French president Francois Hollande, appearing before the European Parliament in Strasbourg with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, said Europe faces “total war.”
Hollande warns “une guerre totale” or total war if situation is not resolved.
“If we let the recent religious confrontations between Shiites and Sunnites get worse then don’t think that we won’t be affected. It will be a total war, a war that will also affect our territories and we must act,” he warned.
Hollande also said the political solution for Syria and Europe’s illegal immigration crisis is the overthrow of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“What’s happening in Syria concerns Europe because what is going on there will determine the balances of power in the region for a long time,” he said.
Middle East experts agree the situation has the potential to develop into a full-scale war.
“The conditions are very much like 1914,” Michael Stephens of the Royal United Service Institute in London said in June, prior to the Russian response in Syria.
“All it will take is one little spark, and Iran and Saudi Arabia will go at each other, believing they are fighting a defensive war,” Stephens said.
“The whole region is braced for the big war, the war that has not yet happened, the Shiite-Sunni war,” added an Iraqi Kurdish commentator, Hiwa Osman.
Stephens’ remark about the year 1914 refers to the start of the First World War, the fall of the Sunni Ottoman Empire and caliphate, and the Sykes-Picot Agreement between England and France that divided up the Arab world.
“So far as Syria is concerned, it is France and not Turkey that is the enemy,” the British agent and scholar T. E. Lawrence wrote in 1915.