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Signals: China enters the Fray in the Middle East; Israel Unprecedented Interview; Saudi Arabia…

A new state of play is emerging in the Middle East, which redraws the regional web of influence, following the military victory over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the concurrent and related negotiations for the end of the war in Syria. At the global level, the current jockeying taking place in the Middle East and its result will also have consequences as it impacts perceptions of global players, as well as influence and thus capability. On 16 November, three major diplomatic events centred around Saudi Arabia and Iran’s influence and involving China and Israel took place which impacted this state of play.

Signal: Libya’s Largest Tribe Poses Challenge for a Peaceful Solution

Impact on Issues ➙ ➀ / ➄ Hindrance to effective peace talks / Continued war in Libya Recent statements by the elders of the Warfalla tribe highlight an underlying challenge to Libyan peace talks—tribalism. Under the umbrellas of the rival Libyan governments lie a host of tribes that are simultaneously competing for influence and power. The …

The Chinese Artificial Intelligence Revolution

The artificial intelligence (AI) world summit took place in Singapore on 3 and 4 October 2017 (The AI summit Singapore). If we follow this global trend of heavy emphasis on AI, we can note the convergence between artificial intelligence and the emergence of “smart cities” in Asia, especially in China (Imran Khan, “Asia is leading …

Signals: Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel…

Impact on Issues and Uncertainties ? Unity of Arab States, willingness and capability to support Saudi Arabia, willingness and capability to counter growing Iranian influence, (critical uncertainties) ➚ (➃ conflict in Yemen) Saudi perception of Iranian expansion and resulting threat ➙ ? Lebanon destabilisation ➚  ? Hezbollah influence in Lebanon ➚➚ Iran actualization of the Shia crescent to the Mediterranean …

Signal: Al Qaeda / Islamic State New Front In Western Egypt?

Impact on Issues and Uncertainties ➚ ➃  Reinforced jihadist front in Western Egypt ➚ ➃ Challenges to Egypt as it is squeezed between the Sinai and Western fronts ➚ ➄ Survival of the Islamic State ➚ ➄ Islamic State resurgence in the MENA region, notably Libya ➚ ➄ Strengthening of al-Qaeda in the MENA region ➚ ➄ Reinforced linkages with other jihadist groups and …

Signal: Still no Agreement – Iraqis Forces and Peshmergas

Impact on Issues and Uncertainties ➚ ? ➃  Short term – Willingness of Iraq to capitalize further on their military victory against the Kurds, notably capturing Kurdish oilfields (uncertainty)➘ ? Medium to longer term – capacity of Iraq to govern legitimately over its multi-sectarian multi-ethnic population (critical uncertainty) ➚ ➃  /➄ Iraq strength and international support ➘ ➂ Legitimacy of Iraqi Kurdish political authorities and parties➘ Prospects for Iraqi Kurds’ independence and even autonomy ➙ ➃  Iran’s influence in Iraq and in the region ➘ ➃  U.S. influence in the region➘ Middle East American order (Other issues stable as regard to this signal only – a full assessment would need to consider events in Lebanon and Yemen) On 5 November 2017, the ongoing negotiations between the Iraqi forces …

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Signals: Russia, Iran, Turkey – A Syrian Strategic Triangle

Impact on Issues and Uncertainties ? Degree of influence of Russia – and now possibly Iran – on Turkey compared with Turkey’s perception of threat related to a Kurdish polity on its southern flank (critical uncertainty) ➚➚ ➃ Turkey’s perception of threat ➚➚➚ ➃ to ➂ Survival of the Kurdish-led Federation of Northern Syria➚➚ ➄ to ➂ Constructive peace for Syria ➘ ➃ to ➂ Middle East Tension➚ Iran influence➚➚ ➃ Russia influence➘ Threat to Israel➚➚ ➃ U.S. influence trial – likely leading to ➘➘ U.S. influence ➚➚ ? ➁ U.S. Russia global tensions ➘ Western NGOs and then businesses prospects in Syria On 1 November 2017, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the President of Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani met in Teheran. For previous and other signals check the Horizon Scanning Board Friendly statements …

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Signal: Russia to Support Deeper Involvement of Kurds in Post-War Syria

Impact on Issues and Uncertainties ? Degree of influence of Russia on Turkey compared with Turkey’s perception of threat related to a Kurdish polity on its southern flank (critical uncertainty) ➚➚ ➃ to ➂ Survival of the Kurdish-led Federation of Northern Syria➚ ➃ Russia influence trial As the seventh round of Astana talks proceeds (30 Oct-31 Oct 2017), Russia’s envoy Alexander Lavrentyev stated: “The question arises on how to involve the Kurds more actively in the post-conflict restoration and political resolution.” This statement, as well as the federal design for Syria Russia favours,  would let us expect that Russia will support the Kurdish led project, i.e. to see their Federation of Northern Syria within a united Syria survive and strive. As a result, the survival of the …

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Signals: Talks between Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga; President Barzani Steps Down; Iran…

Impact on Issues ➚ ? ➃  Short term – Willingness of Iraq to capitalize further on their military victory against the Kurds, notably capturing Kurdish oilfields (uncertainty)? Medium to longer term – capacity of Iraq to govern legitimately over its multi-sectarian multi-ethnic population (critical uncertainty) ➚ ➃  /➄ Iraq strength and international support ➘➘➘ ➂ Legitimacy of Iraqi Kurdish political authorities and parties➘➘➘ Prospects for Iraqi Kurds’ independence and even autonomy ➚➚ ➃  Iran’s influence in Iraq and in the region➘ ➙  Saudi Arabia’s influence➘ ? Saudi Arabia – Iran tensions ➚ ? ➃ Russia’s influence➘➘ ➃  U.S. influence ➘ ➄ Syrian Kurds prospects ➚ ➃  Russia’s influence trial in Syria➘➚? ➃ Middle East Tension As the internationally abandoned Iraqis Kurds appear to have, at least temporarily, not only lost their bid for …

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Signal: Turkish President Erdogan Declares Afrin as Possible Next Military Target

Impact on Issues ? ➄ Bashar al-Assad government decision regarding the further Turkish military actions regarding the Federation of Northern Syria and the Kurds (critical uncertainty)? ➄ Iran position considering a Turkish military action in Syria against the Federation of Northern Syria and the Kurds (critical uncertainty) ➚➚➚ ➃  Turkey acting militarily against the Federation of Northern Syria in Afrin ➚ ➚   ➃ Iran influence➚  ➄ Syrian future ➚  ➃ Israel perception of threat ➚ ➃ Middle East Tension ➚ ➃ Russia influence trial➚ ➃ U.S. influence trial Turkey President Erdogan old the parliamentary group of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Oct. 24 that: “Our operation in Idlib is nearly complete. Ahead of us is Afrin. These are threats to us and we will never make concessions to such threats.” For previous and …

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