The Trump presidency has been similar in effect to notice of a grave illness: upon hearing the news, we were shattered, then came rationalization, and finally, we were left to cope. While 2017 was a year of shock at Trump becoming president, 2018 will be a year of reflection on what can be done, now that Trump has become a fixture on the world stage. The years that follow will be spent more “at ease”, as the rest of the world adapts to Trump’s manner of conducting politics and negotiating deals.
That said, here are my top 10 predictions for 2018:
1. The BRICS will build on their success and continue on the same path that is strengthening their position globally, especially China, Russia, and India through different initiatives, projects, and associations (i.e., OBOR, SCO…).
2. The UN will continue to weaken quietly as regional groupings (i.e., ASEAN, SCO…) take over. The rest of the world will gather around the regional powers, namely China, Russia… In the long run, the UN could suffer the same fate as the League of Nations.
3. If Trump is not impeached, he will have a mediocre year, and the US prestige in the world will continue its downward spiral.
4. The North Korean crisis will continue to ignite and will depend mostly on Trump, who may or may not trigger a war. Russia (although busy in Ukraine, another hotbed to monitor) and, especially, China will intervene to avoid a casus belli.
5. The Syrian situation will calm down, and Russia will play an important role (as it will do in Libya). Reconstruction will be a highly topical issue.
6. The Arab world will continue to be divided, and as usual, it will not do anything meaningful as illustrated by the saying ‘The Arabs have agreed that they disagree,’ which will leave the door open to Iran, that will continue strengthening its position in the region.
7. Algeria is likely to become a new African Venezuela with energy prices still low; a situation that must be followed closely. The oil market will continue to be sluggish; prices will remain low while renewable energy will become more popular.
8. Security issue in the Sahelo-Sudanese region will push the US to intervene more and more in the area.
9. The waves of immigration to Europe will intensify, but they will be stopped by the EU that wants to contain them upstream, particularly in Morocco, Libya (when the country can be stabilized), Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, which will put added pressure on these countries, that already have their own domestic and transnational issues to deal with.
10. The EU will continue to see the rise of populist movements everywhere. Brexit and its consequences, as well as centrifugal tendencies (i.e., Catalonia), will increase pressures on its unity, not to mention the various countries’ approaches to their refugee populations.
This is an excerpt from my 2017 retrospective published in Rising Powers in Global Governance: