Dubai: Analysts are not overly optimistic about the state of the region in 2019 although some threats could lessen.
On the positive side, they predict that Yemen’s war—raging since 2015—could draw to a close.
They also believe that the threat of Iran towards the Gulf region could diminish somewhat.
On the negative side, Iraq will continue to be dominated by instability while foreign presence will persist in Syria.
Also, some sleeping terrorist cells throughout the region could re-emerge.
“I won’t say the picture is bleak, but the picture is not rosy in the region in 2019,” said Khattar Abu Diab from the Paris-based Council on Geopolitics and Perspectives in an interview with Gulf News.
“2019 is going to be the year of growing dangers to the region,” he said.
Abu Diab said the Arab region has been suffering since 2011, when what is dubbed then as “Arab Spring” started sending echoes of “destructive chaos” to many parts of the Arab world.
Other analysts in the region shared a similar caution and concerns.
“The fragile stability in many Arab countries is expected to continue in 2019,” said Mohammad Ezz Al Arab from Cairo-based Al Ahram Strategic Studies Centre.
However, the new year will witness “a shift in the alliances (among Arab nations),” he told Gulf News.
“Differences among allies could become as deep as differences among foes,” he said, explaining that Syria’s top two allies, Russia and Iran, could butt heads about the future direction of the country.
Many analysts predict Syria to return to the Arab fold in 2019 and even rejoin the Arab League from which it was booted from in 2011 due to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s brutal crackdown on opposition during the war.
However, Syria would remain a country under occupation of various actors such as Russia, Iran and even Turkey.
Jihad Harb, a Palestinian analyst in the Occupied West Bank, says: “Syria is one of the main pillars (in the Arab world) which can face the Turkish expansion and influence.”
“Syrian rapprochement with the Arabs does not mean the Iranian role in Syria will weaken,” says Abu Diyab.
Meanwhile, the Arab world’s relationship with Turkey will continue to be tense due to Ankara’s close ties the Muslim Brotherhood which was declared as a terrorist organisation by some Arab states.
Also, Turkey has boosted its ties to Qatar, which some Arab countries have severed ties with, due to its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey has also used “the political blackmailing style, and this is not acceptable,” said Abdul Aziz Al Saqr, Chairman of the Jeddah-based Gulf Research Centre in an interview with Gulf News.
“Whether the relationship will deteriorate further, I cannot tell.”
As for Yemen, Saqr was more optimistic, predicting a political solution in the works.
“Al Houthis do not have the ability to continue fighting and will have to make concessions,” Saqr said.
Terrorist groups, such a Daesh, have not been completely eliminated, both Saqr and Ezz Al Arab warned.
Despite the US declaration that Daesh has been defeated militarily, both analysts say that this is not true.
They are in state of hibernation and could rise up again sometime in the future, they added.