annual forecasts

2013 Annual Forecast

3 MINS READJan 7, 2013 | 12:00 GMT
The rules of the game are changing in the international system. In 2013, we will see that denial of that change is waning.

The rules of the game are changing in the international system. In 2013, we will see that denial of that change is waning.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Overview

At the beginning of 2012, we argued that the international system is undergoing a generational transformation -- the kind that occurs every 20 years or so. The cycle we are now in started in 2008-2009, when global financial contagion exposed the underlying weaknesses of Europe and eventually cracked China's export-oriented economic model. The Middle East then began to deviate from its post-World War II paradigm with an attempted resurgence by Iran, the regional rise of Islamists and the decline of age-old autocratic regimes in the Arab world....

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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 7, 2013 | 19:27 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 Arab world is in transition. 
  • There is no longer a political entity capable of wielding control over the entirety of Syria, nor will there be for some time. 
  • A military conflict between the United States and Iran remains unlikely in 2013.
  • In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood's popularity among the people will be undermined as the movement takes on a larger role in governance under severe economic conditions.
  • At age 88, Saudi King Abdullah's deteriorating health and probable death will mark the end of the second generation of Saudi princes. 
See more on this Region

At the beginning of 2012, we argued that the international system is undergoing a generational transformation -- the kind that occurs every 20 years or so. The cycle we are now in started in 2008-2009, when global financial contagion exposed the underlying weaknesses of Europe and eventually cracked China's export-oriented economic model. The Middle East then began to deviate from its post-World War II paradigm with an attempted resurgence by Iran, the regional rise of Islamists and the decline of age-old autocratic regimes in the Arab world....

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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 7, 2013 | 21:17 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
  • The eurozone will survive another year, but the fundamental aspects of the European crisis will endure.
  • Germany and France, the two largest economies of the eurozone, will face low growth or even stagnation.
  • In Southern Europe, social unrest will grow and the year will be marked by permanent protests and strikes. 
  • The United Kingdom will not leave the European Union in 2013. 
See more on this Region

At the beginning of 2012, we argued that the international system is undergoing a generational transformation -- the kind that occurs every 20 years or so. The cycle we are now in started in 2008-2009, when global financial contagion exposed the underlying weaknesses of Europe and eventually cracked China's export-oriented economic model. The Middle East then began to deviate from its post-World War II paradigm with an attempted resurgence by Iran, the regional rise of Islamists and the decline of age-old autocratic regimes in the Arab world....

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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 7, 2013 | 20:36 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
  • Russia will face another year of anti-Kremlin protests, tension among various political factions and ethnic groups, crackdowns and government reshuffles. 
  • In 2013, Russia will continue building momentum in some areas of its periphery while its position will be challenged in others.
  • As Russia tries to manage its relationships with its major energy customers in Europe, it likely will avoid aggressive behavior on other issues.
  • Regional tension in Central Asia could lead any unrest that breaks out to spill across country borders.
See more on this Region

At the beginning of 2012, we argued that the international system is undergoing a generational transformation -- the kind that occurs every 20 years or so. The cycle we are now in started in 2008-2009, when global financial contagion exposed the underlying weaknesses of Europe and eventually cracked China's export-oriented economic model. The Middle East then began to deviate from its post-World War II paradigm with an attempted resurgence by Iran, the regional rise of Islamists and the decline of age-old autocratic regimes in the Arab world....

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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 7, 2013 | 20:26 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
  • China will struggle to maintain social and political stability amid lower economic growth rates.
  • As China modernizes its military, it will more aggressively secure its territorial and economic interests in the region. 
  • Beijing's slow transition away from being the world's key supplier of low-cost goods will affect the entire region, some countries more profoundly than others.
  • 2013 will be a critical year for Myanmar as it works to solidify its democratic opening
See more on this Region

At the beginning of 2012, we argued that the international system is undergoing a generational transformation -- the kind that occurs every 20 years or so. The cycle we are now in started in 2008-2009, when global financial contagion exposed the underlying weaknesses of Europe and eventually cracked China's export-oriented economic model. The Middle East then began to deviate from its post-World War II paradigm with an attempted resurgence by Iran, the regional rise of Islamists and the decline of age-old autocratic regimes in the Arab world....

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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 7, 2013 | 20:26 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
  • Ahead of the 2014 drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, efforts will intensify to negotiate a settlement that gives the Taliban a place in a new government. 
  • Meanwhile, there will be an upsurge in violence.
  • Pakistan's balance of power within the civilian and military forces will likely be maintained during this year's political transition.
  • India will turn its attention eastward, where the United States is quietly trying to forge a coalition of regional partners to keep a check on China in the Indo-Pacific basin.
See more on this Region

At the beginning of 2012, we argued that the international system is undergoing a generational transformation -- the kind that occurs every 20 years or so. The cycle we are now in started in 2008-2009, when global financial contagion exposed the underlying weaknesses of Europe and eventually cracked China's export-oriented economic model. The Middle East then began to deviate from its post-World War II paradigm with an attempted resurgence by Iran, the regional rise of Islamists and the decline of age-old autocratic regimes in the Arab world....

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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 7, 2013 | 20:26 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
  • If Venezuela fails to significantly reduce social spending, the government will have difficulty financing its obligations.
  • As peace negotiations with the FARC continue, Colombia will continue pursuing its military campaign against it and a host of other organized criminal groups. 
  • The most important issue facing Mexico in 2013 will be energy policy. 
  • The Common Market of the South, or Mercosur, is set to expand to include Bolivia and Ecuador in 2013 in a process that will consolidate the left-leaning countries of Latin America under a single economic and political umbrella dominated by Brazil.
See more on this Region

At the beginning of 2012, we argued that the international system is undergoing a generational transformation -- the kind that occurs every 20 years or so. The cycle we are now in started in 2008-2009, when global financial contagion exposed the underlying weaknesses of Europe and eventually cracked China's export-oriented economic model. The Middle East then began to deviate from its post-World War II paradigm with an attempted resurgence by Iran, the regional rise of Islamists and the decline of age-old autocratic regimes in the Arab world....

section

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 7, 2013 | 20:27 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
  • The re-election of Jacob Zuma as African National Congress president in late 2012 will enable South Africa to take a more assertive role in the region this year.
  • Incremental progress will be made during 2013 toward regional integration in eastern Africa.
  • Nigeria will face a year of mounting insecurity that will carry into 2014.
  • Mali will attract interest from the West, which wants to deny al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb sanctuary in the country. 
See more on this Region

At the beginning of 2012, we argued that the international system is undergoing a generational transformation -- the kind that occurs every 20 years or so. The cycle we are now in started in 2008-2009, when global financial contagion exposed the underlying weaknesses of Europe and eventually cracked China's export-oriented economic model. The Middle East then began to deviate from its post-World War II paradigm with an attempted resurgence by Iran, the regional rise of Islamists and the decline of age-old autocratic regimes in the Arab world....

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