Russian military intervention in Syria is a deliberate act, based on years of planning. Putin solved domestic problems; re-juvinated the armed forces; ensured security of the “Near abroad” and reached out to Afghanistan to eliminate the terror threat. The primary objective was, to return to the centre stage of world politics, as a super-power, while the declared objective is: Russia is saving Europe, from the barbarians, fourth time – from Mongols, Napoleon, Hitler and now the Islamic State.
In fact by saving Europe, Putin is working for global peace. On the domestic front he laid the foundation of a strong relationship with China, turning the 4000 km long hostile border, into a barter trade paradise. He has been able to overcome the pressures of sanctions and oil crisis, through judicious policies, negotiations and agreements. He built up the armed forces, matching with the best of the world and is selling to India over 20 bn US dollars worth of nuclear powered submarines, S-400 air defense systems, 400 MI35 gunships, 127 Sakoi aircrafts and ship-borne missiles, which recently hit targets in Yemen from far off battle ships.
Putin consolidated Russia’s Security interests in the areas of its “near-abroad”, and used force to annex Georgia and Crimea. As early as 2004, he gathered a select group of political scientists and thinkers, under the umbrella of Valdai Discussion Club, and “put forward the vision of himself and his country for overcoming the logic of conflict in tomorrow’s world, for a life at peace”. Armed with this intellectual input, Putin is now engaged in Syria. His purpose is not to get involved into Shia-Sunni conflict, but to prevent Syria and Iraq unraveling as Libya and Yemen, and to give Syria the capability to hold on to a sizeable territory. Subsequently, Bashar Al-Assad may be asked to abdicate to facilitate a unity government. Putin may then turn to Iraq, to build a stable government under Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, who may also abdicate to facilitate a unity government. The two rump states, thus created will take-on Daēsh, supported by the rest of the world. The strategy of strangulation would be the best suited, to achieve siege of Daēsh territory and its elimination. Putins’ approach to battle “is continuation of politics by other means, seeking to translate military campaign into political success.” In dealing with Daēsh, Putin seems to have a good sense of early history of Islam. In the year 38 Hijrah (659 AD), an extremist rebel group called Khawrjis, very similar to Daēsh, had emerged, after the bloody fights between Banu Hashim and Banu Ummaya. Caliph Hazrat Ali (KW) fought the battle of Nehrwan, to defeat the Khawarji. Similarly Syria and Iraq now appear destined to fight Daēsh to a finish, under the Russian plan.
Putin understands the situation in Afghanistan better. The panic that has now gripped Kabul, resembles Saigon of the year 1956. The foreigners have already left Kabul and the American and NATO troops are using helicopters for movements to the airport and other places. Thousands of Afghans are also packing-up for destination Europe, through Iran and other neighboring countries. Putin knows that the Taliban having won the war, soon would be the rulers of Afghanistan and therefore, Russia must remain engaged with them, helping them out, where needed. The truck loads of military hardware moving from Sher Khan dry port to Kunduz, reportedly was handed over to the Taliban as part of this understanding. Russia’s main concern now is the repatriation of thousands of jehadis from Russia and the Central Asian States, presently fighting side by side with the Taliban. Repatriation is possible, only with the support of the Taliban. Similarly, about 150,000 Pakistani tribesmen living in Afghanistan could return to Pakistan if amnesty was granted. It would be a hard decision to make, to ensure peace not only on Pak-Afghan borders, but all countries, bordering Afghanistan.
Putin says: “Peace, as a state of world politics has never been stable. Peace is an anomaly, exceedingly difficult to sustain, and therefore, the only way to maintain peace is to actually prepare for war.” He calls the past Cold War as “the golden era of world peace”, and has fired the first salvo, to herald the advent of the new cold war, “with a difference.” To demonstrate Russian military prowess, he conducted the military manoeuvres with over 100,000 Russian troops in Central Asia, a month before intervening in Syria. He has undertaken strong trade and commerce initiatives, within the region and beyond which characterise the emerging new cold war era. Russia is an important member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The economic cooperation with Pakistan is developing on a fast track. The Bela-Russian Prime Minister is in Pakistan to sign some important commercial deals. The gas pipeline construction from the Iranian border to Lahore, casting over two billion dollars are major steps to create a new economic zone, comprising Russia-China-Pakistan-Iran and Afghanistan. An oil deal with the House of Saud would mean a lot to Russia. It also means a lot for House of Saud as they have been deprived of an exclusive relationship with Washington. Russia thus has entered Middle East with a bang.
The emerging cold war is characterized by ‘geo-economic alliances’ as against the past military alliances and hundreds of military bases around the globe created by United States. After suffering military defeats, United States, shifted the “Strategic Pivot” from this region to the South East, and formed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for economic siege of China. The TPP comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. United States is also working for the Indian Ocean Rim Countries Partnership (IORCP). China has responded with ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) of proposed 16xnations free-trade partnership.
Thus the shaping of the Geo-economic global order with its new geo-strategic landscape, under Putin’s logic, is becoming a reality. He says: “Peace, a life at peace, has always been and continues to be an ideal for humanity, but peace as a state of world politics has never been stable. We are trying to overcome the logic of conflict in Tomorrows world. We stand for peace and we are preparing for war.”
The writer is a former COAS, Pakistan.