Annual Forecasts

2011 Annual Forecast

4 MINS READJan 13, 2011 | 12:17 GMT
A line of U.S. Army armored vehicles lines up at Camp Virginia near the capital of Kuwait as soldiers pull out of service in Iraq.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Overview

The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

Forecasts

Europe

To the west of Eurasia lays Europe, a region predisposed to division. It is surrounded on nearly all sides by islands and peninsulas that make it difficult for Europe to cohere. The northern half of the continent, moreover, sits on a plain whose short, meandering rivers tend to empower countries without forcing them to work with others. The southern half is situated on more mountainous terrain that has historically impeded the creation of strong, unified economies. As a result, Europe is a continent riven by pockets of distinct cultures whose differences are all too often irreconcilable.

Jan 13, 2011 | 22:54 GMT
Europe is a continent riven by pockets of distinct cultures whose differences are all too often irreconcilable.

Europe is a continent riven by pockets of distinct cultures whose differences are all too often irreconcilable.

section Highlights
  • Berlin will continue to press the rest of Europe to accept its point of view on fiscal matters, using the ongoing economic crisis as an opportunity to tighten the eurozone's existing economic rules and to introduce new ones. 
  • Germany's assertiveness will continue to breed resentment within other eurozone states. 
  • In Ireland, elections in the first quarter could bring anti-bailout or anti-austerity forces into power.
  • Other states may see changes in government (Spain, Portugal and Italy being prime candidates), but leadership change will not mean policy change.
  • With the United States preoccupied in the Middle East, Russia making a push into the Baltic states and consolidating its periphery, and Berlin and Moscow further entrenching their relationship, Central Europe will continue to see its current security arrangements -- via NATO and Europe -- as insufficient.
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The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

Forecasts

Eurasia

Eurasia is the world’s most expansive region. It connects the East to the West, forming a land bridge that borders Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia. Forming the borders of this massive tract of land are the Northern European Plain, the Carpathian Mountains, the Southern Caucasus Mountains, the Tien Shan Mountains and Siberia. At the heart of Eurasia is Russia, a country that throughout history has tried, to varying degrees of success, to extend its influence to Eurasia’s farthest reaches — a strategy meant to insulate it from outside powers. But this strategy necessarily creates conflict throughout Russia’s borderlands, putting Eurasia a near constant state of instability.

Jan 13, 2011 | 21:43 GMT
Eurasia connects the East to the West, forming a land bridge that borders Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia.

Eurasia connects the East to the West, forming a land bridge that borders Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia.

section Highlights
  • In 2011, Moscow will feel secure enough in its position in the former Soviet sphere to shift from a policy of confrontation with the West to one characterized, at least in part, by a more cooperative engagement.
  • Russia knows that it will not be able to pull the Baltic states away from their alliances in NATO or the European Union, but it is trying to increase its influence with the countries in hopes of having some say in their foreign policy.
  • In the leadup to parliamentary elections, many figures in the country's elite will scramble to secure their positions or attempt to gain better ones. 
  • Moscow will use requests for security assistance from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to increase its presence in Central Asia militarily, but will hold back from getting directly involved in the fighting.
  • Looming succession crises in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan will encourage the countries' political elite to try to hold onto or gain power.
See more on this Region

The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

Forecasts

Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa is the world's crossroads. It encompasses the Arabian Peninsula, the mountains of Iran, the plains of Turkey, the deserts of the Levant, the lands north of the Sahara and all coasts in between. The story of the region, as is so often the case of places stuck between foreign players, is the story of trade, exchange and conflict. The traditional powers of the region are Turkey and Iran — Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the current Arab powers — and their competition for influence over the region's weaker states makes the Middle East and North Africa an arena of violence and instability.

Jan 13, 2011 | 20:59 GMT
The Middle East and North Africa encompasses the Arabian Peninsula, the mountains of Iran, the plains of Turkey, the deserts of the Levant, the lands north of the Sahara and all coasts in between.

