The protracted conflict in Ukraine continues to cast its shadows on the international community, creating new features and repercussions. Similarly, countries in the Middle East and Africa are not immune to these changes, adding to their convoluted conditions, while exacerbating regional turmoil and internal conflicts. Additionally, in the midst of changes in the international system, the conflicts in the region remain far from resolution. As conflicts escalate and de-escalate within the framework of wider dynamics, where it is evident that conflicts are not isolated from the regional and international environment and in turn affected and influenced by it.
In this issue, of the Conflict Path series (no.7), issued by SHAF Center for Future Studies & Crises Analysis (Middle East & Africa), it continues to highlight cases of escalation and de-escalation within conflicts in the region. This issue also documents the development of conflicts occurred throughout April, 2022 in ten countries as follows: (Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, and Mali).
– Ethiopia: At the present time, the conflict in Ethiopia indicates a state of stability. However, questions are raised regarding the sustainability of peace, since no serious actions of change were taken with regards to initiating a national dialogue. Additionally, the current leadership is preoccupied with efforts towards strengthening its diplomatic relations with strategic neighboring countries, including: (Somalia, Djibouti, South Sudan, Kenya). In addition to countries outside its strategic zone including (Israel and Kuwait) which can be seen as a move by the current leadership to secure its borders and interests, in the event of new internal clashes. While these recent moves can be seen in a positive and necessary light, they are not a priority at the present time, since the domestic situation is in need of more efforts to sustain the country’s internal stability.
– Sudan: The conflict in Sudan is witnessing an important development represented in an attempt to de-escalate the situation through offering a consensus document, which aim to prolong the transitional period. The document also allows all parties to participate in the political process, and although this document is not settled to the present time, its proposal represents a positive step forward in the course of the conflict. Still, progress remains subject to the movements of (General Burhan) in the upcoming period and to the extent of acceptance from the opposition parties and the Sudanese street.
– Somalia: The political scene in Somalia witnessed a positive development in terms of completing the Parliamentary elections, of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Thus, folding the page on a political challenge that continued for more than a year. Still, future political challenges are looming on the horizon, with an excepted clash between ruling powers. In addition to, continued security threats from the terrorist organization (Al-Shabab), which continues to target civilians, the military and political institutions.
– Iraq: Political and security tensions continue inside Iraq in connection to the adherence of the internal parties to their positions, where factional interests are prioritized over national interests. Additionally, it is evident that multiple external forces are involved in Iraq, in an attempt to server their goals and interests at the expense of Iraq’s stability. Throughout this month, Iraq witnessed multiple proposed initiatives, where a number from a wide range of political factions presented different points of view on the path to resolution, to end the constitutional timeline put in place to elect a president, without electing a president. In Addition to, Al-Sadr’s decision to observe seclusion and to retire from politics for 40 days.
– Yemen: the situation in Yemen reached a breakthrough, which all political parties hope will bear fruit in the near future. For the first time in years, and amid desperate international and regional efforts to resolve the conflict, and settle differences between the warring parties, a ceasefire truce was announced, in addition to the formation of Leadership Council. This presents the Yemeni political spectrum, with a glimmer of hope in a brutal war that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and pushed millions to the brink of famine.
– South Sudan: The peace process in South Sudan remains gridlocked, despite more than three years passing since the peace agreement was revitalized. No real constructive steps were taken by the government in realizing the peace agreement, which leads us to believe that the political scene will remain in a frozen state in the foreseeable future.
– Syria: This month witnessed major changes in the Syrian scene, where it is expected that Syria will open up to its regional neighbors. Turkey, which plays a mediator role in the Ukrainian crisis, has achieved regional acceptance, which it uses to strengthen its role in Syria. While Israel is exploiting all opportunities to be present in an Arab space. These aspirations converge with the Syrian readiness to explore all opportunities that enables it to return to its Arab and regional surroundings. Thus, it is expected that the Syrian administration will continue to intensify its moves at the regional level, with the aim of reaching support for its positions and objectives on all tracks.
– Lebanon: In this month, Lebanon witnessed a series of breakthroughs, yet it remains early to give clear explanations about the reasons and motives of the developments witnessed. Still, it has become clear that external influences have become pressing, to preserve Lebanon from a major collapse. This includes the return of the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, a step that will have positive economic and political repercussions, with expectations that the rest of the Gulf countries may follow the example of Saudi Arabia, and end the diplomatic boycott of Lebanon. Similarly, Kuwait has taken steps towards the return of its ambassador. Among the changes is the Lebanese government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (initial and conditional financing for Lebanon, amounting to $3 billion). Finally, the upcoming visit of “Pope Francis” to Lebanon, next June, presents yet another important step through which the Lebanese hope to resolve the complex problems that have afflicted their country for years.
– Libya: The political scene in Libya is projected to witness escalations, which threatens the current trajectory. In light of two governments battling for power,
the Libyan parliament, led by Aguila Saleh, is intensifying its efforts to clamp down on (Abdel Hamid Al-Dabaiba), the head of the unity government, which mandate has expired, to hand over power. On the other hand, (Al-Dabaiba) refuses to hand over power to to the new government in Tripoli, headed by (Fathi Bashagha), which the Parliament had granted a vote of confidence a month ago. (Al-Dabaiba) intransigence prompted the “5 + 5” Libyan Military Committee to suspend its work; deeming it non-compliant with the legal framework. Therefore, all international and regional powers will continue their efforts to contain the situation in Libya and help it return to a safe political track.
– Mali: Throughout last month, Mali witnessed accelerated steps in the security file, which dominated the domestic scene. Terrorist groups continue to deal painful blows to the country’s military, in light of the continuous withdrawal of French and European military support. Additionally, a worrying phenomenon became evident regarding human rights violations and violence against civilians perpetrated by the Malian army with the support from the Russian private security company (Wagner Group) which is allegedly tasked with empowering Mali in its fight against terrorism.