With the ongoing nine-year civil war, the situation in Syria is relatively dangerous. While the Syrian government has gained control over most of the country, there are large areas that are still combat zones. Anti-regime armed forces remain in the control of Idlib province and the oil-rich northeast, however the regime’s forces with the backing of Russian forces began advancing in Idlib in February, 2020 since the regime's long offensive was launched in 2019. Violent attacks are common as the Islamic State and Hay’a Tahrir al-Sham conduct attacks in much of Syria. Crime threats are also high as both the firearms smuggling and drug trafficking are increasing due to fragile border control. Assad’s regime’s control over the territories it has gained recently, is still brittle.
Countrywide protests began on October 17th, 2019 in Lebanon against the Lebanese government’s economic mismanagement and corruption and over the deteriorating economic crisis. In late October, the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned after weeks of protests against his government. Hassan Diab became the new Prime Minister and was instructed by the Lebanese President Michel Aoun to form the new government, while protests continued demanding the removal of all the ruling political class. Lebanon is currently suffering the worst financial and economic crisis since the years of the civil war between 1975 and 1990, with a national debt to GDP ratio of 160.57%. New Prime Minister Hassan Diab has asked the International Monetary Fund for technical assistance, including how to deal with one of the world's largest debts.
Jordan is considered one of the most stable countries in the Middle East when it comes to political and security situations. Threat and crime levels are generally low. Protests are common in Jordan and are usually against unemployment, high cost of living, low salaries, foreign affairs with Israel, inefficient role of the parliament. Terrorism-related incidents have decreased after the active role of the Jordanian Border Control of enforcing procedures to mitigate firearms smuggling and infiltration attempts from neighboring countries. Serious precautions must be taken during winter due to the high risk of flooding, particularly in the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea areas.
The security threat in Palestine is relatively high, as there is an ongoing political conflict with Israel. The political situation is not stable in Palestine as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip protest against Israeli Occupation; particularly against Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian houses and neighborhoods, night-raids to arrest and kill Palestinians, illegal detention and interrogation of Palestinian prisoners, and also the airstrikes and wars on Gaza. Palestine continues to experience civil unrest due to the disjointed government between Fatah party in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza Strip. The economic situation in Palestine is rather weak, especially in the Gaza Strip.
The security situation in Israel is complex. Tension between Palestinians and Israelis is very high, especially near borders and Israeli checkpoints. Violent crime threats are moderate, but they increase in Arab towns due to the lack of police presence. The possibility of a war in the area is common but unlikely. There are ongoing clashes between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Israel and Iranian forces in Syria. Protests are usually against corruption in the government, and the discrimination against minorities (Ethiopian Jews, Arab Israelis, LGBT community).
Although the government is striving for improvements, the security situation remains unstable in Iraq. ISIS no longer poses a threat in Iraq as its territorial caliphate had been crushed and scattered, however in no way does that mean the group’s demise; attacks carried out by rebels and ISIS militants still occur nearly on a daily basis. Anti-government protests in Baghdad and southern Iraq have dominated the political scene recently, as demonstrators have rallied against corruption, unemployment, poor services, and the political system that had been enforced post US-invasion in 2003. Protests were met with lethal force by Iraqi security forces, which caused the deaths of more than 500 protesters. The country still faces a threat that may result from the Iran-U.S. tension. According to the Economist, economic conditions are expected to improve from 2021-24 as oil prices will rise, however will remain susceptible to price fluctuations.
Egypt is estimated to go through social, political, economic crises. Approximately 32.5% of Egyptians live below the poverty line, and the number is expected to double due to austerity and inflation measures that caused the Egyptian pound to lose 50% of its value against USD, these measures have increased tensions in the country; causing an unstable political environment. Crime threats are generally low, but sexual harassment is very high; as the capital, Cairo, has been reported among the most dangerous cities in the world for women. Traffic accidents are very concerning as Egypt has one of the highest number of road fatalities in the world. Terrorism-related incidents are common in North Sinai and visitors are advised to refrain from traveling to the peninsula, as kidnapping, strikes, crashes, explosions, and strikes are highly expected.
