The Conflict Path Series in the Middle East and Africa Issue no.28 January 2024

Introduction:

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 28th  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.

Ethiopia:

The Horn of Africa region is suffering from the brunt of conflicts and tensions that have not subsided over many years, fueled by existing crises such as the Sudanese war, and recently the agreement made by the Ethiopian government with Somaliland. Thus, a claim is drawn up to threaten security and stability in the African region, and to provoke its neighboring countries, in light of the bold and open steps it has taken. In

trying to steal the sovereignty of a country like Somalia, Addis Ababa’s plan will not be alone in light of the difficult circumstances it is going through, whether economically or security-wise, and therefore there is It is likely that there are international forces pushing Abiy Ahmed to take this path, and if Ethiopia does not back down from its agreement with Somaliland, which is perhaps unlikely in light of these rapid and stubborn steps, the military base that it wishes to establish on the Red Sea will be inaugurated, then the consequences will be This indicates a serious destabilization of the security of the region and a threat to its stability, especially since these movements may push some separatist movements in separate regions to follow in the footsteps of Somaliland.

Sudan:

It is clear from the prevailing scene inside Sudan that the end of the war is likely to be through an agreement between the two parties to the conflict. To try to save the scene of fading fighting, and it is possible that American efforts, along with international and regional efforts, will contribute to reaching an agreement that contributes to stopping the fighting and reaching a political settlement to the crisis. This requires developing a comprehensive strategic plan, through cooperation between international and regional organizations, which aims to solve the crisis; To confront all companies that benefit from selling weapons to Sudan, in addition to the need to protect cities that still witness a degree of relative stability. This is to ensure the maintenance of security and peace there, and then rebuild the Sudanese state. In order to achieve the desired democratic transformation.

Somalia:

Somalia witnessed many developments, both internally and externally. On the internal level, presidential elections were held in the state of Puntland, and President Said Abdullahi Deni won a second presidential term for five years, and a memorandum of understanding was signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland. So that Addis Ababa can use one of the country’s ports; Which led to a crisis between Ethiopia and Somalia.

Regarding the terrorist Al-Shabaab movement, the Somali army has been able to carry out strikes against that movement, but there are fears of increasing Somali pirate activities.

On the external level, Somalia’s diplomatic foreign relations have been strengthened, whether through the Somali President’s participation in summits, or his visit to one of the countries, such as Egypt and Qatar.

Iraq:

We cannot ignore the broad and major security challenges that cast a shadow over the stability of Iraq, which is evident in the escalation of security threats from various sides, whether attacks by Iraqi armed factions at home and abroad, or regional impacts resulting from events in neighboring regions, in addition to the exploitation of The United States and Iran in the Iraqi arena for confrontation between them.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to stop the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip and stop the war once and for all, given the importance of its impact on security developments in Iraq and the region. The current situation also requires effective intervention from prominent regional powers to resolve complex issues with the aim of enhancing stability and security for the peoples of the region.

Yemen:

Although there were previous indicators before these American and British attacks and strikes, suggesting that peace would be approaching in Yemen, this is clashing with strong Houthi stubbornness, through Houthi military operations against aircraft and ships in a clear and frank manner during this period, so the possibility of a safe environment in which peace prevails in Yemen remains one of the most impossible hopes. Because of the actions of the Houthis; The resulting endless violence and danger, apparent after monitoring all the Houthi actions in the Red Sea, at the end of each month, and the expected reactions regionally and internationally. In response to these violent acts.

South Sudan:

The political leadership in Sudan is moving to issue new laws; To win the upcoming elections, such as the ministerial reshuffles introduced in Unity State, appointing new ministers, relieving others from their positions, renewing the invitation to groups that did not sign the peace agreement, disarmament, and returning to participate in the December elections, despite the ministerial reshuffles and laws that were introduced. However, there are many challenges facing the political leadership, including the lack of parliament members’ basic resources and the lack of an appropriate technological infrastructure. At the same time, the security vacuum and instability in some states are likely to deteriorate the situation. What may affect the electoral process; This requires the ruling leadership to quickly address the state of instability. So that South Sudan does not turn into a hotbed of armed conflict between various forces; What hinders the process of peaceful transfer of power.

Syria:

It has become clear that there is no imminent breakthrough in the Syrian file. There are no solutions on the horizon, at least in the near term.

Rather, the situation may get worse as the war in Gaza continues.

– After holding 21 sessions of the Astana process concerned with a political solution to the Syrian crisis, there is nothing new on the ground, but reality portends the return of bloody confrontations between the regime and the Syrian opposition.

The danger is increasing regarding the return of the terrorist organization ISIS to the Syrian scene, which means further deterioration and security chaos, more killing and the loss of thousands of lives that the Syrian people will bear

It appears from the current scene that there is no imminent withdrawal of American or Turkish forces from Syrian territory. It also appears that the Syrian regime has not yet made any gesture to advance the step-for-step path that was agreed upon in order for it to become involved again in its Arab surroundings, and the issue of drug trade with… The Jordanian side is the best evidence of this.

Libya:

The UN envoy, Abdullah Batili, is still continuing his efforts to bring Libyan leaders to one negotiating table, to agree on a road map for the electoral process and to end the state of political division, by intensifying his meetings with those concerned with the initiative and with representatives of Western countries in Libya, but his efforts It is still encountering some obstacles and the different and conflicting conditions of the concerned parties, which may lead to its miscarriage.

Parliament stipulates that the Prime Minister of the National Unity Government, Abdul Hamid Dabaiba, not sit at the dialogue table and insists on the necessity of forming a new government that will prepare for the elections, while Dabaiba refuses to leave his position and requires the existence of fair laws that allow everyone to run for elections.

In light of these clear contradictions so far between the parties to the Libyan crisis, it appears how difficult it is to proceed with elections, at a time when doubts are increasing about the possibility of reaching understandings between the main parties and the existence of real intentions to reach a solution.

Lebanon:

It can be said that Hezbollah must reconsider its calculations and experiences when it comes to Lebanon’s interests, because the incitement it is causing in southern Lebanon, and the opening of the northern front to Israel, will put Beirut on the brink of the abyss, even if the matter does not extend to the stage of war. The security tension will hinder the state’s plans and agendas, and will hinder the electoral entitlement, which has now become largely linked to the war in the south, in addition to Hezbollah’s intransigence.

As for the border tension between Hezbollah and Israel, it will not go beyond the scope of controlled clashes, and the war scenario is ruled out. The most likely thing is to end the war in the south through negotiation, with regard to the land borders between the two countries and demarcate them in a way that satisfies Hezbollah.

Mali:

It can be said that the launch of the announcement of the military council in Mali and the end of the 2015 Algeria peace and reconciliation agreement with the Azawad separatists, ruling out a repeat of the 2012 scenario with the conflict igniting between the two sides and forcing the Malian forces to sit at the negotiating table again, based on popular support and Russian support, which… It gives him an advantage in the current conflict.

It is worth noting that ending the Algiers Agreement is not a surprising step, as Mali has practically paved the way for withdrawal from the agreement since the start of the fighting last August, leading to the restoration of control over the city of Kidal, the stronghold of Tuareg separatists.

Ending the agreement may mean repeating the scenario of the civil war in 2012, but in a more severe form due to the instability of the situation in the Sahel region as a whole, in addition to the possibility of the Tuareg in the rest of the region joining the ranks of the fighting, in addition to the involvement of “Niger and

Burkina Faso” due to the existence of an agreement. A common defense between them, which threatens the prolongation and expansion of the conflict, and the worsening security and humanitarian situation in the country.

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