Part 1 : World War III – Second Innings

Syria may not be the cause of a global war

World war III - second innings
World war III - second innings

World war III in prediction

 

The talk of a World War by some world leaders started in 2001 and reached a crescendo in 2014.  In 2017, however, world leaders are warning of a similar threat.

Let us start with a religious view to which historians do not give much credence.  Ephraim of Philotheon monastery in Mt. Athos noted that “diabolical forces threaten the peaceful existence on Earth.”  He adds that the devil is in rage and wants to swallow us whole.  A hilarious solution follows: “we have to escape to Heaven.” 1    Another religious figure Portuguese prophet Horatio Villegas, who foresaw a Trump victory as President, predicts World War III as starting on May 13, 2017, the hundredth anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Fatima.2

As the situation stands in April 2017, Syria may not be the cause of a global war. North Korea could be a more plausible one since this nuclear state threatens the US, if attacked.

Clerics aside, there are ominous signs of a coming catastrophe.  President of Moscow-based International Middle East Studies Maria Dubovikova notes that, “The coming three months will shape the world of tomorrow, and the starting point will be Syria.”3     Unfortunately, the shape of tomorrow has already taken place.  The West and 60 other client states, led by the US, is facing opposition from Russia, China, Iran, and the remaining BRICS. 4     Russia has become more assertive and Foreign Minister Lavrov told US Vice President Mike Pence that, “the time when the West called the shots was over. Russia will end US-led world order.”5

Experienced Lavrov explains the difference between past rivalry and present.  At the peak of the Cold War, there were two empires, the West and Soviet Union.  Generally each fuelled conflicts in third world countries, never within its own borders, and never directly. The boundaries of differences were set and the rhetoric softer.  Publicly the voices were loud, privately amicable.  Today, there are no rules. NATO will not participate in discussions at the Sixth Moscow Conference on International Security which the Russian Defense Ministry held on April 26-7, 2017.  The reason given was that the Russians do not treat foreign participants cordially.  Lavrov therefore sees the world on the edge of destruction.6     Lavrov’s pessimism is shared by Richard Haas whose book is titled, The World in Disarray.  President Trump too feels that the world is in chaos and he promises to put it right.  Facing a North Korean crisis, he adds that he has the disposition to launch a World War III.7


As the situation stands in April 2017, Syria may not be the cause of a global war.  North Korea could be a more plausible one since this nuclear state threatens the US, if attacked.  The initial targets will be US bases in Osana, Kunsan, Pyeongtaek and the South Korean Presidential palace.8    The US, on the other hand, threatens to call the shots and it declared that its policy has shifted from “strategic silence” to “all options on the table.”  It is within this adversarial context that Trump’s decision to bomb Syria and Afghanistan, while threatening North Korea will be scrutinized.

Syria:

The firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria by the US may be a one-time event and does not indicate a strategy.  Some argue that the US does not have a strategy while others argue that the more diffused the policy is, the better.  But US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley 9 declared openly one part of the strategy: regime change in Syria. On another occasion, she said that her government’s policy was to “protect Israel and attack Iran.” 10    Syrian President Bashar al Assad also noted that Israel treats Syria as an extension of the Palestinian issue.  Israel already occupies part of the Golan Heights which the international community should recognise as part of Israel.  Israel then wants the other part of the Golan Heights which Syria controls. The Golan Heights would act as a buffer zone.  The ultimate goal is to annex parts of Syria and Lebanon to create Greater Israel.11   In the meantime, Trump’s National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster wants to increase American troops in Syria from 300 to 150,000 and to divide Syria into three occupying zones. 12

Russia’s policy in Syria seems to be that they are legally there by invitation, to protect Assad’s position as the leader of Syria.

