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A czar and a thug: Joel Rosenberg analyzes Putin’s endgame with the United States

"Enemies and Allies" author Joel Rosenberg says “Iran is dragging Russia down a very dangerous path”

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters)

The concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is often viewed as one of the pillars behind the landmark Abraham Accords. Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain came together to sign historic peace agreements as a tool to counter the Iran’s influence in the region. 

But what about the enemies of the United States? Are they also forming new friendships to counter American influence? 

To answer these questions, ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg, turned a spotlight on the rise of the Russian-Iranian axis. 

As an expert on the Middle East who has been watching Iran closely for decades, Rosenberg points at a concerning development. He says Iran has become especially dangerous lately, not only because of its growing nuclear threat, but also as it turns more and more towards the world's nuclear powers that hate the United States, namely Russia, China, and North Korea. Rosenberg notes that Turkey is also being drawn to ‘the dark side’ - an alliance of authoritarian countries. 

Rosenberg spent hours in one-on-one conversations with almost every major leader in the Middle East, from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, and others. His recent book, “Enemies and Allies,” discusses where the U.S. stands in the battle against radical Islamism 20 years after Sept. 11 and who are America’s most prominent enemies and allies. 

The key to me is understanding Vladimir Putin,” Rosenberg said in a recent interview with Cliff May, founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “I don't think Russia has a national interest in Iran. But Putin thinks he does.”

Rosenberg sees Putin as a combination of two types of people that he describes in his book, both a czar and a thug. 

“On the one hand, I think he sees himself as a Russian czar back from the imperial days and that he has a divine right to lead Russia,” he explained. On the other hand, “I think he’s the godfather. But he’s not an aging, enfeebled Vito Corleone... He’s a cold blooded, calculated killer. He’s Michael Corleone.”

With such combination of “brute ugly force, wanting power, wanting money,” Rosenberg thinks that Putin is not driven by ideology, but rather a self-belief that he has a divine right to run Russia. 

“I think he doesn’t get how dangerous this alliance with Iran is. But from his perspective, I think he is working on gathering all anti-American, all anti-Western forces in the world and trying to recreate. It’s not going to be a Warsaw pact... but it’s an alliance of haters of the United States,” Rosenberg adds.

Putin thinks that if the United States hates Iran, then Iran should be a Russian ally, according to Rosenberg, who believes that this concept may not play out in Russia's favor. 

“I think Iran is dragging Russia down and Putin down a very dangerous path,” he argued. 

One reason is that Putin has always maintained a balanced relationship with the State of Israel and its leaders. Throughout recent years, Russia has allowed Israel to strike Iranian targets in Syria’s territory, as long as the operations were coordinated with them. Rosenberg believes that the day is not far before Iran would push Putin to make a decision: “Are you with us or you with them?”

Rosenberg foresees dangerous times ahead, as both Russia and Iran are attempting to test the Biden administration following the disastrous U.S. pullout from Afghanistan. He said the U.S. president “looks desperate for a deal, and the Iranians can smell desperation from half a world away.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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