Russia-US tensions in Syria may Foreshadow WW-III

The current tension between Russian and the US led blocs over Syrian crisis is more dangerous than even the height of tension during Cold War. During the Cold War there was a military balance between NATO and the Warsaw Pact that lent itself to stability. Moreover, the United States and NATO partners had established communications channels with the Soviet leadership during that period. The same cannot be said of the current regime in the Kremlin. Thus, not only is there a danger of a skirmish breaking out between NATO and Russia in Eastern Europe, Syrian and Iraqi airspaces and territories, it is very likely that such a conflict would quickly escalate into an all-out nuclear war.

In this confrontational situation, both Russian and the American led alliances are also blaming each other for being involved in civilian causalities as well as threatening to each other of nuclear or WW III in a bid to pressurize the either side. In latest development, Vladimir Putin sparks WWIII fears with chilling threat to US, ‘stop criticizing Russia or there will be problems’. He claims presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was trying to create “an enemy” as well as “uniting the nation against them” over Syria conflict. Vladimir Putin has issued a chilling threat to the US as tensions continue to rise over the Syria conflict – sparking World War III fears.

Turkey will take ‘own measures’ in Iraq, Syria: Turkish FM

Turkey is ready to launch a ground operation in Iraq if it feels threatened by developments there, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said Oct. 25, at a time when a U.S.-backed offensive to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from the city of Mosul is on the agenda.

“If there is a threat posed to Turkey, we are ready to use all our resources including a ground operation… to eliminate that threat,” he said in an interview with the Kanal 24 TV station.

Turkey will not tolerate the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state for greater “Kurdish autonomy,” using parts of northern Iraq as bases, Çavusoglu said. The PKK wanted to make Sinjar a “second Kandil,” but such actions would not be allowed and Turkey will “intervene more actively” to stop it from happening, he added. He said Iraq’s central government in Baghdad is “tying itself to a terrorist organization,” adding that Turkey would take whatever steps necessary to protect its soldiers stationed at the Bashiqa military camp, near the northern city of Mosul.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said Baghdad does not want Turkey’s help and that the Turkish troops, tanks and artillery deployed at the Bashiqa military camp are there without his government’s authorization. Iraq says it is a sovereign nation that can handle the Mosul operation alone.

Western leaders are seeking maximum diplomatic pressure on the Kremlin to halt the intense bombardment of the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo that has killed hundreds of civilians including children since a ceasefire was broken on October 03. In overnight talks with EU leaders Theresa May blasted Putin for “undermining the West’s efforts” to provide a political settlement in Syria as the horrific scenes in Aleppo play out. The international moves against Russia came as it’s understood that the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is on a course to sail through the North Sea to set up a point near Syria.

Moreover, Russia revealed its biggest ever nuclear missile this week which is powerful enough to destroy a country as big as France with a single strike. Putin is seeking to replace his arsenal of SS-18 Satan weapons with the new RS-28 Sarmat super-nukes. Russia also sent a flotilla of Russian warships sailing down the English Channel earlier this week as tensions between Britain and Putin reached breaking point.

In the latest escalation involving Syria, Russia also deployed an escort of seven other Russian ships, which we dubbed the most powerful Russian naval task force to sail in northern Europe since 2014. It turns out it was even bigger as Russia is deploying all of the Northern fleet and much of the Baltic fleet in the largest surface deployment since the end of the Cold War the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. This is not a friendly port call. In two weeks, we will see a crescendo of air attacks on Aleppo as part of Russia’s strategy to declare victory there.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says NATO is monitoring the movement of the eight-strong carrier battle group from northern Russia towards Gibraltar en route to the eastern Mediterranean, where alliance officials fear it will launch fighter bombers to hit northwestern Syria early in November.

Turkish-backed rebel fighters shoot towards Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) in Tel Rifaat

According to Turkish Army, Turkey-backed rebel forces in northern Syria have gained control of three areas as they press a two-month-old operation to drive Islamic State and Kurdish militia forces from the border. With ground and air fire support the Syrian rebels “largely secured control” over the areas of Tuways, Al Gharz and Tlatinah south of Akhtarin, the military statement said, adding five rebels were killed and 28 wounded in the latest clashes.Turkish-backed rebels fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army crossed into northern Syria on Aug. 24 and took control of the border town of Jarablus from Islamic State largely unopposed. President Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish-backed forces would press on to the Islamic State-held town of al-Bab, around 15 km (9 miles) from their current location. The Syrian military said the presence of Turkish troops on Syrian soil was unacceptable and a “dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria’s sovereignty.

Russia has S-400 systems in Syria with the defense radius of up to 400 kilometers. In addition, there are S-300 anti-aircraft complexes, warships, Pantsir S1, Buk and Osa systems. Should Washington attack, Moscow will be the first to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, but, contrary to Clinton’s wishes, it will happen in a legitimate way – at the request from the legitimate government of Syria.

