OLD STRATEGIES IN THE CONTEMPORARY COLD WAR: Vladimir Putin, Bashar-al-Assad, Tayyip Erdogan vs. NATO/USA

Charles KM Kambanda, PhD.

Whether one calls it “another round of the cold war” or “a continuum of the cold war”, the NATO/US vs China/Russia axis relationship bears all the chilly characteristics the cold war. The most bloody cold war front line so far is Syria, not to ignore Burundi.

December 2015, Turkey conspired with its NATO allies to down Russia’s fighter jet. It’s not in dispute now that Turkey downed the Russian fighter jet from Syria as Russia was fighting to ” liberate” Syria from NATO and their proxy Syrian ” rebels”. President Vladimir Putin responded to Turkey’s act of downing the Russian fighter jet by (a) imposing punitive economic sanctions against Turkey and (b) promising that Turkey and its European allies would pay the price for downing the Russian fighter jet. That was then!

Today, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan met his counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, in what many analysts rightly call a diplomatic reset. The two leaders met to ” talk business” after Erdogan apologized to Putin for the NATO/US wrong advice that led Turkey to down Russia’s fighter jet. Putin accepted the apology “for the good of the two nations”; Turkey and Russia.

Erdogan believes that while he was working with NATO/US for regime change in Syria, NATO/US were planning his own downfall through a Coup which Erdogan claims to have defeated.

Turkey is strategic for NATO/US cold warfare. Analysts argue that without Turkey’s full cooperation, given Germany’s cold feet in the current cold war, NATO cannot do much. The war in Syria stands in a balance for NATO and the US. If Turkey joins Russia, Syria could as well fall to Russia. Whether Russia can keep both Bashar-al-Assad ( Syria) and Tayyip Erdogab ( Turkey) in power against NATO/US interests is another complex issue which dwells mostly on strategies and tactics the major cold war protagonists contemplate.

If Russia consolidated power in Turkey and Syria, thereby defeating NATO /US in Syria, would NATO /US concede defeats in Syria and talk peace with Assad? If NATO/US talked peace with Assad, what would be the fate for NATO/US sponsored rebels in Syrian? Would sending the NATO/US sponsored rebels to the International Criminal Court be one of the possibilities if NATO/US struck a deal with Assad? If NATO/US chose to fight on, would NATO/US consider supporting ” rebels” in Turkey thereby opening another cold war front line; taking on Putin and Erdogan even before NATO/US are done with Putin in Syria? Will Turkey pull out of NATO? What’s the future of NATO as a cold war mentality ” union”?

On June 7th, 2016, Netanyahu took the world by surprise when he ” commended” President Putin’s efforts to bring peace in Syria. Netanyahu’s shocking comments came shortly before Netanyahu visited Putin for a third time in less that a year. Will Israel be a spectator in this regional ” re-positioning” crazy game? Would Israel strike an independent deal with Putin, Erdogan and Assad ? Where would such a deal leave Israel/NATO/US relationship?

Will the cold war battle in Africa – Burundi – intensify or the superpowers will abandon the Burundi front line for future complex cold war tactics and strategies? Do the ordinary people who perish and/or bear the inhumane effects of these senseless wars between superpowers matter ?

Dr Charles Kambanda