Cui Bono?

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit. Photo by

Cui Bono is a Latin phrase which roughly translates as “Who benefits?” It’s a useful tool in identifying likely suspects for a crime, and in this case the crime is the mass slaughter of Kurds in northern Syria.

In this case, there are a few people who are getting what they want. Erdogan is getting the chance to eradicate an ethnic group which has laid claim to part of his country, even as he’s attempting to expand the borders of his direct influence. President Trump is getting a chance to claim he’s pulling troops out of an “endless war” (as well as some brownie points with Putin and Erdogan, potentially helpful in the likely case either leader has compromising material on him.) Assad is benefiting from having an independence-minded group swear fealty to him, for protection.

None of them can lay claim to a complete victory. Erdogan is endangering alliances by initiating an effort at genocide. Trump is damaging the reputation of the United States as an ally and simultaneously hurting his approval numbers. Assad is taking on not just Turkey but their allies – and his patrons – Russia and Iran.

Indeed, Trump’s claim to success is tenuous at best. It is predicated on the notion that he will get a concrete benefit from pulling the troops home… but as more details are released, both about the Kurds being betrayed (in ways like convincing them to lower their defenses against Turkey and providing Turkey with American locations, thus allowing them to better target Kurdish forces) and about the war crimes and murder of civilians which have occurred due to Trump’s decisions, he is likely to suffer significant political damage.

There is one person who sees nothing but benefit from this turn of events. That is Vladimir Putin.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have been in talks about a mutually beneficial arrangement for more than a year. Should Russia decide to continue to support that arrangement, it demonstrates to the world that they seem to be a more dependable ally than the United States. It also renders them a potent regional force, holding influence in the negotiations between the prospective Caliphates of Turkey and Iran, even as they remain the primary benefactor of Assad. This would grant them direct control over more energy resources (and thus more influence over the prices) as well as ease their troop and trade movements.

Another distinct possibility exists. Putin is on record as regretting the fall of the Soviet Union and being desirous of its re-establishment. This has been hypothesized as a rationale behind his movement into the Ukraine.

The Soviet Union’s intelligence agencies were responsible for training and supplying a Kurdish uprising in the 1970s. They remained the Kurdish patrons for more than a decade, as they attempted to undermine the then-secular and pro-Western Turkish government.

Putin now has the opportunity to backstab Erdogan. Doing so would increase Putin’s influence with Saudi Arabia, whose leadership holds little love for the Turkish leader after the audio recordings of Jamal Khashoggi’s vivisection were revealed, proving that the Saudis were responsible. It would also strengthen his burgeoning ties with Israel, who face existential threats from all directions but few so immediate as an expansionist Turkey. Meanwhile, Turkey has dramatically weakened its own alliances by compounding open threats to EU nations with the blatant commission of war crimes in their Syrian offensive.

Abandoning Turkey will result in positive political gains, and simultaneously draw the Kurds back from the pro-American, pro-capitalist position which has been growing in popularity for three decades. This might result in direct conflict with Turkey, but might reasonably result in Turkey being taken over by a strengthening Russia.

Putin has no bad options on the table, merely his choice of winning hands.

Who benefits? Russia… as has been the case throughout much of the Trump administration.

About the opinions in this article…

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.

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