The Dragonfly Ltd (‘Dragonfly’) has released Strategic Outlook 2019, its fifth annual global security forecast.
Produced specifically to inform Dragonfly’s clients, it provides a high-level review of security and crisis risks likely to impact multinational businesses and international organisations in the coming 12 months and beyond.
This year, it contains more than 260 forecasts on a range of issues relevant to security, crisis and geopolitical risk across every region. Intended to be a practical working document, Strategic Outlook 2019 also provides dozens of early warning indicators for ongoing monitoring through 2019. It flags outliers to challenge assumptions and encourage anticipation of higher-impact surprise events. And it provides thematic analysis across different regions to help readers interpret and predict intentions, actions and outcomes in 2019.
The theme of Strategic Outlook 2019 is ‘Towards a Zero-Sum World’. Across nearly every region, we forecast that authoritarian, right-wing and nationalist governments and movements will grow in strength and influence. The global balance of ideas and power is changing. And with it, the longer-term prospects for states to jointly tackle challenges like climate change, environmental degradation and water scarcity are thinning when they most need attention. All perpetuate insecurity and instability, limit development and drive migration. This feeds a cycle of complex risks that will become even harder to resolve. The need for global leadership on such issues is as obvious as it is presently lacking.
Key themes include:
- Europe - Extreme right-wing groups are likely to grow in strength and influence during 2019. We forecast that this will negatively affect security, particularly hate crime. There are also longer-term political stability implications for the region, as European Union member states struggle to coordinate responses to illiberal governments inside the bloc.
- Major risk events including economic crises, simmering interstate conflicts, and coup attempts are probable in several countries in the Eurasia region in 2019. Turkey, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are countries to watch in particular.
- Collision of old and new in Sub-Saharan Africa will drive up security risks across much of the continent in 2019. Youth-oriented or reform-minded political parties, movements and factions are likely to try to disrupt and undermine long-serving governments in several countries across Africa in the coming year, either from within or externally.
- Year-to-year, security and political risks have changed little in North Africa and the Sahel since late 2015, and major shifts in 2019 are not expected. But from a longer-term perspective, pressures from population growth and climate change are intensifying competition over access to and income from the region’s previously plentiful resources: water, oil and gas, minerals and solar energy. As such, resource competition is elemental to conflicts in the region, so future shortages and abundances help to identify where and how new security risks will emerge.
- Across the Middle East, it is forecast that climate-related issues will play a greater role in compounding security and stability risks than seen so far. The UN warned in 2018 that due to rising temperatures droughts have increased in frequency and have lasted longer over the past 40 years. Middle Eastern states with limited financial resources and poor infrastructure will struggle to make up for years of neglect and address emerging environmental challenges.
- Geopolitical and strategic competition is likely to intensify in South Asia in 2019. As it continues to invest heavily in South Asia, the terms of China’s economic deals with countries in the region will come under greater domestic scrutiny. With it, political opposition to debt repayments to China and challenging economic outlooks are likely to mean more hardship and political protests in 2019 in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and the Maldives. But India seems unable to take advantage of the resulting political uncertainties, losing further geopolitical influence in the region.
- Flawed democracies and authoritarian governments across the Asia Pacific region will remain a source of stability and geopolitical risk into 2019 and beyond. Despite sometimes providing an appearance of stability and predictability, such systems continue to store up structural problems for states and reduce economic competitiveness. This increases the risk that in some markets organisations will be exposed to unrest, arbitrary state decision-making, sanctions and growing strategic tensions in the coming years.
- President Trump’s forceful personality and disruptive geopolitical agenda will yield mixed results in 2019. The doctrine of ‘America First’ will dictate his approach, particularly on trade. But legal headaches and partisan fighting will increasingly demand his attention. And despite his stated ambition to resolve challenges such as the Israel-Palestine dispute and the North Korean nuclear programme, he is likely to remain most preoccupied with domestic politics. It is forecast that policy is likely to remain consistent in 2019. The strategy under President Trump has so far been marked by a broad continuity from the two previous administrations. This means an emphasis on intelligence-sharing partnerships, and not deploying combat troops to conflict zones.
