The Heated Middle East: Another Volcanic Decade Awaits The Region


Observing what’s going on in the Middle-East, someone can never tell the region is doing fine, it is not even close from being fine. The current ongoing chaos is not a surprise, it has began 13 years ago with the start of the “Arab Spring” – A wave of internal protests that turned the Middle East upside down and changed the total scene of the region, economically, politically and socially. Indeed, the Middle East has become worse since 2011, but this does not mean the region was ever far from regional and global competition and struggle.

Starting with the “Arab Spring”, four countries are still going through the long-term consequences of it. They are Yemen, Syria, Libya and Iraq. By 2024, none of these countries can be described as fully safe, stable or prosperous, unfortunately, they still face a real risk of being dragged into further wars, instability, destruction and chaos. Moreover, the unstable conditions of such countries can directly affect the stable countries in the region.

For instance, the instability in Syria affects Jordan with the daily flow of drugs throughout the southern borders – a threat been repeatedly addressed by the government of Jordan. Another example can be the autonomous status of Kurdish powers in North-East Syria, a reality provokes the Turks to launch repeated military operations against these powers, as Ankara sees these Kurdish Powers an “extension” of the famous PKK party in Turkey – A party filed as a terrorist organization by Ankara and other countries. An autonomous Kurdish rule in North-East Syria also creates further tensions with the Syrian government in Damascus, especially with the vivid presence of US forces along Kurdish forces in the North-East.

The reach of “Arab Spring” to Yemen has changed the internal political equation of the country, especially with the speedy rise of Houthis to power and their growing cooperation and close links to Iran. A development which led the Saudis to gather a military coalition from West Asia and North Africa and go to war with the Houthis, in March 2015. Till this very day, Yemen is still politically and geographically divided and the Saudi war with Houthis is still far from being settled. The new reality in Yemen did not only affect the stability of Gulf region as a whole, but also introduced a new element in the Arab-Israeli confrontation, as it is the first time in history Yemen joins the direct fight against Israel – An element becoming very obvious after the Israeli war on Gaza kicked off last year.

When it comes to Iraq, the instability goes back to the year of 2003, when the US-lead forces invaded and pushed the country into Civil War and into the domain of fierce regional and international struggle. First, Iraq has been internally divided between a Kurdish autonomous region and an Arabic one. Second, the country has gone through severe stages of instability, starting with civil war, lack of law and order and ending with the rise of ISIS, which occupied large parts of Iraq before its fall in March 2019.

Even today, Iraq is yet stuck in the center of regional struggle and competition, mainly among Turkey, Iran, US, and Saudi Arabia. The central government is known for its corruption and incapability to plan and implement a proper sustainable development strategy. The Iraqi GDP per capita is a bit less than 6,000 USD despite being the world’s 5th richest country in Oil reserves. Moreover, Iraq has direct US military presence and also has many active Iranian-affiliated militias, known for their strong influence inside of Iraq. In other words, the Iraqi political sovereignty is far from being independent and the country suffers the clash of interests of different powers, fighting inside its borders and around it.

Recently and not lastly, the dangerous escalation between Tel Aviv and Tehran pushes the whole region to the edge of the unknown and the unpredictable. If a direct armed conflict to break out between the two well-armed countries, the Middle East would not only suffer another “typical” conflict but rather turn into the “Hell on Earth”.

Relying on the above, the Middle-East has probably been the most volatile and devastated region in the world during the past 20 years, and apparently, it would continue to be so in the upcoming decade. The full picture is dark and the current circumstances tells, the Middle East has more “triggers” of instability and uncertainty rather than “triggers” of stability and prosperity.

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