The Middle East in 2020 is a guide to the year ahead with our predictions of the major events, conflicts and political change that will take place across the region.
Key predictions include:
- The US will tighten sanctions on Iran, Iran will refuse talks till after the US election and Britain, France and Germany may implement their own sanctions if Iran continues to violate the nuclear deal.
- The ongoing conflict between Iran and Israel will intensify in Syria and Iraq but will stop short of a wider direct conflict and the Trump plan for Israel and the Palestinians will be shelved indefinitely.
- The Gulf States will strengthen trade and security ties with Israel, but stop short of establishing formal relations due to lack of progress in resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
- The fate of Islamic State detainees will become an urgent international concern as ISIS fighters break out of detention facilities and rejoin the simmering ISIS insurgency in Syria and Iraq.
- An Iraqi army coup d’etat in Baghdad supported by nationalist forces is possible in light of the extent of political turmoil. Militias under the rubric of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) – pro-Iranian and heavily armed – will fight to maintain the primacy of the existing government. The Sunni tribes in Anbar province will also mobilise, dividing loyalties between pro-Iran and pro-nationalist sides. The chaos will provide space for the re-emergence of the Islamic State in north west Iraq.
- Russia will shape the post-conflict settlement in Syria, helping the Assad regime to restore its sovereignty across the country
- Israel’s political stalemate will be broken when Benny Gantz emerges from the 2 March election as the leader of the largest party, Benjamin Netanyahu will lose significant support and this will mark the end of his time as Prime Minister and Likud leader. His successor will then join a grand coalition and serve as Prime Minister in a rotation agreement with Gantz.
Read the full forecast below.