The Middle East and North Africa encompasses the Arabian Peninsula, the mountains of Iran, the plains of Turkey, the deserts of the Levant, the lands north of the Sahara and all coasts in between.

section Highlights
  • The most important question in the Persian Gulf this year will be the degree to which the United States draws down its forces in the region. 
  • Should the United States remove all effective military force in Iraq and limit its forces in Kuwait, Iraq would fall under Iranian domination, and the states on the Arabian Peninsula would make concessions to Iranian interests to accommodate the new balance of power.
  • Pressure on the United States from Saudi Arabia and its allies in Iraq not to withdraw will be heavy, so the United States will keep enough forces in Iraq to block Iran.
  • Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is unlikely to lose in the election, but the vote will highlight the core secular-religious divide in the country.
  • Several political and militant forces active in Egypt will be trying to take advantage of the historic opportunity the impending transition presents.
See more on this Region

The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

Forecasts

Asia-Pacific

The Asia-Pacific is home to more people than any other region. Centered on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, this region includes the easternmost countries of continental Asia as well as the archipelagos that punctuate the coast. Several of these countries, most notably China, experienced rapid economic growth in the second half of the 20th century, giving the region a new sense of global economic relevance that continues today. That relevance, however, depends largely on China, a power in transition whose rise is testing the network of U.S. alliances that have long dominated the region. How effectively Beijing manages its transition will shape the regional balance of power in the decades to come.

Jan 13, 2011 | 22:43 GMT
Centered on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the Asia-Pacific region includes the easternmost countries of continental Asia as well as the archipelagos that punctuate the coast.

Centered on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the Asia-Pacific region includes the easternmost countries of continental Asia as well as the archipelagos that punctuate the coast.

section Highlights
  • Though growth may slow in China's economy, it is unlikely to collapse beneath the government's target level.
  • The central government will continue its stimulus policies in 2011.
  • Beijing will accelerate its foreign resource acquisition and outward investment strategy as it continues pursuing large infrastructure projects in border areas and in peripheral countries despite resulting tensions with India and Southeast Asian states.
  • After a year of outright aggression toward South Korea in 2010, all indications suggest that 2011 will see a return to the more managed relations with North Korea seen a decade ago, barring a major domestic disagreement among the North Korean elite over Kim Jong Il's succession plans. 
  • The United States will continue its slow re-engagement with the region, providing an opportunity for China's neighbors to hedge against it.
See more on this Region

The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

Forecasts

Americas

The Americas stretch from the Arctic Circle in Canada to the southern tip of Chile. This geographically, culturally and politically diverse region is home to the United States, a nation whose geography helped it become the foremost economic and military power in the world — an ascendance aided in part by bringing Mexico and Canada into its sphere of influence. Farther south, the nations of South America are like islands, separated by vast spaces of impenetrable mountains, rivers and jungles. Try though these countries may to integrate more closely, deeper ties such as those that characterize North America will prove elusive.
Jan 13, 2011 | 16:39 GMT
This geographically, culturally and politically diverse region is home to the United States, a nation whose geography helped it become the foremost economic and military power in the world

This geographically, culturally and politically diverse region is home to the United States, a nation whose geography helped it become the foremost economic and military power in the world

section Highlights
  • The Venezuelan government will become increasingly reliant on its allies -- namely China, Cuba and, to a lesser extent, Iran and Russia -- to stave off a collapse. 
  • But though doubts will rise over the sustainability of the Venezuelan government and economy, the administration of President Hugo Chavez likely will not be toppled as long as oil prices allow Caracas to maintain a high rate of public spending.
  • Cuba will aim to lay off or reshuffle more than half a million state workers (10 percent of the island's work force) by March 2011 while attempting to build up a fledgling private sector to absorb the labor.
  • Brazil's focus will be absorbed by problematic currency gains, developing its pre-salt oil fields and internal security.
  • In Mexico, authorities will devote considerable resources to the Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon regions, but these operations are more likely to escalate tensions between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas than to reduce violence in these areas. 
See more on this Region

The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

Forecasts

South Asia

Everything that informs geopolitics can be found in South Asia: challenging demographics, geographic diversity, and contentious, ill-defined borders. The Himalayan Mountains form the northern border of South Asia, whose two main rivers, the Indus and the Ganges, support the region’s great population centers. India is the region’s dominant country, home to the world’s fastest growing economy. But its rivalry with neighboring Pakistan, a fellow nuclear power and growing consumer market, has made South Asia one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoints. The region is also a testament to how militancy and militarism can undermine the regional integration needed to unleash higher economic growth.

