2018 annual forecast

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.

Dec 22, 2017 | 15:22 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.

(Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
section Highlights
  • Iran will lean heavily on Russia and Europe for support as the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel team up to undercut it.
  • Determined to prevent Iran from following in North Korea's nuclear footsteps, the United States will redouble its efforts to counter Iranian influence across the Middle East. Though Washington's actions will jeopardize the Iranian nuclear deal, Tehran won't abandon the accord.
  • To the west, the diverging interests of Iran, Turkey, Russia and Syria will impede any meaningful progress in settling the Syrian civil war.
  • Saudi Arabia will make notable strides in reforming its economy, but it will struggle to achieve the same success in altering social behavior and expectations within the kingdom. 
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