Vladimir Putin is interested in the defence of Russia from jihadists, terrorists and countries which want its mineral wealth or global domination. To do that he will form alliances with whoever he needs to.
So he is ‘Champion of the Shias’ not by ideological choice as the Economist headline suggests but by expediency and hard-headed calculation.
President Obama has failed this foreign policy test by claiming to want two contradictory outcomes, toppling Assad and putting Isis to the sword.The reality is that toppling Syria, Iran and then Russia is the real objective, and by pretending otherwise Obama, has been caught out by Putin who understood America’s real objectives and pre-empted her by force of arms.
Putin is increasingly gaining popularity at Obama’s expense. Putin is a man of action – Obama’s a ditherer.