BY PATRICK KNOX Originally published By thesun.co.uk
SO far this year is shaping up even worse than the last with terrorist attacks and even the possibility of a world war breaking out.
Maybe it won’t be long before you find yourself googling “how to building a nuclear fallout shelter”.
The Sun has spoken to a range of military and terror experts, some of whom have claimed the threat of World War Three is greater than it’s been since the Cold War.
Why is 2017 such a dangerous year?
Throughout the past year events have been taking unexpected twists and turns. Let’s recap.
Britain has voted itself out of the EU and Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad continue to inflict misery in Syria.
The latest chemical attack on civilians outraged the world and sparked a US Tomahawk missile strike on a regime airbase.
Meanwhile motormouth Donald J Trump is now President of the United States and he is an emotional man who appears to act impulsively.
Then there’s North Korea pushing ahead with its ballistic missile tests in its suicidal bid to become a nuclear power.
In response Japan has carried out air attack drills and dished out leaflets on what to do should Kim Jong-un’s nukes rain down.
ISIS is also being expelled from its so called Caliphate and its supporters are being encouraged to lash out with lone wolf terror attacks.
But worryingly, top British military men have been warning how the UK has cut its forces back so much we would struggle to defend ourselves.
Why is Syria regarded as a world war 3 flashpoint?
Last year Putin’s war machine raced to the rescue of Bashar Assad’s genocidal regime.
Russian navy ships sailed dramatically through the English Channel in the Autumn on their way to help the struggling dictator maintain his grip on power.
Since his presidential inauguration, Donald Trump has so far been relatively hands off when it comes to Assad and Putin. They’ve even had chummy phone chats.
But after at least 70 people, many of them children, died an excruciating death after being gassed by a nerve agent in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun thing look set to change.
Outraged, Trump ordered the missile strikes after blaming the regime for the horrific attack.
Yet while the US is ready to topple Assad, Putin has backed his pal up and feels strong enough not to be pushed around by Washington.
The risk of an accidental clash between forces of the West and Russia is high and this could escalate into something worse.
Number 10 Downing Street is also worried about Russia in 2017.
Writing in national security report seen by SunOnline, Prime Minister Theresa May says: “We are witnessing the resurgence of state-based threats – as displayed most obviously by Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine.”
But Britain’s Armed Forces would be unable to protect the country against a full-scale attack from Russia, according to the former head of the Joint Forces Command.
General Sir Richard Barrons, who retired in April this year, has slammed the Ministry of Defence for “skinning” budgets and highlighted Vladimir Putin’s resurgent former superpower as a potential threat to the country.
Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director at the Henry Jackson Society security think-tank, told SunOnline: “We’ve seen Russia increase its sphere of influence and been quite aggressive on its borders and seemingly getting away with it.
“And that will empower to do more.
“The Russians have had it all their own way. Time [Magazine] said man of the year 2016 was Trump but actually it was Putin.
“Everything has gone his way. Everything.
“You’ve never seen a case where every gamble goes your way in politics but he has done it and that in itself is pretty amazing.”
Dr Mendoza continued: “Just remember the reason he is doing all of this is essentially because of domestic weakness.
“The economy is faltering at home and he needs to distract the Russian people’s’ attention elsewhere.
“This imperial project of his is a very popular one and he will continue to do it as long as he feels he needs to.”
But as exclusively reported, General Sir Alexander Richard David Shirreff, ex-NATOs Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, warned Russia could invade the Baltic States in 2017.
Tens of thousands of Russian troops are currently stationed near its border with the Baltic states, Sir Richard claimed.
General Shirreff said: “All that is there is the armed forces of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which would probably generate about 10,000 including reservists on their own, each.
“So Russia could just bite off a chunk or bite off all tonight.
“And they could crack it in a couple of days before NATO was ever able to react.”
Will ISIS start a world war?
It will no longer be a case of whether the death cult will attack it has already and will again.
As they flee their strongholds in Syria and Iraq they have the potential to embark on a world terror campaign.
Most recently in the Westminster terror attack evil Islamist thug Khalid Masood killed four people when he sped his car across the iconic bridge’s footpath.
Then a few weeks later on Friday, April 7, a similar terror attack happened in Stockholm.
With ISIS being turfed out of their strongholds in Iraq and Syria, security chiefs fear they could return and commit lone wolf attacks.
About 850 people from Britain and Northern Ireland have travelled to support or fight for jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq, British authorities believe.
And around half have since returned to the UK, but the rest could follow when the so called Caliphate of ISIS is wiped out this year.
Veryan Khan, director of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, said: “It’s nothing new, every time ISIS has losses, they attack abroad.
“It’s a way of showing their supporters they are still strong and can seemingly attack at will.
“Big or small in scale, it ‘puffs’ them up like a blow-fish and distracts everyone from fans to media alike from what is happening.”
Is North Korea really a threat to world peace?
WHILE Putin is on the warpath, North Korea’s weirdo leader Kim Jong-un may finally release his dream of becoming a nuclear warlord this year.
According to a regime defector his New Year’s resolution was to be a fully fledged nuclear power.
Dr Alan Mendoza said: “There’s potential to have a full nuclear arsenal being developed there with a mad man in charge.
“Nobody knows his intentions and how to handle him really.
“We are all wishing that will go away but it won’t.
“There’s a real danger that he will spark something in North Korea which could drag in neighbouring countries as well.”
“The North will not give them up even if the country is offered $1trillion or $10trillion in return.”
Will Donald Trump risk starting a world war?
SO as North Korea is arming itself to the teeth with nukes, President Elect Trump wants to restock his cupboard with new nuclear weapons.
The Donald’s tweets late last year about his hopes to “strengthen and expand” the nuclear capability of the US could lead to a deadly arms race, experts fear.
Arms-control experts say the rest of the world really should be worried about the potential fallout from some of the President Elect’s most radioactive tweets.
John Andrews, International affairs expert and veteran foreign correspondent, told Sun Online: “He [Trump] will be a real challenge for diplomats.
“One of the reasons is that we’ve become used to there just being one genuinely unpredictable world leader and that was Kim Jong-un.
“Now we have a second, Donald J Trump – and we are waiting to see how he will preside.
“There are big question marks over his character that came up during the campaign – is this alarmist?
“It’s difficult to know.”
Could a war with China really break out?
JUST days after being elected Trump took a call from the leader of Taiwan.
But when the Chinese Communist government found out they were spitting blood.
They regards the island of Taiwan as a renegade province.
Should Trump support and recognise its independence this could spark a Chinese invasion.
The inflammatory phone call came after Trump’s campaign comments also hinted a trade war with the world’s most populous country was in the pipeline.
It is clear Trump led America and Communist led China will not be seeing eye-to-eye and 2017.
And this could be very dangerous because it could become a face-off between two strongman leaders.
One flash-point is the South China Sea.
China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims to the islands which could be rich with oil and gas.
But Chinese military has been reclaiming land around islands and setting up bases as part of a blatant takeover and this will accelerate this year, observers believe.
Late last year China deployed an aircraft carrier group as part of huge seaborne war games amid tensions over Taiwan and its island-building in the South China Sea.
The drills by the North Korean ally took place in the Bohai Sea close to South Korea.
It involved several warplanes and destroyers, Chinese naval sources confirmed.
More than 10 air-to-air, ship-to-air, and air missiles were also launched in a show of power.
But Dr Mendoza said Chinese president Xi Jinping could this year try to make himself more powerful at home.
After the horrific dictatorship of Mao Zedong, which saw 40 to 70 million deaths through famine, forced labour and executions, the Chinese Communist party decided power should be shared between an elite of party members.
But Dr Mendoza said this arrangement could be about to end.
He said: “There’s a major event happening with the party congress taking place in 2017.
“What might happen there is a big change.
“Mr Xi may end up consolidating power into his hands as opposed to sharing power.
“That might lead to a more aggressive China overseas.”