New fronts emerge in Russia-NATO conflict

Mustafa Al-Said
Monday 7 Aug 2023

All political initiatives aimed at opening dialogues between Russia and NATO regarding the Ukrainian war have failed, leading to the emergence of new fronts that expand the conflict.


Among these are the Syrian and Belarusian fronts, alongside a new front in the African coast and desert.

The situation in Taiwan remains tense, with both sides engaging in manoeuvres and threats. Still, they are cautious not to escalate it into an actual war due to the potential severity of direct involvement by the United States and its allies in confronting China, Russia, and North Korea.

The Belarusian front, involving Poland and Lithuania, saw its first sparks when Lithuania announced restrictions on the transit of goods between Russia and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the vital Baltic Sea route to Moscow.

In response, Russia threatened to open the passage by force, citing an agreement on Lithuania's secession from the Soviet Union and the transfer of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. Units from the "Wagner" group have been deployed, and mutual troop build-ups are taking place along the Belarusian-Polish border.

Recently, both Russia and NATO conducted naval exercises in the Baltic Sea, showcasing their military might in a mutual show of force.

Any conflict in this arena would mean a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.

The Syrian front poses the highest risk of ignition, with various forces and strong motivations for engagement. The United States reinforces its positions in eastern and northern Syria, supporting local Kurdish forces and armed groups.

It uses the Al-Tanf base as a gathering point for fighters from armed groups, pushing them towards the Syrian-Iraqi borders while gaining control over the country's major oil and gas fields in the north and east.

This aims to establish a new reality that guarantees a lasting influence in the sensitive region, countering Russia's presence in Hmeimim airbase and Iran's spread in the Syrian Badia and south of Damascus.

The multifaceted American objective draws Russia into a new front, strikes against the opposing Iranian axis, increases pressure on economically-strained Syria, and unsettles the situation in Lebanon.

On the other hand, Syria and its allies prepare to drive out US forces and reclaim oil and gas fields, and fertile lands, alleviating pressure on Syria and deterring the Kurdish and extremist armed groups.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Miqdad's statements after his visit to Tehran emphasized the voluntary withdrawal of American forces, warning that they will be forced to leave if necessary.

Skirmishes between Russian and American aircraft continue in Syria's skies, and any limited or extensive war situation would place American forces as occupiers and violators of Syrian sovereignty, undermining their claims of respecting the sovereignty of nations.

This justification is what fuels their support for Ukraine with weapons, money, and logistical aid.

The power dynamics on the Syrian scene are intricate, with players including Israel, Turkey, Iran, Hezbollah, Palestinian organizations, Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, and armed groups opposing Syria.

With this large number of forces and weapons, a spark of war could turn the region into a living hell.

As for the African front, tensions escalated after recent events in Niger, which led to the elimination of one of France's last areas of influence, following the expulsion of its forces from Burkina Faso and Mali.

France, with the support of the United States, threatened the use of force and called for the return of the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, a scenario that seems unlikely.

The military council in Niger did not yield to direct and indirect threats, declaring a readiness to fight against any foreign military intervention.

Mali and Burkina Faso stand alongside Niger's army, pledging to fight alongside them against any external interference.

Guinea-Conakry also joined in rejecting any military intervention, and the president of Algeria, neighbouring Niger from the north, visited Russia recently.

Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) expressed readiness for military intervention in Niger.

Europe and the United States fear an anti-Western wave in Africa, mainly directed at France, due to accusations of exploitation, dominance, and colonial behaviour.

This gives Russia and China, given their non-colonial history, significant opportunities to expand their presence amid growing confrontation between Western-aligned nations and their adversaries.

*The writer is 

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