Wednesday, December 30, 2015


The year 2015 has been packed with lots of activities and occurrences on the global scene. And so in closing out the year, I decided to undertake a brief review of international events in 2015. “Charity begins at home” they say, so I’ll start with my home country: Nigeria.
On May 29th 2015, Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as Nigeria's newest President; after defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in the Presidential election. It was a “nail-biting” race up till the last minute. The former ruling People’s Democratic Party was certain that it had laid the groundwork to maintain its hold on the nation in 2015; but clearly, majority of Nigerians had bought into the “change mantra” of the APC, and voted to transfer the mantle of leadership to Muhammadu Buhari. Still remaining in Nigeria, Boko Haram continued to unleash mayhem, even as President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s focus areas were narrowed down to the economy, the fight against corruption, and insecurity (the fight against Boko Haram). How effective will the "wind of change" be in the coming year? Only time will tell. Away from Nigeria now but remaining in the African continent, South Africa experienced widespread Xenophobic attacks as some indigenes took to lynching foreigners i.e. “African who were non-South African natives” whom they believed were responsible for their economic woes. The Zulu king didn’t help matters either with his nonsensical utterances. People were murdered in cold blood even as police and onlookers watched. In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, violating the terms of the agreement that ended the nation’s 13-year civil war; and this led to widespread violence and death. In Kenya, Al-Shabaab militants mounted terror attacks, killing mostly Christians; as Libya continued to deteriorate.
In the Middle East, ISIS continued its reign of terror, murdering foreigners and citizens; while also orchestrating foreign attacks as terrorist cells spread across Europe and even into America. Paris, Tunisia, Beirut, the United States of America, witnessed ISIS-masterminded (and inspired) attacks on various scales. The Obama administration’s lack-luster handling of the situation led to increased criticism; and the administration tried to counter this by putting together a coalition of nations to fight the terrorist organization. This did not stop the rise of the “Russian Bull” though, as Russia took most of the initiative in 2015; to turn things in its favor, and place itself in a strategically important global position as regards Syria and the war on ISIS. This, as Russia also strove to strengthen its position in Eastern Europe- to the chagrin of NATO- with the annexation of Crimea. Ramadi (in Iraq) was just recently liberated by the Iraqi Armed Forces from ISIS though; so hopefully, the fighting capability of ISIS will be decimated further in 2016.
Remaining in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran got entangled in a proxy war for supremacy in Yemen and Syria, as both blocs (individually) sought to firmly establish themselves as leader of the Arab world. Iran also managed to score points in the international community with the nuclear deal passing the US Congress though it was rife with lots of controversies, even as President Rouhani went on his “charm offensive”. During this period, the “personal discord and subtle disdain for one another” was clearly highlighted between Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and President Barack Obama of the United States.
In Myanmar, historic elections led to great change; as hero, Aung San Suu Kyi, saw her party overwhelmingly voted in to lead the country. Remaining in Asia, China rescinded its “one-child policy” as it saw its population get older. Parents in the world’s most populous country are now allowed to have two children. Also, China continued to flex its muscle in the region, provoking its neighbors due to various disputes over territory. Still related to China, pro-democracy activists in Hong-Kong led by mostly youths, staged what became known as the “Umbrella Revolution”, challenging the Chinese mainland’s authority over Hong-Kong. They did not quite achieve their goal, but did manage to beam the spotlight on this very important (and dicey) issue, while also sparking a national (and international) conversation. India and Pakistan also achieved a record-setting feat as both its leaders met recently for the first time in over a decade. What this means for future relationships between both nations who have had deep-seated animosities for a very long time, will only be revealed with the passage of time.
In Europe, the migrant crisis was front and center. Europe received over 1 million refugees in 2015 alone mostly due to the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; but also economic migrants from parts of Africa. The massive influx of people brought into focus, the deep divisions amongst EU member nations; as they struggled to find a solution. It also led to questions about the morality of some EU member states, as well as questions about the integrity of Europe’s borders, while also re-designing (and probably weakening) the cultural fabric of European societies and institutions. In the UK, the British House of Commons voted to take part in air-strikes against ISIS; as 2015 also saw Greece teeter on the verge of economic collapse before a last-minute Eurozone bail-out after Athens agreed to implement austerity measures. The COP-21 conference on climate change was also held in Paris, leading to an agreement to reduce carbon emissions. Modalities for how this agreement will be implemented by individual nations; will be sorted out in the future.
In the USA, the coming 2016 Presidential election has been the major story. By a combination of brashness, vulgar statements and an all-round un-orthodox campaign style never before seen in a US election season, Donald Trump has managed to remain the Republican frontrunner. On the Democratic Party side, Hillary Clinton maintains the lead. 2016 looks like it is gearing up to be the year of definitive battle between Trump and Clinton. It should be interesting- and entertaining! Also in the US, mass shootings brought the issue of gun laws into focus (again); also, the #blacklivesmatter movement gained traction due to the countless murders of blacks by mostly white cops. 2015 was also the year which brought about a historic thaw in USA-Cuba relations, with the restoration of diplomatic ties between both countries.
On the global scene, oil prices fell drastically, leading many oil-dependent OPEC nations to re-assess their economic positions. If any slight rises will be seen in the New Year, is anyone’s guess!
These are just some of the most important political and current affairs stories of 2015. As we proceed into the New Year, it is my earnest hope and prayer, that the year 2016 will be a much better (and more peaceful) one, for all humanity. From me to you, Happy New Year.

No comments: