Sibylline Insight Series
Discussing the Increase and Implications of Sandstorms in the Middle East and North Africa

Discussing the Increase and Implications of Sandstorms in the Middle East and North Africa

June 9, 2022

In this week's podcast, join your host Rhiannon Phillips, our Middle East and North Africa Associate Analyst along with Valeria Scuto, our Middle East and North Africa Analyst, and Anastasia Chisholm, our Middle East and North Africa Associate Analyst to discuss the recent increase in sandstorms over the Middle East and North Africa region.

Sandstorms across Iraq and the wider region over recent months have generated disruptions to travel and business operations and prompted a surge in hospital admissions. Though not a new phenomenon, dust and sandstorms in the region are becoming more frequent and severe in their intensity against the backdrop of climate change, population growth and associated conditions including dams along key waterways, overuse of river waters, overgrazing and deforestation.

Developments highlight a crucial need for more cohesive national and regional mitigation and resilience strategies. However, efforts among and between regional governments to cooperate on this issue have so far been unsuccessful in addressing the negative consequences of the dust storms and broader shifts in regional weather patterns. As such, businesses operating in the region will continue to face operational and supply chain risks in the coming months, as well as the likely longer-term decline in overall workforce health and growing climate-related displacement

North Korea: Unfolding Covid crisis amid Pyongyang’s heightened military provocation

North Korea: Unfolding Covid crisis amid Pyongyang’s heightened military provocation

May 19, 2022

The reclusive regime has conducted a record 16 missile tests so far in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch in five years, ratcheting up military provocation and tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, the country is also experiencing its first official Covid-19 outbreak despite shutting its borders in 2020. Considering North Korea's poor public health infrastructure and high incidence of malnutrition among its unvaccinated population, the pandemic could deal a devastating blow to its fragile economy, and ultimately threatening its national security. Join our team, Guo Yu, Lead Asia-Pacific Analyst and fellow APAC Analysts Hans Horan and Riccardo Cociani, as they discuss how the country’s worsening Covid-19 outbreak could affect its missile and nuclear weapons developments, its relations with South Korea and the US, as well as the far-reaching implications on one of the region’s most volatile geopolitical flashpoints.

Discussing Lebanon’s upcoming Elections

Discussing Lebanon’s upcoming Elections

May 12, 2022

This week join Valeria Scuto, our Middle East Analyst, along with Anastasia Chisholm and Rhiannon Phillips, our Associate Analysts for the Middle East and North Africa to discuss the upcoming elections in Lebanon.

 

Lebanon's elections this Sunday, 15 May, will take place amid a protracted economic crisis and persistent resentment against political elites. Despite the common perception that government corruption and ineptitude are to blame for the country's socio-economic deterioration, many Lebanese residents are uncertain of their ability to change the political status quo through their ballots.

 

Meanwhile, the international community will closely watch electoral processes, amid concerns that the announcement of final results will face delays driven by contestation from losing parties. As such, the weeks following the vote will represent a key flashpoint for domestic unrest. In addition, delays to government formation or obstructions to political and economic reforms will undermine the government's ability to secure third-party donor funding from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, likely further exacerbating Lebanon's economic collapse in the coming months.

China-Solomon Islands Security Cooperation Agreement

China-Solomon Islands Security Cooperation Agreement

April 28, 2022

After much media speculation and diplomatic concerns, Beijing and Honiara finally confirmed the signing of a "Security Cooperation Agreement" last week. Although neither government has disclosed the content of the agreement, a draft leaked in March revealed the extent of proposed close cooperation on security and defence affairs, including the possibility of deploying Chinese police and armed forces, as well as military assets to the Pacific island nation. The move has raised concerns amongst other key stakeholders in the region, with Australia, New Zealand, the US, and Japan all voicing strong opposition to the pact. Foreign diplomatic attempts to dissuade Honiara from signing the agreement were to no avail.

This week, join our Lead Asia-Pacific Analyst, Dr Guo Yu, and fellow APAC analysts Riccardo Cociani and Aédán Mordecai, as we discuss the details of this agreement and its geopolitical implications for the region and beyond.

Presidential Election Threatens Government Stability and Counter-insurgency Efforts in Somalia

Presidential Election Threatens Government Stability and Counter-insurgency Efforts in Somalia

April 22, 2022

In this week's podcast, join our Lead Middle East & Africa Analyst Eloise Scott, along with Benedict Manzin our Sub Sahara Africa Analyst, and Edie Lipton our Associate Analyst, as we discuss the presidential election in Somalia.

With the majority of Somalia’s parliament now in place, pressure is building to finally conclude presidential elections before IMF programmes automatically lapse. However, there is a high likelihood that elections will prompt allegations of fraud. Al-Shabaab seeks to exacerbate this and stands to gain from infighting within the armed forces, threatening an escalation in attacks, including in neighbouring countries.

Discussing Pakistan’s New Prime Minister and Government

Discussing Pakistan’s New Prime Minister and Government

April 14, 2022

Former opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif replaced Imran Khan as the new prime minister of Pakistan after a disrupted no-confidence motion over the weekend. However, Sharif will now face a set of pressing challenges such as protests by Khan and his supporters, and a debilitated economy while also having to form an amicable relationship with the country's powerful military establishment.

 

Join your host our Lead Asia-Pacific Analyst, Dr Guo Yu, our South Asia Analyst, Supriya Ravishankar and our Asia-Pacific Analyst, Aédán Mordecai, as they disentangle these challenges and assess what looks set to be a rocky road ahead for the new government.

Discussing the French Presidential Elections

Discussing the French Presidential Elections

April 8, 2022

In this week's podcast, join your host Liana Semchuk, our Lead Europe and Eurasia Analyst, along with Louis Cox-Brusseau, our Europe Analyst, and Zsofia Wolford, our Associate Europe Analyst to discuss the up and coming French Presidential Elections.

The first round of France's 2022 presidential elections will be held on 10 April. Incumbent President Emmanuel Macron is currently most likely to win a second five-year term, but with an increasingly stagnant election campaign, he faces a substantial challenge from far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who has emerged as a clear challenger ahead of the first round. Extreme right-wing ideologue Éric Zemmour, conservative leader Valérie Pécresse and socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon all face a difficult battle to survive to the second round, but voter apathy may increase this election's unpredictability as a historic low turnout is expected.

Discussing the Religious Festivals Coming Up in the Middle East and North Africa

Discussing the Religious Festivals Coming Up in the Middle East and North Africa

April 1, 2022

In this week's podcast, join your host Valeria Scuto, our Middle East, North Africa and Turkey Analyst, along with Rhiannon Phillips and Anastasia Chisholm, our Associate Analysts, discuss the multiple religious festivities in the Middle East and North Africa regions taking place over the coming month, amid a significant uptick in violent attacks and conflict escalations.

Notably, Israel has witnessed one of the deadliest weeks in years, both in terms of ethno-religious and terrorist violence, heightening concerns over a return to protracted levels of inter-communal violence ahead of the holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover.

Equally, regional leaders express anxieties over the true longevity of the current ceasefire between the Houthis and Saudi-led Coalition, and whether any further escalation in the trajectory of the conflict will sustain the risk of cross-border attacks. Finally, the global economic fallout of the Russia – Ukraine conflict will likely place additional pressures on deepening food insecurities in the region, particularly in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon. As such, rising food prices and soaring inflation rates represent the primary drivers of civil unrest in the coming weeks.

Discussing How the Ukraine Conflict Will Exacerbate Developing Humanitarian Crises and Empower Autocratic Governments in Africa

Discussing How the Ukraine Conflict Will Exacerbate Developing Humanitarian Crises and Empower Autocratic Governments in Africa

March 25, 2022

In this week's podcast, join your host Eloise Scott, our Global Intelligence Manager, along with Benedict Manzin, our Sub Sahara Africa Analyst to discuss the increase in food and fuel prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how it will drive widespread inflation and increase strains on rising numbers of people facing severe food insecurity, with associated unrest likely to exacerbate political crises, particularly across the Horn of Africa. The conflict will also renew competition between western states and Russia for influence in Africa, empowering authoritarian governments.

Discussing Iran’s Missile Strikes on Iraq and the Risk of a Return to Tit-for-tat Hostilities Amid Stalled Nuclear Talks

Discussing Iran’s Missile Strikes on Iraq and the Risk of a Return to Tit-for-tat Hostilities Amid Stalled Nuclear Talks

March 18, 2022

In this week's podcast, join your host Eloise Scott, our Global Intelligence Manager, along with Rhiannon Phillips, our Associate Analyst to discuss the missile strikes launched by Iran on 13 March on targets in the northern Kurdistan region of Iraq, with somewhat conflicting accounts of target-type and motive. Iranian claims that the attack targeted Israeli "strategic centres" moderately elevate the risk of a return to tit-for-tat hostilities between Iran and Israel, as well as other recent diplomatic developments between Iran and the UK and US that could help to unblock stalled nuclear talks.

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App