Since March 2015, Yemen has been devastated by an evolving civil war between the Houthi movement and the Yemeni government supported by Saudi-led military forces. The UN has stated that Yemen is witnessing the worst man-made humanitarian catastrophe; with the world’s largest cholera outbreak. With the ongoing Saudi military attacks against Yemen, and Houthi attacks targeting Saudi oil reserves, the security measures are very low in the country, as absence of government facilities and police create a fertile environment for crime; The crime rates have doubled, terrorism-related incidents have also increased due to the dominance of tribal conflict resolution laws rather than a governmental law. The ongoing civil war has deepened the economic crises causing severe limitations on fuel and food exports, rising inflation, food scarcity, and inaccessibility to clean water resources.
Iran’s population is made of Shi’a Muslims and it’s one of the most conservative countries in the world. The crime rates are generally low in Iran, and capital punishment is common for serious crimes. The major crimes that occur in Iran are money laundering and drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe. Iran is currently battling with attempts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, being one of the worst-affected countries by the virus in the world. On the political level, an escalation in Iran-US tensions -following the assassination of Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani- is unlikely in the second quarter of this year. Internally, protests triggered by the rise in fuel prices in November 2019 were suppressed by lethal force, and are not expected to reignite soon, given the current outbreak of coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia is the most conservative Arab state with a lot of restrictions, particularly on women. The war risk is increasing in Saudi Arabia as it has been involved in what could be described as a cold war with Iran over regional dominance, in addition to rival relationships with the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and more recently the complete blockade on Qatar. Saudi Arabia is an ally of the US and its president Donald Trump which increases the Kingdom criticism from other neighboring Arab countries.
Libya descended into chaos after Gaddafi’s regime was toppled. Currently, two rival factions in Libya claim governance; the UN-backed Government of National Accord, and the House of Representatives allied with the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by commander Khalifa Haftar. In April 2019, Haftar launched an offensive to capture the capital city, Tripoli, resulting in the death of hundreds of civilians and the injury of thousands according to the United Nations, and the violence grows as other countries increase their involvement in the war. In addition, armed rebels and ISIS militants seek control over oil reserves in central and southern Libya. One-third of the Libyan population live below the poverty line and face difficulties in accessing electricity and clean water. There is a lack of civil stability in Libya, as high unemployment rates among youth continues to rise, lack of technical expertise, unstable and corrupt government. Crime rates are moderately high due to tribal conflicts, and the ease of firearms possession and lack of Police authority in the country.
Tunisia is considered to be the only democratic state in the Arab World, with a high Human Development Index, and well known legal reforms and implementations that support women’s rights and equality. The crime rates are generally low, but smuggling weapons and drugs from Libya into Tunisia is a concerning matter. Terrorism-related incidents are expected to increase due to the shortfall in the security measurements. Tunisia’s economy has been facing challenges since the 2011 revolution, and the expected GDP growth in 2019 is 1.9%. The socio-economic conditions are worsening, as the unemployment levels exceed 15% and the government suffers from corruption and instability.
Being the world’s largest Arab country, Algeria has a moderate crime rate. However, crime rates increase in less-urban areas where there is less police presence. Terrorism threat is present in Algeria due to active terrorist groups targeting Algerian Security Forces using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and the firearms smuggling from Libya, Mali, and Niger. The Algerian government is rather unstable after the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned earlier this year, and the country has witnessed serious civil unrest; The Algerian League for Human Rights noted 11,000 nationwide protests during 2019, the protests are generally non-violent, and they demand improvements and reforms on the education system, working condition, purchasing power, accessibility to public services, and unemployment.
