s 2015 draws to a close tonight, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which terrorized hundreds of millions of people in at least three continents and was seen by many analysts as an incarnation of Satan, appeared to be on its heels back to hell. Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, vowed on Tuesday that ISIS would be “terminated” in Iraq in the year ahead after the raising of the national flag over government buildings in Ramadi that had served as the terror group’s base in the city.
“2016 will be the year of the big and final victory, when the ISIS presence in Iraq will be terminated,” Mr. Abadi said in a speech broadcast on state television. “We are coming to liberate Mosul and it will be the fatal and final blow to the terror group.” Mosul, northern Iraq’s main city, is by far the largest population centre in territory held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
What he did not say was what could or would happen to ISIS in Syria where there was the added dimension of a virtual direct confrontation between the United States-led coalition and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Though most Islamic scholars have rejected ISIS as a total distortion of Islam the terrorists are using modern technology to radicalize young people especially online and have captured vast extents of land with resources worth billions of dollars. Ultimately the final solution cannot be war and in 2016 the world would be looking for an unexpected messenger or mediator to find a lasting peace.
According to Newsweek, one of the world’s most prestigious monthly magazines, 2015’s two most important events were connected to this conflict - one million refugees turning Europe upside down mainly as a result of the ISIS terrorist attacks on three continents in addition to the barrel bombing or chemical warfare unleashed by Syria’s president Bashar Al-Assad on his own people. This has resulted in an unprecedented catastrophe where 12 million of Iraq’s 24 million people are refugees languishing in different degrees of destitution, degradation and deprivation.
The fate of the refugees, many of them crushed by sorrow to the point of death has opened the hearts of many European leaders especially the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was named by Newsweek as the ‘Person of the Year’. More than 70 years ago the megalomaniac Adolf Hitler slaughtered about six million Jews and five million people of other races, because they did not fit in to his unbalanced perception of Aryan supremacy. In a 180 degree turnaround to repentance, restitution and reconciliation, Chancellor Merkel acted prophetically by opening Germany’s doors to warmly welcome and accommodate up to 700,000 refugees, providing food and nutrition, healthcare and education for them to restore their dignity as human beings.
Despite all the war and violence, 2015 also produced two historic deals - the December 12 Paris agreement by 195 countries to restrict the increase in global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or if possible 1.5 degrees and substantially limit carbon emissions by discovering new ways of getting renewable energy from sources such as the freely given sun and wind. To get the deal, negotiators left a lot of the details to be worked out later. Even if agreement is reached on those details, the success of the Paris Climate Accord ultimately depends on national governments taking and enforcing, steps to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. Domestic politics could be a major hurdle on that front, Newsweek said.
In July this year after years of tough bargaining, the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany reached an agreement with Iran. Conducted off and on since 2002, they finally produced a deal in July. Formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It was not sealed until September.
Once again the peacemaker of the year was Pope Francis. He is prophetically campaigning for worldwide poverty alleviation for countries to go green and take effective steps to curb pollution. He has challenged rich nations to prove their commitment to end wars by disbanding or disarming the multi-billion dollar transnational arms industry.
Our New Year wish is that countries and people would be able to sincerely say, “Let there be peace in the world and let it begin with me.”
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