Monday, May 20, 2024

Syria and the drumbeat of World War III

Too many reports have emerged from the Middle East in the last few days to raise the spectre of a looming World War III.

China has moved in with its military advisers and an aircraft carrier Liaoning-CV-16 is “docked in the Syrian port of Tartus.” One could’ve discounted this report from DEBKAfile, a pro-Israel source, but for the fact that no credible official denial has come from China.

Iran is already there on the ground in support to Russia, Iraq and Syrian forces and it won’t be long before Saudi Arabia and Israel, with their pathological distaste for Iran, would step into the picture in support of United States. The coalitions thus being formed are unmistakable.

Other nations—Central Asia etc in support of Russia and southeast Asian nations, including Japan, and European Union (EU) rallying up behind United States–would only sharpen the division.

Both US and Russia are doing their air-sorties over the crowded Syrian airspace without taking each other into confidence and any collision could trigger off a major conflict.

NATO’s warning on Russia’s transgression of Turkish airspace and UK prime minister David Cameron chiming in that he is “prepared to use nuclear weapons,” have made the adversaries reach for the holsters in this gun duel on the sand. The slightest miscalculation and a large part of humanity could go up in smoke.

Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman has published a report which suggest that “Incirlik base is set to increase its capacity by 2,250 to accommodate new personnel.”

Terrified of losing face among coalition partners, not least to its domestic audience and Congress/Parliament etc, these major countries are too far committed to this “Great Game” of control of energy-rich Middle East to back out at this stage.

China has hugely committed itself to the Iraqi oil fields—being its largest investor—even though its almost 50-percent stakes in the Syrian oil fields look out of bounds for the moment. China now dreads the day when ISIS would take control of Iraqi oil fields known to contain some of world’s largest oil reserves.

DF has said that “Beijing is digging in for a prolonged stay in Syria,” and that it intends “sending war planes, anti-submarine helicopters…and at least 1,000 marines.” Russia Today (RT) has said that Chinese military personnel “will reportedly be followed by troops.”

Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim Jafari is on record that his Chinese counterpart Wang YI, had offered to launch air-strikes way back in September 2014 itself.  China’s spokesman Hong Lei later was to say that “China has been fighting terrorism and has been providing support and assistance to Iraq, including the Kurdish region…” Wang had recently told the UN Security Council that the world would not close its eyes on what’s going on in Syria.

China has already carried out military drills with Russia in the eastern Mediterranean region and its military links with neighbouring Pakistan are growing all the time.

Russia, since it started its air-sorties over Iraq, has asked US to provide exact positions it planned to attack in Syria. The US has refused to consider the request raising the spectre of an unintended crash between the overlapping jets of the two sides.

Washington and Moscow have had a few meetings in this regard. More such parleys are to happen this weekend. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook admits they are trying to address the situation “so that there isn’t a misjudgment or miscalculation in the air.”

If such a miscalculation was to occur, one thing could lead to another and a major catastrophic World War might un-spool.

The only way out is the Geneva conventions as set out by the United Nations (UN).

It would allow for the establishment of a “transitional governing body” in Syria and that’s a simple solution. But Putin would want Assad on the negotiating table and US would have none of it. Would his presence be such a major face-loss to US compared to the catastrophe which confronts humanity?

Putin asks some essential questions in this damning video. A must watch.

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