2014 in retrospect
On the eve of the New Year, people wish to believe that things will change for better, a new order with emerge. “Let’s hope for a better year,” they say, that is a good intention, a fine expectation and a source of hope for them. That is what we also hope will happen, of course. Insha’Allah (God willing), 2015 will be a good year for the whole world.
This hope must be maintained; however, it must not be forgotten that a new year is not a magic wand to change the course of events. The difficulties we faced over the year, the toxic ideologies and slowly strengthening hatred, will not suddenly come to an end. We hope that 2015 will be a year when peace will reign, but we also need to do things to bring that about. We therefore need to cast our eyes briefly over what was done wrong in the difficult year 2014:
We entered 2014 with the Syrian civil war. The war, which began in 2011, is still going on, with no intervention from the outside and no proposed solution, and 2014 went down as the year that saw the worst losses in the Syrian war. The death toll has exceeded 200,000, and is known to be certainly very much higher.
The self-ascribed Islamic State (IS), born out of the Syrian civil war, founded a state of its own in 2014. Strategic areas of Syria and Iraq are now under its control. This terrorist organization, which rendered NATO, the UN and the super powers helpless, is the result of wrong western policies toward the Middle East.
The Ukraine crisis, the result of greed alone, ended in a nightmare for a fine European country and ended in nearly 3,000 dead. The EU, which sought to extend its influence in Ukraine while sidelining Russia but which also sat back and watched the internal conflicts, and Russia, which refuses to blink on the subject of its former allies, are still settling their accounts. The resurrection of the Cold War era rivalries appears to be the handiwork of the US deep state.
While all this was going on, the horror of Ebola also appeared, though initially it attracted little world interest. The international organizations believed that money set aside for a solution to the problem in poor countries would not “bring profit.” Vaccination campaigns only began toward the end of the year, after the disease started appearing in the US and Europe; and after more than 6,000 deaths.
In 2014, Crimea went under Russian control. Scotland made a bid for independence, but failed. While the Central African Republic (CAR) was the scene of murder and genocide, Boko Haram continued with its horrifying attacks in Nigeria. One action by Boko Haram, which attracted global condemnation, was the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls, of whom 223 are still in the custody of the terrorist organization.
While all this was going on, 748 people lost their lives in incidents in Iraq in March alone.
As the Israeli-Gaza conflict was making headlines, other conflicts were raging on in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. While all this was happening, a Malaysian jet disappeared, another was shot down over Ukraine, 289 people lost their lives in a ferry disaster in South Korea and 301 in the Soma mine disaster in Turkey. Millions of people were made refugees in 2014, and hundreds lost their lives while seeking refuge in new countries in rickety boats. People also starved to death in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.
As the number of refugees was rising and the world was being dragged into poverty, Europe began introducing laws to prevent the arrival of migrants. The European Parliament’s elections resulted in wins for extreme right and left wing parties rather than those from the center. Since being anti-migrant is regarded as a “vote winner” it became a popular policy with parties contesting the polls. Anti-migrant protests are still taking place in Germany in these last days of 2014. The economic crisis has had a devastating impact on countries such as Greece, Iceland, Greek Cyprus, Belgium and Italy, but has also affected the entire euro zone. Falling oil prices have affected Russia and the Middle East most of all.
NSA snooping records, pictures of torture perpetrated by the regime in Syria and finally the CIA torture report were all exposed documents that left their mark on 2014. But these actually said nothing new.
2014 was a difficult year. But when we look back, we see that a great many of these tragedies were the result of using violence against violence, selfishness in the face of ambition or a preference for self-interest over human life. Again when we look back, we see that all these tragedies served the world’s arms manufacturers and various lobbies that profit from the artificial Cold War climate that efforts are being made to establish. The savagery we witnessed over the year had perhaps never before been so wide-ranging and horrifying.
We will be entering 2015 with problems. Nothing is just going to vanish with a magic wand. If the policy of violence in the world persists, then nobody should be surprised if these incidents are multiplied many times over in the years ahead. If the global community and the super powers in particular, fails to learn from 2014 and insists on implementing the same failed policy, then this scourge afflicting almost all countries will continue to grow and become even more ghastly. The year 2014 teaches us is: Violence in the face of violence is leading the world to destruction. The means are wrong. The policy being applied needs to change. The source of the violence must be targeted, and an age of education using the language of love must begin. The scale of the horror means that we need to understand the sign given us by Allah. Unless the method changes, the years ahead will see even more sufferings and afflictions. It would be a shame to waste another tragic year in order to grasp this fact. Let us not forget that 2015 will change nothing; it is we who can be the instruments of change.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News: