quarterly forecasts

2016 Second-Quarter Forecast

4 MINS READMar 28, 2016 | 08:45 GMT
It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the home of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East.

Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Overview

It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the scene of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East....

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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.

Mar 28, 2016 | 14:27 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
  • Improved weather will make the Aegean Sea easier to cross, prompting migrants from the Middle East to continue to try to reach Greece despite the recent EU-Turkey agreement meant to reduce migrant flows.
  • The quarter will be marked by political and economic uncertainty in the eurozone. 
  • Stratfor expects the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union.
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It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the scene of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East....

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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.

Mar 28, 2016 | 14:36 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
  • This quarter will be defined by Russia's efforts to reshape the Syria crisis and, relatedly, to negotiate away EU sanctions.
  • The Kremlin's plan to stave off economic crisis is slated to go into effect in the next three months.
  • For Ukraine, a major political shake-up is probable this quarter -- and sooner rather than later.
  • The ripple effects of the standoff in Ukraine between Russia and the West will continue to manifest across the periphery of the former Soviet Union.
See more on this Region

It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the scene of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East....

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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.

Mar 28, 2016 | 14:58 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
  • Turkey's priority in the second quarter will be to address the existential threat it perceives from the territorial expansion of the Kurdish People's Protection Units in northern Syria. 
  • Although OPEC members may agree to freeze production at already high levels, some of the largest producers will not cut production to stabilize prices. 
  • In Yemen, there is a possibility for a truce between the Saudis and the Houthi militants along the northern border to turn into something more. 
  • Continued instability in Libya will be detrimental to the country's neighbors in North Africa.
See more on this Region

It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the scene of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East....

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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.

Mar 28, 2016 | 15:15 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
  • An economic slowdown in China will pressure authorities to implement structural reforms.
  • The focus in Japan in the second quarter will center on preparations for the upper house elections in July.
  • Tension will persist between North Korea on one side and South Korea, the United States and Japan on the other.
  • Southeast Asian economies will continue to feel the pain of China's economic slowdown.
See more on this Region

It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the scene of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East....

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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.
Mar 28, 2016 | 15:27 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
  • Venezuela will become less politically stable in the coming months.
  • The Colombian government and the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia will continue peace discussions aimed at reaching a final agreement this year.
  • The Brazilian opposition will push for the president's impeachment.
See more on this Region

It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the scene of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East....

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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.

Mar 28, 2016 | 15:32 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
  • India's legislative gridlock will define the second quarter. 
  • The precarious security situation in Afghanistan will deteriorate further as the Taliban launch their spring offensive.
  • The slow pace of the India-Pakistan Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue as seen in the first quarter will continue into the second quarter.
See more on this Region

It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the scene of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East....

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.

Mar 28, 2016 | 15:48 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
  • Municipal elections in South Africa will help shape the future direction of the African National Congress.
  • Economically, Nigeria has a difficult quarter ahead.
  • West African petroleum producers will continue to experience financial stresses due to low oil prices.
See more on this Region

It's tempting to blame Syria for all the geopolitical intrigue that will characterize the second quarter of 2016. It is the scene of a protracted civil war, the source of Europe's migrant crisis and a major complication in Turkey's struggle with the Kurds. But in truth, Syria is merely a pawn in a larger game played by more powerful countries, each with their own designs in the Middle East....

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