The conflicts likely to be fought in 2016

Louis Dor
Friday 18 December 2015 16:00
Smoke billows from the Syrian rebel-held area of Douma, east of the capital Damascus on 16 September 2015

The likelihood of conflict in different countries around the world next year has been evaluated in an annual study.

The Center for Preventive Action, a policy unit for the Council of Foreign Relations, evaluates the likelihood that conflicts will emerge to help US policymakers in prioritising prevention and crisis migration demands.

The Preventive Priorities Survey found that:

concerns over the implications of growing instability and conflict in the Middle East dominate[d] the results of the 2016 survey.

Half the mid-range priorities involved Middle Eastern countries while a further intensification of the Syrian civil war topped the list in terms of priority to the the United States.

The survey concluded that, in order of priority, these are the conflicts which the US most needs to keep an eye on in 2016:

High likelihood:


Reason: Intensification of the civil war in Syria resulting from increased external support for warring parties, including military intervention by outside powers.


Fighters from the Fajr Libya take cover during clashes with an opposing militia in Bir al-Ghanam, around 50 kilometres from the capital on 19 March 2015 (Picture: MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Reason: Continued political fracturing, with heightened violence and further military intervention by Arab states.

Israel and Palestinian territories

Reason: Heightened tensions, leading to attacks against civilians, widespread protests, and armed confrontations.


Reason: Intensified political violence involving various Kurdish groups and Turkish security forces, exacerbated by spillover from the Syrian civil war.


Reason: Increased political instability, including terrorist attacks, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula.


Reason: Increased violence and instability, resulting from the strengthening of the Taliban insurgency.


Reason: Continued fracturing due to territorial gains by Isis and ongoing Sunni-Shia sectarian violence.

Moderate likelihood:

North Korea

(Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Reason: A severe crisis with or in North Korea caused by nuclear or ballistic missile weapons testing, a military provocation, or internal political instability.

The EU

Reason: Political instability in EU countries stemming from the influx of refugees and migrants, with heightened civil unrest, isolated terrorist attacks, or violence against refugees and migrants.


Reason: Escalation of organised crime–related violence, with spillover effects into the United States.


Reason: Increased internal violence and political instability caused by multiple militant groups, primarily the Pakistani Taliban.


Reason: Increased sectarian violence and political instability due to spillover from the Syrian civil war.


Reason: Intensification of fighting between Russian-backed militias and Ukrainian security forces, with potential overt Russian military intervention.


Reason: Growing political instability and civil violence in Jordan, triggered by spillover from the Syrian civil war.


Reason: Intensified civil war as a result of fighting among national loyalist forces, Houthi rebels, and intervening outside forces.


A man walks past a the scene of a bombing after at least 20 people were killed on 22 June 2015 in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria. (Picture: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Reason: Intensified sectarian violence and political instability related to Boko Haram, with potential spillover into nearby countries.


Reason: Escalation of Islamist militancy and violence, including civil unrest in the North Caucasus region.

South Sudan

Reason: Protracted civil war stemming from political and ethnic divisions.

Central African Republic

Reason: Escalation of sectarian violence between the ex-Seleka rebels and anti-balaka militias.


Reason: An intensification of sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas, potentially exacerbated by post-election political instability.


Reason: Deepening economic crisis and political instability, leading to heightened civil unrest.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Reason: Growing political instability ahead of scheduled elections, resulting in widespread violence and destabilising effects on neighbouring countries.

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