When it seemed that the world was recovering from the setback of the covid-19 pandemic, the unexpected start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 it was a hard blow on the international board with serious consequences for each and every one of the inhabitants of the planet: energy crisis, inflation, food insecuritydecomposition of security systems and international governance… This is the latest example of the “complexity of the international order” and how the “multifaceted crises” that are emerging have repercussions on citizens in the first person. Y 2023 will be a decisive year for this ‘permacrisis’ -chosen word of the year and which alludes to a “prolonged period of instability and insecurity, especially as a result of a series of catastrophic events”- and its effects, according to the Barcelona Center for International Affairs (CIDOB) in its international note for the new year, prepared in collaboration with the Esade Geo Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics.
“Complexity is not negative and must be in the response to these crises” because “there is no easy way out“, pointed out the director of CIDOB, Pol Morillas, this Tuesday during the presentation of the note, in which the ‘think tank’ focuses on 10 issues that will mark the international agenda in the new year.
In the specific case of the war in Ukraine, CIDOB uses the simile of an American pool table in which the Russian invasion of the Slavic country has been the cue ball “that has had an impact on the transformations and crises that were underway, accelerating some of them”, highlighted Carme Colomina, a researcher at the center and coordinator of the report. And a peaceful scenario is not likely, not even peace negotiations, which could lead to a cushioning of the crises. According to the experts of this ‘think tank’, none of the two sides is currently in the phase of considering that an agreement is more beneficial than continuing with the conflict.
Among the effects of the war to take into account for 2023, CIDOB highlights the impact that it will continue to have on access to basic goods (food, energy), the weak economic growth and the ghost of the recession, the increase in unrest and protest around the world and the obstacles to implementing the green and digital transition due to the energy crisis. “After the winter of discontent, with strikes and protests all over the world, we will have to see what impact they will have. We live in a world where there are more and more protests but they are less and less effective,” added Colomina.
In their report, the experts also outline possible geostrategic consequences of the ‘permacrisis’, such as the role that the “others” will play, in reference to the middle powers that have regional power and aspire to have global influence capacity. This is the case of Turkey, Brazil, India or Saudi Arabia, which can tip the balance towards one of the three world powers -United States, Russia and China-, since they maintain cooperation channels open With everyone.
In the chapter on democracies and dictatorships, CIDOB highlights how authoritarianism is gaining ground on the planet (70% of the world’s population lives under the yoke of a dictatorship), but how autocratic regimes are equally under pressure. As an example of the latter, he gives the protests in Iran triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini during her detention for wearing the veil incorrectly, in which the regime is betting on “a war of attrition”, according to Moussa Bourekba, an expert on the Middle East and North Africa; the response that has arisen in China over the policy of ‘zero covid‘ that it has ended up triggering its revocation but has led the country to an uncertain situation before the first outbreak of coronavirus without draconian restrictions; or the “high degree of internal pressure” suffered by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on account of the war.
Regarding China, it will be important to pay attention to the evolution of the conflict with taiwan and whether this “could be a new scenario of global tension”, has pointed out Inés Arco, a researcher specializing in East Asia and Chinese politics. “The conflict cannot be ruled out, and it would have disastrous economic consequences due to the blockade of world maritime trade, since 30% passes through the Taiwan Strait,” Arco pointed out, before considering that it is unlikely that the tension could run amok in 2023.
In the case of friction between the United States and the European Union On account of the legislation approved by the White House to fight against inflation, described as protectionist by Brussels, Morillas has considered that it will be necessary to see how far the Twenty-seven are willing to go to “counteract” these policies. In any case, he added, “it is the most solid alliance in the world, and now it is more reinforced than before the war.”
And returning to the simile of the pool table, CIDOB finally points out the challenges that the “black ball” can cause, that is, “everything that can blow up forecasts, timing and political strategies international”, such as a attack or a nuclear accident.