The Russian Defense Ministry has vowed to use military force to thwart any efforts to inflict damage on the Syrian Army. The warning comes on the heels of media claims that the US government is considering direct airstrikes against forces loyal to the Syrian leader. As recently as last month, the two powers were hailing a new era in cooperation after reaching a ceasefire agreement for Syria. Now, Washington says it won’t rule out imposing “costs” on Moscow and Damascus over the crisis in the country.

The United States has distanced itself from cooperation on Syria and suggested that Russia should be investigated for war crimes. Putin took it badly, sending relations into the kind of tailspin not seen for decades, with dogs of war baying on the state-controlled news media. So badly, in fact that some analysts began to suspect that other factors were driving his response.

After France also called for Russia to be investigated for war crimes Putin cancelled a scheduled trip to Paris. Finally, the Kremlin announced that it was weighing reopening military base in Cuba and Vietnam reopening of military bases in Cuba and Vietnam, the bases were shuttered over prohibitive costs. This is hardly the time for taking on more burdens. While dispatching 5,000 paratroopers to participate in military maneuvers in Egypt the first such cooperation in decades.

The United States suspended months of talks with Russia over Syria accusing Russia of ripping up a ceasefire deal in order to launch a relentless aerial assault on rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, called on Russia and the Syrian government to be investigated for war crimes over the Aleppo campaign. Russia in response has accused the US of “unfriendly” actions, and deployed nuclear-capable missiles to its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, and warned that it would shoot down Western aircraft if the US launched airstrikes against pro-government targets in Syria.

In this scenario, one of the most important developments in Syria is the emergence of Russia and China as geopolitical counterweights to Washington for the first time since the demise of the Soviet Union. China has publicly backed Russia’s positions on “the most important” global issues, including Moscow’s take on the Syrian and Afghan conflicts. It stressed that the two keep close contact as fellow UN Security Council permanent members.   Moreover, in view of sanctions imposed by the US, NATO, Sergey Ryabkov Russian Deputy Foreign Minister has announced that Moscow will find response measures that would be “painful” for Washington if the US decides to continue toughening its sanctions against Russia.

The British Defense Ministry still chose to make a mountain out of a molehill, with Secretary Michael Fallon reassuring Brits that the Royal Navy, along with other NATO member vessels, would be watching the Russian ships every step of the way as part of their “steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe” – which is wording you might have expected him to use if there was legitimate cause to believe the Russian fleet was any threat to Britain at all, which it clearly was not.

Amid this situation, Russian authorities have stepped up nuclear-war survival measures amid a showdown with Washington, dusting off Soviet-era civil-defense plans and upgrading bomb shelters in the biggest cities.  At the Kremlin’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Cold War is back. The country recently held its biggest civil defense drills since the collapse of the USSR with what officials said were 40 million people rehearsing a response to chemical and nuclear threats.

Iranian Justice Minister: Saudi Arabia Ranks 1st in Exporting Terrorists to Syria

Justice Minister Najm Hamad al-Ahmad blasted the Riyadh government for sending the largest number of terrorists from among over 80 world countries to Syria. “Thousands of terrorists have been sent to Syria from 83 world nations, but Saudi Arabia stands atop all exporters of terrorists to Syria,” al-Ahmad said.  He noted that Saudi Arabia has sent around 30,000 terrorists to Syria, and said, “Turkey by over 25,000 terrorists ranks second after Saudi Arabia.”  Many regional and world countries say the number of foreign terrorists fighting in Syria surpassed 100,000 last years, while the UN still insists on numbers lower than what mentioned in other reports. Yet, the UN has also warned that the figures are skyrocketing. In early July, a high-ranking United Nations official said nearly 30,000 “foreign terrorists” were in Syria and Iraq, warning that the risk of attacks in their home countries was growing. The number of foreign terrorists is very high” in war-ravaged Syria and neighboring Iraq, said Jean-Paul Laborde, UN assistant secretary general and head of its Counter-Terrorism Committee, Swiss Info reported.

On the other hand, the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced a further dramatic expansion of the Pentagon’s “rebalance” or “pivot” to the Asia Pacific that will only heighten the already tense military confrontation with China in the region. He insisted that the Asia Pacific was “the single most consequential region for America’s future. The British are involved too, providing RAF support for America’s air campaign and firing more rhetorical missiles towards Moscow. Theresa May accused Russia of supporting the regime’s surrender or starve policy’ and called on Russia to allow in humanitarian aid. Russian war planes had been blamed for the bombing of an aid convoy into Aleppo as the ceasefire collapsed.

Amna Malik

Author is the President, Center Of Pakistan And International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor -in- Chief of ‘Mélange’.

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