The World on fire.

The 18 Shapes Of Wars To Come in 2024

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The current global landscape indicates a range of potential conflicts and crises. Summarizing various expert analyses, the Nordic Defence Review lists eighteen global hotspots, comparing the 2024 future predictions to what was written in early 2023.

The concept of war has evolved, aligning with Sun Tzu’s philosophy of subduing the enemy without fighting, emphasizing political, economic, and technological confrontations rather than direct military engagement. This shift is reflected in the heightened tensions and rivalries between major powers like the U.S., Russia, and China, as well as other regional conflicts and confrontations.

Among others, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) predicted, that the year 2023 would be remembered for these ten potential future conflicts:

Predicted 10 Conflicts of 2023

  • 1. China-Taiwan Tensions Escalate: China increases military pressure on Taiwan, leading to a severe crisis involving the United States and other regional powers.
  • 2. Ukraine Conflict Escalation: The war in Ukraine escalates due to the use of unconventional weapons, spilling over into neighboring countries.
  • 3. Cyberattack on U.S. and/or EU Infrastructure: A significant cyberattack targets U.S. and/or EU critical infrastructure, potentially by a state or nonstate entity.
  • 4. Civil Unrest in Russia: Popular dissatisfaction in Russia, fueled by the war in Ukraine and economic conditions, leads to civil unrest and a power struggle in Moscow.
  • 5. North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions: North Korea’s development and testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles trigger a security crisis in Northeast Asia.
  • 6. Israel-Iran Military Confrontation: A military confrontation arises between Israel and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program and its support for militant groups.
  • 7. Conflict in the Middle East and Gulf: Regional tensions in the Middle East, including the Gulf states, intensify, potentially involving external powers.
  • 8. Instability in Central America/Mexico and/or North Africa: Increased violence and political unrest, combined with economic challenges, lead to a surge in migration and potential regional conflicts.
  • 9. U.S.-Russia Confrontation: Rising tensions between the United States and Russia, potentially involving military standoffs or proxy conflicts.
  • 10. U.S.-China Rivalry: Growing competition and confrontation between the U.S. and China, possibly leading to incidents in the South China Sea or other areas of strategic interest.

Luckily, not all of these scenarios played out in 2023. However, the year 2024 looks even murkier than the year before. These scenarios are hypothetical but are informed by current global tensions and conflict trends as identified by expert analyses and reports.

Predicted 18 Conflicts of 2024

  • 1. Gaza Conflict
    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict enters a new phase with devastating military operations in Gaza following a Hamas-led attack. Israel’s efforts to neutralize Hamas have led to significant destruction and civilian casualties in Gaza, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. The conflict has deepened Israeli societal trauma and distrust towards their leadership, while international responses, particularly from the U.S., remain controversial.

  • 2. Wider Middle East War
    The Israel-Hamas war risks triggering a broader regional conflict involving Iran and its allies. Iran’s strategic calculations are complex, balancing support for Palestinian causes against its broader regional ambitions and relations with the U.S. The potential for escalation remains high, particularly on the Israel-Lebanon border, and any significant incident could spark a larger confrontation.

  • 3. Sudan’s Internal Conflict
    Sudan faces a devastating civil war between the military and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), leading to mass casualties and displacement. Rooted in power struggles post-Bashir’s ouster, this conflict has intensified ethnic divisions and attracted external involvement. The situation threatens a broader regional destabilization, with a precarious balance of power between military factions.

  • 4. Ukraine’s Stalemate
    The war in Ukraine remains at a deadlock, with high costs and limited progress on either side. Russia’s extensive military commitment contrasts with Ukraine’s struggle for resources and Western support. The conflict’s outcome is critical for Europe’s future security, with diplomatic solutions appearing distant and the potential for further Russian aggression looming.
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  • 5. Myanmar’s Escalating Crisis
    Myanmar faces its most significant threat since the military coup, with widespread resistance and ethnic armed groups challenging the junta. The crisis has led to extensive displacement, economic collapse, and a humanitarian disaster. Regional dynamics, particularly China’s role, add complexity, while prospects for resolution remain bleak.
  • 6. A Spillover of Myanmar’s Conflict Into China and India
    – Myanmar’s internal conflict risks spillover into neighboring China and India.
    – The Three Brotherhood Alliance’s offensive causes regional displacement and security concerns.
    – China’s and India’s strategic interests are at stake, with both countries maintaining complex relations with Myanmar factions.
    – The situation could escalate into a broader humanitarian and security crisis.
  • 7. Ethiopia’s Multi-front Crises
    Ethiopia grapples with multiple conflicts following a temporary respite in the Tigray war. Amhara and Oromo insurgencies challenge the federal government, while tensions with Eritrea and economic distress exacerbate the situation. Ethiopia’s stability is critical for the region, but the path to peace appears fraught with obstacles.
  • 8. The Sahel’s Military Rule
    Military coups across the Sahel, including Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, signal a new era of governance. Despite promises to curb violence, the military-first approach has failed to quell insurgencies and jihadist activities, leading to increased civilian casualties. The region’s stability and governance face critical challenges amid shifting foreign relations.

