Commentary: Will the world see more conflict in 2024? Here are 5 hotspots to watch


In Mali, a nation in the turbulent Sahel region of Africa, tensions escalated throughout 2023 and now threaten to erupt into full-scale civil war.

Mali has long battled insurgent activity. In 2012, Mali’s government fell in a coup and Tuareg rebels, backed by Islamist militants, seized power in the north.

A United Nations peacekeeping mission was established in 2013 to bring stability to Mali. Then, in 2015, key rebel groups signed a peace agreement with the Mali government.

After two more coups in 2020 and 2021, military officers consolidated their power and said they would restore the state’s full territorial control over all of Mali. The regime insisted the UN peacekeeping mission withdraw from the country, which it did in June 2023. Subsequently, violence broke out between the military and rebel forces over future use of the UN bases.

In November, the military, reportedly backed by Russia’s Wagner Group, took control of the strategic northern town of Kidal which had been held by Tuareg forces since 2012. This undermines the fragile peace that has held since 2015.

It is unlikely the military will regain complete control over all rebel-held areas in the north. At the same time, insurgents are emboldened. With the 2015 peace agreement now all but dead, we can expect increased volatility in 2024.


In 2019, widespread civil protest broke out in Lebanon against leaders who were perceived not to be addressing the day-to-day needs of the population.

The situation continued to deteriorate, with a reshuffled government, escalating economic crisis and a massive port explosion that exposed corrupt practices.

The International Monetary Fund criticised Lebanon in September for a lack of economic reform. The Lebanese government has also failed to reach agreement on appointing a president, a post that has been vacant for more than a year.

This risks undermining the fragile power-sharing arrangement in Lebanon in which the key political posts of prime minister, speaker and president are allocated to a Sunni-Muslim, Shia-Muslim and Christian Maronite, respectively.

Most recently, the war between Israel and Hamas has threatened to spill over to Lebanon, home to the Hezbollah militant group, which claims to have an army of 100,000 fighters. Importantly, this jeopardises tourism as a key hope for Lebanon’s economic recovery.

These factors may precipitate a more serious economic and political collapse in 2024.

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