The Turkish military's bombing of a Russian jet over Syria's border has pulled the trigger forTwitteratti who see the latest action as a prelude to World War III. Only three hours after Turkey announced it had shot down the Russian war plane for violating its airspace, the phrase World War III picked up rapidly and was trending in almost all regions in the world.
A fuming Russia called Turkey a "backstabber" and "accomplices of terror" and warned of "significant consequences." Most see Russia in the near future stepping up the heat on Turkey – a significant Nato member, who may be backed by the US and other western allies. While Russia and Turkey have boasted of fighting the Islamic State (Isis), the fact remains that each has its own objectives in mind.
The trend on Twitter, however, highlighted not just Tuesday's (24 November) attack but an array of complications that could virtually turn the world into a battleground. The fury of Shiites against Sunnis, Arabs against Iranians, the crusade of the Western powers against the IS along with Al Qaeda's turf war with the terror group are just some of the many complications Twitter users have highlighted to explain that the world is heading towards a world war.
On the other hand, while US may have made its intentions clear of being united with Russia on the war against the IS, it has been very clear that it wants to see President Bassar al-Assad dethroned. The US says that Russia is in Syria not to fight IS but to save the Assad regime as a permanent Russian ally. American geopolitical experts claim this is Russia's tactic to erode America's standing in the Middle East, advancing Putin's agenda of challenging and defying Washington.
The IS, meanwhile, has spread its tentacles and executed its brutal operations all over the world. It is also adding more and more franchises and followers to conduct even more deadly attacks. The militant organisation not only controls territory in Syria and Iraq but its followers hold sway in Libya,Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
Despite the panic on Twitter, Russian expert Mark Galeotti, who teaches at NYU, says mounting tensions notwithstanding, a world war is unlikely. "I suspect neither Moscow nor, at the very least, the other European NATO powers will want to let this go too far. Russia cannot fight hot diplomatic wars on too many fronts, and Europe clearly wants Moscow to be part of the solution in Syria and maybe Ukraine, too. And, frankly, there is in many capitals concern about Turkey, its agenda and its role in the region. Much will depend on where Washington falls, of course," he told Vox World.