What a time to be alive. Across the world numerous conflicts are upsetting would-be global stability. Trump is ratcheting up tough talk with China, Aleppo has fallen in Syria but the civil war rages on, the Islamic State is battling it out with Iraqi forces in Mosul, and in numerous other places instability is reigning supreme. For wealth managers, professional and amateur, keeping an eye on these conflicts is essential. That’s why we’re going to take a moment to go over the most serious conflicts.
China-America Trade War & More?
While no actual blows have been exchanged, this conflict is perhaps the most concerning one of all. Incoming President Donald Trump has promised to stand up to China, whatever that means. And so far he’s thrown out the script on handling delicate US-China relations.
He’s the first president in decades to get on the phone with Taiwan, drawing the ire of the mainland Chinese government. Trump’s even suggested that the “one China” policy may be up for negotiation. This policy ensures that Taiwan will not be recognized as an independent country, but instead treated as a “renegade” province.
If China and the US were to go to war, whether that mean with weapons or trade, the global economy would likely suffer massive turbulence.
Russia Here, Russia There, Russia Everywhere
Where there is a conflict, there’s probably Russia, in some capacity or another. Russia has been accused of interfering with the United States’ elections, has been propping up the Assad regime, and is refusing to evacuate the Crimea and to stop interfering elsewhere in Ukraine. Under Putin, Russia has become perhaps the most active player on the international stage.
Now, the European Union is working towards a deal with Ukraine that would see the country more closely tied to the rest of Europe. For now, Ukraine won’t be joining the Union, but increased ties could help it ward off the growing threat from Russia.
Meanwhile, in the United States the Republican Party is on the verge of tearing itself apart over Putin. Some Republicans are willing to go along with Trump’s call for warmer relations, but many are resisting. This is creating an internal party conflict that could make politics far more difficult in DC.
The Middle East Mess
There’s so much going on in the Middle East that it’s near impossible to keep track of. Every conflict is nuanced and features its own unique characteristics. Giving the subject proper attention would require a book-length work. Still, we can go over some of the broad strokes, and examine some of the most important conflicts.
First, there’s Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. Sunni and Shia Muslims have been fighting over interpretations of Islam for centuries. Now, this conflict is being played out across the region. The civil wars in Yemen and Syria, as well as the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, are all deeply intertwined in the on-going Sunni-Shia conflict.
The Assad regime, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and the Iraqi government are all dominated by Shia Muslims and thus supported by Iran. The rebels in Syria, the Yemeni government and the Islamic State are all Sunni. Saudi Arabia is believed to be funding all of them, even allegedly the Islamic State.
Then there’s Turkey, where Kurdish separatists continue to threaten the country with conflict. Meanwhile the Turkish government continues to crack down on alleged coupe supporters, and has detained thousands of people.
There’s no single conflict that jumps out, except perhaps the tensions between Shia Iran and the Sunni Arabian peninsula. This, this regional hot spot must be closely monitored.