Christmas in the Trenches

‘Twas the night after Christmas and the state of the world was marred by economic recession and conflict.

Multiple UN resolutions calling for a ceasefire later, conflict continues in Gaza, with over 20k casualties across the area. As Egypt seeks to broker a ceasefire and the exchange of hostages between Palestine and Israel, Hamas is clear on its objective. No hostages will be released unless Israel’s offensive comes to a halt. Despite this condition, Israeli strikes on Bethlehem marked Christmas Day in Palestine.

In the West, while American inflation dropped after November, boosting confidence in the Federal Reserve’s policies, the same is not true for the UK. Economic performance post-November indicates that the economy might be in recession. Whether end-of-year festive retail consumption will pick those numbers up is a matter of waiting and watching, especially as both countries gear up for General Elections in 2024.

It also perhaps does not help that shipping delays on the Red Sea have persisted since Yemen’s Houthi rebels have taken to storming Western ships. The US seeks to create a coalition to counter the Houthis’ efforts at sea. France, Italy, and Spain have decided not to join it, but Denmark’s Maersk is set to resume operations as normal.

As Israel intends to expand its occupation of the Rafah border into Egypt, the question of regional escalation pops up once again. The US accused Iran directly of targeting a civilian vessel in the Indian Ocean in a drone attack, increasing the prospects of escalation beyond the Red Sea. Will the 10-state US-led coalition be enough to counter the Houthis and put a stop to further regional spillover?

Power rivalries take a perhaps less violent form in China where the export of rare earth metals has been banned, adding to tensions with the US. While the EU and the US have long stressed their over-reliance on Chinese exports, critics suggest that a ban of this nature could hamper the development of green technology. Green advancement is seen more and more as an urgent need; oil prices leave economies vulnerable to production targets within OPEC and other oil-producing countries.

In a related incident, Angola, one of Africa’s largest oil-producing countries quit OPEC amid rows with KSA over production targets. While this is not said to affect OPEC’s ability to influence global oil prices, it is not an ideal outcome for the organisation.


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