Editorial: the Middle-Eastern «gunpowder keg»

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Photo: PM, Urmas Nemvalts

At the beginning of 20th century, interests of then major European nations collided in the Balkans to the degree that the region began to be referred to as a «gunpowder keg». In 1914, it exploded to trigger WW1. Disturbingly, the Middle-East of 21st century resembles another «gunpowder keg» where interests of the West, Russia, the Arab states, Israel, Iran and Turkey clash.

These past weeks, the situation in Syria has further intensified. Russia as supporting the Assad-regime leaning on Shia minority has significantly upped its ante by sending in its newest tanks, guns and infantry. Covered by air strikes, the army of Assad has made gains against Free Syrian Army both in the Southern part of the country as in the Aleppo province bordering with Turkey with a large ethnic Turkish population.

This, in turn, has led to Saudi Arabia  a main supporter of anti-Assad forces – announcing of launching mainland operations in Syria which according to the Saudi foreign minister Adil al-Jubayr is not only aimed against the Islamic State but the «misanthropic» regime of Assad. Already, Al-Jubayr has announced that in the future there will be «no Assad whatsoever» in Syria. The Saudis are supported by Turks in their fight against Islamic State , but the situation in Syria is further complicated by Turkey also viewing as Kurds as «terrorists» while the latter have carried the main load these past years fighting Islamic State in Syria.   

Indeed, the latest news say that Saudis are converging troops and planes in Turkey to launch with Turks a land operation in Northern Syria. In 2015 already, Turkey was planning a land operation in Syria, to cleanse a security zone in Syrian soil bordering with Turkey from Islamic State and Assad fighters, to direct there the war refugees who have come to Turkey.

As warned by Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev last week via the German newspaper Handelsblatt, mainland operation in Syria may lead to a new world war and «Americans and Arabs must carefully consider if they really want that». It is unclear if Russia, in its defence of Assad regime, is indeed willing to enter a conflict with Saudis and Turks who are supported by the USA, but obviously the ceasefire agreement entered in Munich last week by representatives of the West and Russia will fail. By that, the much-criticized foreign policy of the Obama administration will have received yet another blow and Syria will remain a «gunpowder keg» of our day threatening world peace.