Geopolitical Threats

Making strategic investments is now fraught with difficulties in determining where the world might face further instability in the next few years. Stock markets are reacting accordingly, and CEOs are taking a more cautionary approach. Read on to consider some of the more pressing threats and possible contiguous country fallouts and think through the mitigating actions you might take.

Athena’s forecast (robot generated from verbatim forecasts)

  • Start year: Ongoing
  • Likely Tipping point: 2026
  • Likely End year: 2050
  • Likely Impact $: Trillions
  • Likelihood: 95%
  • Regions affected: Global
  • Most affected sectors: Security, Technology, Government, Tourism, Travel, Military, Energy
What is changing?


  • Leaving the EU could add to “economic turbulence” in a Brexit.
  • Some cite Russian media activities as a core component of the so-called “hybrid” threat to Russia’s nearest neighbors.
  • European countries will remain active and steadfast allies on the range of national security threats that face both the United Statesand Europe-from energy and climate change to countering violent extremism and promoting democracy.
  • Refugees are a threat to the safety of women in the EU and locals are a threat to the refugees.
  • Austria will tighten its border controls and set daily intake quotas in order to limit the number of migrants and asylum seekers entering the country. Officials fear that Austria’s move could have a domino effect along the migrant trail [leading to new and unexpected conflicts]

Middle East

  • The Saudi Arabia-Iran crisis will result in prolonged sectarian tension in the Gulf and an escalation in the region’s conflict.
  • The U.N. Security Council has called the Islamic State an unprecedented threat.
  • Hezbollah is a substantial threat.
  • Iraq is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material whose theft last year has raised fears among Iraqi officials that it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State.


  • Tunisia is confronting a threat from terrorist groups exploiting Libya’s permissive environment to plan and launch attacks.
  • The Islamic State’s branch in Libya poses a proven threat to Tunisia and a potential threat to Algeria.
  • The growing threat of jihadists groups throughout Africa has been neglected.
  • Civilians in Burundi face an imminent risk of mass atrocity crimes as growing political violence threatens to further destabilize the country.


  • North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs will continue to pose a serious threat to US interests and to the securityenvironment in East Asia in 2016.
  • Experts fear the Afghanistan conflict will intensify in 2016.
  • Indonesia’s macroeconomic stability is at risk.
  • ASEAN cohesion on economic and security issues will continue to face challenges stemming from differing development levels among ASEAN members and their varying threat perceptions of China’s regional ambitions and assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Emerging markets

  • Ongoing uncertainty about renminbi devaluation is fueling fears that deflationary forces will sweep through emerging markets and deliver a body blow to developed economies.


  • Islamic State provinces around the world pose a serious threat to Western interests.
  • Should the Chinese government fail to fully implement reforms the financial shocks will be stronger than expected.
  • Workers correctly fear that the TPP will lead to more attacks onjobs, wages and living standards in the name of global competitiveness.
  • Terrorists will almost certainly continue to benefit in 2016 from a new generation of recruits proficient in information technology, social media, and online research.
  • Nation states with WMD capabilities and ties to terrorist or criminal networks represent a global proliferation threat that is further complicated by increasing information inter-connectivity and the progressively more complex global demographics created by populations in constant movement.


  • U.S. intelligence officials and senior military officers have become increasingly concerned that the Islamic State’s rapid advances in Libya could lead to new waves of strikes inside Tunisia that could decimate its fragile economy and derail Tunisia’s fledgling experiment with democracy.


  • Egypt’s ill-defined entanglements in regional conflicts and it risks reaching a ‘boiling point’ that could unravel stability in an otherwise fragile state.


  • Despite mounting regional frustration over Washington’s allegedly passive stance on the five-year-old conflict the Obama administration and other western powers are worried that direct military interventions could lead to an escalation of the conflict and a dangerous clash with Russia.
  • Tensions with Russia will remain high in Georgia.


  • Greece has been struggling to cope with the new arrivals and fears that new restrictions by other EU members will leave tens of thousands of people stranded on its territory.

United States

  • The terrorist invasion of U.S. will likely include members of Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram.
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran presents an enduring threat to US national interests ecause of its support to regional terrorist and militant groups and the Asad regime.
  • South Asia, the Near East, East Asia, and Latin America will pose local and regional intelligence threats to US interests.


  • Turkey fears that Kurdish advances on the Iraqi and Syrian sides of the border will encourage separatists groups at home and has in recent weeks shelled YPG positions in Syria.


  • Boko Haram will probably remain a threat to Nigeria throughout 2016 and will continue its terror campaign within the country and in neighboring Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.


  • Any hostile air or sea presence in Yemen could threaten the entire traffic through the Suez Canal.


  • Russia’s most recent nuclear doctrine permits the first use of nuclear weapons in response to conventional attacks that pose existential threats.


  • Beirut faces threats from Sunni extremists in the country who are retaliating against Lebanese Hizballah’s military involvement in the Syrian civil war.


  • Libya’s oil sector faces continued threats from terrorist groups.


  • ISIS could buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan within a year.

Athena’s forecast (robot generated from verbatim forecasts)

security · fear · technology · Russia · economy · United States · conflict · jobs · Europe · climate change · oil prices · government

Learn more
What future opportunities and risks could arise for your organization from current geopolitical issues? Develop your answer and responsehere.

Find more sources and resources on Shaping Tomorrow, some of which were used in this Trend Alert, or ask us for our ready-made and free, in-depth PowerPoint report or more detailed GIST briefing on this or any other topic of interest to you.

Also, click here to find out how Shaping Tomorrow can help your organization rapidly assess and respond to these and other key issues affecting your business.

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