Our regional experts have identified the following key developments and trends to watch in the Middle East and North Africa over the coming month. 

More than four weeks since the Israel-Hamas conflict started, a further escalation of hostilities will take place in Gaza (Palestinian Territories). Israel will intensify operations against targets assessed to be associated with Palestinian militants in Gaza, conducting increasingly frequent ground incursions and sustaining its airstrike campaign on the territory. Tensions between Palestinian militants and the Israeli military and civilians in the West Bank (Palestinian Territories) will escalate, as will the threat of terrorism in Israel. 

Large-scale protests in support of Palestinians are likely to break out in large urban centres regionally, particularly in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and Tunisia. Security forces will clamp down on an ad-hoc basis to limit material damage caused by rioting, particularly where government and foreign diplomatic assets are targeted. Meanwhile, Lebanese Shia movement Hizbullah and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will continue to exchange cross-border fire. Both sides will manage tensions to avoid an open conflict, but the risk for miscalculation will persist.

Tensions in the Gulf will remain elevated; Iran-backed militia groups are likely to continue targeting US military assets in missile and drone attacks, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Neither the US nor Iran want to be dragged into open confrontation and will calibrate military actions accordingly. But a large number of US casualties in a militia indirect fire attack or the killing of high-ranking members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in a US strike could prompt an uncontrolled escalation. 

A fragile security landscape will prevail in Afghanistan amid the presence of multiple militant groups, including Taliban affiliates. The Taliban’s rival Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) will increasingly mount mass-casualty and high-profile attacks across the country’s urban centres, particularly Kabul, over the coming month while the Taliban remains incapable of addressing militant threats. Meanwhile, the Taliban will continue to harbour terrorist group al-Qaida and other militant affiliates while incorporating them into its government structures. 

This article is based on a research note originally published in Seerist. Find out more about how Seerist’s adaptive artificial intelligence combined with localised geopolitical risk expertise can help you identify, monitor and mitigate risks.

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