The head of the Kremlin in the middle East is playing the trust card, to once again become an important player on the world stage, but, most importantly, to consolidate internal support in the country, writes Leonardo Morlino in the weekly L’espresso.
To understand this confusing situation as the one that happened in the middle East and the war in Syria, it is necessary to start from a specific perspective. For several months a new main actor in the region — Putin, who at the end of September last year began in Syria bombing from the air, relying on the support from the sea through the base in Tartus. But why Putin decided to intervene in the Syrian conflict by methods that have no precedent over the past 37 years?» — asks the author.
The head of the Kremlin himself answered it in his annual address to the Federal Assembly. Putin reminded about the attacks, whose victims were Russian citizens, including those who were aboard the civilian plane blown up over the Sinai in October last year: «In Syria, our Armed Forces are fighting first of all for Russia, to defend the security of our citizens»; «national interests, their history, traditions, our values need to protect.» In other words, Putin presented a series of factors, internal and international, forced to consider the invasion as a necessity and an opportunity not to miss and from which it is impossible to get defeated, says Morlino.
With the coming to power, Putin has managed to consolidate a new authoritarianism, characterized by nationalist ideologies, in which traditional values are mixed, and the birthplace of the order, the principles of market economy and consolidation of consensus for his regime. Currently the President was in a difficult situation because of falling oil prices, because oil revenues are based a significant part of the Russian economy, the article says. Special attention is given to elections which, whilst not strictly free, should serve as a show of support to his authority, the author writes.
For such a regime, the Islamist terrorist threat of the sample is intolerant, because in the North Caucasus and in the Volga basin is home to about 16 million Muslims, the author continues. On the other hand, people who are feeling the impact of the economic crisis, is beginning to show displeasure is shown the polls. Moreover, approaching the autumn elections, and with them some expression of discontent.
«Thus, it is necessary to act. The idea is to use the opportunity to return the confidence and pride of Russia, which became the main actor in the region, where the U.S. is not actively present, — the author returns to the topic of Syria. — Putin’s goal is clear: to enlist the support of its citizens and military elite and to come to the middle East as the character, necessary and responsible, constructive and aged to stabilize the region, where, in addition to ISIS, there are other irresponsible characters (for example, Erdogan’s Turkey), and, ultimately, to control the region, entering into alliances with some regional players.»
«What is it, a new cold war? Maybe Yes, maybe no. All will depend on the responses of other actors, starting with the Americans. But, undoubtedly, this is a war, and tactically Putin can’t lose,» the author writes.