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World on the edge over Syria

BY MICHAEL A DINGWALL

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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The crisis over Syria has now taken a very dangerous turn for the worse as there is now a real possibility that the long, drawn-out civil war there may trigger a military clash between Russia and the West, led by the United States. America and her allies, most notably France, are promising a very strong response, most likely a military one, to the alleged gas attack in Syria. Russia has warned that if any western military response is not directed against “terrorists” (that is, Russian enemies), America and her allies will face “the gravest of consequences”.

A military response from the West seems very likely. The American president has warned the Russians that they should get ready for “very smart, new and fast” missiles. The Russians have hit back, warning that any strike on Syrian Government (or worse Russian) targets will be met with a military retaliation — most likely by the Russians shooting down the Western missiles or, even worse, as the Russian ambassador to Lebanon has warned, shooting down American planes and sinking her ships in the area.

Convinced that a Western strike is coming within the next few days, the Syrians have also begun taking steps to protect their military assets as much as possible. According Syrian State media, the Government there has ordered the evacuation of much of its air bases and other military installations — probably at the behest of Moscow.

What makes this particular incident so acute is that there are war-hawks clamouring for a military confrontation on both sides. The American president seems to have already made up his mind that a chemical attack did take place and, as such, a military response is warranted. Also, the recent appointment of his new national security advisor, a well-known war advocate, seems to have sealed the decision that a Western strike is coming.

On the Russian side, several leading government officials have warned that if the Russians don't respond militarily that will give the West a licence to strike Syria again. The head of the Russian military has warned, for weeks now in fact, that Russian forces in the Pacific have been sharpening their abilities to shoot down missiles in flight, and that Russia does have the means to do just that.

Also, one gets the feeling that that warning about sinking American ships in the area from the Russian ambassador to Lebanon could in fact be a veiled threat from the Kremlin itself. In addition, Moscow's recent testing of the world's most powerful long-range missile a few days ago, the Satan 2, may have been another warning.

There is also some evidence that the West is not taking Russian or Syrian air defence systems lightly anymore. That recent Israeli attack on Syria just a few days ago is very interesting. In the past, Israel has sent its American-made jets into Syrian air space to bomb Syria. During the last attack, Israel didn't fly those jets into Syrian airspace, but fired those missiles from outside. No doubt, the Israelis are still smarting from the fact that the Syrian air-defence systems managed to shoot down an Israeli (American-made) jet the last time they flew over Syria.

Relations between Russia and the West have been at their worst in decades. Some analysts are even saying that they are now worse than they were during the cold war, and others have said that the world is now experiencing “Cold War 2”.

However, during the first cold war a 'hot war' between Russia and the West was avoided, as both sides realised that such a war would mean the end of the world. Let's hope that this very dangerous crisis over Syria, which is now at the very edge of the precipice, will cause common sense to prevail and not lead to a hot war. We would all die!

michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com

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