It’s been over a week since Russia started bombing ISIS targets in Syria, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has already been praised by top political figures of the West, including U.S. 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump.
What does it mean for Mr. Putin? It means that he and his policy of being an aggressive bully have succeeded. It means that the West’s so-called ‘isolation of Russia’ has failed. It means that we are likely to have a new geopolitical leader soon.
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What is it about Mr. Putin that makes the West gravitate toward him? It’s the resolve he has, and the eagerness – when he starts something, he either finishes it just like he planned it himself or he makes sure someone else finishes it for him. Mr. Putin never finishes a job halfway through.
The West is tired of U.S.-led coalition’s promises that it’s about to destroy ISIS, the West’s general public needs to see some real action. And with the constantly growing number of refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict to Western Europe, Mr. Putin picked the right timing to win over the support of Western general public.
Failure of U.S.-led coalition
U.S.-led coalition has been targeting ISIS militants with its airstrikes for over a year. According to official Washington’s stats, the large part of these airstrikes is conducted on the territory of Iraq. According to the Pentagon, the coalition has carried out over 7,000 airstrikes at the end of September 2015, with 4,500 of those airstrikes targeting ISIS in Iraq.
However, the West played a cruel game with its people, promising them to eliminate the well-funded, religiously-motivated organization of terrorists. With the promise to limit its military actions to only air campaign as well as occasional drone surveillance missions, the West has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of the involvement of ground group troops.
However, seeing numerous footages of ISIS militants beheading Western journalists on TV, the general public in the West soon realized the futility of such missions. And with the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, it seems like the West is not eager to believe the things the U.S. and its allies say.
Putin: from despicable aggressor to respected key leader
And that’s when Mr. Putin made the move to launch airstrikes in Syria targeting, as the Kremlin claims it to be, ISIS. And Moscow has been increasing the intensity of its military campaign in Syria ever since last week.
As of now, Russian aircraft is limited to airstrikes in Syria, but Western and Russian media are already discussing the high possibility of expanding the Russian air campaign to Iraq.
Ever since the beginning of the air campaign, Russia has been carrying out about 20 airstrikes per day, but the intensity of the bombings increases by the day. On Wednesday, Russia launched naval bombardment of targets in Syria using its warships in the Caspian Sea.
So while the West and the U.S. were holding long, eloquent and senseless discussions in an attempt to make a choice between a direct military involvement in the Syrian conflict and an indirect involvement by supporting local forces, Russia and Iran have launched a direct military operation in Syria by deploying aircraft and troops.
Thus, Russia and Iran showed the world that they are not going to put up with the lack of action or even with inadequate actions of stopping the spread of the ISIS terror, which poses a threat to their own security as well as the security of their ally – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and UAE are already teaming up against Russia’s actions in the Middle East, because it contradicts their strategic interests in the region.
There have been numerous reports that Iran and Hezbollah, both backers of the Assad regime, are sending their troops into Syria to launch a ground combat operation against U.S.-trained rebels. If they do team up with Russia and the Syrian army, Israel will be concerned over possible deadly consequences for its security.
While Shia dominated countries in the region support Russia’s actions in the Middle East, there is a growing possibility that Iraq, a large part of which is occupied by ISIS, might join this kind of alliance as well.
Iraq is already supporting the Russian air campaign by sharing intelligence with Moscow through a communication center in Baghdad. Iran and Syria are also part of the center.
And with Mr. Putin known for never finishing a job halfway through, in case Russia manages to eliminate ISIS militants from Syria, it will present itself as a power with great authority in the Middle East. The Iraqi government would then be most likely to invite the Russians into its air space to eliminate ISIS militants and put an end to the ISIS phenomenon in the world.
Pro-Russian sentiment in the U.S.
However, with so many Middle Eastern states being opposed to the Russian campaign, there is a possibility of the Syrian conflict getting out of control. Besides, the fact that Russia might be targeting U.S.-trained rebels creates a high risk of military clash between the U.S. and Russian forces.
But the fact remains clear: with the growing pro-Russian sentiment in the West, we are about to see some interesting geopolitical moves from Mr. Putin. What could Putin possible do with the potential position of being the new geopolitical leader remains a mystery. For now.
And with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump saying that he likes the way Mr. Putin is “bombing the hell out of ISIS,” we are likely to see the growing number of supporters of Russia’s foreign policies among the Americans.