The curtain may have come down but the story of 2015 is not over. Much of what took place will have a huge influence on global events in the coming year. We take a look ahead now to the expected key developments over the next twelve months; the major trends and themes that are likely to shape our world and impact on our lives.
Syria continues to present perhaps the single greatest challenge to global stability. From its base in Raqqa ISIL maintains a bloody reign, exporting the extremist ideology underlying terror attacks across the world .
The West and Russia may have found common cause in seeking to defeat the jihadists, but they remain deeply divided over Syria’s future governance, particularly the fate of Bashar al Assad. Can they – and local parties – forge an agreement accommodating seemingly irreconcilable positions? As we enter 2016 there’s a wisp of hope in the air with a talks process begun in Vienna.
Yet even if an international consensus is reached an accord must somehow be found between the Assad government and the diverse and divided opposition. UN-backed formal negotiations were scheduled to start in early January… the road will be long and the outcome far from certain.
The hoped-for political settlement in Syria is intended to greatly alleviate a refugee tragedy that has left thousands dead and forced countless others into exile. The biblical exodus towards Europe stirred world powers into action with promises of asylum that they now must deliver on.
While Syria’s neighbours already host millions of displaced people, the intake by countries in Europe and beyond will gather pace in the coming months. Throughout the year host communities will receive increasing numbers of refugees.
But the EU plan to take in ???? refugees – most in Germany – is bitterly contested, dividing state against state and – in some cases – people against politicians, and we may see that reflected in several elections across Europe this year, with attitudes hardened by the Paris attacks.
Meanwhile, the human tragedy may continue to unfold. The outflow towards the West is expected to surge again as the Mediterranean weather improves.
The EU hopes the next phase of its anti-people smuggling mission, Operation Sofia, directly targeting traffickers and their boats, will save many lives.
Migration-related security concerns have been pushed higher up the US presidential election agenda – normally dominated by domestic issues – by the San Bernadino massacre and the inflammatory declarations by Donald Trump.
In 2016 US Republicans are a house divided as never before. Trump’s status as frontrunner has confounded the party elite. It’s the maverick versus the mainstream in a race to the nomination convention in July. The series of nominating votes begins with the Iowa Caucasus on February 1.
The Democrats’ battle seems dull in comparison, with Hillary Clinton leading the field of just three main contenders. Unmarked by controversy and infighting, the process culminates with the party’s nomination conference at the end of July.
Whoever’s running, by November 8 when the vote for the White House takes place, it’s likely to have been one of the most fascinating presidential contests of recent times.
It will be contests of a sporting kind that dominate the summer months with Europe’s festival of football kicking off in early June. France is hosting the expanded 24 nation EUFA tournament and, in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, unprecedented levels of security levels are expected.
By then a new era in world football will have begun following a FIFA presidential election on February 26th, the final chapter in Sepp Blatter’s corruption-tainted reign. .
The European champions will be crowned on July 10th but sports fans won’t have long to wait until the next global extravaganza as the Rio Olympics get underway just over three weeks later.
Organisers will be hoping a clean Games will help banish the memories of last year’s doping scandals.
It will not be just an eventful 12 months on the planet; high above us a year of discovery will unfold. On the exploration calender is India’s first manned space flight, the inaugural launch of the ESA-Russian ExoMars project… and we leave you with images of NASA’s Juno probe that’s expected to reach Jupiter in the summer. Have a great 2016.