Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted
a trilateral summit with the presidents of Iran and Turkey in Russia’s Black Sea resort city, Sochi. Putin gave a warm welcome
to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and declared that the three countries deserve all the credit for helping to maintain “stability” in Syria.
Turkey, which is still a NATO member and U.S. ally,
announced that it may soon open talks with Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, in a joint effort with Russia and Iran to return stability to the region. America was not invited.
In related news, highly-classified Israeli intelligence was offhandedly revealed by Donald Trump to Russian officials earlier this year. Earlier this week we found out what it was.
The US President’s decision to spill the information during a meeting with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was described as having brought Israeli spies’ “worst fears” to life.
During Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Trump revealed the details of a covert Israeli operation that exposed ISIS plans to create bombs out of laptops and smuggle them aboard commercial airliners.
Israelis were horrified.
Earlier this month, the “dead” ISIS leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi was spotted in the hotly contested Syrian town of Boukamel.
The Iraqi Media News Agency quoted an anonymous source in Iraqi News as saying: ‘In a yellow taxi, Baghdadi fled Iraq and headed to Syria.’
The question of whether al-Baghdadi is dead or alive has been a continuing source of mystery and confusion. Russia claimed in June that he had “likely been killed” in an airstrike just outside of Raqqa. But they offered no proof, and there are many questions about the relations peculiar to the relationships of the parties involved.
Russia had a good working relationship with Iraq under Saddam. Although it always repeatedly denied giving military or security assistance to the Hussein regime, the Russian government under Putin expressed intense disagreement with the U. S.-led war on Iraq.
In April of 2003, after the fall of Baghdad, documents were found in a Baghdad office of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi secret police under Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime. Those documents showed that a Moscow- based organization had been training Iraqi intelligence agents as recently as September of 2002.
In other words, Russia was training some of Saddam’s best generals and their secret police. We know it went on for several decades. They spent billions of dollars on it.
The leadership of the Islamic State of the Levant consists primarily of former Baathist leaders, Saddam’s generals all coalesced again without him, like a hydra that grew back tens of thousands strong.
If al-Baghdadi is alive, then Russia was most likely lying last summer, which was predictable. Russia lies about everything, routinely and by way of self-defence, like the ink-cloud of a giant squid.
But what might Russia hope to gain by claiming the death of al-Baghdadi? What might they hope to gain?
A large amount of Turkish effort has been placed into acquiring this oil. Gaining energy autonomy
to avoid having to depend on Russia for fuel has long been a goal of Turkish foreign policy.
Oil is obviously very important to us, but to Russia it is everything. Oil is essentially all that Russia has. It controls a huge mass of the world’s strategic oil reserve, and it comprises Putin’s fortune, which is sizeable by any standard, regardless of his Fortune ranking.
This dependence on oil as a source of wealth and income is also the case for Turkey and its leader Tayyip Erdogan.
And here is where we reach the ominous part of the story, the focal point of the developing narrative.
For al-Baghdadi’s part, keeping the illusion alive would have given him months to regroup, lay low, and try to come up with something. In the meantime, there are those oil routes heading for Turkey, that the eyes of the world are not on. To all outward appearances, this is a strategic ceasefire if ever there was one.
Assad gets to stay in power, and start seeing order restored to his country. Erdogan, who just survived a coup attempt last year, gets the sanctions applied by Russia for the fighter plane shot down in Turkish airspace in 2015 lifted and regains his ability to use Russia and the EU as a counterweight. Just last week, Erdogan and Putin met for four hours
. Everybody’s happy- but all of them will soon be presented the bill.
Currently, Putin and his cronies are all smiles. They’re chopping up the spoils. And America was not invited. Trump seems to have agreed to back off in exchange for Russian help last year. As a result, the future of Syria is being largely determined without the world’s only superpower.
None of this could have happened without Putin, who will get the best that everyone has to offer. From Syria, a warm-water port in the Mediterranean Sea. This has been a dream of Russia’s for generations. From Turkey, restored good relations, and a subservient oil client. From Trump, an America weakened and thrown into chaos.