The US would then be adopting Israeli policy of dismantling the Sykes-Picot states established after the First World War.  Israeli neighbours would be weak, while Israel would be strong enough to lengthen its existence.  The line stretching from Ukraine to Israel and Iran is the ‘nuclear curtain’ of Eurasia.  As Orthodox Jared Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law and the White House’s representative for Middle Eastern affairs, Israel has taken advantage of building 250,000 settlements for its Orthodox citizens on Palestinian lands, adjacent to Jerusalem. The Palestinians said that this went against international law.  A thousand prisoners in Israeli jails went on hunger strike; the numbers have been reduced to 870.  Israeli policy seems to be that unless the Palestinians do more than recognise the state of Israel, the encroachment of Palestinian lands will continue.  The Palestinians are demanding their own state with the 1967 borders, as territory won through war cannot be annexed legally, according to UN regulations.

Russia’s policy in Syria seems to be that they are legally there by invitation, to protect Assad’s position as the leader of Syria.  Although Assad’s forces were numerically superior to his opponents, his elite forces were mainly Alawite, a minority, while his rank and file were mainly Sunni.  His main supporters in the civil war were Hezbollah from Lebanon and Iranians.  Russia provided the needed air support.  From being almost overthrown, Assad went on the aggressive claiming that his forces controlled ‘every corner of Syria.’  Russian air support counters US and Israeli air support for the ‘rebels.’   Among the mainly seven rebel groups, with 60K fighters, are Jabhat al-Nusra, who have changed their names twice, the Islamic State, Jaysh al-Fatha, al Qaeda in Syria, Tahrir al- Sham, and the Free Syrian Army. Qatar has financed both the Trump Presidency and the Syrian rebels.

Since the Syrian civil war has accounted for 600K deaths and 6 million refugees it would appear that the long distance missile strikes by the Russians and Americans were clearly heartless.  Russia launched its 26 missiles from the Caspian Sea, 917 nautical miles away, on ISIS strongholds.  The US struck 59 Tomahawks on Syria from a ship in the Mediterranean.  The Shayrat airfield was targeted and, according to the Russians relatively minor damage was done by 23 successful missile strikes: a warehouse, an educational building, a dining room, a radar station and six MIG-23 fighter planes were damaged.  The airport was operational within 48 hours.13

In fact, it was Trump’s Weapons of Mass Destruction moment. The Russians wondered how the White Helmets could work long hours with decontamination without gloves and protective clothing

Trump’s excuse for using Tomahawks was the inhumane use of chemicals against children.  Yet he seemed unconcerned about 80 people who died, most of them adults.  At first, Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed his shock by saying that the missiles were not meant to damage Assad; it was ‘a bogus charade.’  Assad was helping the US decimate ISIS.14       Another legislator who opposed the strike was Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Warren declared that Trump’s action was ‘erratic.’  He did not consult Congress. He had not deposed Assad, nor held him accountable, and his action was not ‘in the vital national interest.15   Ron Paul added that there “was zero chance Assad gassed children.” 16

In fact, it was Trump’s Weapons of Mass Destruction moment.  The Russians wondered how the White Helmets could work long hours with decontamination without gloves and protective clothing.17        Russian Lavrov also pointed out that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) could not be trusted as it was chaired by a British citizen: OPCW took just 4 days to verify chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhun, while it took more than 4 months to acknowledge that chemical weapons were used in Aleppo, and there was no report issued.18                               

Relying on the Pentagon is not always a wise procedure.  Generals are geared to win a war under any circumstances.  Pentagon has a legacy of using Agent Orange in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972.  More than 19m gallons were sprayed over 4.5 m acres attacking servicemen and civilians, and which caused birth defects, tumors, rashes and cancer.19    Politicians have to take the responsibility for going to war and the damage that ensues.  The war-mongers in Washington, the deep state, are responsible for such situations, as Ron Paul noted, as when in 2016 the US dropped 26,171 bombs in 7 countries without declaring war on any one of them.20

Assad’s view of the Syrian situation can be valuable in assessing the controversies.  Assad’s representative at the UN Bashar al- Jaafari said that the US was raising the level of war to dangerous levels.  The US, Britain and their allies were supplying the rebels with chemical weapons and then blaming Assad for its use.  Tillerson wanted a no-fly zone in Syria for American planes, but Russia refused to cooperate.  Lavrov said that Russia would not accept any ultimatum.


