Adnan Khan from the Revolution Observer goes over some of the biggest global political issues that we will face in 2014.
There were a number of events in 2013 that affected global politics. These included America’s attempts to incite North Korea, the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the continuing insurgency in Syria, to name a few.
With this in mind, Revolution Observer highlights 10 global issues that deserve the attention of political observers for the year 2014.
1. Bangladesh Turmoil – Bangladesh is due to have parliamentary elections on 5 January, but it remains to be seen if the elections will take place. This is because the 5-year term of the ruling Awami League Party was characterised with sheer corruption and incompetence. A war crimes tribunal established to investigate atrocities committed during the 1971 War was politicised by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a means to hound her political opponents. This has led to a tense standoff on the streets of Dhaka as the Awami League furthered its attempts to maintain its grip on power.
2. Afghan Presidency and US withdrawal – After a decade of war and with considerable cost and fatalities, the US has failed in defeating the Taliban and subsequently stabilising the country. The US has been trying to find a negotiated solution with the Taliban. The problem the US is facing is that the Taliban does not need to negotiate as they are in a winning position; this may well prolong the war. Afghanistan’s most critical moment will also take place in 2014 as a new president will be chosen to succeed Hamid Karzai, who has dominated Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban by US forces. Karzai lacked much authority beyond Kabul and relied on US troops in the south of the country and for his own personal security. It remains to be seen if the new president will be able to maintain the US constructed political architecture.
3. Independence votes in the European Union – A number of separatist regions in Europe believe the deficit driven economic policies of the bloc are failing and would prefer to go it alone. Catalonia announced in late 2013 its intention to have a referendum to secede from the unitary state of Spain. This is due to take place in December 2014. On 18 September 2014, Scotland will decide whether to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent nation. If these referendums are successful, they will give fuel to other regions in Europe who are also looking to secede.
4. Turkey Elections – 2014 will be an important year for Erdogan and the AKP party and their dominance of Turkish politics. Abdullah Gul finishes his term as President during the year as does Erdogan as Prime Minister in 2015. Both cannot run as incumbents as both posts have term limits. Erdogan has indicated his intention of running for the presidency, which would mean he would hold both the Prime Minister’s office and Presidency for 9 months. In 2007 an intense standoff ensued when Erdogan announced his candidature for President. The AKP is not just facing opposition from the secular opposition but also from its support base, including the public fallout with Fethullah Gulen.
5. Syrian Revolution – After three years, the bloodiest uprising within the Arab Spring has claimed over 100,000 lives as per the latest UN report. The US and the international community have been colluding in silence with the Syrian regime, trying hard, but thus far to no avail, to establish an opposition umbrella that controls the rebels on the ground. There are four possible outcomes to this conflict, the worst being a full-scale civil war between the rebel factions after the Assad regime falls.
6. Egypt Constitutional Referendum – General Sisi will be looking to solidify his grip on power by making cosmetic changes to the country’s 1971 constitution which protects the army in a national referendum. The government has already started an aggressive campaign to promote a referendum on a draft constitution, the first milestone in a so-called “road map” that the military has promised will restore democracy to Egypt. The military is looking to completely write-off the Muslim Brotherhood from Egyptian politics and reverse the Arab Spring in the country.
7. US-Iran Rapprochement – The normalisation of ties between both countries was one of the most important developments of 2013. There still remain many issues that need to be resolved for relations to be fully restored. Iran’s support for Hezbullah, US support for Israel, US support for proxy groups in the region against Iran and Iran’s campaign to target key Israeli personnel throughout the region. Much of these discussions will take place in secret, however they will affect relations between both countries on a multitude of issues, including Syria and Palestine.
8. Iraq Elections – Iraq will hold its third post Saddam Hussein national election in 2014. The US planned from the outset to dominate Iraq by ensuring the de facto partition of the country into three autonomous and ethnically divided territories for Sunni’s, Kurds and Shi’ah. This division has turned the country’s fractious politics into a competition for power, resources and state institutions. Today, political and military power in Iraq is highly centralised in Nuri Al-Maliki’s personal office. If he wins a third term the other factions may resort to violence which could bring into question the US constructed political system.
9. South China Sea – The South China sea remains on a knife edge. China continues to aggressively lay claim to the region as the US continues to pivot towards the region. In 2013 China unilaterally announced an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) above the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain in the East China Sea. An ADIZ is a unilateral means for a country to identify and monitor aircraft approaching its territory and its more formally defined airspace. In 2014 and following several years of research and development, Solid State Laser (SSL) weapons will be deployed to the US Navy. The tubular Laser Weapon System (LaWS) is a solid-state laser, which emits high-powered beams and can be fired at distances of four miles, hitting targets moving at 300 mph.  The timing of this deployment by the US Navy is set to further heighten tensions in the South China Sea.
10. Sustainable Global Economic Recovery – Whilst the global economy has seen some growth ever since the global economic crisis began back in 2007, this has been largely driven by emerging economies such as Brazil, China, Russia and India and not nations such as the US, China or Germany. The problem with this is such economies are currently going through period of development where they are being driven by mineral resource mining or basic goods manufacturing, which they can mine and manufacture cheaper than other countries. On its own this is not sustainable economic growth. This is why global economic recovery has been slow and choppy as the world’s advanced economies have struggled to grow. In 2014 a rebalancing in the global economy is needed in order to sustain economic recovery.