THE BLOG
11/21/2014 03:52 pm ET Updated Jan 17, 2015

The Arabs' Next Decade

It's not easy to predict what the Arab world would look like after a decade, not even after a year, or even less. A region divided horizontally and vertically, with wars and conflicts dominating most of its lands, while the rest who enjoy peace and prosperity are indeed main financiers and supporters of those fighting across the borders.

Syria's revolution resulted in a bloody civil, regional, sectarian, and tribal. Almost 50 thousand kilometers if not more are controlled by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, led by the self-styled caliphate Abou-Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Other parts of what used to be one of the strongest and most influential states in the region are under control of Al Qaeda linked Al Nusra front, the Islamic front, and the free Syrian army, while a weighing portion is still within the government's control, thanks to Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi militias, and some multinational fighters backing President Bashar Assad.

Today even the fall of Assad won't end the conflict, it's much more complicated than it ever was, but here is one reality, Syria is unlikely to restore its unity as a state for the next decade, nor are the Syrians capable of rebuilding their statehood. Moreover the country will continue to be an arena for international and regional powers to exchange bloody messages.

Iraq shares with neighboring Syria the heavy presence of the Islamic State, both countries' borders have been redrawn. Iraq's western borders stop at the walls of Nineveh and Al-Anbar provinces from the east, while to the north, other than the autonomous region of Kurdistan, vast areas within the Salaheddin province are under IS. Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds continue to propagate for their unity, but in real each party is looking forward to fortify their borders in within the same nation. Shiites backed by Iran want to keep their shrines safe in Karbala, Najaf, Baghdad, and Samarra, therefore less they care for regaining control over Mosul or other areas with Sunni Majority. Anti-IS Sunnis want to get their areas back, therefore it's much likely that they'll form their own form of Peshmerga, a Sunni army within the national army that will fight and defend Sunnis areas. The Peshmerga are the Kurdish forces in within the Iraqi Army, they fought to keep their areas safe from the new states' invasion, thanks to the US air cover and the Iranian arm support they succeeded. Here's one reality with respect to Iraq, for the next decade Iraqis aren't going to restore their unified identity, and if there are not going to be three independent states on the soil of what used to be Iraq, three autonomous entities are much likely.

Egypt's eastern Sinai province became the state of Sinai according to IS leader Al-Baghdadi. A war of different scale is facing post-revolution Egypt, whereas once again a unity question is to be asked. Egypt's democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by supporters of today's President Abdulfatah Sisi, yesterday's chief of staff. In Egypt the revolution of January 25 lost to an alliance that brought together remnants of the old regime and liberal revolutionists who refused to be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. It's not clear what will happen in one of the greatest Middle East countries, as far as MB supporters are going to be under the knife of the new regime, nor it's clear whether the IS threat will become bigger with Islamists in different areas of the vast country deciding to join the new Islamic trend. The only reality is that Egypt's next decade will be stuffed with security threats while its unity is a matter of question.

Saudi Arabia's King is very old to survive the next decade, though he might, his crown prince is also old enough not be in the landscape ten years later, the question of succession is rising in the Kingdom with hundreds of princes queuing for their share of the cheese. Saudi Arabia's challenges vary from succession to security, with the Islamic State almost on its borders from the north, the pro-Iranian Yemeni Houthi clan on the borders from the south, while in the east Saudi Shiites are calling for their rights. The threat of the IS might be greater than other threats, given the ideological similarities, Saudi and the IS both adopt the Wahabi line of Islam, and while the ruling family is seen to be less observant of the teaching and rules of Wahhabism, the new proclaimed state might be the solution for believers.

The Arab world's next ten years are dominated with uncertainty; the only fact that can be derived out of the current givens is that the best days in this area are behind and today's maps of the main states are liable to serious changes the might see new entities rising and old powers fading.