Right-wing political parties make advances in general elections in Western Europe on anti-immigration/nationalist platforms and anti-Muslim/eastern European sentiment increases. Summer riots in France by Muslim youth spread to other European countries and a "European Intifada" is born.
Islamists win control of the secular government in Turkey and start dismantling the system. A minor civil war breaks out between the secular army and the Islamist public, but it is eventually decided in favor of the Islamist government. Turkey withdraws from NATO and drops its application for entry into the EU. However, Turkey also declares itself the “Protector of Islam in Europe”.
An earthquake in China destroys the Three Gorges Dam system and flooding kills about 1 million Chinese citizens. Worse, China won’t be able to meet its energy needs without some new outside source. The Central Committee executes the designers of the dam in a show trial and begins to make preparations to acquire oil from its western neighbors. It enters into an alliance with Iran, Pakistan, and Myanmar to meet these needs by dominating the Middle East and the vital Indian Ocean.
Iranian-backed Shiite insurgencies appear in the major Sunni countries and begin to destabilize those nations. Crackdowns result in more conflict and dissatisfaction with leadership.
A terrorist attack in India re-ignites long-simmering Pakistan/India tensions and nuclear weapons are used first by Pakistan and then by India. Pakistan is crippled and India is badly damaged by the limited exchange.
After stirring up ethnic tensions in Kazakhstan, China invades, citing protection of ethnic Chinese. Iran invades Turkmenistan, citing similar abuses of Persian minorities. Kazakh and Turkmen forces are pushed back and request assistance from Russia, which responds and Central Asia turns into a meat grinder with Chinese/Iranian forces slowly advancing north. Chinese forces also fight their way into eastern Siberia, besieging Vladivostok.
Against Chinese desires, the Iranian president declares himself to be the 12th Imam, a Shiite apocalyptical figure. Iran launches a nuclear attack against Israel, the major Sunni capitals, and US forces in the Middle East. Allah fails to protect Iran from the retaliation and Iran is annihilated. After the dust settles, it’s obvious that the Middle East will be providing little to no petroleum to the world soon, making other sources all the more important. Also obvious is the damage to US forces and a new isolationism in America.
As the Iranian effort falters, Russia opens a new offensive in Central Asia and Eastern Siberia. Battle lines begin to move south as Russian forces employ chemical weapons on a massive scale and Chinese supply lines falter. When Russian forces reach Chinese borders, tactical nuclear weapons are employed by the Chinese, and then by the Russians. However, the Russian drive into China is only slowed.
Russia, citing internal needs, cuts fuel deliveries to Europe. NATO nations, facing a cold winter, threaten to blockade the Baltic. Tensions increase and Russian merchant vessels are fired on by NATO naval assets. Russian forces invade NATO member Poland. The initial plan is to occupy territory to the Wisla River and then negotiate, but the NATO forces are pushed back ahead of schedule and Russian leaders decide to occupy all of Poland and establish a new set of “buffer” nations.
Turkey, citing abuse of Muslims in Hungary, Romania, and Greece, invades the Balkans and Eastern Europe. NATO forces, already reeling under Russian attacks, make a determined but futile stand.
The Chinese Central Committee, facing crushing losses on western and eastern fronts and the collapse of internal security at home, opts for a rash course of action. Chinese agents hack into the Russian military command and initiate a fake strategic nuclear attack by the United States. The fake attack is only partially successful, but some Russian and US nuclear weapons are employed, leaving millions dead and the world’s nations burning.
Chinese complicity in the attacks is determined and a combined Russian and US nuclear assault accomplishes what the Central Committee tried to stave off.