Preview of the Year 2019

As the new year dawns, more wars are brewing in the Middle East

Conflict in some of the world’s most troubled lands has deepened in the past year – with so many players vying for power, the most dangerous possibility will be an unplanned, accidental war, says Borzou Daragahi

Could the showdown between US clients and Iranian allies happen in Yemen?
Could the showdown between US clients and Iranian allies happen in Yemen?

A thousand plagues afflict the Middle East. To the east there are wars, and rumours of more war. To the west it’s much of the same: chaos, fragmentation, and misery that will continue in 2019.

What may be most extraordinary about the arc of troubled lands stretching from northwestern Africa east to the Arabian Peninsula and the Hindu Kush is that the disruptions are no longer confined to hotspots. They have expanded and deepened, and the potential for violence either at the hands of gunmen serving warlords or untouchable elites has only multiplied.

“The most dangerous trend is the slow fragmentation of the entire Arab region and many individual states,” says Rami Khoury, a professor of of journalism at the American University of Beirut and a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

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