NEW YORK: Having outfoxed him on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has pipped United States (US) President Barack Obama to the title of the world’s most powerful leader as ranked by Forbes on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
It was the first time in three years that the US president has dropped to second place on the magazine’s list and came as US-Russia relations slid to a new low.
Putin, who has enjoyed 13 years of dominant rule over Russia, was again elected president in March 2012.
Obama, on the other hand, has just emerged scathed from an embarrassing 16-day US government shutdown caused by a budget and debt crisis in Washington.
“Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president—latest example: the government shutdown mess,” wrote Forbes.
In August, Russia granted asylum to former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, wanted in the United States over a mammoth intelligence leak.
A month later, Putin played the trump card again by averting Obama’s threatened missile strikes on Syria with a plan for Damascus to hand over chemical weapons.
“Anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics,” Forbes wrote.
The 2013 list of 72 powerbrokers was chosen to reflect one for every 100 million lesser mortals on Earth.
Third prize went to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is expected to rule for a decade in which China is set to eclipse the US as the world’s largest economy.
Pope Francis made his debut at No. 4 and German Chancellor Angela Merkel rounded out the top five.
Among 13 newcomers were Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee at No. 41 and Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, in at No. 64.
There were 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of $48 trillion and 27 chief executive officers and chairs who control over $3 trillion in annual revenues.
Only nine women made the cut despite representing half the world’s population.