Russian President Vladimir Putin looks at a Russian map during the live broadcast of a rocket test-launch in December.
The last days of September 2015 will go down as a turning point in history. Vladimir Putin visits New York, addresses the United Nations almost like a real statesman, meets with the U.S. President and while the world is watching his return on the international scene and wonders about the real reasons behind the sudden lull in the fighting in Ukraine, he stealthily unfolds his next adventure: a military intervention in Syria. Within days, his planes and helicopters bombard opponents to President Assad, in the same indiscriminate and all-encompassing manner as Russian troops marched into Chechnya and destroyed everything in their way.
Sure, when Western governments protest because he bombs exactly the groups that they support, he adds a bomb here and there against Islamic State, but it is mere window dressing: the main goal is to eradicate the moderate opposition again Assad, and thus leave us a very simple choice – one between a despicable dictator and a mediaeval gang that has turned terror and destruction into a daily reality. As they say in a casino: “Madames et monsieurs, faites vos jeux”; you can choose between bad and worse, and we will help you make that choice.
It is less than a week later, and the scale of the disaster becomes fully clear. In his typical arrogant manner President Assad tells the world that the only way the Islamic State can be conquered is through a coalition of him, Putin’s Russia, Iran and Iraq. Supported by Putin’s jets and helicopters, he presents himself as a solution for the future: with the help of his allies he will defeat the Islamists, otherwise the whole region will be subject to destruction.
Let us remember: Assad is this widely despised dictatorial ruler who is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of his citizens through torture, and who over the years has bombed civilian targets with the most atrocious forms of armament to kill and maim as many people as possible. His name stands for terror, and it was in fact his determination to remain in power in spite of a national uprising that led to the current crisis and to one of the largest human exoduses of the past century and that now overwhelms Europe.
I have a sudden flash of memory. Wasn’t there a ruler in the heart of Europe in the 1930s and early 1940s who said he was the savior of mankind in the fight against the Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy and who subsequently pulled the whole region into utter destruction? And wasn’t he, like Assad, the initial cause of the conflict that left so many people dead?
Four years ago, Syria became enveloped in mass demonstrations demanding the departure of its dictator, Assad, who like his father ruled the country with an iron fist. The world’s response was lukewarm, and practical support to the opposition was withheld or minimized. Gradually the country sank into turmoil, with multitudes of armed opposition groups fighting Assad and each other. Still, we in the West looked away, pretending that this crisis was sufficiently far away not to upset our lives, until Islamic State started chopping off heads and suddenly Western hostages and local Christians became victims. It was a wake-up call, but too late and determination to stop the terror from spreading remained absent. In other words, the West left the territory wide open, and it was only a matter of time before Putin would step in.
Putin’s doesn’t care for one minute about Syria, just as little as he cared for the poor Ukrainians oppressed by the “Judeo-Banderovyte junta” in Kyiv. He is a Machiavellist in extreme, not hindered by any empathy or moral and ethical boundaries. Putin is – I am convinced – a new embodiment of evil, especially because he is a very disturbed, mediocre and vengeful character who has been swept away by lust for power and money in order to compensate his limited size. In Assad he found the perfect ally: no morals, no boundaries, no empathy, and nothing to loose. Both were spit out by the civilized world, they have a very simple choice: either stay in power at any cost, or meet an untimely death, because the third option – appearance before the International Criminal Court in The Hague – is unacceptable, both to them and their entourage. If they don’t kill themselves they will be killed, no doubt about it.
Syria is to Putin what Ukraine was a year ago: a means to exert power, a means to show his country he is the boss, a means to show that the decadent West is incompetent, denigrated and unable to meet the challenges of today. Together with Assad he can do what he likes to do: bomb away anybody who stands in his way.
The world is edging to the brink of disaster, because the ultimate goal is not to save Ukraine or to save Syria. The ultimate goal is to destroy the current world order, and more specifically to destroy the European Union and everything it stands for, and to show that the deeply despised NATO is an impotent Moloch that can be thrown in the wastebasket of history. Putin has entered a next phase in his quest for world power, one that is even more threatening and unpredictable. He has pulled the conflict to a new level, out of the European theatre onto the world stage.
But Ukraine had better be ready. The conquest for Europe is not forgotten, and the silence at the front is a very fake one, one in which a thick fog covers what goes really on behind the scenes. Putin will be back, invariably, either because success in Syria will bolster his distorted self-image or because with failure in Syria, he’ll need a ‘reserve’ front.