Iraq and Syria in 2016: More players, more problems

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Contributed by Insightful Futures security analysts. Insightful Futures is a Perth-based futures and foresight consultancy dealing with global, strategic matters that affect governments, citizens and big business.

Over the last five years, the world has been drawn into one of the most disturbing and brutal international conflicts.

We’ve witnessed Western reporters being beheaded on YouTube, entire cities overthrown by rampaging militants, lone wolf attacks erupting in every corner of the globe, all the while coupled with a sophisticated online propaganda machine radicalising and recruiting people of all ages and all backgrounds.

In the first of a two part series of analysis, this report will help explain how Iraq and Syria got into this mess; analysing the regional and international players and the role and influence they have played in shaping the conflicts. It will also speculate what role these local, regional and international players will have on Iraq and Syria over the next twelve months.

Regional trends: Turkey backflips, Israel constrains, Lebanon fragments and Iran escalates

One of the most glaring changes over the past five years is Turkey’s escalating role in the conflicts – and it doesn’t look like backtracking.

Despite its nuanced approach over the last five years, Turkey is now likely to become increasingly involved in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

But Ankara’s focus will not be on countering Daesh. Instead, Turkey is likely to prioritise its focus on containing Kurdish ambitions – both domestic and over the border – as well as countering Russian support for Syrian President Bashar al Asad.

Ankara will support opposition elements to achieve these aims, including turning a blind eye to the movements of foreign fighters across its border with Syria. This policy will directly challenge Iranian and Russian objectives in Syria, increasing political tensions without escalating into direct state-on-state conflict.

Ankara’s position in Iraq will be a little more complicated.

Turkey will seek to contain Daesh and protect the local Turkmen population, but will not want to embolden the Kurdish population on its doorstep – even though some Kurds are actually helping to counter Daesh’s movements in Iraq…Click HERE to find out more about this article

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