As the COVID-19 outbreak turns global, stock markets and world populations are waking up to the threat of a global pandemic. That, though, hasn't been the only disturbing global news this past week. In the Middle East and Asia in particular, military tensions are on the rise — and major countries seem ever less bothered about taking off the gloves.

Most worrying, arguably, were events in Syria. As that civil war enters its final throes, Russia and Turkey have been increasingly at loggerheads. The killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in an apparent Syrian government air strike on Thursday took that confrontation into untested territory, with Ankara now furious at not just Moscow and Damascus but also Western nations it believes have abandoned it.

On Friday, Turkey said it would no longer stop Syrian refugees from making their way to Europe, threatening a return of the mass population moves last seen in 2015-2016. Then, the arrival of hundreds of thousands in Europe fueled considerable popular discontent, powering the rise of right-wing parties. That comes against a backdrop of further confrontation between Syria and Israel, with Israeli helicopters reportedly injuring several Syrian personnel in attacks along the border.