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The President Has Returned to Take Revenge

The President Has Returned to Take Revenge

Monday, 10 January, 2022 - 11:45
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Vladimir Putin addresses America with such a confidence that the US star has faded. He is engineering a massive mine in Ukraine, and is demanding a heavy price in exchange for giving up on detonating it. He talks about Ukraine, listing his conditions, not presenting his demands. Repeating the game exposes its secrets. The Kremlin has created the current tensions in the Ukrainian crisis from the ground up.

Perhaps he was right that the West did not honor James Baker’s pledges that NATO would not move east after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But the Russian fears seem like a list of fake excuses to blackmail the West. It’s hard to guess what’s going on in Putin’s head. The world knows that he is a master at concealing his intentions.

He deceived Western leaders when he needed to fortify Russia against disintegration and restore the prestige of the army and its weapons. Some of those who knew him say that he is an expert of disinformation, i.e. the subject taught in war colleges and intelligence institutes.

His ingenuity no longer needed proof. His plots stemming from his revenge program have become popular. Every protest rally is a destabilization project. Every uprising is a foreign conspiracy. Civil society organizations are just shops run by embassies to realize suspicious schemes. He benefited from the rude practices of fundamentalists in the Arab Spring to launch a campaign of hatred for any revolutionary tendencies. Every change is suspicious, so it is better to bury it alive. He provides sufficient cover for his infiltrations. He accuses of plotting chemical attacks those who lack the ability or intent. He accuses of terrorism those who dream of nothing more than putting an end to corruption.

Armed with this arsenal that he has amassed in recent years, Putin quickly dealt with the events that swept Kazakhstan.

Immediately after the eruption of protests over high fuel prices, which were accompanied by riots, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev rushed to delve in Putin’s dictionary. He condemned the “gangs” and “international terrorists” and did not hesitate to contact the “Russian clinic”.

It was not possible for Putin to allow the winds of change or destabilization to blow in this huge neighboring country, which sleeps on great wealth. Thus, the Kremlin engineered an intervention called the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to cover the Russian military return to this republic that was born from the rubble of the Soviet Union. Putin quickly closed the new window to devote himself to his main task, which is to drain the West, especially America.

Putin is not the only one concerned with exhausting the US and the West. Qassem Soleimani was killed before achieving his dream of seeing the “Great Satan” bleed to death. The man, who was delighted at the beginning of the revolution to see Americans captured in their country’s embassy in Tehran, chased the US in many capitals. He went too far when he agreed to receive some of the leaders of Al-Qaeda and facilitate the passage of others to Iraq.

On Iraqi soil, Soleimani’s fingerprints were clear in causing the deaths of quite a few Americans. Draining the US was the great goal of the general, who was obsessed with infiltrating maps and changing their features. In the same context fall the efforts to cut Washington’s relations with the capitals of the region. Tehran believes that the American thread is the guardian of the balances that have existed in the region for decades. Most likely, Soleimani did not expect a US president to dare to order his assassination. Donald Trump did.

Osama bin Laden disappeared without realizing his dream of watching closely the withdrawal of the US army from Afghanistan, similar to what happened to the Soviet Red Army. His dream was to lure the US military machine to where victory is impossible, that is, to the difficult terrain of Afghanistan. Perhaps he read history books that describe these thorny countries as the “graveyard of empires.”

Bin Laden had an Afghan partner in the dream of draining America: the former leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar. The latter also departed before seeing America resign from the Afghan adventure, in a hasty withdrawal that left the country occupied by the army of hunger that the Taliban is unable to resist.

America beheaded Al-Qaeda. It also beheaded ISIS. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi disappeared without realizing his dream of perpetuating the “caliphate state” and exhausting America and its allies.

Those who underestimate the attrition that the US has suffered at the hands of Soleimani, bin Laden, Mullah Omar and al-Baghdadi are mistaken, and lest we forget Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

But what is certain is that America, which was injured in this war, did not die in it. It responded to the attacks with sanctions that shattered the Iranian economy and by dismantling Al-Qaeda and destroying the stronghold of ISIS, and leaving the Taliban to pluck its thorns out of its own flesh in a starving country. The “Islamists’” ability to drain America is limited because of their background and the model they are unable to compete with and provide an alternative to.

Putin’s ability to exhaust America far exceeds that of Soleimani, bin Laden, al-Baghdadi and Mullah Omar. He is the president of the vast Russia, the commander of its great arsenal, the holder of the veto in the Security Council and the owner of gas that protects Europeans from freezing in the winter frost.

He can achieve what others have not. A strong man, who is allegedly afraid. He besieges others and pretends to be trapped. He destabilizes the American world and expresses Russia’s concern over instability.

It is not simple for Putin to turn the issue of the invasion of Ukraine into news in the halls of international politics and the offices of NATO generals. Is he betting that this week’s negotiations will drive a wedge between America and Europe? Does he think he can deceive Biden in Ukraine as he deceived Obama in Syria? Does he think that the United States’ fear of the “Chinese threat” might push it to appease Russia and give up some of the gains it achieved in wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union?

There are many questions. But it is certain that Putin continues to lead the battle to exhaust America. It is certain that he emerged from the ranks of the KGB to Stalin’s office to take revenge on those who wiped the Soviet Union off the map and confined it to history museums.

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