Iran, Libya and Yemen among most important conflicts to watch in 2020, says report

International Crisis Group has identified 10 world conflicts it will watch closely in 2020

A picture taken on February 12, 2020 shows blood stains inside a victim's car after a shell landed in a residential neighbourhood near Tripoli University in the Libyan capital.  / AFP / Mahmud TURKIA
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Tension between Iran and the US, and violence in Libya and Yemen are among the 10 most important conflicts to watch in 2020, an international NGO has said.

The International Crisis Group said that as the US repositions itself on the global stage, China gathers influence and Russia looks to capitalise on policy gains, three conflicts in the Mena region will be of critical importance.

The organisation, which seeks to “sound the alarm to prevent deadly conflict”, identified the conflicts as important barometers of the state of global affairs.

As well as the three regional conflicts, the group said it would be closely monitoring Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, North Korea, Kashmir, Venezuela and Ukraine.

Absent from the list is the continuing civil war in Syria.

Speaking at a Chatham House event highlighting the organisation's latest report, International Crisis Group president Robert Malley said Libya had been chosen over Syria.

“Libya was chosen because Russia and Turkey were getting involved,” Mr Malley said.

But he said that an escalation between Turkey and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad remained deeply concerning.

The report explained the wider effects of the US and Iranian tension.

“A string of incidents in the Gulf in the past year, culminating in the September 14 attack against Saudi energy facilities, underscored how the US-Iranian standoff reverberates across the broader region,” the report said.