Will Putin Save Christians in the Middle East?

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I have written the cover story for the December 11, 2015, issue of The Catholic Herald on whether Vladimir Putin can save Middle Eastern Christians. More broadly, I consider some of the religious and strategic dimensions of Russian foreign policy:

If there’s one mistake any analyst can make, however, it is to assume that a group or person has only one goal.

To ask whether Putin is interested in helping Christians or enhancing Russia’s power in the Middle East is to offer a false choice. It is entirely possible that he is interested in both. It is also possible that he sees the enhancement of Russian power in the Middle East as synonymous with the protection of Christianity.

And:

We should be cautious, therefore, before dismissing the notion that Russian foreign policy is underpinned by a genuine belief in Russia’s destiny to secure Christendom. We should also be cautious before accepting it. Reliable information about the inner workings of Putin’s court is extremely difficult to come by.

We can be much more confident, however, in dismissing the icon of Putin as the saviour of Arab Christians. Stability is a necessary condition for the survival of these horribly persecuted communities.

In a region that appears to have become permanently unstable, it is unlikely that Putin’s power politics, whatever the intentions behind them, will lead to anything but chaos.

Read the whole thing here.

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