Who is worse, Putin or Al-Baghdadi?
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Daesh
This story is far more dangerous than Aleppo despite the atrocities that are taking place in and around there. The story is bigger than Mosul despite the city’s importance in the Iran-Turkey balance on Iraq’s sick land. The story is far larger than the dismantling of a state here or there and the deadly Sunni-Shia rivalry. It is larger than the wave of killing sprees and the refugees. The story is bigger than Daesh.
We are at the starting point of a Russia versus the West challenge for hegemony that puts the world’s economy and stability at stake. There is no point in comparing it to the past when countless soldiers died, or even the Cuban missile crisis because, today, we are living in a completely different world.
I am not making hasty assumptions or claiming that certain emotive scenarios will unfold. I will stop and consider the words of an official who is not quick to make assumptions: “It is a fallacy to think that this is a new Cold War,” said German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier. “The current times are more difficult and more dangerous.”
Similarly, Wolfgang Ochner, who was an intermediary for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe during the Ukrainian crisis, has pointed to the “big risk” of military confrontation. “This risk cannot be compared to anything that has happened for decades between the West and the East. It is not nearly as weak as that.”
What has taken place in the UN Security Council, with regards to both the French and Russian initiatives for solving the Aleppo crisis, further supports the statements made by German officials. It is not a simple matter for Western European states to make the hefty accusation of “war crimes” against Russia for its actions in Aleppo. Moscow could easily respond by saying that France’s initiative further fosters and protects terrorists.
Russia will not allow any party to draw red lines that will limit its room to manoeuvre in Aleppo and Syria at large. Moscow’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, killed the chances of the French initiative by using the Russian veto; it was the fifth time since 2011 that he blocked an initiative for Syria simply by lifting his finger. Churkin is an extension of Putin, who threatens the West.
The Russian veto has pushed the West to go back to the drawing board. It did not move when Putin intervened in Syria and it looks as if some Western European countries would rather see a Russian Syria rather than an Iranian Syria or a Daesh-led Syria. There are also those who falsely imagined that the Russian leader was going to bring down the Assad regime and thus make Russia responsible for a political victory in line with the Geneva conferences, or something of that nature.
Barack Obama’s decision with regards to Syria was clear; he refused to enter the mire, as it was not deemed worthy of American blood and the loss of US troops. Moreover, Washington did not want to have the responsibility of re-building Syria post-conflict. It forced the Syrian regime to surrender its chemical weapons and then walked away.
Today, the West opens its books on Putin’s “aggressive politics” from the Crimea to Ukraine to Syria. From Russian-sponsored Malaysian fighter jets terrorising Asian countries to Russia’s threat against the stability of NATO member states, the fear of Russia has gone on to affect the US presidential election.
It is clear that the West is re-calibrating its calculations. In decision-making circles, no one assumed that Putin’s raising a finger would prolong the war in Syria and undermine intervention. The Russian president is building pyramids with dead Syrians until he achieves the victory he wants. He wants to prolong the mass migration to the West. He wants to drown Europe with refugees and shake its stability and security as well as that of the NATO countries. He also wants the incoming US president to have no choice but to admit that the Russians have won in Syria and that it is a new victory in the stand-off between two great world powers.
Who is the West’s main enemy, Russia’s Vladimir Putin or Al-Baghdadi of Daesh? The question might appear strange, but what is happening in the world requires it to be asked.
What Al-Baghdadi has done is serious; he has destroyed historical landmarks and taken control of Mosul. He has swept away the Iraq-Syria border and basically disregarded the Sykes-Picot agreement. He sent Daesh in all directions and its poison has spread across borders and continents. The Daesh leader has caused many atrocities and inflamed the animosity between Sunni and Shia, rubbing salt into the wounds of ethnic minorities and making co-existence impossible.
Al-Baghdadi has disturbed the world and become public enemy number one. Who would ask in today’s Western capitals whether Putin or Baghdadi is more dangerous? Putin has taken advantage of Baghdadi’s ascent to take control of the trajectory in Syria. He wants to take revenge on Western Europe for destroying the USSR without firing a single shot. He wants to take revenge on NATO, which seeks to promote a bad image of Russia. The time has come for the West to accept a new tsar and to understand that Syria is a model for what is to come in the region and elsewhere.
(Source / 16.10.2016)