Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury
The year, 2012, to which we have just bade "good bye", remained most tumultuous and eventful at the international level because of myriad developments that are likely to largely spill over in the new year. The developments ranged from big events to otherwise seemingly trivial matters that unexpectedly raised storm, nationally and beyond. While the by-gone year has witnessed numerous happenings -- both positive and negative -- some incidents have been quite prominent in the media. At least two incidents -- even though basically diametrically opposite in nature, occurred in two important democratic nations and these are considered as the most talked-about ones in 2012 although several other burning international issues continue to raise heat and dust, causing enormous concern and anxiety all over.
Definitely the presidential election that comes once in four years in one of the strongest democracies -- the United States -- had been a matter of great curiosity and intense interest throughout the year and the finale was over in the second half of 2012 -- November. It was the voting for the chief executive of a country that is considered without any doubt the most powerful, politically, economically and militarily, in the world and hence it was the important big event. By a stark contrast, a nagging development in the world's largest democracy, India, at the end of the year caused deep commotion and revulsion not only in that country, but on a global scale. The incident of gang-rape of a young woman in its capital New Delhi stoked such hatred and condemnation that are rarely witnessed these days anywhere. The ramifications of the heinous occurrence are palpable in the new year as unremitting protests and demands for taking the culprits to the book with exemplary punishments continue unabated in India and also elsewhere. Rather paradoxically, two key democracies in the world saw two events of varying nature in their respective nations, drawing attention of many eyes.
Among other developments that have been the centre of discussions and analyses in 2012, the Syrian civil war has been definitely a major subject. It remains a matter of anxiety for all, also in the days ahead. As a fall-out from the "Arab Spring" that swept several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Syria, too, was rattled by the demands for democratic and economic reforms. The regime of president Bashar al-Assad initially took the development lightly, but it snowballed into a major uprising, reducing the country into a volatile field of civil war. The Syrian tangle has so far taken more than 50,000 lives, besides forcing a big number of Syrians to take refuge in neighbouring Turkey and Jordan. None of the warring sides -- the Damascus authority and the rebels -- are in a mood to give up and that makes the tangle intractable. Furthermore, the direct or indirect complicity of the big powers, taking sides with either of the conflicting groups, has made the crisis more complicated with no sign of any settlement yet in sight.
Iran's continued standoff with the United States and other Western countries on the vexed nuclear issue, Israel's increasing hawkish policy towards the Palestinians as evidenced in the attack of the Gaza strip, a controversial referendum on a new constitution by Egypt's first democratically elected president, the health condition of south American nation Venezuela's leftist president, the new faces in the leadership of the ruling communist party of China and the elections in Japan and Republic of Korea were the issues in 2012 that merited attention and discussions. The attack on an outspoken schoolgirl in Pakistan by the religious bigots also drew global focus in the year as a reprehensible act. Needless to say, the Afghan war continues unabated while Iraq situation has not fully calmed down despite substantial progress towards stability. The Stalinist North Korea remains defiant with its missile and other projects, showing thumb to the West and all such developments kept the year, 2012, eventful and full of volatility.
The year 2013 will obviously carry the baggage of all these crises and the world will witness more or less a similar spectacle in the new year. The chances of peace and harmony, amid the clamour, clearly appears to be slim since the ground reality is vastly different as far as stability and tranquility are concerned on a bigger canvass.