In Other News – Frustration with the Status Quo

Frustration with the status quo leads to global disruption and possible opportunities. This week, we’re continuing to witness frustration with the status quo on everything from political leadership to current geopolitical dynamics. In Argentina, voters demonstrated their exasperation with the status quo when they elected libertarian Javier Milei to serve as their next President. Milei, who is nicknamed “the madman” by fans and calls himself “the lion”, has a sizable economic challenge before him — with inflation in Argentina topping 140% and the threat of a deeper recession. But there are also notable growth opportunities in the country, with a possible boost in exports and more energy self-sufficiency.

Milei’s policies could also have geopolitical implications — on the campaign trail he stated that if elected, he might cut ties with China and Brazil. Argentina was also recently invited to join the BRICS, but it is rumored that Milei will reject the group. Already, BRICS is limited by interpersonal conflicts of key members India and China, and in addition to Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran were recently invited to join the BRICS. Indeed, if the BRICS status quo was to represent the Global South, sharply diverging viewpoints among members – replete with leaders who are in direct competition and opposition with one another- could readily lead to disruption.

Ties between Argentina and Russia might also be challenged by Milei, who supports Ukraine and wants the United States and Israel to be Argentina’s top partners. Indeed, as the battle between Ukraine and Russia has evolved into stalemate, we’re seeing more policy-level discussion about how this war might ultimately reach some sort of resolution. While it will be up to the Ukrainians to decide exactly how long to continue their righteous battle, the status-quo of this conflict will eventually need to shift into something more sustainable.

Further East, the precarious status quo between Israelis and Palestinians was devastatingly transformed by Hamas on October 7. Since then, Israel has been on a critical mission to dismantle the terrorist group that has served as the de-facto leader of Gaza for too long, and to prevent Hamas from ever accumulating that kind of power, access, and military arsenal again. But while Israel fights to defeat Hamas, the Arab Street– which is also now manifest in cities throughout much of the Western world- sees the disruption of the regional status quo as a different kind of opportunity.

Instead of recognizing that this war inevitably presents an opportunity for more stable borders and better conditions for Israelis and Palestinians alike, the Arab Street and its sympathizers see this as an opportunity to eliminate the Israeli state altogether. Unfortunately, this contingent has support within international institutions like the United Nations, which spends a disproportionate amount of energy railing against Israel instead of empowering Palestinians.

Indeed, several million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza are still categorized as refugees by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, decades after the initial conflict erupted. While Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank need healthcare, educational services, and aid, it doesn’t make sense for them to still be viewed as refugees when they’re living in recognized Palestinian territory. This contributes to a sense of impermanence that serves as an impediment to building a viable economic and political system.

It’s going to take a shift in mind frame to upend the status quo that hasn’t served either the Israelis or Palestinians well over the past 75 years. Indeed, while Israel no doubt has an important impact on the Palestinians’ ability to flourish, such an entrenched conflict is also going to require support of the international community and in particular the support of key Arab states to move forward. As hostage negotiations continue, and Israel shifts into Gaza’s southern region to further dismantle Hamas, Israel is fighting both a ground battle and a war of global opinions that could impact the region for the foreseeable future.

Happy Thanksgiving to all from The Arkin Group.

The Arkin Group is a strategic intelligence firm offering investigative research, due diligence, international risk and crisis consulting, and security & preparedness services. We can be contacted at 212-333-0280.