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Will Our Region be Dragged into The Ukrainian War?

Will Our Region be Dragged into The Ukrainian War?

Sunday, 8 May, 2022 - 07:45
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

The recent Russian-Israeli escalation over statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who accused Israel of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and claimed that Adolf Hitler was of Jewish origin, is a bad indicator for our region.

Despite the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has called Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and conflicting reports emerged about whether he apologized for his foreign minister's statements, this escalation may drag the Middle East into war in Ukraine.

Any Russian-Israeli clash over the crisis in Ukraine may plunge our region into new crises, the parties to which may be Syria, the Iranian regime, and thus Hezbollah, as well as Hamas. The latter has recently dispatched a delegation for talks in Moscow.

This issue is not about the Israeli interest, in terms of the Gaza or Lebanon fronts and the disruption of Israel’s operations against Hezbollah, Iran and its militias in Syria. There’s a fear of a lurking threat that will exclusively benefit Iran.

In fact, the outbreak of a war from the Gaza or Lebanon front, or an escalation from the Syrian border, would mean less pressure on Iran, which is constantly targeted by Israel for its attempt to obtain a nuclear bomb. Consequently, any war of attrition for Israel would represent an opportunity for Iran to foster extremism again in the region, refurbish the lie of resistance and opposition, and give the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a chance to serve its agenda in the Middle East.

Any proxy war will certainly have a great impact on the region, from Iraq to Yemen, Lebanon to Syria, and of course Gaza. It may be easy to ignite a war, but difficult to predict its consequences and its end.

Whoever reads the Israeli press understands that the Israelis are worried about the Russian escalation, through Minister Lavrov’s statements. However, the issue is bigger than Israel, and should concern all sane people in the region, for a war in Gaza now, for example, would be a major burden on Egypt.

The danger of such wars now - amid the faltering negotiations in Vienna on the nuclear file – is their ability to ignite wider conflicts, especially in the event of a strategic mistake, or the opening of several fronts simultaneously.

Any war of this scale, at this particular timing, would be catastrophic, as international law has lost its value and real traditional diplomatic ties between most of the parties, especially the relations of the United States and the West with Russia, have been totally eroded.

Added to this is the evident tension in relations between Iran and most of the countries in the region, which makes it difficult for traditional diplomatic efforts to defuse any dangerous explosion that would follow the Russian-Israeli escalation.

Accordingly, the Russian-Israeli clash cannot be viewed as a passing crisis that ended with a phone call between the Russian President and the Israeli Prime Minister. It is certain that Minister Lavrov’s statements were not a slip of the tongue, nor a moment of emotion, but rather a well-thought-out and clear message to the Israelis.

Thus, caution is necessary in our region.

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