in Syria were going to be fatal.
On December 7, 2015, over a year and a half ago, when everyone was writing about Putin’s “Victory in Syria,” I wrote, “Putin has checkmated himself into a lose-lose Syrian debacle, There is no way Putin can come out a winner in the situation he has created for himself.”
In this article I essentially warned Putin he was winning Syria for Iran, the world’s greatest terrorist state, not for mother Russia.
On January 2, 2017, a half year ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Iran will be the winner if Putin is victorious in Syria,The war is far from over, but winning it can spell disaster for Putin and for the West.” I reiterated the theme that “the time has now come to assess what a Russian end-game in Syria could look like if Russia wins. On that score, as I wrote in 2015, Russia turns Iran into an Islamic terrorist colossus that is a threat to Russia. And Iran is a catastrophic threat that is about to acquire nuclear weapons.”
Now, with every day that passes in June 2017, Russia’s position in Syria becomes increasingly dire, with no escape. For Putin, what was to be geo-strategic way to make up for the invasion of Ukraine has become an albatross he will have to pay dearly to remove from his neck.
The numbers tell the tale of Russia's situation:
1. Russian Gross National Product(GNP) in 2014, 2.2 Trillion
2. Russian Gross National Product in 2016, 1.3 Trillion
3. New York State GNP in 2016, 1.4 Trillion, (only the third highest state after California, 2.5T, and Texas, 1.7T, and the total US GNP at 18.2T)
4. Oil is about $40 per barrel, and going down.
5. US Population 320 Million
6. Russia Population 144 Million, including about 15% Muslims, almost all Sunni.
The upcoming Russian Presidential elections are on March 18, 2018, nine months away.
Of course, Putin will win. But, Putin has run out of time to showcase a “Syrian win.” He has an economy in free-fall with no safety net, and a population that sees his Syria adventure as a disaster with no exit in sight.
And that’s just the tip of Putin’s troubles in Syria. Putin now sees President Trump with the entire Sunni world behind him fighting his partner, the greatest state sponsor of terror in the world. Trump’s strategic goal in Syria should be – and surely is – preventing Shiite Iran from carrying out its master plan. Iran wants control in Iraq and Syria so as to clear the way for a trans-Iraq-trans-Syria path from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.
That should be Russia’s strategic goal as well. But, alas, Putin has made Iran as its terrorist bedfellow in Syria. Putin’s idea was to have a “one-night stand” with Iran in Syria, but that has turned into a marriage to a genocidal Safavidic murderer with imperial ambitions. Putin should have paid attention to Ariel Sharon’s admonition to “never trust anybody in the Middle East.”
Unfortunately for Putin, time is on Trump’s side. As the days go by, Iran will get more leverage in their partnership and Russia will get less. It cannot afford to stay in Syria forever, so, in reality, Putin has already been rendered a strategic nullity in Syria in that he has no real leverage. Putin has been reduced to relaying Iran’s territorial demands in Syria to Trump.
Putin’s only means of gaining tactical Syrian leverage are to either threaten cataclysmic military action against the US and American backed forces in Syria or to back Iran’s Syrian demands. Both of these tactical choices will cause Putin’s strategic goal of repairing Russia’s relationship with the United States to fail dismally.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s advice leading Russia to get involved in Syria from 2014 to 2017, makes Molotov seem like a genius. Molotov, it will be recalled, signed the fatal 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact that allowed Hitler the freedom to carry out his plans for Europe, only to be double-crossed by the Nazis two years later.
Mark Langfan is Chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI) and specializes in security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com.