by Tom Luongo
Over the summer Russian President Vladimir Putin went on a charm tour across Europe. In a whirlwind weekend he danced and dined his way through two important meetings, first at the Austrian Foreign Minister’s wedding and then a garden party summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
I wasn’t the only one to note the importance of these two meetings. Because this was the beginning of a new era in Russo-European relations.
The first dividend from this was Merkel refusing Trump over stopping construction of the Nordstream 2 pipeline.
The dividends from that weekend continue to roll in. Because Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have both agreed to join Russia and Turkey at the next meeting in Sochi to craft a political solution to the Syrian civil war.
This is a major event. It furthers the split on foreign policy between EU leadership and that of the U.S. It also recognizes both Russia’s diplomatic and military achievements in Syria, which are nothing short of game-changing from a geostrategic perspective.
From the RT article linked above:
Russia’s previous efforts to sit down and work out a path to peace in Syria with regional players were dismissed as insignificant or outright fraudulent by the US-led West. The Istanbul four-way is grounds for cautious optimism that Russia is being accepted as a key influence, experts believe.
“Western countries are realizing that without Russia and Turkey there can be no settlement in Syria. Likewise, Russia and Turkey realize they need to agree with Western countries,” Marianna Belenkaya, a Middle East analyst for Russia’s Kommersant daily, told RT.
The EU has a very real stake in the Syrian crisis, Nikolay Surkov believes. They need to talk to Damascus and Moscow if they want to avoid a new migrant influx, he says.
This change in Germany and France’s position on Syria comes through being resolute and trustworthy. Strength emanates out from the person or group that brokers honestly.
I said recently that Donald Trump gives spine to the spineless within the GOP. That his willingness to fight the Democrats and the Deep State on their terms and come out victorious, c.f. Kavanaugh, is changing the domestic political landscape in tectonic ways.
So too, I’m coming to believe, is the case with Putin. His unwillingness to barter away Russia’s future for short-term gains but instead tackle head-on the U.S.’s hypocrisy and aggression on the world stage and win is having a huge effect on other world leaders.
And this announcement by Merkel and Macron to attend Sochi is a perfect example of that.
Germany and France are now looking to broker with Russia against the wishes of the U.S. political and military establishment who have done everything possible to prolong the war and shield the collapse of ISIS east of the Euphrates River and support Al-Qaeda-linked groups in the province of Idlib.
This implies even further marginalization of the war mongers in D.C. who refuse to give up on the removal of Bashar al-Assad as President of Syria. The facts on the ground are that Assad is popular having been strong enough to court partners who assisted the Syrian Arab Army in re-taking most of the country.
This is a dead-end position, removing Assad, and supporting it, even weakly, has cost both Merkel and Macron dearly. And if she, in particular, is to survive the next few months in office, she will have to look to the German electorate as someone willing to change course on immigration.
Assisting Russia and Turkey achieve political stability in Syria will go a long way towards that end. With Trump in the White House wanting to pull U.S. troops out but being sabotaged at every level by his foreign policy staff, there is a real possibility of things aligning to see that come to fruition after the U.S. mid-term elections in two weeks.
The U.S. is in an increasingly untenable position in the Middle East. Iraq’s recent elections and camel-trading have pushed aside the U.S.-backed Haidar Abadi in favor of a government far more aligned with Iran than the U.S.
Afghanistan is in the early stages of U.S. withdrawal after seventeen years of war. The new leadership in Pakistan is as unhappy with the U.S. as Trump is with Pakistan. China, India and Turkey will refuse to stop buying Iranian oil in two weeks.
The plan to isolate and destroy Iran’s current government will fail. And the neocons in Trump’s cabinet who sold him on this plan will pay the price.
After the IL-20 incident which could have easily sparked a much wider conflict I believe everyone on the geopolitical stage peaked a bit into the Abyss only to find neoconservatives, crazy Wahabist Saudis and Israeli Likudniks staring back.
And, in short, they were afraid. (with apologies to T.S. Eliot)
Because something has to give here. And all the signs point to a loss of power and control over the geopolitical landscape by the deepest of Deep State actors in the U.S. and the U.K.
Macron knows that France is implicated in the IL-20 incident. And he also knows that Putin allowed him to save face by blaming the Israelis and implementing a No-Fly Zone over western Syria and the eastern Mediterranean to calm things down.
With his approval numbers plummeting along with every other EU-firster quisling of The Davos Crowd in Europe Macron finally realized that the Russians will be on the winning side of this conflict.
So does Merkel. But, I think she’s known this for a lot longer than Macron.
Germany has been giving mixed signals all year to the various provocations like the Skripal poisoning emanating from the U.K. Germany was slow to accept, if it ever did, the White Helmets story about this year’s annual chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta.
This may be a desperation move on the part of the lamest of lame-ducks on the world stage, but if it gets us materially closer to the ever elusive Grand Bargain in the Middle East I’ll take it.
In fact, I’ll sing an hosanna or two in Merkel’s honor if that happens before going back to blasting her for everything else she’s done.
Because as rare as they are in the Peace corner of Geopolitics, one must remember to first “Take the Win” before moving onto the next problem to discuss.
Russia continues to rack up win after win in all the areas that are important geopolitically. Putin knows that the best way to win this game is to simply wear his opponent out.
And with the Saudis in serious trouble on the world stage over Kashoggi-gate, the Arabian peninsula, not Syria, becomes the next geopolitical hot potato as The Game of Thrones there breaks out across the GCC — Gulf Cooperation Council.
Since he now has the biggest weapons Putin now has the leverage to force those who have been playing both sides — the U.S. and Russia — against each other to choose sides.
All three of those players — France, Germany and Turkey– will be sending representatives to Sochi now while the U.S. sends weapons to Ukraine, harasses Russian fishermen and threatens more economic sanctions it is having an increasingly hard time enforcing.
This is a clear signal to everyone else that it’s time to sack-up and set things to right.