Conflicts in the Middle East and Africa often present a complex paradigm, where different actors adjust their size and behavior to achieve their interests, thus intensifying the dynamics between them. This in turn adds to the multiplicity of events in the region, where urgent solutions are difficult to materialize. Additionally, conflicts in the Middle East and Africa are not isolated from the world, and recent events, such as the ongoing Russia – Ukraine conflict had impacted these countries, contributing to internal and regional changes.
In this issue, of the Conflict Path series (no.6), issued by SHAF Center for Future Studies & Crises Analysis (Middle East & Africa), it focuses on a set of ongoing and renewed conflicts that have not yet been resolved and with periodic developments. This issue documents the development of conflicts occurred in March, 2022 in ten countries as follows: (Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, and Mali).
Conflicts that witnessed violent complications
Sudan: The political scene continues to suffer from more complexity, in light of the ongoing protests, the deteriorating living conditions, and worker strikes in state agencies. Meanwhile, political parties continue to launch demonstrations that demand an end to the transitional period, in addition to supporting the participation of civilian elements in the government. Therefore, it is likely that the situation in Sudan will not witness any significant development, in light of the tense internal situation, and the inability to reach an agenda for a solution, in addition to international community’s preoccupation with the Ukrainian crisis.
Somalia: The security situation continues to deteriorate in connection with the multiple terrorist attacks by Al-Shabab, which is expected to result in increasing the effectiveness of the Somali security forces, through the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which aims to replace African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). In tandem with an attempt to restore US military support. Politically, the parliamentary elections file witnessed a breakthrough in terms of setting a deadline for the elected members to swear the oath, on April 15, and electing a new president for the country; which is expected to achieve political stability that would contribute to improving the country’s security and living conditions.
Iraq: The political situation remains in a state of disarray due to the failure of the Iraqi factions to stand on a common ground, using boycott as a tool in their infighting and with regards to the presidential elections. In addition to the lack of consensus on selecting the Prime Minister. The way out of this dilemma may depend on reaching a consensus between the Sadrist Movement and the Shiite coordination efforts, and yet so far there are no signs of resolution.
South Sudan: Is still faltering in its steps towards achieving any of the provisions of the revitalized peace agreement, amid a state of apathy at level of the government and the president. Moreover, citizens are still suffering from inhumane conditions. It also seems unlikely that the country would take the necessary steps with regards to ending the transitional period and holding the elections.
Libya: In the political context, the country is witnessing a sensitive and ambiguous situation, due to the lack of vision and clarity from the United Nations, contributing to the severity of the crisis. In addition to a domestic perception of existing foreign pressure exerted on the parliament, which follows a reservation towards the new government and an attempt to prevent it from carrying out its functions in Tripoli. This is done under the pretext of giving an opportunity to return to negotiations, and to formulate a new road map, in parallel with the presence of some Libyan cities that are moving in the direction of returning to negotiations between individuals chosen by the United Nations, which may not reflect the will of Libyans. On matters concerning:
1.reaching an agreement that creates a government for the armed factions in western Libya.
2.return to discussions on a new roadmap. In general, these indicators are obstacles that lead to prolonging the crisis allowing foreign interference in drafting the constitution before the elections.
Lebanon: The severe Lebanese economic crisis, which led the country to a state of corruption, political division, and economic deterioration. In addition to conflicting statements between the state-actors about “Lebanon’s bankruptcy” came to put the country on a new date with an internal crisis, with the Ukrainian crisis creating deeper repercussions on the Lebanese economy, putting the country in a severe state of confusion, especially with the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Mali: Crises at all levels continue in Mali, where the scene in general was characterized by a large degree of stagnation, as it did not witness during the month of March, any breakthrough in its dilemmas. It is expected that the severity of the crises will intensify in the near future. Therefore, Mali is at a high level of danger, where the withdrawal of the French “Barkhane” forces, and the subsequent increase in attacks and regional expansion of terrorist groups, would result in worsening humanitarian conditions. This include, increased internal displacement, renewed security concerns, and deteriorated access of humanitarian aid. Additionally, the prolonged economic sanctions from ECOWAS would lead to the loss of livelihoods, and thus exacerbation the humanitarian crisis in Mali.
Conflicts that witnessed minor progress
Ethiopia: The Ethiopian security situation continued in concessions, where parties of the conflict declared a cease-fire; to pave the way for humanitarian supplies and relief to the fragile and suffering civilians. Basic commodities and supplies have been affected by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine Conflict. Additionally, the Renaissance Dam file has not witnessed any further progress, with Ethiopia holding on to its intransigent position. It is expected that there will be no new agreements – at least – for the time being due to the international community’s preoccupation with the raging conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the concern that hangs over the entire NATO and Europe. Finally, the possibility of returning to war is not ruled out, if the government continued to delay corrective measures to prevent the anger of the Tigray insurgents.
Syria: Resolving the Syrian crisis remains subject to drafting a new constitution, which presents a gateway to political transition. However, the rounds that started in 2019 are being held amid bickering between the delegates, in a state of “agree to disagree”. Thus, the seventh round ended with little progress as expected, especially in light of the Ukrainian crisis, which casts its shadow not only on food and fuel prices, but also on the hotbeds of conflict, particularly those related to Western interests. With Washington working to obstruct the expansion of Moscow’s influence in Syria, it is expected that the constitution negotiations will become formalities without results. On the security level, there are fears of a return to the threat of ISIS in Syria, especially with the absence of the effective Russian air strikes.
Yemen: There is a relative breakthrough at the political level, in connection with the outcomes of the meeting hosted by the Gulf Cooperation Council on Yemen. In an attempt by international and regional efforts to resolve the conflict and settle differences between the warring parties, resulting in several positive decisions, most notably are the announcement of a ceasefire truce for a period of two months (subject to renewal) This gives a glimmer of hope in a brutal war that that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and pushed millions to the brink of famine in Yemen, which has long been considered one of the least-developed countries in the Arab world. Thus, international and regional parties aim to preserve the gains of the meeting and build on them to achieve further steps in the path of peace between the two sides of the crisis.