The Conflict Path Series in the Middle East and Africa Issue no.23 August 2023


Conflicts in the Middle East and Africa are a reflection of the complexity of protracted conflicts; The way in which they interact, their longevity, the behaviour and demands of the perpetrators, the parties’ terms of settlement, the dynamism of which they are characterized, and the intensity of their competition reflect their complexity.

This complexity increases as these conflicts interact with global changes s interests become more overlapping and complex, and the challenges surrounding political settlements increase in order to increase the importance of careful follow-up and analysis of such interactions as to enable us to set the record straight for choosing the most appropriate policies and preparing for the scenarios presented, In this number, together with tracking regional conflicts, we are approaching their internal interlinkages and international and regional interaction.

The 23rd  issue of the Shaf Centre’s monthly Conflict Trail Report highlights the Middle East and Africa arena of conflict States, tracking important issues, highlights and local, regional and international interactions. The report covers the conflict situation in 10 States (Ethiopia, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon and Mali)

Executive Summary

Before we shed light on developments in the situation of conflict in the regions to be dealt with, the situation of conflict in the 10 States of concern is broadly presented before proceeding to the detailed report.


Despite the security tensions caused by the activities of armed groups in the Amhara region, there has been a breakthrough in the Ethiopian scene. Addis Ababa and Cairo have joined the BRICS group, which may have contributed to breaking the deadlock that had affected the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue. This move has led to rebuilding trust among the involved countries. Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have returned to the negotiating table after years of isolation to discuss the GERD issue. This notable progress may have been influenced by the collaborative considerations, including economic and political interests that BRICS members share. Therefore, resolving this longstanding issue is necessary to create a stable environment for Egypt and Ethiopia, free from disputes and conflicts. It is expected that some BRICS members will act as mediators in this crisis, ending the escalating tensions between Ethiopia and the

downstream countries. This comes in light of Ethiopia’s repeated provocations. Addis Ababa might be more inclined to cooperate with BRICS intervention while continuing its Ethiopian projects while respecting Egypt and Sudan’s water rights in the Nile River.


In conclusion, resolving the situation in Sudan remains a significant challenge that requires intensive international efforts to achieve a peaceful and sustainable solution. Given the role played by the National Army in achieving battlefield victories, it could have a positive impact on the negotiation process. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United States are likely to play a crucial role in mediating a settlement, as these countries have significant regional and international influence and can guide the parties toward a solution that serves the interests of the Sudanese people and ensures stability.

Despite the military successes of the National Army, we must emphasize the importance of comprehensive negotiations that take into account the interests of all parties involved. A peaceful resolution can be the only path to ensure lasting stability in Sudan and fulfill the aspirations of the people for peace and prosperity.


In conclusion, Somalia is facing an extremely sensitive phase characterized by political, economic, and humanitarian challenges that require special efforts to address. These challenges include the ongoing war against Al-Shabaab and the resulting losses, as well as the intensive security efforts directed towards it. Additionally, there is increasing pressure related to covering the withdrawal of AMISOM forces, along with political challenges related to regional governance. All of these challenges indicate that Somalia is in a highly critical stage, requiring broader efforts from the government and Somalia’s partners to avoid reverting to the previous situation.


The security and political situation in Syria carries within it serious signs indicating the possibility of a return to the Syrian crisis, with the resurgence of popular protests demanding accountability for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the departure of his regime. This comes alongside a lack of tangible progress in the Arab-Syrian normalization process. Additionally, there is an escalation of security tensions driven by the intensifying struggle for influence among regional and international powers. This security context, combined with the

security vacuum created by Russia’s engagement in its conflict with

Ukraine, has provided a conducive environment for the resurgence of the ISIS threat, as evidenced by the increase in terrorist attacks by the organization in August of the past year.


Perhaps the most accurate description of what Yemen is experiencing at this stage is that it is going through a state of neither war nor peace after a period of ceasefire that was extended for several months. It continued after the announcement of its inability to renew it last October, with a relative calm interspersed with some armed confrontations here and there.

South Sudan:

The political landscape in South Sudan is currently characterized by instability, with escalating disputes between President

Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. Additionally, the absence of negotiations leading to new agreements to prevent further escalation of tensions between the two sides is a significant concern. This is exacerbated by decisions made by the President of South Sudan that have deepened political divisions.

These unstable conditions are likely to have a significant impact on the upcoming elections. The current year is crucial for South Sudan as it marks a decisive period for preparations leading to the elections.

Resolving all political disputes is essential to continue the democratic process within South Sudan


Iraq’s foreign policy is now facing a new challenge, which is finding solutions to complex issues and crises with neighboring countries, given their impact on vital sectors for the Iraqi people. This includes the water crisis, which is the most severe crisis the country has faced in this sector in 30 years, as well as continuing security talks with both Turkey and Iran to protect the shared borders from any aggression.


The developments in Libya during the month of August reflect a decline in the prospects of Prime Minister Dbeibah remaining in power. He now faces numerous challenges from all directions, be it domestically, regionally, or internationally, and these challenges signal his imminent departure. This is especially evident after the recent meeting between the President of the Presidential Council, Mohammed Al-Manfi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, and General Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, as well as the shift in the international stance against him. This has led him to exploit his last card, which is the normalization with Israel, despite its risks, in order to secure political and diplomatic support from the United States against attempts to remove him from office.


It can be said that the recent security disturbances in Beirut are strongly attributed to the presidential vacancy and political instability. As for the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, despite its stability at the end of the month, this could resemble the calm before the storm, especially since those sought by justice among the accused are still inside the camp and have not been apprehended. Furthermore, the changes to the UNIFIL agreement constitute a clear violation of Lebanese sovereignty and an increase in the influence of the forces.


it is evident from the aforementioned points that Mali’s situation is highly complex. Tensions are escalating between the Malian army and Tuareg movements, compounded by the presence of foreign forces and increasing terrorist attacks. This continual descent into conflicts and tensions jeopardizes the peace agreement, making it difficult to create a conducive environment for resolving this longstanding conflict. Therefore, there is a pressing need for wise political will to regain control, restore security, and stability to the country. This requires reviving the peace agreement and engaging in negotiations to find a solution to this dilemma; otherwise, the situation will continue to deteriorate, and the frequency of conflicts will increase, making it challenging to control and address the situation fundamentally.

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