Iraqi government forces and their allies have inflicted near-terminal blows to the military capacity and territorial ambitions of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Kurdishled Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are set to oust jihadist units from Raqqa, and elsewhere in Syria, Daesh is in retreat, suffering humiliating reverses, losing forces, materiel and territory. However, military campaigns in the central Middle East will have a far more limited effect on the threat that Daesh’s strain of radical political Islam poses more widely across the region. Just as Daesh’s capacity is crushed in the Euphrates Valley, its offshoots and those of its ideological fellow travelers, particularly in the form of its parent organization Al Qaeda and its franchises, continue to attract followers, stoking risks across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). While the jihadist message appeals only to a minority of the region’s population, it will continue to fester as symptom of the government incompetence, corruption and violence across the region.
In economic terms, these government failures have had a repellent effect on inward investment, at least outside the hydrocarbons sector. Obstacles to direct investors stemming from skill deficits in, for example, GCC populations, regulatory hurdles and protectionism exacerbate economic weakness and foster a cycle of economic underperformance. Against this background, the additional risk of terrorist violence exacerbates macro-economic risks and deters FDI.