Warnings of the threat of a third world war are becoming more frequent in Western media, often accompanied by a question mark. The first alarm bells rang after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly threatened the use of nuclear weapons. There is also the Transnistrian conflict, a frozen conflict between Moldova and the unrecognized state of Transnistria. On September 2, 1990, Transnistria officially declared its sovereignty over Moldova. This has been a significant issue that has persisted for years. South Korea has already raised alarms and is requesting intelligence to track the movements of North Korean troops, which could pose a threat. The ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel is unfolding in the worst-case scenario. All of this constitutes a chain reaction.
The situation with Israel is much more dangerous. The war between Israel and Palestine is rooted in a long-standing conflict dating back thousands of years. However, today, other countries are contributing to the escalation of this conflict. With each new civilian casualty, the sympathies of the Arab population towards the Palestinians and the pressure on their leaders to support Hamas will increase. The impending humanitarian catastrophe due to a total blockade will only fuel anti-Israel sentiments, at least in the Muslim world. Ready to support Palestine are Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, and several other Muslim countries.
Turkey's position is also a cause for concern. Recent ambiguous statements by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, particularly regarding the 'accidental' killings of Israeli civilians by Hamas and Israel's approach to the situation being too harsh and unjustified, add fuel to the fire, despite the Turkish president's call for de-escalation. Turkey has also made it clear that it will not stand idly by. They do not recognize the formation of an Arab state or the state of Israel. They are not averse to Israelis living in the territory of Palestine, but the state of Israel cannot exist in any form for them. They hold a quite consistent position, believing that their territories are occupied. They operate on the assumption that they are deprived of many rights in their current state. Hence, they consider themselves to be fighting for themselves and for the Palestinian state.
Additionally, let's not forget the ongoing standoff between China and the US over Taiwan, which has persisted for several years. The conflict flared up in 2022 when Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, decided to visit the island. Currently, experts agree that the countries won't engage in direct confrontation, but it's known that China has already increased its military budget by 7.5% to address 'defensive tasks.'
So, will there be a nuclear war?
Despite the increasing number of wars, most international experts agree that the world will not allow the start of the Third World War, as its consequences would be irreversible. However, analysts forecast a significant increase in the number of so-called proxy wars, where major powers fight for their interests through the hands of smaller and less developed countries.
What can the war's impact be in terms of economics and geopolitics? It's an ongoing question. It can affect oil prices, the stability of oil supplies, the functioning of Israel, and many other things. Geopolitically, it could kick start the process of reshaping the Middle East. There are numerous issues there that have been accumulating and never resolved. Various reasons contributed to that. At some point, such a state of affairs inevitably explodes. The increase in geopolitical risks may lead to the purchase of assets such as gold and the dollar, potentially increasing demand for U.S. bonds. Events in Israel will have a significant impact on the markets, depending on their duration and whether other states are drawn into the conflict. It is likely that if the conflict between Hamas and Israel drags on for months, there is a high probability of new conflicts erupting elsewhere in the world. The U.S. is increasing defence spending to protect its allies, and Europe is also allocating more funds for the defence industry, which is a green light for investors.
If Iran, the United States, Turkey, and other countries enter a war, we can expect a reduction of nearly $1 trillion in the global GDP, effectively leading to a global economic recession. Additionally, oil prices are expected to reach $150 or higher. Economic experts are already sounding the alarm on this. It's also important to note that Iran has reached nuclear breakout potential, which poses an even greater risk of a major war. Even if Iran can be deterred from entering the conflict, there remains a possibility of the U.S. economy facing a recession in the next 12–18 months, as reported by BCA Research. The company anticipates that core or energy-driven inflation will be too high for the U.S. Federal Reserve to start lowering interest rates. This, coupled with high energy prices, constrains demand and hinders economic growth. One of the main indicators of an impending U.S. recession, forecasted by Gertken, is an increase in the unemployment rate, expected to last from 2024 into early 2025.
This leads to the conclusion that in the coming year, the world will be closer than ever to the brink of a major war that has the potential to devastate humanity. Large countries will continue to intimidate each other with nuclear weapons and increase their defence budgets, sabotaging each other's economies. The only question is whether any of them will press the red button if they find themselves in a deadlock. Or can world leaders come to an agreement and extinguish the flames of enmity to save our planet from destruction?