Major Powers and their Wars (II)

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - In an article published by the leading German foreign policy journal, an influential diplomat predicts that worldwide, there will be a further increase in the number of wars and their victims, this year. "The number of conflicts, their victims, and their refugees" has been increasing worldwide, for the past five years and this development will "most likely continue this year." The journal, "Internationale Politik," substantiates this assumption by presenting an overview of the current wars. Today's deadliest wars - in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and South Sudan - are indeed a direct or indirect outcome of western hegemonic policies. With its military interventions or subversive support for insurgents, this policy is aimed at provoking pro-western putsches or weakening non-compliant states. "Internationale Politik" assesses the possibility of conflicts in China's vicinity. During the years of China's rise, western powers were unsuccessful in knitting strong ties with the resource-rich Arab world, in view of the impending power struggle with the People's Republic of China. This power struggle is already emerging.

War is on the Rise

In an article entitled "Wars in 2016," just published by the journal "Internationale Politik," the author, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, deals with the most important current military engagements. Guéhenno, a French diplomat, has worked in influential positions in the French foreign ministry and is today President of the "International Crisis Group," an internationally operating western think tank. "War is on the rise," he wrote, "as can be seen, when reflecting back. Since five years, the number of conflicts, their victims, and their refugees has been increasing worldwide." This will "more than likely continue this year with old and new wars."[1] Experts have already noted that in comparison to 2013, in the twenty deadliest wars of 2014, the number of casualties has grown by 28 percent, to more than 163,500.[2] This tendency persists.

Skepticism is Advisable

Guéhenno points to the wars in Syria and Iraq. "The war in Syria is the most serious of our time," writes the International Crisis Group's president. Diplomatic activities to resolve the conflict have accelerated, "partially due to Russia's military intervention and partially due to the terror attacks in Paris." And even though there is some hope that the recent negotiation initiative may ultimately be successful "there are many reasons to remain skeptical." The situation in Iraq is not quieting down either since the 2003 US-led war coalition's invasion, aimed at bringing pro-western forces to power in Baghdad, Guéhenno notes. Syria is drowning in war, since western powers began supporting elements of the opposition in their efforts to replace the government with one that is pro-western. Since 2003, according to experts, "the war has killed - directly or indirectly - around 1 million people in Iraq."[3] Probably more than 300,000 people have lost their lives in the Syrian war and more than 10 million have fled the country or are internally displaced.

Combatants and Weapons

Guéhenno sees the situation in Libya as dramatic. That country has been disintegrating since NATO's war overthrew its government, replacing it with pro-western forces. There is no reliable information on casualties in Libya. Estimates range from between 2,000 (WHO) and 25,000 (former Gadhafi opponents) for the number of people killed during the war in 2011. For the number of victims of the combat since 2013, verified estimates are around 5,000 casualties, with the true amount possibly being much higher. Hundreds of thousands are displaced. The "unbridled flow of combatants and weapons" unleashed by Gadhafi's overthrow, "has reinforced conflicts throughout the Sahel, including in Mali and the Lake Chad Basin," writes Guéhenno. In Mali, it was the entry into the country of well-armed militiamen that first made the ongoing war possible.[4] In the Lake Chad Basin - which includes northern Nigeria, areas of Cameroon, Niger and Chad - Boko Haram is benefiting from supplies of Libyan combat material. In none of these countries an end to the conflict is nowhere in sight.

Terrorist Networks as Beneficiaries

These wars date from either the western powers' direct military aggressions (Iraq, Libya) or their subversive support of one of the warring parties (Syria), to bring cooperative forces to power in the respective countries. On Guéheno's list in "Internationale Politik," another war is being waged in this manner with western support - the war against Yemen. Saudi Arabia began this war in March 2015, with the intention of weakening its rival, Iran. As Guéhenno notes, Riyadh enjoys the support of the United States and Great Britain, and can use German weaponry. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[5]) Berlin has been upgrading the Saudi arsenals.[6] "So far, an estimated 6,000 people - half of them civilians - have been killed in this war," according to "Internationale Politik." "More than two million have lost their homes, another 120,000 have fled the country," many to Somalia, where they are safer than in Yemen. The war has also "destroyed the already fragile infrastructure, reinforced political entrenchment, and provided space for confessional fanaticism, largely unknown to the country previously," continues the author. Ultimately, the war is contributing "to the success of terrorist networks, such as Al Qaeda and the Daesh."

