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Five Random 2022 Global Security Predictions
By Luke Bencie and Kacy Cartmell

If 2020 was the year of the global pandemic, then 2021 could be considered the forgotten year after the pandemic. Rather than hitting a reset button and getting back to work, the previous twelve months could be summed up in one word – lack-luster. Fortunately, we have been granted a new year and a fresh set of calendar months. Therefore, like any good futurist and/or sage, please allow me to pontificate on my global security predictions for the year ahead.

China vs. Taiwan: To begin with, there is a lingering question as to whether China will finally invade Taiwan. My prediction – not likely.

Since the Chinese Civil War, the People’s Republic of China has made their discontent with the pseudo-independent island to the east very clear. China has asserted that Taiwan is part of China. Taiwan disagrees. Despite only 14 countries in the UN recognizing Taiwan as an independent country, many nations – including the United States – maintain positive relations with the territory. In October, Chinese President Xi Jingping made it clear that he wants “peaceful unification” between Taiwan and mainland China. However, he later stated that China is “prepared to fight a bloody battle against our enemies.”

Despite China’s increasing rhetoric and unabashed desire to become the new world superpower, there are still several logistical, military, and diplomatic issues that would come about with an invasion of Taiwan. Not only would a move on the island be costly (both economically and in bloodshed), but there would also likely be major military powers that come to the defense of Taiwan – such as Australia, India, and Japan (U.S. involvement is still up for heated debate). As for now, China is more likely “saber-rattling,” in an effort to see which countries will take a stand against them… or in an attempt to assert their global dominance.

Russia vs. Ukraine: If a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan is considered contentious, the aggressive military buildup of 100,000 troops, with advanced artillery, along the Ukrainian border by Russia is even more precarious. Do such actions signal a Russian invasion of Ukraine, similar to the annexation of Crimea, which took place in 2014? My prediction – possible.

The Russo-Ukrainian relationship has been strained since the fall of the Soviet Union and the establishment of an independent Ukraine. In addition to troop deployments on the border, both Ukraine and Russia have stepped up their violent rhetoric. Russia is concerned with the Ukrainians willingness to ally with the West (NATO countries specifically) and their aspirations to join the European Union. Putin has made it clear that Russia will not sit idly by as the west comes to the aid of Ukraine by stating, “If the aggressive line of our Western colleagues continues, we will take adequate military-technical response measures and react harshly to unfriendly steps.” This situation hinges on whether or not Ukraine joins the EU or NATO this year. If not, I don’t believe Russia will invade. However, if Ukraine does join, expect Russian tanks to roll across the border.

Afghanistan as a Haven for Terrorists: Following the withdraw of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2021, the incoming Taliban leadership has struggled to effectively govern the war-torn nation. As such, the obvious question becomes, will terrorist organizations once again flourish in Afghanistan? My prediction – yes.

With a return of the Taliban, and their re-establishment of Afghanistan as an Islamic emirate, there will no doubt be a return of international terrorist groups into the country. The Taliban’s victory has done nothing but embolden al-Qaeda, and other major networks, to seek safe refuge within the vast mountainous landscape. Additionally, with the Taliban’s poor infrastructure, overwhelming humanitarian crisis, lack of international monetary aid, and fractured leadership, there will certainly be opportunities for well-funded terrorist groups to buy tribal loyalties and consolidate their own power, outside of the major cities of Kabul and Kandahar. It is certain that unless the Taliban suddenly complies with the demands of the international community, regarding human rights and basic freedoms (which is highly unlikely), Afghanistan will once again become the world’s terrorist safe haven.

Saudi Arabia vs. Iran: The decades long tension between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran has been called the “Cold War in the Desert.” Will this uneasy relationship between rivals escalate in 2022? My prediction – yes. (Will direct conflict between the nations occur? No.)

The regional struggle for dominance in the Middle East shows no signs of slowing. While the two powerful nations – separated by the Persian Gulf or Arabian Gulf (depending upon who you are talking to) have avoided direct conflict thus far, they continue to battle one another via proxy wars. Saudi Arabia has been engaged in an ongoing battle against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen. As such, Iran has denied that it has been covertly funding the rebels with weapons and technology. Similarly, Saudi Arabia has been reserved on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, allowing Israel to contain Iran (and Hamas in Lebanon). Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in strategic maneuvering against each other in Syria and Iraq. With Iranian-backed drone strikes occurring more frequently in Saudi Arabia, expect tensions to boil over in 2022.

The End of Pandemic Disruptions: As the global pandemic has dragged on since early 2020, the question that must be asked is, “will the world get back to normal day-to-day operations this year?” My prediction – yes.


About the Authors

Luke Bencie is the Managing Director of Security Management International. He can be reached at www.smiconsutlancy.com Kacy Cartmell is a Junior Research Associate at Security Management International and is a student at the University of South Florida.

 


 

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