FeaturedNationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 07

2022 – a year of hot wars and cold peace

Many significant events occurred during 2022 but the defining feature of the year was the Russian-Ukraine war which one occasion raised the spectre of a nuclear confrontation involving the US. But good sense prevailed and Washington, persuaded by the European Union, backed off at the last moment. On the other hand, the Yemen war continued at a slow pace with missiles fired by either side causing mostly collateral damage.

Sporadic clashes along the China-India border sparked fears of a wider war between the two Asian giants but, mercifully, the situation did not get out of control as India, faced with a tough rival, saw it fit to scale down its belligerence at the right moment. Two other hotspots, Kashmir and Palestine, remained in the limelight as occupying powers in both cases continued with their policy of terrorizing the local populations in brazen defiance of the UN Charter and international covenants.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, in a major escalation of the Russia-Ukrainian war, which began in 2014. Tens of thousands of people on both sides lost their lives as a result of the invasion. Since WWII, this war has resulted in Europe’s largest refugee crisis, with tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing their homeland in search of safety elsewhere. This invasion has tended to obscure humanitarian and refugee crises throughout the globe. Russia’s aggression caused price shocks, disrupted supply chains and resulted in food shortages around the world.

Massive public protests in Iran hit the headlines in the second half of the year. Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are facing the most serious challenge to their rule since their taking power in 1979. The protests started in September 2022 when “morality police” in Tehran arrested Mahsa Amini, a twenty-two-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman visiting Iran’s capital city, for not properly covering her hair. She died in police custody. When word of her death spread, hundreds gathered to condemn her death and Iran’s mistreatment of women. The government used force to quell the protests but in vain. According to the US-based Iran Human Rights Activists News Agency till December, Iranian security forces had killed more than 450 protesters, including 63 children.

The long dreaded political and economic meltdown held Sri Lanka in its grip. Following a series of lockdowns that had paralyzed the economy of Sri Lanka, the nation entered 2022 with almost zero foreign reserve. Not surprisingly, what was essentially an economic crisis became a political crisis. In February, Sri Lankans from all over the country took to the streets in unprecedented numbers to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government. They gathered in mid-April on a coastal front in the country’s capital, Colombo, and established a makeshift community. The hashtag #GoHomeGota on social media trended for a long time. Protestors achieved their goal after a three-month struggle.  Rajapaksa is the first president in Sri Lanka’s post-independence period to be forced out of office by a popular uprising. The country still remains embroiled in a severe economic crisis.

During the year under review, climate change took a turn for the worse. Europe experienced record-breaking heat waves, which burned down forests and dried up rivers. Pakistan experienced a similar brutal heat wave, which was followed by monsoons that submerged up to one-third of the country. The southwest of the United States experienced a record drought, which reduced reservoir levels. Hurricane Ian wrecked Florida. The COP27 meeting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, concluded with a partial agreement. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continued to rise in 2022 and are expected to increase more in the coming years.

Qatar has taken its place in the global spotlight as the first Middle Eastern country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. In the run-up to 2022, Qatar spent billions of dollars building some of the most environmentally friendly and architecturally advanced sporting facilities in the world, undertaking massive economic and infrastructural developments, and investing in the rapid expansion of its sports events handling capacity. Qatar making history by hosting the World Cup is regarded as a great hallmark because it has significantly altered the worldview of Islamic nations.

2022 was a year of inexorably rising prices. According to the IMF, inflation increased globally around 7.7% in 2022. The spikes in the prices were caused by a combination of supply and demand issues.  In the days ahead the inflation rate is feared to increase with rising food insecurity across the globe.

The Chinese diplomatic breakthrough in the Middle East was a major highlight of the year. With Xi Jinping’s visit, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China have signed agreements worth $29.6bn. Such agreements will add to trade, business, and investment relations. The world’s largest energy consumer, China, is now a significant trade partner of the Gulf states raising US concerns about Chinese involvement in the Gulf region  as the Gulf nations are one of the crucial strategic allies of U.S. Thus, the year 2022 ended with unveiling a new chapter between the two global powers seeking dominance in the international arena.

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, died on September 8, 2022. With a global television audience of hundreds of millions, her burial ceremony was one of the biggest and most watched events in British history as well as of the year 2022.

India’s reign of terror continued in Occupied Kashmir. The Narendra Modi-led Indian government is engaged in ethnic cleansing of Muslims in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Modi has turned the valley into a killing field where innocent people are being killed by Indian troops with impunity. The Modi regime, maddened by the arrogance of power is trampling everything to impose its nefarious designs in the occupied territory with deployment of 900,000 troops. The year saw numerous cases of enforced disappearances, killing of youth in fake encounters, molestation, rape and confiscation of property.