The conclusion of June, marks the end of the first half of 2022, an eventful period that had witnessed rapid changes at a global scale. This includes the on-going Russian -Ukrainian war, which cast dark shadows on the reality of African and Arab conflicts.
Another prominent trend of this year is the emergence of ‘national dialogues’ in most countries of conflicts, with the aim of resolving conflicts through initiating dialogues and bringing parties of the conflict to the negotiating table.
Nevertheless, whether such attempts fail or succeed, the benefit is inevitably achieved, as failure will enable those invested in dialogues or any measures aimed at achieving peace, to identify the most prominent obstacles and attempt to overcome difficulties that will resolve the conflicts and bring conflicted parties together.
In this issue, of the Conflict Path series (no.9), 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 June, 2022 in ten countries as follows: (Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, and Mali).
Ethiopia: The Ethiopian conflict remains in a deescalated state, with the call for a national dialogue between the various groups in Ethiopia becoming the most prominent event this month. However, no real steps had been taken towards this goal since the ceasefire was announced between the parties. Whether the goal of postponing the dialogue is to weaken the other parties or for unknown reasons, the principle of good faith must be assumed and move forward towards resolving the faltering conditions that the Ethiopian society is experiencing.
Without these crucial next steps, the security conditions will deteriorate, in addition to worsening humanitarian crisis, with aid often restricted and not reaching those in dire conditions. At the end, it remains expected for the political parties to reach a formula regarding a national dialogue in the coming months.
Sudan: The Sudanese political scene remains in a faltering state, with the main parties involved in the conflict adopting a zero-sum approach to the conflict resolution. The mind-set that stipulates the gains of one party represent losses for the other party, had been an obstacle in reaching a common understanding between them on principle issues. Thus, the lack of trust between these parties, and the conflicting points of views, add to the difficulty of the dialogues which began over the past month.
To this point, the dialogues have confirmed that it is unlikely for the conflicted parties to reach a consensuses and form partnerships. In addition to the waning confidence of the Sudanese street in current leadership’s ability to manage the economic, social and other deteriorating conditions in light of each party’s adherence to a specific context for the solution. Therefore, based on the current variables, we can assert that there can be no dialogue unless the visions and goals of the Sudanese parties are united.
Somalia: The conflict is Somalia continues to move towards resolution, with the apparent consolidation of the political scene marked with the election of a new president and the appointment of a prime minister. Thus, turning a page on political stumbling and competition between political institutions, which was the main feature of the political scene over the past years. This positive step will also create a space for the government to focus on some of the impending challenges facing Somalia, such as achieving internal reconciliation and completing the constitution, while confronting the terrorist organisation (Al-Shabab) and curtailing their activities; in addition to creating a state of internal security from political exposure that may affect it as a result of the deteriorating conditions in the neighbouring countries.
Iraq: The Iraqi conflict is currently proceeding in an opaque climate, as the country deals with the process of redistributing seats for opposition and the majority parties, thus approaching an unexpected political scene.
The complexity of the situation is compounded by the disputes between “Al-Sadr” forces and those of “The Coordination Framework” particularly after the withdrawal of the “Sadr movement” from the Parliament. A change that will continue to have ramifications on Iraqi policies and in its international and regional interactions, where countries now have to reformulate their positions after the rise of the “coordination framework” party.
South Sudan: The situation in South Sudan is expected to deteriorate without decisive government actions that would strengthen the democratic transition, and implement the terms of the revitalised peace agreement that the parties of the conflict are committed to.
More so, despite the presence of a local will to contain the situation and move forward, the centralised government had displayed diminished political will in taking concrete steps towards democratic transition. This is expected to keep South Sudan in political isolation from the international community, which is bound to further complicate the situation.
Syria: The debate continues regarding the growing foreign influence in Syria between Turkey, Iran and Israel, which are likely to increase in the coming period. This is particularly evident in the light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began to open horizons for other parties to exploit this preoccupation in favour of extending their influence. While Turkey reintroduced its aspirations to expand in Syria, for Russia, it remains in a state of flux.
Russia’s continued military presence stems from its deep concern about the return of American involvement in Syria in a more serious and effective manner, which threatens Russia’s interests and gains in Syria. However, indications of this decline, albeit temporary, may explain the recent increase in Israeli attacks in Syria and the aforementioned Turkish ambition.
Lebanon: The internal political scene in Lebanon continues to witness complexity. This is due to deep divisions among the ruling elite in Lebanon, which indicates that the prime minister, Najib Mikati, will find it difficult to form a government. Thus, causing political paralysis, which is set to hinder the economic reforms negotiated with the International Monetary Fund.
There are fears on the other hand, of an escalation of dispute and tension between Israel and Lebanon, over the maritime borders between the two countries; especially that such dispute is an impediment to the exploration of energy resources, in parts of the eastern Mediterranean.
Yemen: The internal scene in Yemen remains in a state of relative stability. This comes within the framework of extending the ceasefire truce in early June for an additional two months, and in the midst of UN praise for the conflicting parties for deciding to take the necessary steps to reach an agreement and put an end to the conflict.
The extension of the armistice is considered a major shift in the course of an on-going 8 years long war. Additionally, the current efforts undertaken by the World Bank for the reconstruction in Yemen, and in enhancing food security, are raising hopes for an unprecedented improvement in the living conditions of Yemeni population.
Libya: The Libyan political scene is witnessing a new wave of escalation, especially with the end of the Libyan dialogue rounds, without sufficient progress to resolve the conflict, and to calm the competing political factions. Thus, Libya is returning to a politicised state of political divisions, with the collapse of state services, which led to the outbreak of widespread protests against the political elites. Where the protesters are organising their largest gathering yet in Tripoli, with fears that the protests may escalate, making them non-peaceful.
Mali: Mali continues to exist in hotbeds of internal conflict, with the continuation of the state of insecurity that fuels the expansion of chaos, and threatens – in the first place – the security and peace of citizens, and the increases dramatically the number of internally displaced people.
The continued withdrawal of the French-European counter-terrorism forces, in addition to Mali’s withdrawal from the joint force of the Sahel countries (G5), is leaving the Malian army with its dwindling capabilities, in the first line of defence against the escalating terrorist campaigns. Additionally, recent UN reports indicates that the army’s violations have increased, with the aid of the Russian “Wagner” special security forces; which overall raises questions regarding the protection of citizens.