Things Are Going From Bad to Worse – Iraqi PM Warns of ‘Regional War’
Things Are Going From Bad to Worse – Iraqi PM Warns of ‘Regional War’
One of the most discomforting aspects of Neil Howe and William Strauss’ seminal work on generational cycles, The Fourth Turning (1997), is the fact that as far as American history is concerned, they all climax and end with massive wars.
To be more specific, the first “fourth turning” in American history culminated with the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the second culminated with the Civil War (1861-1865), while the third ended with the bloodiest war in world history, World War II (1939-1945). The number of years between the end of the Revolutionary War and the start of the Civil War was 78 years, and the number of years between the end of the Civil War and the start of World War II was 74 years (76 years if you use America’s entry into the war as your starting date). Therefore, if Howe & Strauss’ theory holds any water, and I think it does, we’re due for a major conflict somewhere around 75 years from the end of World War II. That brings us to 2020.
– From August’s post: Japanese Government Shifts Further Toward Authoritarianism and Militarism
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past six months or so warning about World War 3, an event which is more likely over the next few years than at any other point in my lifetime. Such a conflict is the last thing I’d ever want to see or have to raise red flags about, but I can’t simply ignore all the obvious and troubling signs around me.
Just last week, I published a post titled, The Situation in Syria is Very, Very Dangerous. Here are a few excerpts:
Obama administration officials have begun considering tougher responses to the Russian-backed Syrian government assault on Aleppo, including military options, as rising tensions with Moscow diminish hopes for diplomatic solutions from the Middle East to Ukraine and cyberspace, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The U.S. officials said the failure of diplomacy in Syria has left the Obama administration no choice but to consider alternatives, most of which involve some use of force and have been examined before but held in abeyance.
It’s not just Syria, of course. The entire region looks like it’s about to go up in flames in a way that could make recent conflicts look tame by comparison. We all know about the humanitarian disaster in Yemen that the Saudis seem determined to make as chaotic as possible, but there’s also Iraq.
For example, Reuters reported the following earlier today:
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned Turkey that it risks triggering a regional war by keeping troops in Iraq, as each summoned the other’s ambassador in a growing row.
Relations between the two regional powers are already broadly strained by the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State militant group.
Turkey’s parliament voted last week to extend its military presence in Iraq for a further year to take on what it called “terrorist organizations” – a likely reference to Kurdish rebels as well as Islamic State.
In case you’re not paying attention, Turkey is now involved in military operations inside both Iraq and Syria.
Iraq’s parliament responded on Tuesday night by condemning the vote and calling for Turkey to pull its estimated 2,000 troops out of areas across northern Iraq.
“We have asked the Turkish side more than once not to intervene in Iraqi matters and I fear the Turkish adventure could turn into a regional war,” Abadi warned in comments broadcast on state TV on Wednesday.
“The Turkish leadership’s behavior is not acceptable and we don’t want to get into a military confrontation with Turkey.”
Turkey says its military is in Iraq at the invitation of Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish regional government, with which Ankara maintains solid ties. Most of the troops are at a base in Bashiqa, north of Mosul, where they are helping to train Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga and Sunni fighters.
Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said the deployment had become necessary after Islamic State’s seizure of Iraq’s second city, captured in 2014
“Neither Turkey’s presence in Bashiqa nor its operation right now in Syrian territory are aimed at occupying or interfering with the domestic affairs of these countries.”
Iraq’s central government in Baghdad says it never invited such a force and considers the Turkish troops occupiers.
Tensions between Iraq and Turkey have risen with expectations of an offensive by Iraq and U.S.-backed forces to retake Mosul.
See yesterday’s piece: U.S. Troops Being Deployed to Iraq May Face Violent Resistance From Iraqi State Militias
Turkey has said the campaign will send a wave of refugees over its border and, potentially, on to Europe.
Ankara worries that Baghdad’s Shi’ite Muslim-led forces will destabilize Mosul’s largely Sunni population and worsen ethnic strife across the region, where there are also populations of Turkmens, ethnic kin of the Turks.
Turkey is also uncomfortable with the arrangement of Kurdish forces expected to take part in the offensive.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, it appears direct tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia may be heating up (in addition to their various regional proxy wars).
Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) warned Saudi naval vessels taking part in military exercises in the Gulf on Wednesday not to get close to Iranian waters, in a sign of heightened tensions between the two regional rivals.
Saudi Arabia began naval war games including live fire exercises on Tuesday in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil route.
Tehran and Riyadh are fighting several proxy wars in the Middle East, including in Syria and Yemen, but both have been cautious about direct military confrontation.
“The Revolutionary Guards naval forces believe this war game is mainly to create tension and destabilize the Persian Gulf,” the IRGC said in a statement published on Tasnim news agency.
With so much geopolitical tension in the world at the moment, you’d hope cooler heads would prevail. Unfortunately, we just heard the opposite from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
As Military.com reports:
“The strategic resolve of our nation, the United States, is being challenged and our alliances tested in ways that we haven’t faced in many, many decades,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told an audience at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
“I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm … the United States military — despite all of our challenges, despite our [operational] tempo, despite everything we have been doing — we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.”
“It’s a tall order for sure — to project power into contested theaters, fight in highly populated urban areas, to survive and win on intensely lethal and distributed battlefields and to create leaders and soldiers who can prevail. Tough? Yes. But impossible? Absolutely not,” Milley said.
“Make no mistake about it, we can now and we will … retain the capability to rapidly deploy,” he said, “and we will destroy any enemy anywhere, any time.”
Sounds like someone’s looking for a fight. A fight in which “we the people” have the most to lose and almost nothing to gain.