Al-Jaffari sent 90 letters to the UNSC about rebels using chemical weapons against civilians and then blaming Assad for its use.  On September 17, 2016, the military base in Deir-Ezzor, Al-Tharda mountain was attacked; Israel and ISIS attacked Syrian army sites in Palmyra on April 7, 2014; chemicals were used in Khan al Asal on March 19, 2013; eastern Ghouta on August 21, 2013, Tal Mins on April 21, 2014; in Sermin on March 16, 2015; and in Qnaynas on March 16, 2016.21    Syrian complaints fell on deaf ears at the UNSC.  Americans also used depleted uranium in Syria, noted some correspondents.

What is Russia gaining from its Syrian policy?  By successfully defending Syria, Russia has shown Middle Eastern countries that it can withstand and challenge the onslaught of the US and its allies.  The royal Gulf states are beginning to buy Russian arms. More important, said Putin, by employing the war-like Caucasian Muslims in Syria, Russia is reducing its problems at home.  And, the Syrian naval base in Tartus, gives Russia control of the Mediterranean Sea, from the Black Sea to Morocco, in other words the southern flank of Europe.  Since Russia also controls the Baltic Sea, it has a theoretical pincer grip of Europe.

Fortunately, Trump and Putin have decided to coordinate their policies in Syria.  Trump has also decided to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who has threatened to use nuclear weapons against the US, if provoked.  In this case the fine print, containing certain conditions, is more important than the main text.

In December of 2016, Turkey and Russia, without the US, negotiated a peace agreement for Syria.22   Three documents were signed: the Syrian Government and the armed opposition agreed to a ceasefire in Syria; a complex set of measures of control for occupied zones was part of the ceasefire arrangements.  These peaceful talks were held in Astana and Geneva.  But this agreement had problems.


The ‘moderate’ armed factions declared that the CIA paid them to abandon the Astana talks.  The US did not want to be outside the Agreement.  Turkey did not want the Kurdish groups YPG and PYD to occupy Syrian territory which it wanted, but Russia supported the Kurds.  It was not in Israel’s interests to have a united Syria.  The new power brokers in Syria are Russia-Turkey-Iran, a sign that the US is a declining power in the Middle East.  This Agreement is still in force from midnight of 30 December, 2016.23  

Russia maintains that it did not respond to American Tomahawks as it would have started a nuclear war.  Besides, the Russian-manned S-400 system could not be used as no permission came from Moscow.  But Russia and Teheran warned the US that the next time a similar case occurred a response was possible.  Out of this Syrian turmoil, the Kurds might emerge with a state of their own.  Russia has also regarded the positioning of F35 fighter jets in Estonia as an aggressive move.  On the other hand, the Serbian Defense Minister said that its military is willing to help Russia clear land mines in Syria, a noble gesture. 24

Two documents have been passed by a UNSC Resolution 2235: one seeks to identify those using chemical weapons and the other is to support UN representative Staffan de Mistura’s efforts to bring the negotiations in Syria to a peaceful end.  The situation is currently very fluid: the meeting in Astana mentions 4, not 3, “de-escalation zones,” one in the north, one in the south and one in the centre and, presumably, Damascus.  The anti-Assad group objected to the presence of Iran at the meeting as they were responsible for about 400K deaths; they walked out.  Nonetheless, no mention was made about methods of stopping the violence in Syria. 25


Syria is not the only country that is going to be divided.  The US and its allies drew up a map showing how Libya should be divided into three zones: Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the south.

