For eight consecutive years, the International Institute for Iranian Studies has published its prominent Annual Strategic Report, offering its esteemed readership a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of world dynamics, whether in the political, military, security or economic spheres.
With each year, Rasanah has expanded its scope of discussion, covering new regions — trying to keep its readers up-to-date with the most prominent developments in the world, providing them with strategic assessments and forecasts that uncover the roots of crises and potential future outcomes.
Throughout the eight years, Rasanah’s research team has provided reliable forecasts that have very often proven true.
As for 2023, which witnessed unexpected conflicts, whether in the West or East, Rasanah’s research team categorized their annual assessment of the global landscape into three main sections: World in Flux: Global Dynamics, Strategic Shifts in Saudi Policy and Iran Overview (Rasanah’s longstanding field of expertise).
In the “World in Flux: Global Dynamics” section, the ASR explores various issues, such as “Trends in the Conflict in Ukraine and Its Repercussions on the West and Russia.”
It delves into the parties’ options following the Ukrainian counteroffensive’s failure, the impact of NATO’s expansion on European stability, and Germany’s reemergence.
The report provides insight into Germany’s first National Security Strategy, anticipating conflict trends in Ukraine, considering the war’s cost, and examining the geographical dimension of Ukraine’s security guarantees and NATO membership. The latter presents a dilemma potentially opening the door for a “long-term war” scenario.
Among the files is “US-Chinese Rivalry and the Strategic Balance in East Asia,” which examines US policies to encircle China, Chinese responses to these policies, and the crucial role of electronic chips in this rivalry.
The report highlights the volatility of this rivalry and its impact on the strategic balance in East Asia.
It anticipates the consequences of this rivalry and the evolving strategy in East Asia throughout 2024.
The report also foresees a continued oscillation between escalation, not necessarily leading to war, and periods of calm, with a likelihood of further escalation among East Asian countries given the unresolved nature of critical issues.
The report also sheds light on “Global Economic Trends,” providing an analysis of the current state and trajectories of the global economy.
It highlights the accelerating economic trends on the international stage and anticipates the possibility of a decline in global inflation rates in conjunction with a potential decline in interest rates in 2024.
The report further forecasts a slowdown in global economic growth. The near-term scenario includes rising levels of government debt, potentially leading to increased financial turmoil.
It also considers the easing of geopolitical tensions related to energy, metal, and food prices, as well as interest rates and government debt. The Chinese real estate crisis is identified as a factor that could either contribute to calm or heighten uncertainties in 2024.
Lastly, this section delves into “Global Competition and Non-Traditional Security Issues,” examining the challenges posed by major powers in the spheres of artificial intelligence, and advanced chips, in addition, it considers a potential arms race.
The report also assessed the impact of advancements in military technologies on evolving patterns of warfare and the intensified race for space dominance, as well as analyzed the dimensions of international competition in regions like the Arctic and Europe.
It further addresses issues such as illegal immigration across the Mediterranean. The section concludes by contemplating the future of international competition in nonconventional spheres, emphasizing that whoever holds technological power and decisive resources will likely assume leadership.
The report anticipates increased competition between Washington and Beijing, as well as between Washington and Moscow.
In “Strategic Shifts in Saudi Policy,” the 2023 ASR examines the overall conditions in Saudi Arabia. According to the report, 2023 saw the Kingdom reach its peak of excellence in both internal and external spheres.
The strategic transformations in Saudi policy for the year 2023 were addressed through four themes: modernization and good governance policies within the framework of Vision 2030, diversification of the economy in the post-oil phase, defense transformations, and military industrialization, and finally, Saudi Arabia as a peacemaker and catalyst for regional stability.
The report examined modernization policies and good governance within the framework of Vision 2030, highlighting significant internal transformations and modernization paths in eight key areas.
The first section addressed state policies aimed at strengthening national identity, while the second discussed the conditions of Saudi women and policies enacted to empower them.
