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The country will remain in a state of contained chaos. In the absence of centralized power, fissures will continue to develop along east-west and tribal fault lines in the scramble for political power and rights to oil revenue. Militias will be the tool of choice for various competing factions.
The Jewish nation remains economically and militarily robust, but its national security rests on its peace treaty with Egypt, a Jordanian government favorable to Israel and a Syrian government that--while on the surface hostile--has quiet understandings with its local enemy. Uncertainty in Israel's neighborhood will grow, but Israel alone lacks the means to significantly influence the outcomes of any of the political crises surrounding it. In Syria, the most immediate case, Israel fears that the collapse of the current regime could lead to an Iranian-allied Islamist government in Damascus. Israel may thus face a more immediate threat from Iran on its northern frontier than from Tehran's nuclear-weapons program.
President Bashar Assad, backed by Iran, is running an intensive crackdown to keep the Assad clan in power. But even if he quits or is removed, the balance of power may not shift
The future of Lebanon rests in ethnically and religiously divided Damascus. If the Syrian regime survives, Iranian-allied Hizballah will see its position in Lebanon dramatically strengthened; if Assad's rule collapses, an element of restraint imposed on Hizballah by Syria disappears. The former scenario appears more likely. Either way, this will be a difficult year for Lebanon as proxy battles intensify between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Whatever civilian government emerges from the elections, keep one thing in mind: the military will retain control. The Egyptian opposition is deeply divided and lacks the weight to force the military to yield power. In fact, as unrest compounds the difficulties of daily life, the public will increasingly view the military as a source of stability. Egypt's insular focus on its economic and political troubles will undermine its ability to patrol the Sinai buffer region, thus increasing tensions with Israel.
Dramatic economic growth has made it the largest economy in the Islamic world and one of the fastest growing in Europe, but the pace will slow. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's cautious experimentation with his new role as leader of a regional power will continue, but Turkey will not undertake foreign adventures, certainly not alone.
An ideological tussle over conservative leadership has turned into open warfare between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei
President Ali Abdullah Saleh promised to step down after February's elections. But a new government is unlikely to bring peace to a country beset by decades of civil strife