Global Outlook 2017: The Middle East

Iraqi artillery shells Daesh positions in Mosul
The war against Daesh will undergo a metamorphosis in 2017 as set-piece offensives like the Iraqi army's assault on Mosul become a thing of the past (source: dpa)
  • Unrest and mass migration from Egypt could become a black-swan event
  • Daesh will disperse, tighten ties with organized crime and infiltrate Europe
  • U.S. efforts to isolate Iran and re-forge the Sunni Gulf alliance face pitfalls

One of the most worrying emerging scenarios is the dangerous military situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. This small patch of water and sky has been getting crowded with hardware belonging to practically every regional and global power, along with their antagonists, allies and local chancers. In November 2016 there was even a brief confrontation, when two escorting Russian destroyers claimed to have driven a Dutch submarine away from the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The odds of an accidental armed incident are shortening as this sea- and airspace grows more cramped and NATO-Russian relations continue to deteriorate.

Egypt’s precarious domestic dynamics present a key challenge to stability – not only domestically, as the consequences of devaluing the Egyptian pound kick in, but also internationally. The latter could play out if turmoil at home prompts Egyptians to seek refuge in Europe. One gateway could be Cyprus, the easternmost member of the European Union, less than 500 kilometers north of the Egyptian coastline. With a population estimated at 94 million, estimates of as many as 5 million Egyptians potentially looking to better their lives in Europe may not be far off the mark.

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