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Andre Colling
 
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The Middle East in 2014

15 December 2013, 06:08

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remains a dynamic region. The post-Arab Spring environment has created and added to various complex political and security environments that pose an increasing risk to locals and foreign nationals alike. The conflict in Syria will remain a critical area of focus in 2014.

The fighting has exacerbated sectarian tensions and negatively influenced security and political environments in a number of neighbouring states, particularly Lebanon. In addition, the conflict has, like the Libyan conflict in 2011, fuelled Islamist extremism in the Levant region and given new impetus to militant groups in Iraq. The fallout of this conflict is likely to continue to evolve over the course of 2014 and the regionalisation or internationalisation of the Syrian conflict remains a pressing concern.

In addition, political transitions and resultant instability and uncertainty remain key issues in the MENA region and are likely to remain so through 2014. Although Morocco, Algeria and Jordan have largely sidestepped concerns over violent and dramatic regime change, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain remain susceptible to further instability in 2014; this is due to the fact that the political systems remain largely unsettled in the post-Arab Spring environment. Competition over the character of the political systems in each state will drive further unrest. This in turn will be exacerbated by high levels of youth unemployment and poverty, religious differences, sectarian violence and separatist sentiment in places.

Political machinations will also continue, albeit in a different guise, in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Further Western efforts at Palestinian/Israeli unity will occur; however, this will be complicated by intra-Palestinian competition and Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

Iran/US détente, a feature in the second half of 2013, may also develop further but will not dissuade the Israeli state from its confrontational position regarding Iran’s nuclear development programme. Apart from Bahrain, the stability of the Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, will continue in 2014 and no major upheavals are anticipated.

For more indepth stories, check out http://red24threatforecast.com/regions/mena/

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