With current tensions in the Middle East, in particular Syria, riding high its raising old tensions between the Cold War Superpowers and creating a freezing of East West relations. Here we look at possible scenarios that could bring about a recurrence of Cold War Tensions.
The current situation in Syria and the Assad regime’s use of Chemical Weapons on its own people crossed a very firm line set out by Barack Obama and the US Government and drew condemnation from Britain, France and other NATO countries. It’s been made very clear that the US, UK and France will act whether with or without a UN mandate. The problem that they have regarding the UN is that Russia and China (both full members with Veto powers) are seen as strong supporters of the Syrian Dictator and as such would Veto any proposed action to depose him. However, under international law, a preemptive attack would be legal under the banner of “humanitarian protection” to protect the civilians in Syria. Now this is where it gets a little bit tricky so lets look at a possible scenario.
The UN resolution to attack military and government targets in Syria is veto’d by Russia and China as expected however NATO allies UK, US and France decide to carry out strikes under the aforementioned banner for protection of human rights. Now Russia is a well known supporter of Assad and has openly supplied arms to the region. In the past Russia has shown that where it supplies Arms it likes to have a little presence to ensure the government appreciates what the Russians are doing and they operate to the “Russian ethos”. So instantly, we have a situation where NATO allies are attacking a country (without UN backing) that is being defended by Russian military hardware probably trained by Russian soldiers.
Now, if this were to happen it would be likely that Russia would not take any action in retaliation however may increase its Arm’s supply to the region to help in the “fight against western aggression” it would of course create some disdain in direct East v West relations which are already at their lowest since the end of cold war. Now, Russia, having increased arms supply’s, has one of its aircraft delivering weapons taken out by NATO forces which are trying to prevent weapons from reaching Assad’s regime. Russia is a country known for retaliation and if they didn’t react they would be seen as soft and lose face in the international community. Therefore it is likely to expect Russian retaliation in a like for like fashion i.e. the shooting down of a Western Jet by Russian forces. Equally NATO forces would likely see this as unjust and retaliate with a show of force, cue escalation!
Whilst the above scenario is fictional it is one that could easily and even accidentally develop in a heated theatre of operations and nothing divides east v west opinion that the middle east region, Afghanistan for example has been a battle ground for both NATO and Warsaw Pact countries over the last 3 decades. It is likely that should a scenario like this take place it would cause a freezing of relations the like of which we haven’t seen since the 1980’s. In other words, a New Cold War.