Will there be World War Three?

International analysts have launched a debate about the probability of a start of a new world war. The plans to deploy Patriot missile defense systems on the Turkish-Syrian border were another excuse for this discussion. There are allegations that the threat from Syria is only an imaginary cause of the deployment, and in reality it has to do with Iran and its nuclear potential.

Many experts have repeatedly expressed their opinions about a probability of a start of another world war. According to them, the third world war would be a doom for humanity, since the nuclear standoff would not leave anyone alive. This statement was recently made by Hasan Firouzabadi, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces. According to him, the cause of a new world war can be a possible deployment of Patriot missile defense systems on the border between Syria and Turkey.

As Hassan Firouzabadi noted in his speech, this measure would lead to serious consequences for Europe and the entire humanity, noting that the new missile system was a "black mark on the world map."

NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen noted that these missile systems would not stay in Turkey longer than necessary. Currently, their deployment on nine hundred kilometers of the Turkish-Syrian border is under discussion. The reason for the deployment of Patriot was an official request by the Turkish authorities sent to NATO on November 21, 2012. On December 4, NATO representatives approved the request of Turkey.

According to the Turkish media, the authorities made this decision to protect the country against a possible attack by Syria. So far Patriot missile defense systems would be deployed in the provinces of Malatya, Gaziantep and Diyarbakir, the south-east of the country. In addition, the command center of the system will be located at a NATO base in Germany.

At the request of Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, the missile complex will be deployed in January of 2013. At a meeting with the NATO Secretary General, Prime Minister of the Netherlands noted that Germany, the USA and the Netherlands were working closely with representatives of the Turkish side to finish the installation of the anti-missile system as quickly as possible.

However, the Chief of Staff of Iranian Armed Forces was not the only one who had a very negative reaction to the possibility of deployment of Patriot at the Turkish-Syrian border. As noted by Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian Foreign Minister, deployment of anti-missile system on the Turkish-Syrian border is more a provocation than a way to protect against a possible attack by the Syrian Air Force. According to him, it would be foolish to hope that the deployment of Patriot would help to improve security and stabilize the situation in the region. Salehi also said that the issue could not be solved without the participation of Syria, therefore, Turkey and NATO should not interfere in the Syrian problems.

However, other world powers had a cautious reaction to the situation. According to head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov, the deployment of the missile complex at the Syrian-Turkish border may cause new armed clashes and even a new global war. According to him, the new Turkish Patriot system is a serious threat to many countries, including Iran and Europe. Despite the fact that the missile defense system is designed to reflect a possible attack by Syria, its location in Turkey can be quickly changed, so theoretically, it could be used against Iran that would not be able to do anything to oppose the attackers.

Russian experts believe that despite the large distance from the borders of Iran, the main purpose of Patriot is a timely suppression of Iran's nuclear facilities located only 500 kilometers away. As noted by Dmitry Polikanov, Vice President of the PIR Center, a possible threat from Syria is just an excuse. In fact, the U.S. plans to use Turkey as a platform from which they can quickly suppress the threat from Iran. According to him, the Patriot deployment in Turkey cannot be temporary, despite the statements of the Turkish authorities.  

Now Iran will be closely watched, and any wrong move would be seen as a provocation, and the consequences will be the most disastrous for the country because Tehran will not be able to strike back. Victor Nadein-Rajewski, a research fellow at the RAS, agreed with this opinion. According to him, the final location of Patriot missiles has not yet been approved, which is alarming. According to him, deployment of the missile defense system is a way for NATO to help to strengthen Turkey as a strategic platform for the United States to fight against Iran. Despite the fact that the country is ruled by the Islamic government with Prime Minister Erdogan in charge, NATO was able to draw the Turkish authorities into the conflict against Iran.

Especially, by helping in the fight against Syria, where Ankara has its own interest. Not all Russian experts are that pessimistic. According to the director of the Moscow Carnegie Center, Dmitri Trenin, one cannot state with certainty that Patriot missiles would be directed against Iran. According to him, Europe has long formed anti-missile systems that can successfully confront Tehran, and currently there is no need to supplement.

Of course, if the situation with Iran gets more complicated, NATO and the U.S. will have to take additional measures to counter it, and Patriot missiles would likely play an important role. Under the current circumstances this is largely caused by a political situation in Syria and Turkey.

As General Leonid Ivashov, director of the Institute for Geopolitical Studies, noted in his speech, at this time there can be no question of Syria attacking Turkey. Syrian state is dealing with a critical problem of the civil war, and cannot even think about a centralized attack on another country whose military power significantly surpasses the capabilities of Syria. According to General Ivashov, this is not a question of protecting Turkey from an attack by the Syrians, but the invasion of Turkish troops into Syria, as Ankara has been interested in the country for a long time. Russia's veto is the only factor that prevented the invasion.

According to General Leonid Ivashov, the new missile facility is created not for defense, but an attack either on Iran or Syria. Incidentally, the deployed complex may help to fight missiles, combat aircraft and helicopters, but would be useless in the attacks of ground forces, or short-range missiles. However, according to NATO spokesman George Litlla, the Turkish officials have repeatedly made decisions to open fire on the Syrian side in response to the falling shells.

In addition, Turkish representatives fear that riots and growing civil war in Syria will "cross" the Turkish border because the political situation in the border areas is unstable. According to Alexander Grushko, Russia's envoy to NATO, deployment of anti-missile systems is a sign that the alliance began to interfere in the Turkish-Syrian conflict.

The deployment of missiles once again confirms the interest of NATO and the United States in the Asian region, as well as the fact that the U.S. is going to take an interest in the Syrian conflict. As stated by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, this measure would help to demonstrate to the world that Turkey is under the protection of the world's leading powers.

Sergei Vasilenkov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov