The Annual Review of World Affairs assesses the events and themes of the year region by region. It includes essays that analyse the changes in the oil price and contains a chronology of key events around the world.
Persistent challenges to international security dominated world affairs in the year towards mid-2015, although there was also progress towards bridging decades-old rifts. Large parts of the Middle East were consumed by fighting: the four-year-old civil war in Syria showed no sign of abating; sectarian conflict was spreading in Iraq; and wars broke out in Yemen and Libya. This heightened concern for the future among the Israelis and the Gulf Arabs, as long-time allies of the United States.
Since most wars in the Middle East are theaters, to a greater or lesser extent, for the chronic rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the partial rehabilitation of Tehran in international diplomacy could have important broader effects.
Today, On the occasion of the release of the new strategic survey, John Chipman made the following statements on the persistent and prominent international security world affairs challenges. Political resolution of wars in Yemen, Libya & Syria are highly unlikely, according to Chapman.
Gulf States will face many challenges in their current campaign against the Houthis of Yemen. Their intervention is unprecedented, and despite Western skepticism to the campaign, Chipman insisted that the Gulf coalition is largely successful with the July liberation of Aden a significant sign. Gulf states have the resources, mechanisms & commitment to achieve resolve in the Yemen conflict but international community needs to increase its involvement.
The Strategic Survey spokesman highlighted that the Iran Deal has escalated the situation in the Middle East and has created unease for the Gulf States & Israel, which will further complicated the situation between the Middle Eastern states.
If properly implemented the Deal will mean no risk of Tehran developed nuclear weapons for the next 15 years. The deal will give a better strategic import for western powers than before. According to Chipman, efforts to win wider detente will be hard. Fitz Patrick from the IISS has also highlighted that there is a tendency to overstate potential regional benefits from the Iran Deal. Patrick insists we are still a long way from reaching a resolution that involves Iran, although the deal can be a game changer in other ways, as it highlights that Iran is negotiable.
Syria & ISIS
John Chipman discussed the current conflict in Syria insisting that since the beginning western powers have run away from hard choices in Syria and western cooperation with Russia over Syria is unlikely to improve the matter. Western relations with Russia is currently poor which reflects their different views in Syria. Western powers see Assad as the biggest threat while Russia views him as an ally against ISIS.
John Chipman’s opinion is that current coalition against ISIS is frail; jihadist group will remain a feature of Middle East’s strategic landscape for the near future. ISIS may pose threat outside Middle East especially in the South East of Asia, where leaders are worried ‘ungoverned’ areas could fall to ISIS-inspired groups.
The current strategy against ISIS is ‘fundamentally flawed’, according to Chipman, and a consequence to that is the witnessing of the de facto, soft partition of both Syria & Iraq. Apart from ISIS all sides in Syria & Iraq are currently looking to reinforce rather than advance on their positions. Chipman also insists that having Kurds on your side in the conflict is essential to the air campaign the coalition is conducting. They are a key member in defeating ISIS on the ground. Chipman has also insisted that Western powers have run away from hard choices in Syria and failed to deliver effective leadership.
Russia & China
Russia’s current military activity close to the NATO states requires members to show determination to defend their borders the Strategic Survey reports. Despite sanction, the Kermlin asserts its interests with vigor in Ukraine. Moscow used all instruments of state power to assert interests in Ukraine, claiming support for Russians elsewhere. European security order has rocked by ‘self-confident Russia, Chipman further added. In relation to Russia’s latest intervention in Syria, it is to be regarded was too small to be militarily significant but large enough to be highly provocative.
China, as mentioned by the IISS, is more willing and able to defend its security interest. China powering trade & political partners in Africa & Latin America is currently growing, but wont be extra regional. Relations between both Beijing and Moscow has improved significantly with both states becoming closer as they realise their strategic significant together. China is focusing more into forming alliances, and its a mere matter of time before China’s defense industry overtakes Russia.