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With Tension Like Now It Could Spark A World War 3 In 2017
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As 2016 comes to an end, the tumult of the past year shows the truly unpredictable state of world affairs.

Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US showed the inherent failures of relying too heavily on public polling, while the scope and ability of ISIS attacks worldwide served as a crude wake-up call to the group’s deadly reach, even as it loses ground in the Middle East.
But even as 2016 proved to be a year full of surprises, several of the predictions from Business Insider’s Military & Defense team for what the year held proved to be accurate: The South China Sea has only become more militarized, the leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo has extended his rule beyond constitutional limits, and the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey has gone off the rails.

Here are 11 big geopolitical events that we think will come to pass in 2017.
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Paul Szoldra’s predictions: North Korea will present one of the first tests for a Trump White House.

The Hermit Kingdom has always been a wild card on the national security stage. While most experts can make predictions as to what countries would do in certain situations, the only prediction one can really ascribe to North Korea’s leadership is bluster and chest-thumping.

Whether its joint military training exercises with the US and South Korea militaries or US Navy ships being seen too close to North Korean shores, Pyongyang often has a response, and it’s usually not good.

One example that comes to mind is North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island in 2010. Would President Trump be a hardliner toward the North, possibly increasing tensions? With Kim Jong-un inching closer to having a viable offensive nuclear weapons program, those tensions may come sooner rather than later.
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Russia will make more provocative moves against Baltic states to see how Trump and the world respond.

Russia has been emboldened by its moves into Ukraine, especially when it was able to infiltrate and eventually annex Crimea — with little recourse from the international community.

Moscow’s top government hackers conducted a major cyberattack against the US electoral process, and though it was called out in public by the Obama administration, Russia’s denial of hacking brings to mind its initial denials of taking over Crimea. Only after a large portion of the world comes out against Moscow does Russia finally say, yeah, you caught us.

We expect more of Moscow’s meddling in other’s affairs, especially in the Baltic states. Russia moved nuclear-capable missiles very close to Poland and Lithuania in October. NATO has responded by putting troops and tanks in Baltic states.

Will this Cold War-like buildup continue? That’s very likely. And with President Trump in charge, it will be interesting to see whether Moscow gets the pushback it has seen in the past — or whether it encounters a new, conciliatory tack.
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The Islamic State’s capital of Raqqa will be directly attacked by a large-scale ground assault.

ISIS’ power is on the trend downward, and that’s going to continue into 2017. The US and Iraq finally have their act together when it comes to confronting the terrorist group within Iraq’s borders. Although efforts to rout the group from Mosul are going slowly, it’s likely that the city will be back in the hands of the Iraqi army by early next year.

US military leaders say it could be another two to four months of tough fighting before Mosul is secured. After Mosul, it can be expected that ISIS will try to hold out in remaining Iraqi cities before most fighters fall back to its Syrian capital.

That’ll mean a much, much tougher fight once Raqqa comes under assault, but we think an attack in 2017 is likely, especially if Mosul falls and Syria’s government forces take more control back from rebels.

In the past, Syrian government forces have basically ignored ISIS and its Raqqa stronghold. If the war looks to be coming to a close against the anti-government rebels, it’s likely that Damascus will then go after ISIS — which could mean a very awkward coalition emerges between the governments of Syria, Russia, Iran, and the United States.
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As ISIS is further put on the defensive, the terror group will lash out through more terror attacks and lone-wolf killings.

Terrorist groups don’t typically go quiet into the night. That’s going to be especially true of ISIS. As the heat turns up on ISIS’ stronghold of Raqqa, you can expect the group to up its propaganda efforts, especially highlighting civilian deaths, to inspire new recruits and lone-wolf killers to attack wherever they are.

A paper written by West Point’s Combating Terrorist Center in March made this point: “As the Islamic State continues to lose ground, the international community should brace for a surge in international terror.”

ISIS has been losing significant ground in 2016, and it will lose much more in 2017. And with its “caliphate” at stake, ISIS will want to minimize territorial losses with headline-grabbing attacks, instead.

The group also sees external attacks as a way to force its adversaries to beef up security at home, but it’s much more likely big terror attacks will strengthen the resolve among Western nations to destroy the group once and for all.

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