Although the UNO-backed fragile ceasefire in Syria, brokered by major powers including Russia and the United States came into force on February 27, 2016, yet its violations continue, which could lead the world towards what some call the World War III in the wake of various negative developments. In this regard, rift has also been created between the U.S. and its close NATO ally, Turkey, when on February 10, 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the U.S. over its support for Syria’s main Kurdish group, saying, “The failure to recognise the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a terrorist group is creating a ‘sea of blood’ in Syria. He explained, “The PYD, on which the U.S. relies to battle the so-called Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh) in Syria, is an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party.”
Despite the insistence of America and France to observe the ceasefire, Ankara continued its massive shelling against Kurdish targets in northwest Syria. Meanwhile, Syria’s opposition and rebels have accused the Bashar al-Assad’s regime of attacking the rebel-held areas with heavy shelling, and its ally Russia of pounding two villages in the Aleppo province with air strikes. But both Moscow and Damascus blame the U.S.-supported rebels of violating the truce.
Besides, the Sunni-based militant groups, the CIA-backed al-Qaeda’s affiliated outfit, Al-Nusra Front, and ISIS, which are in control of some areas of Syria are not subject to the truce agreement. These outfits, especially ISIS, which are fighting to topple the Shia government of Assad claimed responsibility for the recent terror attacks in Syria. And Moscow and U.S. and major European allies are accusing each other of violating Syria’s ceasefire agreement.
In this respect, since September 30, 2015, there have been various developments such as Russian successful airstrikes on the ISIS targets in the northern Syria, its coalition with Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon-based Hezbollah in support of Assad, and U.S. Defence Department’s announcement to abandon the goal of training Syrian rebels. There is also the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clear-cut statement, indicating that Israel’s Zionist regime is backed by the US for their ‘fake war on ISIL’. In addition there is the first Vienna meeting on Syrian crisis, where the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to keep Assad in power, and America’s decision of sending 50 special forces to Syria to help in taking down ISIS terrorists. The creation of war-like situation between Russia and Turkey after the downing of Russian fighter jet by Ankara, and demoralisation of ISIS terrorists and rebels who have fled, after the Russia-led coalition reoccupied several territories in Iraq and Syria, have clearly proved that despite Russian president’s recent announcement to withdraw forces from Syria, there is no durable solution of Syrian crisis, and the country still remains a flashpoint of a dreaded World War III.
In this connection, the most alarming development is that the Pentagon has again announced to a train-and-equip programme for Syrian rebels who are fighting to topple Assad’s regime. However, it is a deviation from the Geneva agreement, and shows the double game of the U.S. While Russia that is fighting a real war against the ISIS and wants to keep Assad in power cannot remain silent.
It is notable that during a visit to Italy’s largest military cemetery of World War I, on November 14, expressing his grief over the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, Pope Francis called them a “piece of a piecemeal World War III… war is madness… even today… fought with crimes, massacres, destruction.” Earlier, addressing the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis said, “No religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism… we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism.”
Setting aside the remarks of Pope Francis in the post-Paris attacks phenomena and the shooting at San Bernardino, California, like the drastic aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, rulers and politicians of the US-led western countries, especially of Europe, including their media, have been misguiding their general public by creating paranoia against Muslims. They are propagating the so-called threat of Islamophobia. In one way or the other, Muslims are being persecuted in the U.S. and other western countries, particularly in Europe.
As regards the anti-Muslim policy, on January 18, 2015, while singling out only Muslim women, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Muslim women who fail to learn English to a high standard could face deportation from Britain. He also suggested that poor English skills could leave people “more susceptible to the messages of groups like Islamic State.”
Earlier, Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee for U.S. presidential candidate had called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
On January 25, 2016, the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol revealed that ISIS have set up special forces style training camps in Europe, as they plot mass casualty civilian strikes on the continent. And under the threat of ISIS, especially European governments and EU have been expelling the immigrants, particularly Muslims from their countries, while discouraging more Syrian refugees. On the other side, they are also trying to resolve the Syrian crisis, showing a contradictory policy. The U.S also got the assistance of its western allies (NATO) against Russia. Now, as a part of their ambivalent approach, American jet fighters and those of its western coalition are targeting ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
Nevertheless, it is due to the dual policy of the US-led western world that ISIS — the most dangerous terrorist group — is rapidly spreading its tentacles all over the world. On January 14, 2015, multiple blasts and gunfire killed seven people and jolted the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The ISIS claimed responsibility. On October 4, 2015, ISIS-affiliated militant outfit Boko Haram claimed responsibility for Nigeria’s deadly suicide bombings, which killed 18 people.
Nonetheless, Western European countries are not willing to join Russia-led coalition against ISIS. So, if the double game towards al-Qaeda and especially ISIS continues by the US-led western countries, it will create more chaos in the Middle East, which affecting the rest of the world may culminate into a world war, also called “Clash of Civilisations” in Samuel P. Huntington’s words.
The writer is a foreign affairs analyst and author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations. He can be reached at email@example.com