The predictions for 2016 could be grim, with many world leaders and political experts warning that World War 3 may be brewing over the growing conflict in the Middle East.
The lingering civil war in Syria, the rise and rapid spread of ISIS, and the intervention by a large coalition of world superpowers had led many to fear that the conflict could erupt into a large-scale war. There have already been flare-ups, with Turkey shooting down a Russian jet that had been engaged in strikes against ISIS. Leaders in Turkey claimed that the jet violated the nation’s airspace, a claim that Russia denies.
“The plane fell on Syrian territory 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away from the Turkish border,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the incident (via CNN). “It was flying 1 kilometer away from the Turkish border when it was attacked. In any case, neither our pilots nor our jet posed any threat to Turkey. That is obvious. They were carrying out an operation fighting against ISIL in Northern Latakia.”
Meanwhile, there are concerns that Russia is using its involvement in the war against ISIS to protect its own interested in Syria. Russia backs President Bashar Assad and has been accused of conducting airstrikes not only against ISIS but also Syrian rebels.
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The United States backs the rebels, leading some to believe the Syrian civil war could become a proxy battle between Russia and the U.S.
But other 2016 predictions point to World War 3 being fought across the globe. After the terrorist attacks in Paris this November, Jordan’s King Abdullah said that “we are facing a Third World War against humanity” and that world leaders would need to work collaboratively to address “interconnected threats.”
We are facing a Third World War against humanity and this is what brings us all altogether,” Abdullah said (via the Jerusalem Post).
“This is a war, as I said, repeatedly within Islam and unfortunately over 100,000 Muslims have been murdered by Daesh (Islamic State) alone over the past two years, and that doesn’t also count for the atrocities like-minded groups have also done in Africa and Asia.”
Even Pope Francis has warned of World War 3, saying that instead of a giant conflict with the world’s largest nations raising armies and fighting battles, it has been fought “piecemeal” through crimes, massacres, and destruction.
But 2016 predictions point to ISIS as the biggest threat. As Salon explained, there is something that sets the conflict in Syria and Iraq apart from previous large-scale wars. Unlike the Korean War, which was a proxy war between China and the United States, and the Cold War, which saw the United States and USSR teeter at the brink of nuclear war, the fight with ISIS has some more foreboding consequences.
The report noted that ISIS holds apocalyptic views, with leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seemingly obsessed with end-of-times.
It also believes that a grand battle — essentially Armageddon — between the Muslims and “Romans,” i.e., the Western forces, will soon occur in the small Syrian town of Dabiq. This is why the Islamic State “fought ferociously” for control of Dabiq in 2014, despite its military insignificance, and it’s why the Islamic State named its online propaganda magazine Dabiq.
But the 2016 predictions of World War 3 are nothing new. At this time last year, many journalists and world leaders were predicting that the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s increasing aggression toward NATO neighbors would lead to a widespread conflict. While the tension is still high in Ukraine, there was never any action between Russia and western European leaders.
[Picture by John Moore/Getty Images]