Crime threats vary in Morocco, and the risk increases in Casablanca and Rabat. Most of the reported crimes are petty crimes; however, drug-related crimes are very common in Morocco. In 2017 alone, the Moroccan Authority recorded 85,000 cases of drug-related crimes. Crimes carried out by radicals are moderate, and the Moroccan Authority has confirmed its willingness to use all its staff and equipment to fight radicalism. The major cities are expected to undergo some civil unrest, this includes large demonstrations demanding reforms on jobs, infrastructure, education, health care services, and the economic situation. Criticism of the government or the monarchy is a criminal offense in Morocco in which the person would face imprisonment.
Sudan has been facing economic and sociopolitical hardships since the split of Sudan in 2011 causing it to become 25% smaller in size. The secession has caused Sudan to lose most of its oil reserves, and therefore witnessing a clear shortage of fuel, clean water resources, basic food items, and a severely damaged infrastructure. The currency has devalued due to inflation measures, which caused social unrest and nation-wide protests against the harsh conditions. The Sudanese government, which remains relatively unstable, has faced continuous calls of reforms by organized groups; particularly unions of doctors, teachers, and lawyers. The crime rates have increased in the past years but remain non-violent. Terrorism related incidents have also increased due to the weak security forces in Sudan.
After South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, the country has been undergoing a series of restless circumstances. Although South Sudan has vast oil reserves, the poverty rate exceeds 50% of the population, and the youth unemployment has reached 38.6%. The severe economic and social situations are also coupled with unstable political situations; as the country is expected to go through a civil war due to ideology differences between government representatives. The crime rates are alarmingly high due to weak security measures in the country, and the ease of purchasing guns.
Qatar is among the richest economies in the world, and the second-largest exporter of natural gas. Qatar has been put under a blockade led by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries since 2017, therefore, restrictions on travel and trade involving these countries have caused an issue to Qatar. Qatar ranks as the tenth safest country in the world according to the World’s Economic Forum, as the crime rates are very low due to the strict security measures that are highly adopted by the Qatari government. However, some reports state that some crimes committed by Qatari citizens against foreigner workers remain unreported due to fears of deportation.
Kuwait is a small country with a rich economy, and the national currency (Kuwaiti Dinar) remains the highest-valued unit of currency in the world. The country is relatively quiet and stable, crime rates are very low; petty crimes tend to occur more in areas populated with foreigners. Alongside its petroleum industry, Kuwait is among the leading countries in the financial industry; the Kuwaiti market capitalization during its peaks was the third on the world right after the US and Japan. Natural risks include floods, as they disrupt traffic and air travel.
Sultan Qabous who has ruled Oman for almost 50 years died on January 10th, 2020 and in a sealed envelope named his successor, his cousin Haitham Bin Tareq. Sultan Haitham is expected not to face defiance from the royal family; under the Law of the State, the Royal Family Council determines who the governing authority will move to. If the family council does not agree on a name, the Sultanate's Defense Council, will confirm who the new sultan is, referring to the Sultan's letter to the Family Council. However, the royal family decided to go directly with Qaboos' choice by requesting to open the letter, and Haitham bin Tariq Al-Saeed became the new Sultan of Oman, who is expected to continue the policies of Qaboos. Oman has low crime rates, and most of the reported crimes are non-violent petty crimes. However, credit card frauds are increasing in Oman. The unemployment rates stood at 16%, as the government tries to support Omani workers by freezing foreign working visas. Natural risks like floods and cyclones are common.
Crime rates in the United Arab Emirates are generally low, but government statistics on crime rates and criminal reports are not publicly released. The number of security forces personnel in the UAE is relatively low when compared to neighbouring countries, but are among the highly tech-enabled security in the world. Cybersecurity issues and E-mail scams seem to be increasing in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Terrorism threat is moderate. The UAE has adopted strategies to motivate foreign investments in the country including permitting complete foreign ownership in companies and extending the visa residency to 10 years.
The following map shows active threats and incidents in conflicts areas date back one week from today