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Growing Regional Turmoil And The Threat Of War

Al-Itihad, UAE, March 19

A growing number of security experts speculate that the Middle East is on the brink of a full-fledged war. According to some, this war will begin in May, once the Trump administration announces its plan to nix the Iran nuclear deal. This conflict could be launched by Israel, which would take action against Tehran’s growing foothold in Lebanon and Syria. Alternatively, it could erupt over Russian-American tensions in Syria. There is ample evidence to support both hypotheses and it therefore remains unclear what the exact source of the next confrontation will be. Either way, this war will involve multiple parties in the region, in addition to larger blocs of countries abroad. Russia already has an advantage over the United States in the Syrian arena, where it has been gaining control over more and more territory and achieving the public legitimacy required to oversee the political transition in the country. International conferences like those held in the Russian city of Sochi have granted Moscow the international recognition it desires. Still, the United States is making strides in northeast Syria, where it has established close partnerships with Kurdish fighters seeking independence. Washington also has access to numerous air bases throughout Jordan, making it easy for American forces to act in Syria. On the Israeli front, a lot will depend on the actions taken by the White House against Iran and how the Islamic Republic responds. It may choose to exacerbate the situation by acting out against Israel in Syria and Lebanon or re-launch its uranium enrichment program. The main problem is that all players involved in this mess refuse to heed the advice of experts and instead remain on a direct collision course. Unless immediate action is taken to facilitate direct communication between the White House and Kremlin over the future state of the region, we will quickly find ourselves immersed in a proxy war waged by two giants in our very own backyard. – Radwan al-Sayed

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