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Folks, happenings in Syria have brought together bitterly opposed forces whose intransigence in having their own way is more than disturbing. Pointers are emerging that if care is not taken, we could face the Third World War.
On the one hand, outside forces have heavily invested themselves in the Syrian crisis as if they are more Syrian than the Syrians themselves who carried out their own unco-ordinated and poorly handled version of the “Arab Spring” and lost traction thereby. They could neither overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime nor assert their own influence as characters/systems worthy of respect in the estimation of their own people and the “outside world”.
Verdict? The Syrian version of the “Arab Spring” failed at its very initiation and has nothing good to warrant the continued support given its forces by the United States and its confused allies. The marshaling of forces and intensification of belligerence can’t end the crisis. Neither will it be possible to bring together all the factions opposed to Assad al-Bashar. It’s a battle lost even before begun.
That is why the persistent threats issued by the US under Donald Trump mean nothing. Probably, Trump is using such rhetorical inanity as a smokescreen behind which to hide, knowing very well how he is losing ground because of the numerous devastating allegations facing him. No US President has dug his own grave as he is doing. Is he seeking solace in such foreign adventures? Phew!!
His recourse to threats against Russia are wishy-washy. He is already under the microscope for his dealings with Russia as the Special prosecutor Mueller is pursuing. He is also under the microscope for other morally corrupt acts. What to do but to mix his cards, turning to an attack on Syria as an escape route, if it is at all? Nothing is cutting butter for him.
Meantime, Russia is moving fast with its weapons build-up, saying not long ago that it has “successfully test-launched a hypersonic missile, one of a range of nuclear-capable weapons announced by President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.
As the BBC put it, Russia’s Defence Ministry released video footage showing the missile detaching from a fighter jet and leaving a fiery trail behind it.
I watched the video clip of this launch and cringed. It pointed to something terrible if used because of its devastating capabilities.
Meantime, the US has also showcased some of its latest arsenal, especially the nuclear-topped naval armament. China is fast surprising the world with its modern naval armaments, including frigates. Britain has also showcased its latest model. North Korea isn’t sleeping; it has also boldly displayed its models of nuclear-capable armament. The US’s attempt to install anti-missile defence systems in South Korea have stalled, apparently over South Korea’s unwillingness to pay for the cost.
Folks, there appears to be a steady march toward the precipice. Those monitoring the build-up can see how this kind of tension threatens global peace. Yet, the United Nations is still sleeping. Not surprising because its predecessor (the League of Nations failed to prevent the Second World War). And as it sleeps, it remains overtaken by events. Is a Third World War eminent? (See http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43362213 for more ideas).
What is emerging paints a terribly frightening picture, especially now that countries that one couldn’t hitherto consider as militarily strong are now so robust as to reduce to absurdity the claim by the US as the world’s only superpower that can do things anyhow because of its monopoly over the instruments of violence. It is clear that many others have steadily built up sophisticated weaponry and can call the US and its allies’ bluff.
Over the years, the US has done things to the chagrin of countries opposed to its hegemony, especially Russia. The US and its European allies trod on toes in Africa, Asia, etc., in the immediate past with ease, even though Russia bared its teeth when its interests were threatened but abstained from striking back.
The Syrian crisis is now the focus and an immediate worry about a possible Third World War if the hostile rhetoric and war-mongering agenda don’t change for the better. However one views it, this crisis has a lot of foreign interests manipulating it. The sharp divisions that would group the US and its allies (including Turkey that has now turned against the coalition and leant more favourably toward Russia) against Russia and the Assad al-Bashar regime are now escalating into an imaginably absurd point to provoke fears of a Third World War.
The battle lines have been drawn for many years now. The US and its European and Middle Eastern allies made no secret of their hatred for Assad and their unshakable resolve to get him out of power. Their deadly wish hasn’t been fulfilled thus far, many years after the Syrian version of the Arab Spring. They have done all in their power to weaken and decimate Assad al-Bashar but not succeeded. Any talk of a political, not a military, solution has fizzled because of the trust in weapons of mass destruction to be used against Assad. He remains unfazed and is winning the internal war against his enemies, which scares the US and its allies all the more.
Russia has stiffened its stance and carried much weight in diluting such incursions. Apparently, Russia has its interests in that part of the world that it will defend to death, regardless of the amount of pressure put on it (considering the imposition of biting sanctions by the US and its allies following the crisis in Ukraine). Russia is not a push-over, which the US and its allies can’t come to terms with.
The happenings are deep-seated, which is why no wishful thinking or impulsive action will solve the Syrian crisis. Negotiations toward a peaceful resolution have failed all these years, clearly because of lack of honesty on the part of those seeking to end the crisis while pursuing their own agenda for political and economic gains to anger their opponents. Much has been done and said about the issue. No solution found.
Several schemes have emerged to tell us how manipulation of the Syrian crisis is being done. Assad has been accused by the US and its allies of using unorthodox means to destroy opponents (including barrel bombs and what-not), an accusation that the Syrian government quickly denied. It’s a never-ending circus.
Another instance has occurred and Assad’s government is on edge, having been accused of using chemical weapons in Gouma, a rebel territory close to Damascus. Latching on to this happening, the US’ Donald Trump has warned that his government will take quick action which will involve the deployment of missiles (new and fast and devastating).
And it is supported by its traditional allies (Britain and France, the very countries that obliged and followed the US to wreak havoc on Libya and other countries just to pursue their own narrow selfish interests, leaving behind a never-ending trail of bitterness, chaos, and devastation).
Russia has rebuffed that threat and warned the US not to over-reach itself. Indeed, it says that it will match the US missile-for missile and will shoot down anything fired by7 the US against Syrian territory. As of now, the US’s hordes of arsenal aboard its naval fleet in that region have been placed in position, awaiting the order from Trump to act. Russia is also reported to have re-aligned its missiles in readiness for any eventuality.
We have heard some faint threats from Theresa May of Britain and France’s Macron to indicate a show of support for Trump. May was reported as saying that she would insert Britain into the fray even without parliamentary approval. A huge mis-step that will throw her off balance just as the intricacies of Brexit appear to be doing.
Folks, right in front of our eyes, there is a steady build-up for something ominous. It is on record that all these countries marching toward the starting point are heavily nuclear-armed. I have gathered from somewhere that a single blast of a nuclear arsenal will throw the world into a perpetual winter of darkness. Is that what these countries flexing muscles over Syria should be aiming at? What exactly is Syria to them that other countries aren’t?
As a scholar fully aware of the role of Syria in the affairs of Christendom, I recall only one important life-changing phenomenon for which I will consider Syria as significant: The Damascus experience that turned the Christ-hating Saul into the most accomplished evangelist Paul.
Probably, those trusting in their weapons of mass destruction need the Damascus Experience to re-align themselves to the reality: that as human beings, our lives are finite; and that we have the option to choose between right and wrong, and must be prepared for the consequences.
I will end this long talk on a sombre note: Where will Africa be in all this scenario?
I shall return…
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, April 13, 2018