The Saint Valentine’s Day of the Strongmen
Thursday, February 14th, is Saint Valentine’s Day, the holiday of lovers. According to the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, it’s the date of the next meeting, at Sotchi on the edge of the Black Sea (south of Russia), between President Putin and his counterparts, Hassan Rohani (Iran) and Recep Erdogan (Turkey), to try to settle the Syrian question in the framework of the Astana group.
It isn’t by chance, it’s said, and the Kremlin loves its symbols, especially as a way to say that all is well.
However in this circumstantial ménage à trois, all is far from being settled: Putin would like to finish with it as quickly as possible, but his Iranian ally refuses to withdraw his troops. Consequently, when Israel bombs the Pasdaran bases, Russia allows it.
Putin also needs Erdogan to renew the dialogue with his Syrian ally Bachar El-Assad, but first and foremost, the Turkish leader wants to massacre the Kurds: between two evils, the Kurds have proposed to deliver the territories they control to the Syrian regime in order to loosen the Turkish noose, with the blessings of the Kremlin.
On paper, the geopolitical rivalries between Iran, Turkey and Russia are there and this reconciliation is due above all to the « realpolitik » of an inextricable conflict.
So from now on, this alliance benefits from another determining factor: this forced marriage over Syria is apt to finish in sincere love. Since birds of a feather flock together, and the three leaders understand each other when they speak of repression and human rights, or of holding elections in Syria, after bombing attacks caused the flight of more then four million Syrian refugees… It is perhaps, in the long run, what is most worrying: that Saint Valentine’s Day becomes the day when the new dictators understand that they were made to get on well with each other.
Translated from French to English by Sally Gordon-Mark.