With the current turn of events in Syria and Iraq, the disintegration of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, at least in its current form, appears imminent.
Fifty years after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, repeated efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have faltered, and the traditional instruments of Palestinian nationalism face crises of confidence.
Authoritarian states have largely survived the frontal challenges to their power since the Arab revolts in 2010. But alternative political ideas and power structures continue to emerge in marginal spaces or in geographical areas where the state’s authority weakens.
The Syrian conflict six years on remains mired in the complexities of local, regional, and international interests, complicating ongoing efforts to achieve a political solution. The many unaddressed challenges seem to render the negotiations in Geneva and Astana a futile and endless process.
The Islamic State has seen hundreds of women join its ranks, flocking from countries as diverse as Austria, France, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia. On the other front of the same war, Kurdish female fighters have made international headlines following their resistance in Kobanî and Sinjar.
The Syrian conflict is not yet over, but it appears to have entered its final phase. Though Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seems set on maintaining power, significant shifts in U.S. and Turkish policies may help produce a negotiated outcome for the war weary country.
The sixth anniversary of Yemen’s 2011 popular revolt coincides with the second anniversary of the war that began after a coup led by the Houthis sparked direct Saudi military involvement.
Societies worldwide are grappling with political, technological, economic, and cultural transformations. However, the inherent pressures have been particularly combustible in the Arab world, given institutional deficiencies and the proliferation of conflict, sectarianism, and radicalization.
As 2016 draws to a close, prospects for the year ahead seem uncertain. The Arab world remains mired in both political and economic conflict and instability.
While policy debates on Syria have overwhelmingly focused on military developments and political negotiations, a less explored consequence of the hyper-localized war has been the profound reshaping of a less visible but crucial actor, the Syrian state.