Global Trends: back to the future in the Middle East

Geneva, Feb. 2, 2016: Salem al-Meslet (R), spokesman of the main Syrian opposition bloc, kisses a banner with pictures of Syrian war victims in front of the United Nations’ European headquarters, the site of indirect peace talks (source: dpa)
Geneva, Feb. 2, 2016: Salem al-Meslet (R), spokesman of the main Syrian opposition bloc, kisses a banner with pictures of Syrian war victims in front of the United Nations’ European headquarters, the site of indirect peace talks (source: dpa)

Middle Eastern disputes have again become flash points for global rivalries – a trend that will accelerate and intensify this year. Shia-Sunni tensions remain central, but they are no longer the sole driver of regional conflict. An evolving face-off between Russia and Europe over the eastern Mediterranean, along with competition for dominance of the great trade and tanker routes from the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf to the Suez Canal, have revived great power involvement in the region. Geography has a habit of reasserting its prerogative.

<i>This report is part of GIS’s “Global Trends” series, which aims to forecast big-picture scenarios that will shape the world this ye...

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