A while ago I hazarded a prediction on the future of ISIS — one based solely on telling a story. It was from a mind adept at predicting plot-lines and surprises in stories. (Here) Today I will venture again into the world of predicting the future. Or, at the very least, the future that I believe with almost certainty figures in the daydreams of one Vladimir Putin.
The daydream starts with the Kurds. See, the Kurds have always been somewhat close to Russia since Turkey was NATO and the Kurds and the Turks don’t get along (to say the least). Russia has certainly supported Kurdish separatists ( or terrorists, depending on who you ask) In fact, I would say that Putin already veiws the Kurds as a trump card to be played against Turkey. I believe that the imminence of a Turkish intervention in northern Syria to ‘establish a safe zone’ but in reality to eliminate a budding Kurdish state on the Turkish border was the real cause of the recent Russian intervention in Syria. With the Russians running around and particularly bombing northern Syria, how would the Turkish army move in? Today, that would almost certainly involve going to war against Russia.
Since there are no ethnic Russians in Turkey, I have seen it assumed that Putin could not pull off in Turkey what he did in Ukraine. But, there are somewhere around 10 million Kurds in Tukey. Putin could put advisers in Syrian Kurdistan and send in Kurds. I think, under this hypothesis, that Ukraine (while part necessity from Putin’s point of view) was also a dress rehearsal for Putin’s plan for Turkey.
So Putin (who has probably long dreamed the daydream that I will get to) wakes up one day and realizes that it might (oh so infinitesimally small odds) be possible. (Due in some large degree to Erdogan.) The daydream requires a knockdown dragged out Turkish civil war. So Putin dreams thus:
The Syrian civil war and the Turkish unrest whirl together. The Turkish border (in the Kurdish regions at least) is currently well secured. But in the event of even a large scale uprising, the border would become more porous. Putin continues to dream. He dreams of massive civil unrest. The different pieces of the Turkish state finally tears themselves apart. The Kurds are only one piece of a messy puzzle. The Alevi are considered Heterodox and Shia. There are roughly as many of them as there are Kurds. They certainly know what happened to the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek Christians in Turkey. There are the strict, zealous Sunni Turks and there are fairly Westernized almost European Turks… No country is even remotely as monolithic as it seems from across the sea. So Putin dreams of a civil war in Turkey like that on Syria. A mess with no on in charge. (And you would have to be very sheltered to think that Putin would not happily assist Turkey down this road of self destruction.)
And then, for two reasons, one altruistic and one practical, he would intervene. Both reasons are such that the international community would have a hard time condemning,.the Russians seize the Bosporus and the strait of Dardanelles. The practical reason is to protect international commerce and Russian military and civilian access to the Mediterranean.
Does anyone know what is right by the Bosporus?
That’s right… Istanbul… also known at one point as Constantinople. What is there? That is where Putin’s dream lives. The Patriarchate is there, also the Hagia Sophia is there. (The Hagia Sophia is the oldest Cathedral in Christendom, and it is currently owned by the Turks. ) Why, someone must protect the few Christians left in Turkey… Someone must be a shield to the Patriarchate. If that someone liberated the patriarchate from the Turks….
And so, Putin dreams on. He dreams of Charlemagne. The one who liberates the Patriarchate (so long as they at least pretend to Orthodoxy) could be crowned Emperor. Not just any Emperor, but Roman Emperor — something the Russians have always been keen on. And Putin would be crowned in a renovated Hagia Sophia which would again become the seat of the Patriarchate.
Oddly enough, the world might be better off with an Emperor. Less pretense all around (since the Russians already basically are an empire, as are the Chinese, and Iran…) It would be ironic, or poetic depending on how you look at it if this had the result I would write into a novel. I suspect that having an Orthodox emperor, and a free Patriarchate of Constantinople would breathe fresh life back into the some of the very countries whose souls were slaughtered by the Soviets (Bulgaria springs to mind).
What would Putin do if he had this in mind? What would have to happen in a novel to make this even slightly believable?
- Prop up the Kurds
- Get Assad (or at least the Alawites… Assad is technically disposable) on the same page as the Kurds
- Generally provoke the Turks
- Giggle about Erdogan
- Start making noises about the Hagia Sophia (To signal to the Patriarchate that he was looking out for them)
- Set international precedent that seizing territory to protect military assets is something that everyone just complains about (no one actually does anything).
- Establish Russian presence in the Alawite region of Syria (soon to be part of the Empire)… and invite all the oppressed Christian and Shia communities to relocate to there… that practically makes him a good guy
- Get seen in churches a lot
Well, that’s all for now… What does a powerful man dream of? More power and more prestige… maybe more on the topic later… such as Putin the intelligent and cautious… 🙂