Liu Baolai, former Ambassador to the UAE and Jordan, former Vice President of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and presently a senior researcher at the China Foundation for International Studies (CFIS), wrote an article titled “The Middle East: inscrutable in 2021", in Guojiwang on January 6, 2021. In the article, he said 'The Middle East will continue to be turbulent in 2021, with ’chaos’ and ’changes’ intertwined with it, limited change points, multiple superimposed conflicts, the buildup of troubles, difficult governance, and a long way to go. The old regional pattern has been broken, the new has yet to be established, hence is accelerating into a profound adjustment. Yet major chaos and war in the region is unlikely'. He added that 'the epidemic has become a disaster, affecting the overall situation' and 'for states in the region, this caused difficulties and unprecedented government pressure, severe economic downturn and high unemployment rates' resulting in the people’s livelihoods declining'. He assessed this 'may cause social unrest'. Liu Baolai forecast that as 'the U.S. strategy shrinks in the region', Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Israel will try and fill the space'. He noted that the 'Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Jubair recently stated that nuclear armaments are also ’an option’ for Saudi Arabia'. He said that 'Turkey has three main cards, one is to seize Syria and Libya; the other is to compete for oil and gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean; while Israel is very proud and wants to expand its circle of friends in the region by normalising relations with some Arab countries, so as to weaken the collective power of Arab countries against it'. He said that the 'Islamic State’ is ’competitive’ again and its remnants have resurfaced, regrouped, improved their organisation, and used the epidemic to expand their territory'. He warned that 'they will do everything possible to increase their efforts, in 2021, to spread to surrounding areas and attempt a comeback'. 

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