Is Syria the stage for World War Three?

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What started out as a fight for democratic reform, a fight for a better life and for liberation from an oppressive regime in Syria four and a half years ago has not only lead to the biggest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, produced the biggest threat to the free world in the form of the Islamic State but has also prospectively set the stage for a third world war. 

As people across the world mourn the victims of the November 13th terror strikes in Paris, there are many who are yet to realize the sheer gravity of the situation in Syria and why the problem of ISIS is not one that will easily go away. France’s declaration of war against the ISIS and subsequent attacks on the city of Raqqa has lead people to wonder whether France will choose to invoke Article 5 of the NATO’s founding treaty which would compel all members of the military alliance including the United States of America to fight alongside them in Syria. A NATO military presence in the region will not only guarantee more bloodshed and destruction but can also lead to further complications. With Russia, backed by Iran and Iraq, already present in the region fighting the ISIS but at the same time protecting the Assad regime, NATO’s involvement could very well be interpreted by Russia as a disguised effort to unseat Assad. As a result two powerful, nuclear-armed military forces with conflicting interests would be within a stone’s throw away from one another, in the most hostile region in the world.


So the question at hand is are we indeed waiting on the edge of a war we cannot escape? The answer is yes, and no. Experts feel that France is unlikely to invoke the aforementioned right primarily because the United States will oppose such a move as they have maintained their stance that military operations on the ground in Syria will be a mistake. On the other hand while Russia reiterated the need to support armed opposition in Syria at the G20 Summit, it came to an agreement with the United States for UN mediated negotiations between the Syrian opposition and regime after a ceasefire.

Hence, whereas the world is not headed towards another Cuban Missile Crisis just yet, it is not waiting on the edge of a war but is already in the midst of one. As the threat of the Islamic State continues to grow and hope for the plight of the Syrian migrants continues to diminish, the world is already a scarier place than it used to be. With over two hundred thousand people dead, nearly eleven million displaced and hundreds adding to those numbers on a daily basis, the war in Syria has already altered the course of human history and remains a problem without an immediate solution.

Shraman Ghosh

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Image Courtesy: www.listaka.com 

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