2013: How many years more till they hear the cry for justice

2013 crisis year
By Ameen Izzadeen
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)
A new year is just three days away. As usual, hundreds, if not thousands, of people will greet you, wishing you a prosperous and peaceful New Year. When 2012 dawned we were showered with similar greetings. But for billions of people, peace remained elusive and prosperity a dream. The coming year is not going to be any different. Pardon me for being a prophet of doom.
The Earth is aging and ailing, and our failure to strike a deal to save it in the past year has made our survival on the surface of our once green planet precarious. Will the world leaders at least in the coming year commit themselves to a comprehensive climate deal that will at least delay the death of our planet?
Given the greed and self-centred nature of international politics, hoping for such commitments from the world’s biggest polluters that include China and the United States is similar to a child’s dream of seeing a live dinosaur in the city zoo.
So our prediction for 2013 is that it will be another year during which empty talk rather than concrete steps will dominate the climate summit which is likely to take place in Poland in June.
Developing countries at the Doha climate conference in November-December called for a radical UN mechanism to compensate them for droughts, floods, rising sea-levels and other impacts of climate rape committed by industrialised nations and rapidly industrialising nations. They will be disappointed because the guilty nations will not come forward to foot the bill.
Besides, every guilty nation is facing a financial crisis with their growth curves taking a nose dive.
With little commitment except for empty promises from the culprit nations, we need to be prepared to face nature’s fury in the form of more severe hurricanes, floods and droughts in addition to the adverse effects of the economic downturn which shows few signs of an early recovery.
If greed is what drives the culprit nations towards the reckless exploitation of the earth’s resources without much regard for the vital ecological balance, neocolonialist power games keep the flames of war alive in the Middle East, with justice being buried in the desert. The coming year is unlikely to usher in peace in the Middle East. Palestine will shrink further as Israel continues to build settlements for its Jewish population in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to make their capital.
The United States, which has encouraged this injustice in no small measure, will continue to turn a blind eye or just issue empty statements.
The US is also likely to use its veto power or put economic pressure on the Palestinian Authority if President Mahmoud Abbas tries to take the UN Security Council route to upgrade the status of Palestine from the observer status, which it obtained in November, to full member status.
So the Palestinians’ dream of an independent state will remain a dream in 2013 with US President Barack Obama sacrificing the sovereignty of his country on the altar of Israel. Already, signs are emerging that he may wilt under Zionist pressure and not nominate Senator Chuck Hagel as defence secretary. Hagel is known to have advocated a policy that the US should do what is right for the US and not what is right for Israel.
The Middle East will also see more turmoil. More turmoil means higher oil prices. This is not good news for the rest of the recession-hit world.
Soon there will be a regime change in Syria. It appears 13 is a bad number for Bashar al-Assad. Superstitions apart, uncertainty remains as to what will happen when Assad is ousted before he reaches the end of his 13th year in office in July 2013. Our prediction will be chaos — with the rebels, including members of Jabhat al-Nusra that was declared a terrorist group by Washington in December, pushing towards the formation of an Islamic state while the US and its allies in the region will try to form a Syrian-Opposition-Coalition-headed client state that will be hostile to Iran. Thus, much of 2013 will be bloody, if not chaotic, for Syria with repercussions being felt in neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon where the powerful Shiite militia group Hezbollah faces the threat of being cut off from its patrons – Iran and Syria.
For Iran, where people are bearing the brunt of US sanctions, 2013 will be a crucial year, in addition to being election year. In June 2013, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will step down after completing his two terms. Who will be the new president and which way will Iran go after June? These questions will dominate the political discourse of 2013 along with Iran’s nuclear programme which could plunge the Middle East into a long and devastating war, if Israel, after its general election next month, decides to attack Iran.
The United States’ war on terror will continue to cause problems to Pakistan and Afghanistan with Washington observing international laws and human rights norms in the breach. Human rights will continue to be a political tool of a few powerful nations. Using human rights as an excuse, they will exert pressure on less powerful countries to fall in line while they violate them with a culture of impunity as we saw throughout 2012 in drone attacks on civilians, targeted assassinations, the holding of suspects without trial under inhuman condition, the torturing of detainees and the subversion of justice.
On the other hand, the Taliban will intensify its campaign to force an early withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. The US has set a December 2014 deadline for troop withdrawal but many of its NATO allies may do so ever before that. Britain has announced it will withdraw before December 2013 while Germany may follow suit. France ended its military role in Afghanistan in November and is hosting secret peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan officials near Paris. The outcome of the peace talks will decide the course of war-torn Afghanistan in 2013.
Nearer home, the Kashmir crisis will continue to remain more than a thorn in the relations between India and Pakistan. Peace can come to Kashmir only if the two countries together with Kashmiri leaders work out a just solution acceptable to the people of Kashmir. But the problem lies in the bigness of the ‘if’.
Asia will be the centre of the growing cold war between China and the United States in 2013. As China keeps the United States and the rest of the world guessing with regard to the scale of its military build-up behind an iron curtain, diplomatic wrangling over disputed islands in the South China Sea and the East China Sea could turn into a military confrontation or lead to a dangerously high level of militarisation of countries in the region. With Japan electing a nationalist prime minister, Shinzo Abe, Australia allowing a US military base in Darwin and South Korea, the Philippines and other countries beefing up military cooperation with the US, the communist nation with controlled open economic strategy feels surrounded by hostile forces.
Unfazed by these threats, China marches on. The Indian Ocean is fast becoming a Chinese ocean while China’s influence in Central Asia, Africa and elsewhere is also growing rapidly.
China has made a calculated and measured response to the provocations and it is likely to continue this policy even under President-designate Xi Jingping – who will be inducted in office in March 2013 a month after the Chinese usher in the Year of the Snake.
With the US National Intelligence Council admitting that the global power centre is shifting towards Asia, the US will not surrender its top position without a fight. So 2013 will be a year of high tension for Asia, especially China, whose only ally in the neighbourhood is North Korea.
China is seeking to improve its strategic cooperation with Russia which is also trying to assert its political power globally. Many analysts questioned Russia’s failure to come to the rescue of Muammar Gaddafi when the West, deliberately misinterpreting a UN resolution, militarily intervened in Libya. But in hindsight, Russia appears to be vindicated because post-Gaddafi Libya has not only become a graveyard for US envoys and spies but also an anarchy though a pseudo democracy exists only in name. Nobody, not even the Libyans or the Obama administration, knows who is in control of Libya.
If the US is to learn a lesson from the year that is coming to an end, then it should mend its ways and give up its policy of might-is-right. Instead, it should work towards regaining its soft power by following the principle of ‘right is might’. The might-is-right policy has mostly brought ignominy and international isolation, apart from ill-gotten wealth for the war lobby. The isolation of the US was evident during the vote on Palestine’s membership move at the UN. It was also evident during the vote on Cuba’s resolution calling for the lifting of Washington’s stone-hearted sanctions on the communist nation. Only Israel and Palau backed the US on the Cuba vote.
The opportunity is staring at Obama for him to make the radical change in the US policy without succumbing to lobby pressure. Happy New Year, though it will be far from a peaceful one!

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About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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