The data speaks volumes: in 2023, the world witnessed 183 conflicts, the highest number in over 25 years.
Yet more may follow. As we start 2024, a pivotal year looms ahead of us, with 40 elections in nations representing half the global populace.
Recognising these are tumultuous times, we have curated a special one-off issue of Al Majalla, with editions in both English and Arabic.
This issue is dedicated to dissecting conflicts, scrutinising elections, and asking whether they may lead to further strife or improve the prospects of finding a new period of harmony.
Both kinds of battles – whether through bullets or ballots – are much more than skirmishes. They amount to a series of pivotal moments. Their protagonists are the pieces on the grand chessboard of geopolitics, where they may define the winners and losers of a nascent new world order.
Tapestry of conflict
The backdrop to this historic, high-stakes game is a tapestry of conflict. Again, the numbers are telling: Around 459 active armed groups wield power over 195 million lives.
They range from large-scale conflicts – in Ukraine, Syria, the Gaza Strip and Sudan’s simmering so-called “War of the Two Generals” – to the clashes of drug cartels. Whether macro or micro in scale, there are many places where guns are vying for supremacy.