Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, recently outlined the consulting company’s selection of the “top 9 ” particularly acute political risks around the world in the coming year. The report also listed a number of “Red Herrings,” i.e. “countries the research team believes will remain stable or improve over the course of 2008; they will not be sources of geopolitical instability.”
Surprisingly, the number one political risk turns out to be the “unease in the US about domestic security and economic resilience. Eurasia’s analysts indicated that “policymaking in the Bush administration and Congress is likely to move toward increased protectionism in 2008. There may be reluctance—from both US leaders and the public at large—to take an active role on major global issues. As a result, US foreign and trade policies will turn inward.”
The other risks cited are:
Risk 2 – Iran: The Iran standoff will remain dangerous in 2008, as the US seeks to impose sanctions while Iran pursues aggressive and defiant policies.
Risk 3 – Iraq: General frustration with the stalled political process in Iraq could jeopardize the future of the country’s central government, even if the security situation improves.
Risk 4 – Terrorism: The risk of a terror attack in 2008 that inflicts mass casualties remains substantial because Al Qaeda and its allied groups have been able to regroup. Europe remains most at risk of such an attack, but the US is also an attractive target, especially because of the 2008 election.
Risk 5 – Pakistan/Afghanistan: Afghanistan and Pakistan are facing serious political and security problems, and the threat of Islamic radicalism hangs over both countries. Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and like-minded groups, operating from the remote and mountainous areas along the border between the two countries, are gaining strength and increasing the range of their activities.
Risk 6 – Russian foreign policy: Increasingly emboldened by Russia’s economic growth and political stability, the Kremlin will act as a spoiler on the resolution of key international issues as it seeks to oppose US unilateralism and claim a global role for itself. Its foreign policy will provoke renewed instability in 2008, particularly among neighboring former Soviet states.
Risk 7 – South Africa: While the election of Jacob Zuma as president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December 2007 means that South Africa will face a difficult, uncertain year, it will largely weather the division between the government under President Thabo Mbeki, who will stay on as state president until elections currently scheduled for 2009, and the ruling ANC party under Zuma.
Risk 8 – Turkey: Despite the ruling AKP’s large parliamentary majority, its controversial plan to introduce a new constitution increases Turkey’s risk of political instability and distracts from its bid for EU membership.
Risk 9 – Energy bottlenecks in Latin America: Energy policy challenges in Latin America could limit future economic growth in the region. Policy responses to declining oil production and potential shortfalls in installed power capacity will vary significantly across countries, yielding varied opportunities for the private sector.
A full discussion of these potentially dangerous global risks may be obtained on the Eurasia web site at: www.eurasiagroup.net under the “Publications” subheading.
Source: Eurasia Group
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