The death of Osama Bin Laden will not significantly affect risk factors in the Middle East and Africa, but the outlook for several countries is nonetheless negative, a risk consultancy has warned.
In a recent report from Beazley, the firm suggested that Mr Bin Laden’s death was unlikely to have a material impact on the risk environment in the Middle East and north Africa. Furthermore, it believes that Al Qaeda has been more or less eclipsed by the Arab Spring, which appears more interested in democracy than theocracy.
While the firm did suggest that revenge attacks were a distinct possibility, it said it was far more concerned with continuing civil unrest in the region.
Beazley’s report read that the civil unrest “serves as a stark reminder of the political risks for businesses operating in this part of the world”.
The company had particular concern for Yemen, Syria, Libya and Bahrain. In each instance it cited an elevated political risk threat level, though for differing reasons. Despite the open warfare in Libya and the pitched battles in Syria, there seemed to be more concern for Yemen and Bahrain. In the case of Bahrain, the worry was that the country could become a proxy for a Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and suggested the country was “teetering on the brink of chaos”. As for Yemen, the situation appeared so chaotic and unpredictable that there were concerns over just about any possible outcome.
Surprisingly, the company also issued a negative outlook for Lebanon, which to date has largely stayed out of the regional uprisings and conflicts. But there was significant concern that continuing high levels of tension between Hezbollah and Israel put all of the country’s assets at risk. Furthermore, the unrest in Syria could create problems. The report stated: “The Syrian government may calculate that provoking war with Israel through its Hezbollah proxies would deflect domestic attention away from protests and weaken the opposition movement. Israel could perceive this threat and act pre-emptively against Hezbollah and Beirut.”
In better news there were positive outlooks for Tunisia and Morocco, as well as neutral outlooks for Egypt, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire.