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The arrest of 208 high-ranking individuals in November 2017 on suspicion of corruption suggests that the House of Saud faces serious challenges. King Salman’s son, Mohammad bin Salman, has consolidated power in a way that contravenes the traditional rules of succession of the Saudi ruling dynasty. But amid foreign policy setbacks and a mixed record with domestic reforms, it is far from certain that the Crown Prince will succeed his father on the throne.
Dr. Udo Steinbach
finds the Middle East at a singular moment in its history. It is hard to recall
a period when so many fundamental geopolitical shifts have
occurred just as societies, states and alliances in the
region were all starting to fall apart. Four disruptive
trends can be identified, any one of which would have sufficed to produce regional
instability in the not-too-distant past. Today, their combination creates a
formidable dynamic for armed conflict.
In many parts of the world, the outlook for political stability in 2018 will depend on aging, often long-serving politicians. Some are senescent leaders trying to manage a generational transition, others have caught their second wind and are bracing for a long run. Here is a short list of rulers who are losing their grip, handling tricky successions, or building their legacies with a late burst of vigor. They are a key human element in geopolitics.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s disastrous
decision to press ahead with an independence referendum has allowed the Iraqi federal
government to reassert control over Kirkuk and its vital oil fields. But an
even bigger consequence of Baghdad’s resurgence could be a potential conflict
with its erstwhile sponsor, Tehran. Any such confrontation would quickly become
regional in scope, bringing in Saudi Arabia, the United States and possibly