Potential 2020 Flashpoints: Introduction

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With 2020 just around the corner, the time has come to look ahead and consider what the new year might have in store. 2019 is coming to an end and there’s a large amount of geopolitical uncertainty in the air. Some of the usual-suspect hotspots are simmering, domestic politics in a handful of European nations are causing headaches for the European Union, and a few areas of the world regional powers are making diplomatic, economic, and military moves that can only be described as being hegemonic.

At first glance, the geopolitical situation appears to be quite similar to what it was one year ago on this day. However, there are a number of variables lurking just beneath the surface which can potentially turn a given hotspot into a raging conflagration with the right amount of coaxing, or neglect. North Korea and Iran are the two examples that immediately come to mind but there are others.

2020 could also be the year when the great-power competition shifts into high gear. The US, Russia, India, and China have all been positioning themselves, and making respective preparations in anticipation of a point in the future when moves will be made. Syria is one place where the ambitions of multiple powers have clashed to create a fast-moving conflict with ill-defined goals. Now it seems Libya is on the verge of becoming a smaller version of Syria.

Over the weekend and through Christmas Day we’ll evaluate a handful of potential 2020 flashpoints, and then break out the crystal ball to forecast what might occur over the coming 12 months in areas such as the Eastern Mediterranean, North Korea, the Persian Gulf, and South America.

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