Global Outlook 2017: Iran, Daesh and the Arab wars

A map of the territory controlled by the various factions in Syria
The ongoing conflict in Syria poses the biggest challenge for the U.S. and Russia in the Middle East (source: macpixxel for GIS)
  • The conflicts in the Middle East could spiral out of control this year
  • The U.S. and Russia will have to cooperate to contain it
  • The two main challenges are Iran and Daesh, with Syria connecting them

As 2017 begins, the Middle East is dangerously close to the boiling point. If that point is reached, Europe would bear the brunt in the form of renewed floods of refugees and increased jihadist terrorism. But the impact would be felt throughout the Western world, including the United States.

Left to themselves, the Arab and Islamic states in the region would be unable to reach a compromise bringing a measure of stability. The so-called great powers will have to find an understanding and wade in to impose local arrangements, hopefully facilitating social and economic reconstruction. It may not work. The ongoing conflicts, born of religious intolerance, ethnic hatred or nationalist extremism, will not be easily subdued.

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