New Year’s Predictions

It’s a special New Year’s post today, but on Sunday it’ll be back to explaining your world!

Every year brings huge stories that no one expected, such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Some news stories though are a bit easier to see coming. So without further ado, my January 1st predictions for the news in 2014!

1. Nothing will really change in Syria

Unfortunately, I can’t really see anything changing in Syria in 2014. This year the rebels became more and more divided, almost turning the conflict into a four way civil war between the government, the secular/moderate rebels, the Islamist rebels and the Kurdish rebels. Each of these groups is in turn backed by other Middle-Eastern countries, and even the US and Russia are involved.

Firstly this means that no one faction is likely to fail, as they all have constant support from outside the country. It also means that while the government is unlikely to regain the whole country, the rebels are too divided to triumph. More importantly though it means that peace negotiations are almost impossible. With hundreds of rebel groups in 4 main factions, getting them all to the negotiating table will be extremely difficult. My unfortunate prediction is that in a year’s time the situation will be unchanged, with the only real difference being thousands more Syrian deaths.

2. No conflict between China and Japan

China and Japan are involved in a dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, which sit between the two countries and are above rich natural resources. The relationship got worse in recent months after China proclaimed an “Air-Defence Zone” above the islands, and the Japanese Prime Minster visited a shrine which commemorates Japanese war criminals.

While it looks like things can’t get much worse, a real conflict is still very unlikely. Japan and the US have had a mutual defence treaty for over 60 years. Furthermore the US has told China that the Senkaku Islands fall under the treaty. While China is becoming steadily more nationalistic in its foreign policy, its leadership knows that true conflict over the islands would be devastating for its economy. So while there might be bad feeling between the two, I don’t predict any conflict this year.

3. An awkward Winter Olympics for Russia

While this might not be a very daring prediction, it is one which has more than one reason. The first and most obvious is the potential for embarrassing protests by gay-rights activists. Putin’s ‘gay propaganda’ law has brought enormous attention to the lack of gay-rights in Russia, and numerous celebrities and organisations have called for boycotts or protests at the games.

However after the two suicide bombings in Volgograd earlier this week the government will be even more afraid of a terrorist attack on the Games. That would turn the event into a humiliation for Russia instead of the return to the world stage Putin is hoping for. I’m predicting a Games more focussed on Russian society and politics than the actual sports, making this one awkward Olympics.

4. French troops in Africa for another year

The French have a long history of intervention in Africa, and not all of it good. Many times their soldiers helped a dictator keep power, or gain it through a coup.. In 2013 however the French were intervening in Mali and the Central African Republic with the blessing of the UN.

In Mali they smashed the advance of Islamist rebels, and in the C.A.R they intervened to stop religious violence. However the situation in these countries is still unstable and the potential for more violence is there. South Sudan, just north of the C.A.R is now also in chaos. Combine this need for peacekeepers in Africa, and a French president who wouldn’t mind distracting people from economic strife at home, and the chance that the French will be in action across Africa in 2014 is high.

5. A new country – Catalonia

This prediction is going out on a limb. The Spanish government has said a referendum on independence “will not take place”. The Spanish parliament is against it. However I still think the referendum on whether Catalonia will become an independent country will take place as the provincial government has planned, on the 9th of November 2014.

The elected Catalonian parliament has set a date for it to take place, and to go against that would seem very undemocratic in an EU country. The province has a history of independence movements, and opinion polls shows that the majority of Catalonian voters are in favour. While independence would be devastating for the Spanish economy, I still predict that the UN will gain a new country a year from now.

So for what that’s worth, those were my predictions for the news in 2014. We’ll see in 2015 how I did. If you disagree with my predictions or have some of your own, I’d be interested in hearing them!


6 thoughts on “New Year’s Predictions

  1. John

    Great post – like what you have done with this one. Interesting predictions – mostly agree with your analysis and the predictions you make based on them. Syria seems at this point intractable but I think there might be some shift towards a settlement this year especially if there is progress towards a settlement between the world powers and Iran. This would be a game changer in the power games going on in the region. I think you are pretty much spot on with 2-4. A brave prediction for Catalonia – the national government is going to be staunch in its defence of the integrity of the unity of Spain and will do everything it can do prevent a breakaway – perhaps greater autonomy is on the cards as a compromise??

    1. Barth

      Interesting Andre and John. Syria has only losers. Among them the minorities that formed the Baath party. So intensely misused by the Sadats. I hope for peace talks and mo intervention. The latter normally increases the number of victims with factor 2.

      The whole south saharan region is disrupted. Religious groups parallel tribal lines. New forms of cooperation must be developped. Otherwise it will continue to break along the same lines. Tribes.

      New countries in Europe go back to tribal issues too. Catalonia. Flanders. Scotland. The unity of europe maybe in the breakingdown to smaller parts.

      1. andreinternational Post author

        Thanks for your thoughts Barth! It is especially interested to compare Catalonia Scotland and Flanders, and how they’re going against the EU’s trend towards integration. I don’t think Western Europe has seen a new country for over 100 years. And it’s always tragic to see how the same terrible patterns repeat across Sub-Saharan Africa. I hope to write about South Sudan as well the C.A.R. in the coming month.

  2. andreinternational Post author

    Thanks for the reply. I agree that the prediction on Catalonia is a bit out there, but what I see happening is that Spain comes down too hard on the referendum plans, and ends up driving the Catalonians further away. But they definitely won’t let the breakaway happen without a fight. As for Syria, I’m not sure how much effect Iran will have on the situation there. The US seems pretty tough in public about not involving Iran in the Syrian discussion, which won’t help matters, though that doesn’t mean they’re not talking behind the scenes. But trying to get all those groups into peace talks is going to be like herding cats…

  3. Pingback: Looking back at 2014 | Your World Explained

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