Jihadis on the Upswing

Beyond wars in the Arab world, Guéhenno also lists the Afghanistan war. Already in the 1980s, the West had substantially contributed to the devastation of that country.[7] Observers have concluded that, since 2001, the warfare has accounted for at least 220,000 victims,[8] and nearly completely destroyed the country. Today, "14 years after the invasion, aimed at wiping out al Qaeda and removing the Taliban from power," the Taliban still has a "considerable striking capability" summarized "Internationale Politik." "Al Qaeda is maintaining its ground in Afghanistan and the Daesh has begun to gain a foothold." Here also, the war had been caused by the West's geostrategic motives. Whereas the covert intervention of the 1980s was aimed at breaking the Soviet Union's influence, in 2001, the aim was to bring pro-western forces to power in Kabul.

Large-Scale Geostrategic Operation

The war in South Sudan is, if nothing else, an indirect consequence of western hegemonic ambitions. Over the past two years, as Guéhenno writes, this war has cost "tens of thousands of lives, and more than 2.4 million" - one-fifth, of its nearly twelve million inhabitants - "have been forced to flee." The South Sudanese militias, alleged to have committed horrendous atrocities, are totally fragmented. "Today, the country has more than 24 armed groups, a growing number of which are neither on the side of the government nor do they belong to the troops of the most important opposition," reports Internationale Politik." "The conflict threatens to degenerate into a multi-front war." Years back, when the German government was spearheading the preparation and implementation of South Sudan's secession from Sudan, observers were already warning that these could be the consequences. This situation has developed from the West's attempts to fortify its position. The West sought to force Sudan, with which it had been in conflict since the 1990s, to its knees, by robbing it of the region richest in natural resources. In a large-scale geostrategic operation, Berlin and Washington sought to associate South Sudan with the pro-western "East African Community" (EAC) countries. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[9]) The consequences of their transatlantic geostrategic game plan are being born by the South Sudanese population.

A Ring of Fire around China

Guéhenno's presumption that the number of conflicts and wars may continue to increase is also based on observations of the direct vicinity of the People's Republic of China. The Munich Security Conference is also warning that, whereas, many of the West's current wars result from attempts to fortify its positions of power, it appears that a conflict is developing in East Asia with China. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10]) The US Armed Forces' aerial and naval provocations, last year, significantly heightened tensions, reported the President of the International Crisis Group. President Barack Obama's announcement that the US was investing about a quarter-billion dollars in the "maritime security" of Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, has further heightened tensions. China being encircled by conflicts has begun to catch also the attention of Berlin's foreign policy establishment. A while ago, the German capital began to make reference to a "ring of fire around China."[11] In the years of China's rise, western powers were unsuccessful in establishing a beachhead in the resource-rich Middle East, in preparation for the impending power struggle with the People's Republic of China. The organizers of the Munich Security Conference are not ruling out the possibility of even an "armed conflict" with the West's most powerful rival.[12]

[1] Zitate hier und im Folgenden: Jean-Marie Guéhenno: Die Kriege des Jahres 2016. Von Afghanistan bis zum Tschadsee-Becken. zeitschrift-ip.dgap.org 12.01.2016.
[2] Death Toll in 2014's Bloodiest Wars Sharply Up on Previous Year. www.projects21.com.
[3] IPPNW: Body Count. Casualty Figures after Years of the "War on Terror" - Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. www.ippnw.de.
[4] See Ein Feuerring bis Mali and Ein neuer Schwerpunkt in Afrika.
[5] See In Flammen, In Flames (II) and In Flames (III).
[6] See Bloody Alliance (II).
[7] See Forced to Flee (II).
[8] IPPNW: Body Count. Casualty Figures after Years of the "War on Terror" - Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. www.ippnw.de.
[9] See The Impact of Geostrategists and Forced to Flee (III).
[10] See Die großen Mächte und ihre Kriege (I).
[11] See A Ring of Fire Around China (II) and Germany in the Island Dispute.
[12] Munich Security Report 2016. Boundless Crises, Reckless Spoilers, Helpless Guardians. www.securityconference.de.