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Middle East and North Africa

The Dilemma of Iran’s Islamic Revolution

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1979 Islamic Revolution ended Iran's nearly five centuries of uninterrupted imperial rule. But it continued the Persian tradition of territorial expansionism...

Egypt’s Last Chance

What options does a nation have when its future depends on another country’s decisions about a resource the other country controls? That’s what Egypt...

Kuwait’s Struggle to Create a Modern State

With a free press, active parliament and dynamic political system, Kuwait is the most liberal member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. But its reputation...

The World in 2021

Introduction Our 2020 global forecast began as follows: Economic dysfunction will remain the main driver of the international system in 2020. Economic stress does not simply...

Forecast Tracker: 2020 Year-End Review

(click to enlarge) Scale: Hit, Partial Hit, Inconclusive, Partial Miss, Miss Global Economic dysfunction will be the main driver of the international system in 2020. Economic stress...

In Arab Monarchies, Absolute Rule May Be Dwindling

The Arab world’s eight monarchies are among the last remaining absolute monarchies on Earth. In some ways, they have proved surprisingly durable. Compared to...

Israel Becomes the Middle East’s Superpower

Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has held military supremacy over its Arab neighbors, though they still treated it as a pariah state. Israel...

Jordan’s Uncertain Future

As a small, weak and fragmented country, Jordan fits the profile of a typical buffer state. It lies between stronger rival states and frequently...

Arab Recognition of Israel Redefines the Middle East

Last week, Morocco established diplomatic relations with Israel, joining three other Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan – that normalized...

Lebanon’s Failed Political System

Lebanon is celebrating its centennial in 2020, a year defined by existential economic crisis made worse by a pandemic and endemic political paralysis. The...

The meltdown of autocratic regimes currently underway in the Arab world has led to the growth of ungoverned spaces. The resulting vacuum is being dominated by armed Islamist non-state actors – in particular Salafist-jihadist militias.

The three non-Arab powers – Turkey, Iran and Israel – are trying to manage the regional commotion according to their national interests.

It was during the Cold War era that a deep ideological chasm in the Middle East began to coagulate. The struggle between those who adopted European secularism and those who crafted an ideology based on religious tradition had its roots in late 19th century Ottoman Empire. Roughly 100 years later, this struggle had polarized the region.

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Required Reads: Middle East and North Africa

From our 2020 Forecast...

In the long term, Turkey is the dominant regional power. Except for cross-border operations into northern Syria, it has thus far hesitated to undertake activities far beyond its border. By the waning months of 2019, however, Turkish troops were again in northern Syria, drillships were venturing farther and farther out in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Ankara was offering to send troops to Libya and signing maritime delimitation deals with one of Libya’s rival governments. The Turks will increase their assertiveness in 2020, with dramatic consequences for the region.

Middle East and North Africa in our Memos

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