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An Overview

BY ALEXANDER CHRISTIANI

Never since the Second World War the world at present is shocked and troubled by so many wars, conflicts and crises. An overview therefore seems appropriate to map out what we are due to expect in 2024 and how we could or should react with our planning. Many conflicts are intertwined and reflect a world situation in flux and lability.

UKRAINE

  • The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine will again in 2024 pose a major challenge security policy wise, but also increasingly economically. Here, in many respects the future of the European continent and also, of course, Russia will be decided. Will the United States and Europe be determined and financially able to furthermore support Ukraine in its struggle for existence?

MOLDOVA

  • Taking the present state of war between Russia and Ukraine, Moldova hitherto has been spared from Russian attacks and it is in a good way towards Europe. The economic and domestic situation, however is still fragile, Russian efforts of destabilization still present and the conflict of Transnistria still unsolved.

THE BALKANS

  • 2023 has seen an increase of tensions between Nord Kosovo and Serbia. A solution is presently not in sight. Bosnia’s precarious regulations since the Dayton Agreement are still further eroded, the irredentist tones from the República Srpska are increasing.

ISRAEL – GAZA

  • It seems safe to predict that the war will continue for a long time to come. Whether Israel will be able to wipe out Hamas, the next weeks will show. Cause for concern is the widening of the conflict in the West Bank and north with Hezbollah and Lebanon. A new front line in Syria and possibly also a direct conflict between Israel and Iran is possible. The United States are presently engaged in putting together an international coalition against the Houthis to protect the vital waterways in the Gulf. Fighting however cheap drones with high-tech weapons will not be sustainable in the long run.

IRAN

  • Iran remains the biggest trouble spot in the region, both domestically, economically but also by the Iranian influence in Syria, Irak, Lebanon and Yemen by supporting international terrorism. The question is how long the United States will be willing to pursue the policy, started by Obama and continued by Biden hoping to re-integrate Iran into the responsible community of states.

TURKIYE

  • The country is fighting with ground and air troops in North Syria and North Iraq especially in the Kurdish areas and still maintains military bases in Northwest Syria. The future relationship with Russia and especially with Israel bear a big question mark. President Erdogan is, as everybody has learned so far, always good for a surprise.

SOUTH KAUKASIA

  • Azerbaijan, militarily armed to their teeth, has re-conquered Nagorno-Karabakh, causing an exodus of the Armenian population. It is doubtful whether the conflict will lead into calmer waters. Despite it’s efforts to get nearer to the European Union, Georgia is playing a certain rocking roller between the West and Russia. Russia might be interested to build a new Black Sea port in Georgian territory.

SUB SAHARA AFRICA

  • The civil strife in Sudan continues unabated, the situation within Ethiopia and the conflict with Eritrea are again increasing. Coups in Niger and Gabon, before in Mali and Burkina Faso threaten the volatile plantlet of democracy in West and Central Africa,

TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN

  • They will continue their well-known role of Islamic fundamentalism and the breaches of human rights. The danger exists that the country will again develop into a hotspot of terrorisms.

CHINA

  • China – irrespective of its recent problems of its economy – increases its hostile and aggressive role towards the West as well as its territorial claims in the China Sea, in addition mounting tensions with the Philippines, Vietnam ,Australia and Japan.
    The United States, well aware of these dangers continue its role of “de-risk management”, geared to avoid an open conflict with China. The calibration of these policies is extremely complex and will continue to play an important role also in 2024.The most interesting question will be if and when Xi will make true this threat to “reunite“ with Taiwan.

NORD KOREA

  • The dictator family tries its best to play a useful role within the anti-democratic alliance Russia, China, Iran and their proxies.

LATIN AMERICA

  • Russia, China and Iran are poised to increase their influence in Latin America, therefore diminishing the role of the United States. President Lula in Brazil might be a willing ally to play along.

A RECORD OF ELECTIONS WORLWIDE IN 2024…

  • … including USA, India and at least also in Austria will take place. These could brig about certain regional or worldwide repercussions. Taking into account, however the attacks on democratic systems in many countries, it gives hope that in many countries democratic elections at all can take place.

CYBER ATTACKS – TERRORISM

  • The danger of cyber-attacks against critical infrastructures in growing, as well as the increase of terrorism after years of relative calm.

IMMIGRATION

  • A growing number of countries will tighten their laws and borders for immigration-especially in the United States, where the pressure against Biden’s liberal immigration policy is ever more increasing.

My conclusion: Whether one is an optimist, a pessimist, a realist or – to coin a phrase of the former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel-a possibilist – seems irrelevant…. We all have to brace ourselves for the “Happy” New Year 2024!

 

The ABS is looking forward to receiving your views and comments!

About the author

Former Ambassador Dr Alexander Christiani is the Vice-President of the Austro-British Society and leads the ABS Expert Group which releases high-quality Policy Papers with first-hand background information on current political developments. Dr Christiani is a member of the board of the Austrian Society for Foreign Politics and the United Nations. His professional career led him to the hotspots of political developments all over the world (e.g. to the Middle East, South Africa, New York and many others) where he contributed reasonably to Austria’s excellent diplomatic reputation in the world.
The views expressed in this article are entirely his and reflect in no way the opinions of the ABS.