Middle East: Conflict & disorder

Excitement about the Arab Spring has given way to global concern about terrorism. How afraid should we be?

The long legacy of the Arab uprisings is still playing out through violent political contestation across much of the region.

Salafi-jihadi groups are losing territory but gaining momentum as sources of terrorist threats; their very names and alliances are shifting in unexpected ways. Foreign involvement in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya in the name of countering such threats is complicating the picture.

External engagement with the region, whether in the form of diplomacy or foreign investment, requires highly skilled navigation of a complex, shifting landscape. 

  • Could a resurgent Bashar al-Assad enforce stability in Syria?
  • Will former President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen manage to secure a comeback, for his son if not himself?
  • In Libya, will strongman politics win over compromise?
  • The Shia government of Iraq has retaken key cities from Islamic State, but can it resolve its internal issues – including with the Kurds? 
  • What is Turkey’s Kurdish endgame?