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A certain story has been promoted since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, and this is that what is happening in the Levant is a prelude to a fierce regional battle that may lead to the beginning of World War III, particularly as the world’s superpowers – who are also permanent members of the UN Security Council – are divided between supporting the blood-stained Syrian regime, namely Russia and China, and supporting the Syrian rebels, namely Britain, France and the US. However thanks to the protracted nature of the Syrian revolution, with the rebels growing stronger, spreading across the country and wearing down the al-Assad regime, those gambling on the outbreak of such a world war are watching their delusions go up in smoke.

However valid and legitimate questions remain regarding the possibility of the Arab region entering a “world war”. There are many possible scenarios of the region being set on fire and entering the vortex of danger. Perhaps the continuous talk of Israel or the US striking a strong “blow” against Iran’s nuclear project remains the most likely such scenario. The continuous talk about Israel carrying out such an act ensures that this remains firmly within the realm of the possible, or indeed probable. However Israel remains a source of sabotage and on-going concern, and such talk is being promoted and put forward for a reason. Israel may, for example, be attempting to seize the opportunity of the collapse of the al-Assad regime in Syria to strike a hard blow against Lebanon, particularly Hezbollah targets within Lebanese territory. This may result in subsequent negative effects for Hezbollah and al-Assad, namely preventing Hezbollah from supporting the al-Assad regime.

From another point of view, we cannot down play Israel’s continuous “threats” against the Egyptian government and its calls for Cairo to protect its shared borders, adding that Israel would be forced to do this if the Egyptians continue to fail in this regard. This represents serious language that is characterized by arrogance; despite this we cannot ignore the Israeli statement. We must also take into account the fact that Israel is well aware that Cairo, due to the Egyptian – Israeli peace accords, cannot deploy the required equipment or necessary troops to protect the border. This has led unknown terrorist groups – whether from the Gaza Strip or from within Israel itself – to exploit the situation. There is no doubt that Egypt cannot be solely held responsible for this situation, and the true party responsible for this will be revealed by the investigations that are being carried out by the different Egyptian agencies. At the same time as this, Egypt is carrying out the largest military operations in recent years in the Sinai Peninsula to pursue the terrorist groups there. In addition to this, we are hearing renewed talk regarding war over water resources, and this could see wars breaking out involving a number of different countries, not least Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Lebanon and Jordan. Each party has their own interests and demands, however due to the current situation, not to mention the alarming population explosion that has occurred, consumption and national water needs have increased, and the situation requires change on the ground and the redrawing of water quotas to be resolved.

These are all frightening scenarios, but we must take them very seriously. In addition to this, there are the remaining scarecrows of sectarian, ethnic and religious division and conflict, and these have spread across the world. These are akin to ticking time bombs that could explode at any time, whilst their effects will strike and destroy the entire region and result in large-scale destruction and devastation.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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