The third section focused on educational policies and support for innovation and scientific research, and the fourth tackled the preservation of national heritage and urban identity.
Additionally, the report covered artificial intelligence and digital transformation policies, the role of sports in enhancing the Kingdom’s soft power and analyzed the implications of Saudi Arabia winning the right to host Expo 2030 and the cultural and literary movement in the Kingdom.
The report also addressed the diversification of the economy in the post-oil era through looking at various indicators. These include the shift toward clean energy projects and initiatives in economic diplomacy and encouragement of investment.
In addition, it addressed the implementation of food security strategies, efforts to enhance logistics and supply chain efficiency, localization of manufacturing and the positioning of Saudi Arabia as an attractive tourist destination.
Concerning the armed forces and military manufacturing, it was reported in late 2022 that the Kingdom was gearing up to introduce a national defense strategy in 2023.
According to a Saudi military expert, the Kingdom has both a national defense strategy and a military strategy, subject to updates within the development plan of the Ministry of Defense. This subject is discussed in the sections “Armed Forces’ Modernization Programs 2023 and “Indigenization of Military Industries in 2023.
The report discussed Saudi Arabia’s role as a “Peacemaker and Catalyst for Regional Stability” by examining the Saudi vision for the world and the Middle East.
It emphasized Saudi Arabia’s role as an international mediator, with the Kingdom leveraging its global credibility and reliability to play this critical role.
The Kingdom also asserted itself on the global stage by carrying out rapid internal transformations, executing bold foreign policy choices and rapidly improving development indicators within a few years.
As for “Iran Overview,” the ASR thoroughly examined internal aspects, as well as Iran’s interactions with the Arab world and regional and international powers.
This section started by analyzing Iranian internal developments and their repercussions on the ruling regime especially looking at four key factors: the performance of Raisi’s government, the positions of political forces pre-elections, the interactions between them and the methods employed by the Iranian government to mobilize the Iranian people for the elections as it views them as a referendum on its legitimacy.
Subsequently, the report delved into the internal and external economic policies pursued by the government and their impact on living conditions.
The second and third sub-sections assessed the positions of Iranian political forces on the re-establishment of relations with Saudi Arabia after the Beijing agreement.
Finally, the fourth factor explored how the Iranian government addressed the hijab crisis and articulated its vision for the sake of political legitimacy in the aftermath of the protests in 2022 and the death of the Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.
As for second sub-section , which revolves around Iranian policy toward Arab countries, the discussion looked at the Iranian position on the international initiative in Yemen and the Iranian regime’s approach to it.
Subsequently, the discussion dissected Iran’s relations with Iraq and the Iranian government’s perspective on the Iraqi state. The report then elucidated the developments in Syria and Iran’s sphere of influence, and finally, it outlined Iran’s relations with Lebanon and its specific objectives in Lebanon, particularly in the aftermath of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.
In the third sub-section, which assesses Iran’s relations with regional and international powers, the discussion commenced by elucidating the nature of the relationship between Iran and the United States, delving into the complexities surrounding this relationship, especially in light of developments in Palestine post-Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.
The subsequent points expounded on the repercussions of European pressure on Iran and gauged its level of success.
The report further outlined how Iran navigated Chinese, Russian, and Turkish penetration into the Caucasus region and the strategies employed to regain influence.
In the fourth point, the report challenges Iran’s relationship with Pakistan following Imran Khan’s departure and how it has adversely impacted the bilateral ties between the two countries.
The fifth discusses what the report perceived as a deterioration in relations between Iran and the Afghan Taliban, including border issues that surfaced and the distinct approaches adopted by each party.
The concluding point explained Iran’s motives and initiatives toward the continents of Africa and South America, positioning them as reflecting a political triumph over the United States.
We are delighted to announce that at Rasanah, we are dedicated to ensuring that knowledge is accessible to all readers.
In keeping with this mission, the electronic version of ASR 2023-2024 can now be downloaded from our institute’s website, https://rasanah-iiis.org.