Salvaging what is left from the losses of 2014

Pro-government Libyan forces clashing with the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries is emblematic of a fractious year across the Arab world. Photo: Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters
Pro-government Libyan forces clashing with the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries is emblematic of a fractious year across the Arab world. Photo: Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters

As 2014 draws to a close, the political highlights across the Arab world lead us to the conclusion that it was the year of threats, columnist Arfan Nizameddin noted in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

The last 12 months was laden with crises and wars that have wiped out centuries of accomplishments, civilisation and values. Thousands were killed and millions had their futures hijacked in acts of violence and religious fanaticism.

“The greatest fear presently, should it prove impossible to return to reason and to wisdom, is that these threats will take hold and become a permanent reality,” he wrote.

“What must take hold is the conviction that colossal efforts are required to salvage what can be salvaged before it is too late.”

To reach fruition these efforts must be firmly based on reasonable and feasible proposals for solutions, and on tolerance and recognition of others. They must emanate from an unyielding belief in democracy, freedom, justice and partnership.

“People can’t endure the killing, displacement and the assassination of whole generations any longer. Countries that have had their capabilities depleted for years can’t continue to sustain their people. Meanwhile, extremism and terrorism continue to spread unabated,” he added.

The past year has been catastrophic for Syria, where the war has escalated and spilt beyond its borders – mainly due to ISIL’s control over northern Syria and Iraq. Destruction, displacement, economic hardship and millions of Syrian refugees are factors that add to Syria’s plight. The situation in Iraq isn’t much better, with ISIL gaining control over vast areas now targeted by the international coalition’s air raids.

In Yemen, 2014 was marked by turmoil, with a frail system undermined by a blatant Houthi occupation and with many conflicts between Yemeni tribes and Al Qaeda militants.

Egypt’s journey this year was promising as it began to regain its leading role on the international scene after the Muslim Brotherhood regime was removed in 2013. However the road ahead is long for the new regime.

Libya continues to face threats of division and civil and tribal wars. Major cities have fallen under the control of Al Qaeda extremists and the future looks bleak – not only for Libya, but for neighbouring countries as well.

Tunisia seems to be the only beacon of hope among the Arab Spring countries. It overcame the many pitfalls on the path to democracy with parliamentary and presidential elections.

He said the entire region faces additional violence and risks, compounded by the sharp fall in oil prices and its impact on development projects and job growth.

“These are matters that require urgent risk management decisions. But the biggest issue of all is that of Palestine, which is once again dealing with Israeli attacks on Gaza and a sharp Israeli inclination towards extremism and further occupation,” he said.

Abdel Wahab Badrakhan, writing in Al Ittihad, The National’s sister newspaper, said this could have been the year for reform “if it weren’t for the emergence of the disease called ISIL, which has turned the clock backwards”.

But if this last year has revealed anything, it is that terrorism is no longer confined to closed societies. It has become an international commodity used to facilitate interference and offers of protection and armament. It is exploited to justify the need for new regional mandates over Arab countries, he concluded.

Translated by Racha Makarem

Published: December 30, 2014 04:00 AM


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