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May 29, 2016 6:15 am

Vladimir Putin Is Winning in Syria — and in Europe

avatar by Ron Agam

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photos: Wikipedia.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photos: Wikipedia.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Russia has played an extremely Machiavellian political game. By propping up the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, Vladimir Putin has helped create the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

While the West and most of the Sunni regimes in the Middle East want a peaceful end to the horrific war in Syria, Russia’s dictator has other goals. He wants to help Russia became a great power on the world stage, and to punish Europe for the economic boycott launched against Russia following its invasion of the Ukraine.

Europe is overflowing with migrants. They are living in horrible conditions, and they are straining the entire continent. This has led to the largest resurgence of far-right political parties since before World War II.

Putin’s strategy of preserving the Assad regime has produced the crisis that we are all witnessing today. Not only is Putin saving his strongest Mideast ally, but in a double win, he is also destabilizing Europe and generating political support for his regime due to the rise of these right-wing parties. Like most of Europe’s leaders, US President Barack Obama has been befuddled by Putin’s wily strategy.

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I cannot recall a more “brilliant and Machiavellian” move by any world leader to further his strategic interests than Putin’s actions in Syria. And, since the refugee crisis is just starting to emerge, we will be living with the consequences of these tragic Kremlin decisions for many years to come.

Just last week, an incredible political achievement by the extreme rightist party in Austria showed us that the repercussion of this crisis and its implications for a peaceful and dynamic Europe will be severe.

Putin has put Europe at great risk, and for him, that is a sweet victory over his enemies of yesterday.

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