To be continued…

Bibliography

  1. “Elder of Mt. Athos gives frightening prediction for evil to destroy mankind,” pravdareport.com, 26.4.17.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Maria Dubovikova, “The Syrian imbroglio,” arabnews.com, 25.4.17.
  4. James O’ Neill, Iran is the linchpin of Russia’s ‘post-west’ order,” russiainsider.com, 11.3.17.
  5. Rudy Panko, “Lavrov tells it right to Pence’s smug face: Russia will end US-led world order,” russiainsider.com, 18.2.17.
  6. “Russian FM lavrov: the world is on the edge of destruction,” pravda.ru, 25.4.17.
  7. Harriet Sinclair, “Elizabeth Warren slams Trump’s ‘erratic’ decision to launch a missile strike against the Syrian regime,” International Business Time, 2.4.17.
  8. “World War III in the making: North Korea makes final warning,” pravdareport.com, 14.4.17.
  9. RI Staff, “Haley: US planning on regime change in Syria,” russiainsider.com, 9.4.17.
  10. WNED TV broadcasts.
  11. RI Staff, “Israel makes it official: the destruction of Syria will legitimize Israeli land grabs,” russiainsider.com, 24.4.17.
  12. Jason Ditz, “Trump’s National Security Adviser wants to send 50,000 troops to Syria,” russiainsider.com, 14.4.17.
  13. “Only 23 US cruise missiles reached their target – Russian Defense Ministry,” pravdareport.com, 7.4.17; see also Harriet Sinclair, “Elizabeth Warren slams Trump’s ‘erratic’ decision to launch a missile strike against the Syrian regime,” International Business Time, 2.4.17.
  14. Jason Easley, “Trump’s Secretary of State admits Syria missile strike was a bogus charade,” Sun, politcususa.com, 9.4.17.
  15. Sinclair, op. cit.
  16. Nancy O’Brien Simpson, “Who gassed the Syrian children?” pravdareport.com, 7.4.17.
  17. RI Staff, “Russian Defense Ministry: White Helmets staged sarin gas attack videos,” russiainsider.com, 18.4.17.
  18. RI Staff, “Lavrov dismantles UK-led sarin investigation in 30 seconds,” russiainsider.com, 25.4.17.
  19. History.com.
  20. Simpson, op. cit.
  21. “Russia vetoes draft resolution submitted by UK, France and US – Al Jaafari: the US is pushing terrorist war on Syria towards dangerous levels,” sana.sy, 12.4.17.
  22. Joyce Karan, “Russia, Turkey take ownership of resolving Syrian conflict,” dailySabah, 30.12.16.
  23. “War ended: Russia withdraws troops from peaceful Syria,” pravdareport.com, 29.12.16; see also “The new axis: Russia-Turkey-Iran take over Syria,” themosocwtimes.com, December 30, 2016.
  24. “Serbian military willing to clear mines in Syria – Serbian Defense Minister,” russianinsder.com, 26.4.17.
  25. AP, “Russia, Iran, Turkey sign on de-escalation zones in Syria,” arabnews.com, 4.5.17.

 

Henry D'Souza

Henry D'Souza is a prolific author who has written over 60 papers and 4 books, of which 2 books, 1 booklet and 28 papers were published. He is a distinguished sportsman, having represented Kenya in Field Hockey and also played tennis for the country.

Henry currently resides in Canada.

1 COMMENT

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzm9urjQbWU
    In a lighter vein but basic to the issue. No solution. Only an event. And outside the bucket.
    There is something that can never be fixed. The approximate US$ 250 trillion of worldwide debt on hand. The Greatest Ever Ponzi Scheme in the history of Mankind. Money created from thin air or nothing and money that will similarly go back into thin air or nothing. Funnily enough in this digital world most wealth and debt can just disappear in seconds. Technology has brought mankind to the brink of eliminating mankind, sad to say. What does one do when they feel robbed? What does the robber do? Who acts first? Ask yourself that’s all.

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