- Latin America enters 2019 facing its most significant geopolitical changes in a generation. Economic collapse in Venezuela has prompted a surge in migration, putting pressure on neighbouring countries. The exodus is unlikely to slow in 2019. A major regional crisis, such as an inter-state conflict, is improbable. But challenging economic conditions and the lack of a coordinated regional response will limit the ability of many countries to cope with more arrivals. This will exacerbate existing security risks in Latin America, including terrorism and organised crime.
Strategic Outlook 2019 also provides a range of monitoring points to enable observers to anticipate changes in risk and re-calibrate forecasts when events defy prediction. And it flags outliers – outcomes that sit on the outer edges of probability but that are plausible and consequential enough to merit further thought for crisis planning. Key monitoring points include:
- Cohesion in the EU & sanctions
- The movement and funding of far-right and nationalist groups across Europe
- Belt and road initiative and the renegotiation of BRI deals
- Russian security services and US policy on Russia
- Youth bulge in sub-Saharan Africa along with its ageing presidents
- North African oil prices and increased competition around natural resources
- Ceasefire talks in the Middle East and the reform of the Iraqi parliament
- Major cities falling into Taliban control
- Relations between the US and WTO
- US economic performance
Strategic Outlook 2019 was produced by the analysts of Dragonfly’s Security Intelligence & Analysis Service (SIAS), which provides direct intelligence support to a rapidly growing number of corporate security and crisis management teams in leading global businesses across a broad array of sectors.
Key Quote(s) from Henry Wilkinson
“The Strategic Outlook 2019 aims to help Dragonfly’s clients better understand transformation and change in the global risk environment, anticipate and plan for crises, and foresee improvements to gain an early commercial advantage. Forecasting is not an exact science but it is an essential process that starts conversations and the process of building resilience. Our assessments show that the need for global businesses to take board-level ownership of geopolitical risks, and invest in intelligence that one can trust amid a growing tide of disinformation, has never been more urgent or important.”
“Strategic Outlook is intended to encourage our clients to consider, discuss and plan for future risk scenarios, and to reduce the risk of surprise by stimulating forethought. For us, it informs our intelligence collection and plans and resourcing for the coming year.”
Key Quote(s) from readers
“The Strategic Outlook serves as a key touchpoint for our annual planning process and is consistently insightful, relevant, and timely.” - Intelligence director of a major, global hospitality company
“The Strategic Outlook is essential to any security and intelligence leader in global businesses. It is business critical to our planning process.” - Leading Global Hotel Chain
For additional information or to speak to Henry Wilkinson, Head of Intelligence & Analysis, Director, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.
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Key referencing terminology / notes to press
- “Henry Wilkinson, Head of Intelligence & Analysis at The Dragonfly”
- “The Dragonfly”
About Henry Wilkinson
Head of Intelligence and Analysis, Henry has overall responsibility for the group’s worldwide political and security intelligence gathering, risk and threat assessments and analytical products and services, including SIAS.
About The Dragonfly
The Dragonfly is a leading independent global risk consultancy that helps businesses grow whilst protecting their people, their assets and their brands.
The Dragonfly provides intelligence, investigation and security services to support organisations dealing with complex international threats. Our guidance, intelligence and analysis help many of the world’s foremost businesses negotiate challenging and uncertain environments to choose the right opportunities, in the right markets, with the right partners.
The company was founded in 1997, employs over 125 people and has offices in Washington DC, London, Moscow, Dubai, Beirut and Hong Kong.
Further information is available at www.dragonflyintelligence.com
About SIAS (Security Intelligence & Analysis Service)
SIAS provides security and risk management professionals with a responsive strategic and protective intelligence capability. We work with clients to deliver high quality, forward-looking, actionable intelligence and analysis applicable to business risk management decision-making, planning and crisis response.
Further information is available at
About The Strategic Outlook 2019
The Strategic Outlook 2019 is our fifth annual global security and geopolitical forecast for security and intelligence leaders in global businesses, governments and international organisations, enabling informed decision-making in an increasingly adversarial environment. It represents the joint assessments of our Security Intelligence & Analysis Service (SIAS) analysts across all regional desks.
The Strategic Outlook is primarily for those tasked with managing risks in international businesses and organisations. It attempts to interpret and foresee how wider, political, economic and social trajectories may influence security and crises.
Further information is available at: https://www.dragonflyintelligence.com/campaigns/strategic-outlook-2019-lp