Before he resigned, former Defense Secretary James Mattis was reportedly working in conjunction with the Department of State to revise US policy in the Middle East. Whatever vision Mr. Mattis had will have likely died when he left office – but he had the right idea in undertaking a review. Our strategic situation in the region has changed since the turn of the century, but our basic strategy has remained largely intact. That is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it does suggest that a review of political-military strategy in the region is prudent.
As U.S. leadership of the international order fades, more countries are seeking to bolster their influence by meddling in foreign conflicts. In this new era of limit testing, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley lists the Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2019.
The signs are ominous—especially in Israel and its neighbours, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. Violence, both actual and rhetorical, has been escalating on all three fronts. Gaza could become the immediate flash point as the Palestinians’ ‘March of Return’, which began on 30 March, intensifies and Israeli retaliation becomes increasingly lethal.
This article was originally published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on 2 May 2018.
Total world military expenditure rose to $1739 billion in 2017, a marginal increase of 1.1 per cent in real terms from 2016, according to new figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). China’s military expenditure rose again in 2017, continuing an upward trend in spending that has lasted for more than two decades. Russia’s military spending fell for the first time since 1998, while spending by the United States remained constant for the second successive year. The comprehensive annual update of the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database is accessible from today at www.sipri.org.