Bob Baer, a former CIA operative, believes the situation in the Middle East is out of control and shaping up to look like the beginning of World War III.
“This mosaic in the Middle East of conflict is getting out of control,” Baer told CNN. “It’s not just Russia and Turkey, it’s Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is expanding rather than contracting, and nobody has a strategic plan.”
Baer said Vladimir Putin is likely to react to the Turkish shoot down of a Russian warplane.
On Thursday Putin said the United States knew the flight path of the aircraft and may have fed this information to Turkey.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced expansive economic sanctions against Turkey and Russia’s military shut down all communication channels with the Turkish military, including a “hot line” to help avoid air incidents.
Turkey remains intransigent on the shoot down and has vowed to respond if Russia targets its planes violating Syrian airspace.
On Thursday Moscow deployed its advanced S-400 air defense system in Syria. The weapon will be used to protect the Russian Hmeimim airbase in Latakia. The Russian defense ministry posted a video of the deployment on its Facebook page.
Baer said we should expect Putin to respond to provocations by Turkey. “I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s not going to back down,” he said.
“That’s the way he framed this conflict,” Baer said. “The chances of this escalating from here without deconfliction of any sort are pretty good.”