  • 9. Haiti’s Gang Crisis
    Haiti’s escalating gang violence and political instability have led to international intervention. The planned Kenyan-led mission faces significant challenges in tackling well-armed gangs and navigating complex political dynamics. The mission’s success is crucial for addressing Haiti’s humanitarian crisis and restoring order.

  • 10. Armenia-Azerbaijan Tensions
    The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has escalated with Azerbaijan’s military advances, leading to significant displacement. While recent talks show promise, unresolved issues like border demarcation and a corridor to Nakhchivan persist. The potential for further conflict remains, with implications for regional stability.

  • 11. U.S.-China Relations
    U.S.-China relations face critical tests over Taiwan and South China Sea tensions. Despite efforts to de-escalate, core strategic interests clash, especially in the Asia Pacific region. The risk of military miscalculations remains high, and any significant incident could exacerbate tensions, testing the recent diplomatic thaw.
  • 12. Venezuela’s Threat to Guyana
    – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s actions over Essequibo, following an oil discovery, have escalated tensions with Guyana.
    – Maduro’s referendum and subsequent drilling orders in Essequibo defy an International Court of Justice ruling.
    – Regional responses include Brazil’s troop deployment and joint US-Guyana air drills.
    – Maduro’s domestic and regional political maneuvers could destabilize Latin America.
  • 13. Subsea Sabotage in the Northern Baltic Sea and Off Ireland’s Coast
    – Finland’s, Sweden’s, and Ireland’s waters, a hub for undersea cables, face potential sabotage threats. Finland’s subsea gas pipeline has already been hit.
    – Russian naval activities in the area raise concerns about communications infrastructure security.
    – Ireland’s limited naval capabilities pose challenges in safeguarding these vital networks.
    – The situation questions NATO’s role in protecting non-member Ireland’s strategic assets.
  • 14. The Russian Navy in Abkhazia
    – Russia’s focus on Black Sea dominance includes strategic movements in Abkhazia.
    – Expansion in Abkhazia’s Ochamchire district heightens risks for Georgia.
    – The move could drag Georgia into the Russia-Ukraine conflict and destabilize the Black Sea region.
    – Georgia’s limited options against Russian advancements underline the geopolitical complexities.
  • 15. The Taliban Threat to Pakistan
    – Pakistan grapples with threats from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
    – The TTP’s growing conflict with the Pakistani state raises concerns of extremism resurgence.
    – Pakistan’s internal divisions and lack of effective response amplify the threat.
    – The situation poses significant regional security challenges and potential for broader instability.
  • 16. An Arctic NATO-Russia Showdown
    – Melting Arctic ice caps intensify geopolitical competition between NATO and Russia.
    – Russia’s military capabilities in the Arctic present strategic challenges.
    – Potential conflicts in the region could escalate into larger NATO-Russia confrontations.
    – The situation underscores the Arctic’s emerging significance in global geopolitics.
  • 17. The Collapse of Belarus
    – Russia’s influence in Belarus raises concerns about potential internal conflict.
    – Lukashenko’s resistance to Kremlin demands could lead to political upheaval.
    – The scenario poses risks of refugee flows and regional instability.
    – Belarus’ uncertain future highlights tensions along the East-West fault line.
  • 18. A Coup in Cameroon
    – Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis and regional terrorist threats exacerbate instability.
    – President Paul Biya’s weakening grip raises prospects of a military coup.
    – Internal and regional dynamics contribute to a volatile situation.
    – Cameroon’s crisis reflects broader challenges in Central African governance and security.
Read More:

Council On Foreign Relations: Conflicts to Watch in 2024
International Crisis Group: 10 Conflicts to Watch in 2024

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