The world felt the chills as 2020 ushered news of a brewing World War 3 as the Iran-US conflict heightened with the death of 62-year old Iranian general Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad from a US drone air strike last January 3.
A general sense of anxiety have developed among Filipinos as news have intensified of an impending retaliatory attacks from Iran on the US. In Friday, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia have expressed that the Philippines must prepare for possible impact.
Once the conflict escalates, Philippines may face possible OFW job losses in the Middle East and an increase in inflation once oil price hikes kicks in, noted Pernia.
Netizens in Iloilo, an economically booming city in Western Visayas Region and with hundreds of OFW working on the Middle East, have weighed in on the international conflict by calling for a peaceful 2020 on their social media accounts.
Not everybody seemed aware though how the Iran-US conflict have developed and how it reached this point. Certainly, the general sense of anxiety is grounded on the uncertainties that may emerge once a full-blown conflict will develop and considering its political and economic implication to the country.
Understanding the current tension
Political analyst Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Economic Reform (IPER) explained that “one of the keys to understanding the dynamics of the crisis is the fact of a multi-polar world transitioning from the uni-polar world of the US superpower dominance since the end of World War II.”
“There is a big power contention for influence in the Middle East among the US, Russia, China, EU, Britain and Japan, along with four presumptive regional powers: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel,” added Casiple, who is an Ilonggo.
According to Casiple, “the door has been opened to a broader asymmetrical war between the US and its allies versus Iran and its allies not only in the Iraq and the Middle East but on a global scope.”
These events reminded Casiple of the “Israeli-Palestinian asymmetrical war before the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).”
Tentative conclusions of a developing event
Casiple shared his point of view on his Facebook timeline Saturday, January 4. He depicted his analysis as a “tentative conclusions on a developing event” that of the assassination of Suleimani. Among his points are the following:
- US may have lost Syria, Iraq, and even possibly Afghanistan. Its allies in the Middle East will be considerably weakened politically and diplomatically, increasing the pressure for the use of military power.
- The Middle East, historically unstable because of big-power contention, nears a red line for uncontrollable geo-political dynamics that may result in a regional drawing of lines, or even a possible regional war.
- The present crisis already impacts global oil prices and trade and may result in a global economic slowdown if not contained early enough.
Is there a Trump agenda?
“Evidently, President Trump has his own political agenda in relation to the US elections,” points out Casiple.
“The crisis will trump (pun intended) impeachment, consolidate his radical right-wing political base, and possibly lead to his re-election. This limited objective may be a constraining factor against an all-out war in the Middle East, from his point of view. However, the crisis will create its own domestic crisis and will change American politics and democracy in the future,” Casiple stressed.
But how will this impact Philippines?
“The Philippines is in a position to ride out the crisis because of its independent foreign policy and its relative distance from the events in the Middle East,” said Casiple.
However, Casiple emphasized, it “needed to have a strategy (and immediate actionable policies) with regards [to] the collateral damage that will impact overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East, the supply and price of oil and oil products, threat of global terrorism, diplomatic relations with the contending powers, and sustainability of current economic growth.”
Is a war forthcoming?
US President Donald Trump’s “America First policy” already disrupted long-held alignments and new global realignments or adjustments are going on,” underscored Casiple.
“A transition is going on in the Middle East (as in the rest of the world). The history of power transition unfortunately shows that often the process is driven by wars,” concluded Casiple.