MSC chief Ischinger warns of high global danger of war

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Munich Security Conference chairman Wolfgang Ischinger has warned urgently of the growing security threats facing the world. He told DW ahead of the Munich meeting that the danger of war was at its highest in decades.

The chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, said Friday that the world was facing the most serious threat of military confrontation since 1991.

“I’m worried; I think the global security situation is more unstable today than it has been at any time since the demise of the Soviet Union,” he told DW in an interview.

He listed a number of threats that he considered as posing key dangers to global security, including the risks of major conflict in the Middle East, the nuclear standoff with North Korea and tensions between the West and Russia, partly over the simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Inter-NATO conflict?

Ischinger said he was very concerned about the situation in Syria, where a number of powerful foreign players, including Russia, the US and Turkey, have been drawn into a long-running civil conflict.

In particular, he cited Turkey’s recent offensive in the Syrian border region of Afrin, which has brought it into possible confrontation with the US, a fellow NATO member.

“What kind of crisis for NATO would that be if there was really a clash between Turkish and American forces in the region?” he asked, calling it a highly unusual situation.

‘Dialogue is necessary’

In general, Ischinger said many of the security risks were caused by a lack of trust and dialogue between different parties.

“One of the key ingredients of global stability … is mutual trust,” he said, saying that US-Russian relations were one example where there were “risks of miscalculation, misunderstanding” if there were not constant dialogue.

At the same time, however, he did not hold out the hope that the Munich Security Conference beginning on Friday was an immediate panacea for all ills.

“I don’t expect the Munich Security Conference to be the place where all of a sudden, you know, by a stroke of miraculous activity, things will get better. What I do expect and what I hope is that they will at least talk to each other, the Russians to the Americans, (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu hopefully to some of the actors he doesn’t like from the region.”

He said he also hoped that there would be discussions between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran and that talks between Israel and Iran would also be beneficial.

World on the brink?

Ischinger’s remarks echo those made in the Munich Security Report issued ahead of the conference, which bore the title “To the Brink — and Back?”

The Munich Security Conference, which will run from 16 to 18 March, is likely to be overshadowed by what many see as US President Donald Trump’s equivocal attitude toward traditional security partners.

Observers also fear that the United States’ recently announced intention to modernize its nuclear arsenal could trigger a new nuclear arms race.

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