With the passage of nearly 6 months since the start of the war in Ukraine, while the international community remains sensitive to the crisis, there has been an apparent adaptation to the repercussions of the crisis. Countries have accelerated their search for energy and food sources in an attempt to mitigate the severe impact of the on-going war.
Principally, states with on-going conflicts in the Middle East and Africa remain immersed in each of their internal and regional challenges, with attempts for resettlements ranging between partial success and total failure.
At the present time, countries in Middle East and African are witnessing increased efforts from the United States and Russia in an attempt to attract countries to their side, while reestablishing their influence in the region, with opportunities presented on the horizon. For instance, countries with on-going conflicts may be able to obtain sufficient support from either side to overcome the repercussions of the Ukrainian crisis. Still the question remains, what will it cost these countries for this much needed relief?
In this issue, of the Conflict Path series (no.10), 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 July, 2022 in ten countries as follows: (Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, and Mali).
– Ethiopia: In addition to the continued unremitting efforts in conducting a national dialogue among the various groups in Ethiopia to move away from a faltering state, the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister to Ethiopia, as part of his African tour, is also considered to be a significant event. Where there is Western concern from Russia’s penetration into Africa, especially where its rapprochement with Addis Ababa is seen as part of Russia’s plan to exploit the deteriorating relations between Addis Ababa and its Western partners.
– Sudan: The multiplicity of internal demonstrations in Sudan, whether those with a political, economic or tribal dimension, have contributed to the deterioration of the situation in Sudan. However, perhaps (Hemedti’s) recent statements, in which he announced his openness to forming a government of competencies, may lead to a new phase towards a resolution between the politics forces. Still, such steps, if proven credible, is likely to be a long-term process rather than a quick exist from the state of internal conflict, but it may be able to introduce relative calm to the internal situation in Sudan.
– Somalia: Arguably, forming the government is to expected to be delayed, especially when the time taken for the electoral process and the selection of the president are taken into consideration, the government may be formed during August. On the other hand, the movements of the president and the prime minister continue to be significant, focusing on the neighboring African countries and their African extension, and they are trying to be more involved in African groups, and this in itself is a positive sign. As for the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, and the declaration of famine in the country, it is the worst thing ever, and the challenge that compels decision makers. Somali to direct his efforts to get out of this humanitarian predicament.
– Iraq: Despite the resignation of the “Sadr Movement” which was expected to be a solution to the state of political stumbling, what is currently taking place is a broader conflict between the different political actors over the formation of the government. In addition to, broader difference between the “Sadr movement” and the “coordination framework”. the Sadrist movement continued to escalate by calling for demonstrations and gatherings of a religious nature, and supporting the sit-in in Parliament in a way that exacerbating the situation. Despite this, it is expected that the coordination framework will present another candidate to head the government to contain the Sadrist movement, with Muqtada al-Sadr continuing to follow the opposition side.
– Yemen: The Yemeni arena continues to witness a state of relative stability, with the truce holding ground. It is also expected to continue positively for a longer period, with the discussions nurtured by the United Nations between parties of the conflict attempting to resolve all points of contention. This is regarded by many as a major shift in the course of the ongoing 8 years long war.
– South Sudan: Despite the recent move to finalize the cessation of hostilities agreement between the government and the armed opposition, most indicators point to a continuation of the political tension between the two sides of the crisis, with a possibility not reaching a serious consensual between the two parties. Thus, contributing to a state of political instability. Additionally, the transitional unity government continues to be a subject of criticism, where some believe that the government’s participation with uncooperative peace partners, in addition to the citizens’ anger over the deteriorating living conditions (with parts of the country standing of the cusp of famine) are all indications of instability in the country, and the absence of signs of an effective breakthrough in the near future. The survival of the transitional unity government is also in limbo, especially with implementation of the peace agreement remains incomplete in several facets. This casts a doubt on the plans to hold elections in 2023, as scheduled, which if not held on time, questions concerning the legitimacy of the current government will arise.
– Syria: The movements of regional actors, whether through bilateral visits, or in addition to the mission of the ‘Tehran’ are seen in the light of establishing the rules of engagement and influence between the three actors in the Syrian arena. Which also seeks to reconfirm their positions on the conflict in Syria, in light of the Ukrainian war. Additionally, on the ground, the movements of regional actors are increasing, this includes the announcement by the US Department of Defense announces for killing the leader of the terrorist organization, the “Islamic state”. This news is counted as one of the most important field developments, in the month of July.
– Lebanon: The internal scene in Lebanon is witnessing political complexity, due to on-going divisions between the ruling elite. Arguably, Lebanon now at crossroads, either ‘to rise or fall’. The path that the country will take will depend on the ability and willingness of the Lebanese leaders; to start implementing sustainable solutions urgently. On the other hand, there are fears of escalating tensions between (Israel and Lebanon) over the maritime borders between the two countries, especially with declarations of threat issued from Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as from Israel.
– Libya: The Libyan political scene continues to witness waves of escalations in connection with the crisis of the two governments, while the presence of armed militias exacerbates the political situation. There is also the potential for the current situation to ignite a new war between militias in Libya, with the mobilization of armed groups continues, as they are equipped by ‘weapons and ammunition’ by the different parties.
– Mali: Mali continues to walk a fine line that requires it to balance its “foreign and domestic” policies in the current period. On the one hand, the threat of terrorism continues to inch closer to the heart of the capital in Mali. This in turn, threatens the instability of the state, and fuels the potential for popular anger on a large scale, against the backdrop of repeated insecurity. On the other hand, the restoration of Mali to its position among its neighbors from the “ECOWAS” countries, may not prove to be firm, with the recent moves towards the state of Côte d’Ivoire, and the temporary suspension of the United Nations’ mission in Mali may threaten the recent agreements and the ‘financial’ breathing space the country is expected to attain from the lifted sanctions. In fact, growth prospects for 2022 have been undermined, due to “economic sanctions, regional inflation, and the Ukrainian crisis,” Questions remains however, will lifting the ECOWAS sanctions give a new lease of life to Mali? and how long will the deterioration of security continue? In light of the continuous ferocious attacks by terrorist groups, especially in the light of Mali abandoning military aid from its former allies, “France, the G5 Sahel Group,” and finally the United Nations Mission in Mali “MINUSMA.”