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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