The Past and the New Year

  • 31 December 2009

The world today says farewell to the year 2009 in light of all of its events, problems and conflicts, and welcomes the year 2010 with all its anticipated challenges and aspirations. The moment one year ends and a new one begins provides an opportune moment for reflecting, reviewing and drawing lessons and precedents that could help in anticipating the future. The year 2009 was exceptional because of the challenges and dangers it produced at the regional and international levels. The adverse impact of various global crises was exacerbated this year due to the global financial crises, although the latter started to recede toward the end of the year thanks to global efforts for tackling it. Then, there was the breakout of swine flu that swept across the whole world and remains a major health crisis that is difficult to understand in all its dimensions and ramifications. Similarly, despite warnings of the hazards of climate change the Copenhagen Summit failed in evolving a strong position to counter the grave threat posed by the changing climate to the planet. If the war on terrorism was able to achieve some important successes, the year 2009 also showed that forces of violence are still capable of threatening global security and development. For the Arab region and the Middle East, 2009 was an unrelenting and difficult year. Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, which began at the end of 2008, continued well into January 2009, until the arrival of Netanyahu to power. This was followed by the setback to peace, escalation of tensions over Iranian nuclear program, outbreak of conflict in Yemen that became a significant threat to regional stability, tensed relations among some Arab countries, continuation of internal rifts among Palestinian forces despite intensive efforts for effecting reconciliation.

On the other hand, 2009 also witnessed positive events both at the international and Arab levels. The speech of US President Barack Obama to the Islamic world from Cairo was a watershed in mending relations between Islam and the West. In addition, the global cooperation in combating the financial crisis contributed in preventing further deterioration in the situation. At the Arab level, the UAE made significant achievements, as it became the seat for the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), thereby becoming the first Arab and developing country to host the headquarters of a major international organization.

It is also noteworthy that this year the US magazine Newsweek chose President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan among the 50 most influential personalities of the world. The UAE was able to withstand the impact of the financial crises and achieve positive growth. In the Arab world, Lebanon succeeded in overcoming its disputes, and was able to form its government of national unity. Iraq was able to overcome its internal differences over electoral law ahead of the upcoming elections. The incidence of violence declined significantly, and a call for Arabic reconciliation was made. The first Arab economic summit was held in Kuwait, and there were several other positive developments in 2009.
At the outset of 2010, people of the world look forward to a more stabled and developed world, and hope various crises and problems are resolved. International consensus could only be achieved if a strong front for combating major challenges is formed—like terrorism, climate and the financial crises.  The year 2009 proved that the world requires greater collective action to address the causes that cause tensions and instability. It is hoped an international consensus is reached in the year 2010.