Asian Muslims represent the vast majority of Muslims in the world. With global terrorist threats like the Islamic State trying to extend their reach into Asia and exasperate pre-existing threats from extremists, Asians have a major stake in the outcome of the Syrian Civil War and the UN effort, which is far too centered Western and Russian interests, to broker a peace deal between warring factions. Unfortunately, the American, Russian-led effort is likely to either fail due to a lack of opposition participation or result in a “no-solution” doomed to failure.
With Western-backed rebels losing their hold on territory, and their ability to block Islamic State takeovers, thanks to Russian intervention, it appears the Assad regime is winning the civil war. In reality, Assad’s gains are simply forcing rebels to embrace guerilla warfare. Unless Russia and Iran are willing to commit hundreds of thousands of troops for decades to bolster Assad’s minority-rule with an anti-insurgency campaign, which the US had to do in Iraq, Assad’s forces will be stretched too thin to defend against IS encroachment. As an unchecked safe haven for jihadists, Syria will become a far more devastating source of instability and violence than it is today.
Beijing’s perceived leniency toward the hostile Kim Jong-Un regime has long irritated the United States, especially in the wake of North Korea‘s unannounced nuclear weapons test early this year. What might not be so apparent to the Chinese leadership is the negative impact on China’s standing in Asia. In certain corners of the world, Beijing’s dedication to its ally and refusal to cave under US pressure would win China praise and increased diplomatic leverage. Because China’s aggression is seen as a major threat to neighboring countries and North Korea has long been a danger to everyone, China’s resistance “to protect” Asia from North Korea undermines Chinese influence.
Although North Korea has been a perpetual threat since the late 1940’s, the threat is currently seen in terms of China’s increasingly aggressive stance in the South and East China Sea. Where the United States is attempting to address a Chinese military buildup that could become a threat and defend its regional allies from Chinese dominance, North Korea is a threat, because it will attack if the calculations of Kim Jong-Un conclude victory is certain. What this means is the North will assuredly attack South Korea if China and the US become entangled in a regional conflict. North Korea is, therefore, likely seeking any opportunity to create such a distraction.
Great Britain’s potential exit from the European Union is the greatest challenge to the unified governance of Europe, but the so-called Brexit is only a symptom of the EU’s far deeper problems. Fed on debt-funded “development” the EU is an economic bubble built for times of prosperity. Due to the uncertainty and struggles of today, the EU is little more than a weight on the largely prosperous economies of Germany, Britain, and France. No longer providing cash and opportunities for growth, the high-valued Euro currency only improvises poor countries by inflating costs while offering little more than added responsibilities.
The economic woes of China, Russia, and Brazil have stolen the international spotlight, but European nations continue to face the same struggles. After years of dealing with the protracted Greek Debt Crisis in the wake of the Great Recession and the near-collapse of the PIIGS economies, the Ukraine Crisis, the Syrian Refugee Crisis, terrorism, and growing nationalist movements continue to strain the ties that hold the EU together. Fearing the fallout of a Eurozone breakup, business and political leaders desperately search for answers at forums like Davos when they need to look beyond economics.
Britain’s delayed investigation into the assassination of former-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko’s 2006 murder and alleged links to the Kremlin, which may even include Russian President Vladimir Putin, should raise concerns. What is more alarming is the failure of political leaders, national security officials, and prosecutors in Britain to immediately and constantly rally international outrage against the use of a nuclear weapon on the streets of London. Not only was the 2006 use of polonium-210 a violation of British sovereignty and an act of war, assuming Russian leadership was responsible, it represents a nightmare scenario when it comes to public health and safety.
Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons are characterized as Weapons of Mass Destruction due to their potential to inflict massive causalities across vast expanses. Unlike automatic guns and traditional bombs, the only defense against WMD’s and their capacity to be civilization killers is preventing their spread and use. Where images of nuclear weapons usually include bright flashes and mushroom clouds, Litvinenko’s murder via polonium poisoning demonstrates something that is probably an even greater nuclear threat than the use of nuclear bombs.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, and Iran are insecure nations with powerful leaders who perceive their homelands under persistent threat. Reaching a psychological milestone, the removal of Western sanctions brings to life the reality of Iran’s improved relationship with the West. In turn, Saudi, Israeli, and Turkish leadership likely feel increasingly vulnerable as they watch Western support appear to falter. Because the impact of Iranian oil on oil prices undermines the Saudi budget, which serves broader Western interests, oil producers like Saudi Arabia will be particular fearful of growing Western-Iranian cooperation
When insecure leaders perceive a coming threat, they often act in irrational and counterproductive ways to grasp for some sense of security. Faced with civil discontent and expanding terrorist threats across the region, Middle Eastern leaders cannot bear the loss of US support against their revivals. Unfortunately, the Middle East suffers from a secretive nature and a complex web of underhanded dealings designed to undermine their revivals. It is important to recognize Iraq, for example, essentially booby trapped its military to secure US military aid.
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