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Putin, Xi and Erdogan

Reader comment on item: Minimize Middle East Mistakes

Submitted by Michael S, Dec 9, 2016 at 01:34

I don't know what will happen, nor what should happen, in the Middle East in the coming years. I will only comment on one issue you brought up: the "coziness" of Putin, Xi and Erdogan.

My comment is this: it will not last. I don't know if three more disparate leaders, with more disparate goals, have ever existed on earth. Putin leads something of a "big, nuclear-armed, European banana republic. Xi is a Communist dictator, in every sense of the word. Erdogan is an Islamist, with dreams of imperial (Ottoman Plus) glory.

Even on the ground, there is little coordination among the three. Take Syria, for example: China has virtually sat out the conflict. Russia is deeply involved, on the side of Syria (Assad) and Iran. Turkey has vowed to remove Assad from power. The Russians have an understanding with the Turks, that they will allow Erdogan to have a toehold in NW Syria, if he lets Putin decimate Erdogan's allies in Aleppo. That understanding nearly unraveled a few days ago, when the Syrians signalled the Turks that they had gone far enough and should stop their advance; and the Russians backed up the Syrians. Erdogan grudgingly obeyed his Russian master. These are the most tenuous of relations.

I think China is in for a very rocky time in the next few years; and Xi is not making matters any better by picking a fight with Trump over Taiwan. We are not tributarties of the "Central Kingdom"; and the sooner Xi learns this, the better. He is in big trouble, though, domestically -- the economy is slowing to a halt, and he may start getting a backlash over all the "colleagues" he has been trying and sentencing to death. He might try to distract people from these woes, by overseas adventures in the Spratlys or Taiwan; but I don't think he will find Trump to be accommodating him in this. Neither can he expect real help from Russia.

Russia is a wild card. Putin is hoping that Trump will become a partner; but this remains to be seen.

Erdogan is pathetic, easily swayed emotionally, and unpredictable.


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