Jan 13, 2011 | 20:58 GMT
Everything that informs geopolitics can be found in South Asia: challenging demographics, geographic diversity, and contentious, ill-defined borders.

Everything that informs geopolitics can be found in South Asia: challenging demographics, geographic diversity, and contentious, ill-defined borders.

section Highlights
  • In Afghanistan, the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) can expect more battlefield successes in the year ahead. 
  • But the success or failure of its counterinsurgency-focused strategy rests not only on the military degradation of the Taliban, but also on the ability to compel the Taliban to negotiate some degree of political accommodation.
  • Pakistan will try to steer Washington toward talks, but a comprehensive settlement in 2011 seems unlikely at this point.
See more on this Region

The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

Forecasts

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is a study in diversity. Covering an area that spans the entire width of the continent beginning at the Sahara Desert and ending at the southernmost tip of South Africa, the region is home to countless cultures, languages, religions, plants, animals and natural resources. It’s no surprise that it captured the imagination of Europe’s earliest explorers — and that it continues to capture the imagination of current world powers eager to exploit it. And yet despite the region’s diversity, Sub-Saharan African countries have common challenges — transnational terrorism, rapid population growth, endemic poverty and corruption — that prevent them from capitalizing on their economic potential. The coming years will be critical for the region, especially as its political institutions mature in a rapidly globalizing world.

Jan 13, 2011 | 16:22 GMT
Covering an area that spans the entire width of the continent beginning at the Sahara Desert and ending at the southernmost tip of South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to countless cultures, languages, religions, plants, animals and natural resources.

Covering an area that spans the entire width of the continent beginning at the Sahara Desert and ending at the southernmost tip of South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to countless cultures, languages, religions, plants, animals and natural resources.

section Highlights
  • Southern Sudan will be in a period of legal limbo for the first half of the year, since it will not be able to declare its independence from Sudan until July if the referendum on the matter, scheduled for January, passes. 
  • Until then, contentious negotiations centered primarily on oil revenue sharing will characterize the relationship between Juba and Khartoum.
  • Leading up to national elections in the first half of the year -- and even afterward -- extensive intra-party negotiations and backroom deals will occupy the Nigerian government. 
  • The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) will add a few thousand new peacekeepers  in 2011, and Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops will receive incremental training to increase their capabilities as well. But neither force will be equipped or mandated to launch a definitive offensive against al Shabaab. 
  • South Africa will continue its predominantly cooperative relationship with nearby countries, notably Angola.
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The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

Forecasts

Global Economy

Jan 13, 2011 | 21:29 GMT
An employee at Panmure Gordon & Co., a London investment banking firm, looks at global trading figures.
section Highlights
  • The United States will experience moderate to strong growth in 2011.
  • The financial crisis that started sweeping Europe in 2010 is far from over, and more states will likely join Greece and Ireland in the bailout line in 2011.
  • Japan's population has aged to such a degree that consumption is expected to shrink every year from now on, while its national budget is now majority funded by deficit spending.
  • China's challenge in 2011 will be to maintain sufficient services and subsidies to keep social forces in check at a time when the country's economic model will exacerbate inflationary problems.

The year 2011 is one of preparation and postponement, as Washington, Beijing and Moscow -- among several others -- are already looking to elections and leadership changes in 2012. The uncertainty of next year affects the actions of this year. One of the biggest questions in 2011 concerns Iraq. ...

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