Opinion: What should we expect within the next six months?

Posted on May 7, 2020, by Le Diplomate Tunisien
By former Ambassador Ali Hachani
Translated by Anouar Ben Messaoud

The war against the Coronavirus is not over and the world has already begun fearing another war, which, this time, is conventional but in no way less virulent. We have heard a growing number of informed observers signaling the perceived intention of some leaders – indeed major –  to cause an armed conflict with one or more actual or potential enemies: It would be to settle an old ideological conflict, to build or rebuild a dominant position among world’s superpowers, to make an impact on the commercial and financial battle that was stimulated by the traditional model of globalization, or quite simply to improve the chances of a leader who is called upon to conduct a tough electoral battle after having squandered his chances by making hasty decisions and demonstrating over-assurance.

Forecasts on the exact reasons for this development are ongoing and they seem to be inexorable towards a situation that is beyond repair, which some people see happening in the near future. How seriously should we take these forecasts and shall the world be prepared for a new local or global crisis when this pandemic crisis is over?  It would be difficult to affirm with certainty, but disturbing first signs exist. Let us observe the following:

Two nuclear super-powers, one located at the far West and the other at the far East, have been taunting each other for months about the reasons for the appearance of the deadly Coronavirus: The first side points the finger of blame at the second one for being the cause of evil and for having long hidden the virus from the world, threatening it with the worst consequences as well as by sending its warships strutting within easy reach of its territorial seas. The second side responds with accusations ranging from negligence to arrogance, promising the first side a violent reaction to any new naval incursion. In the meantime, the trade conflict, which, at some point, seemed to have reached a satisfactory solution for both sides can now be “postponed indefinitely,” and the huge financial assets placed in full confidence in treasury bonds suddenly risk expropriation. These are all ingredients of a volatile landscape that is at risk of turning into a dangerous situation in the next few months.

In addition, two major nuclear powers, one at the far West (the same as mentioned above) and the other straddling Europe and the East, have been for months exchanging bitter-sweet remarks ,indicating warlike intentions that go as far as the threat of use of naval and ballistic capabilities one against the other.  In the meantime, the agreements on limitation of power concluded between the two sides during the Cold War have been falling in sequence one after the other. All this is happening at a time when economic sanctions continue to wreak havoc on relations between the two powers, dragging the whole of Europe in their wake, with the war on oil prices coming on top of an already precarious situation, causing on the one hand a chain of bankruptcies in an entire sector of the economy on the other side of the Atlantic, and aggravating on the other hand the already tangible economic difficulties. This is an added volatile landscape that does not augur well.

Furthermore, two powers, one global and nuclear located in the far West (the same as mentioned above) and a regional power with obvious nuclear capabilities located in the center of the East, have been engaged in a merciless ideological, diplomatic and economic confrontation for years. This confrontation risks to become a military one across the Gulf region which is no longer a peaceful passageway of wealth only, but most importantly a pathway for a proliferation of ships and aircraft carriers that come from far away to cast fear and intimidation. The desire of conducting direct or by proxy fights against a “disturbing” country in a region that is seen to be an area reserved for Israel and other aligned countries, is so strong that a major action could be perceived as necessary to achieve what far-reaching economic sanctions could not do, in order to restore integrity that is considerably tarnished before upcoming crucial presidential elections.

Thus, humanity is facing three critical situations and either one could get out of control.  These situations have in common: Countries with proven or strongly suspected nuclear capabilities, the will to exercise control over the world in the post-Corona crisis phase, and most importantly a leader who is convinced of his country’s superiority and who seems pretty full of himself to the point that he may consider that a second presidential term is well worth a “small” military adventure far from his country’s borders.

The next six months may hold some surprises for the world, but not just on issues related to the Coronavirus pandemic and its economic and social consequences…

 

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