By Global Public Square staff
The Arab Spring was a series of seismic, historic events. But 2012 shows the term itself is no longer a useful description. Spring implies a summer and a winter to follow – neither season is an apt adjective. And can we really club the Arab world together under one banner? Each country has undergone its own revolution and is moving on its own divergent trajectory. That trend will accelerate in 2013.
Economists point to one factor that influences countries in the Middle East and North Africa above all others: oil. Consider that of all the regimes to fall during the Arab revolutions of the last two years, not a single one was an oil exporter. Petro-states have the funds to keep their people satisfied. So I was surprised when I looked at the International Monetary Fund’s latest growth outlook. It projects that the region’s oil exporters (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq) will have grown by 5.3 percent in 2012. Oil importers (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan) will have grown only 1.2 percent. But come 2013, that disparity will shift. The IMF projects that oil exporters will slow to 3.8 percent growth while oil importers will speed up to 3.3 percent growth.
By Global Public Square staff
Who are the most positive people in the world? Well, at least according to the responses in a recent Gallup poll, eight of the top 10 countries whose citizens feel happiest are in Latin America – Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad&Tobago, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. Such results could in part be down to a cultural predisposition to looking on the bright side. But if Latin Americans have taken a moment to reflect on their financial situation, they will also see tangible reasons to be positive about the future.
While the rest of the world has become more unequal in recent years, Latin America is the only region in the world to reverse that trend. According to a World Bank report, 50 million people joined the region’s middle class between the years of 2003 and 2009. Poverty rates have plummeted; more women are working; safety nets have become stronger.
It turns out the Mayans were wrong about the end of the world. Planet earth survived 2012 and is now about to embark on yet another revolution around the sun. But let’s cut the Mayans some slack: they were, after all, projecting thousands of years into the future.
My task is easier. What will the next twelve months look like? What changes are in store for the world of politics and economics?
Asia, with more than half the world’s population, has already begun to usher in 2013. So let’s begin there.
By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.
As Americans make their New Year’s resolutions, gazing into their crystal balls in anticipation of 2013, they are pessimistic about the economy, doubtful about Washington avoiding the fiscal cliff and worried about rising inequality and economic unfairness. Preoccupied with issues at home, they want to avoid getting dragged deeper into conflicts in the Middle East, but nonetheless are willing to take military action against Iran to halt Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.
Downbeat domestic attitudes coupled with reticence about international engagement poses challenges for a world that still may need a strong United States.
After a rise in optimism about the economy in the run up to the U.S. presidential election in November 2012, Americans’ economic outlook has turned more negative on the eve of the New Year. A quarter of the population says the economy will be worse off 12 months from now, up from just 8 percent in September – the highest level of U.S. pessimism since June 2011. Just 37 percent expect the economy to be better off in 2013, down from 43 percent in September.
By Güneş Murat Tezcür, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Güneş Murat Tezcür is an associate professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
It has been a decade since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Turkey, and its achievements are certainly noteworthy. Since experiencing its worst economic crisis in recent history in 2001, Turkey has achieved sustainable, high growth rates. The AKP’s foreign policy, meanwhile, has been characterized by increasing activism, contributing to Turkey’s image as a rising regional power. The AKP has also dismantled the power of the military and judiciary, forces that frequently intervened in electoral politics. With the advent of the Arab uprisings, Turkey has promoted itself as a role model that combines democratic rule with Muslim piety.
Yet, the AKP democratizing agenda that was initially triggered by the EU accession process has gradually lost steam. As the AKP has consolidated its power, it has lost its appetite for addressing the demands of historically marginalized groups such as the Kurds and Alevis. Another casualty of the AKP’s overconfidence has been press freedom. In Reporters Without Borders’s Press Freedom Index, Turkey ranked 103th out of 173 countries in 2008. Now it is ranked 148th out of 179.
This is the latest in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.
By Nobuo Fukuda, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Nobuo Fukuda is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and former Jakarta bureau chief for the Asahi Shimbun. The views expressed are his own.
The victory of Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in this month’s national elections indicated a sense of insecurity will continue to plague Japanese in 2013 on issues ranging from national defense and security to energy and the economy.
The defeat of the incumbent Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) had long been anticipated. However, it is an open question whether the opposition LDP would have achieved a landslide victory had it not been for rising tensions between China and South Korea over territorial disputes.
Particularly problematic for Japan was the row with China over the Senkakus, a group of small, uninhabited islands administered by Japan in the East China Sea. Japanese voters were troubled over China’s aggressive tactics in trying to change the status quo of the Senkakus, with fishing boats, patrol vessels and reconnaissance aircraft being sent into the Japanese-administered waters and airspace near the islands almost daily over the past few months.
This is the latest in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Guest analysts look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.
By Katharine H.S. Moon, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Katharine H.S. Moon is a professor of political science and Wasserman Chair in Asian Studies at Wellesley College and an Asia Society associate fellow. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
2013 will be the year of dynastic leadership on the Korean peninsula, and the offspring on both sides of the 38th parallel have to make the best out of the baggage their fathers left for them. They can choose to look back and call forth the ghosts of their dads or look forward and forge their own priorities and a practical vision for economic reforms and peace on the peninsula.
What may surprise many about the two new leaders heading into 2013 is that they have more in common than meets the eye. The newly elected president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, was elected on December 18 with a full accounting of votes confirming her ascension on December 19. Likewise, North Korea's Kim Jong Un ascended to power on December 19 a year earlier, upon the public release of news that his father, Kim Jong Il, had died.
By Juan Cole, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History and director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan. He maintains the popular blog, Informed Comment.
What does 2013 have in store for Afghanistan? As NATO and U.S. forces begin leaving in the thousands, and as their combat mission ends this coming year, can the green Afghanistan National Army take up the slack? With violence now higher than in 2009 when the Obama administration’s troop escalation was decided on, can any progress be made on political reconciliation? Will President Hamid Karzai resign and hold early elections for his successor, as he has suggested? Is there any hope for a more robust economy and a semblance of good governance, as financial scandals continue to rock Kabul? How will regional powers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, India and Russia position themselves as Afghanistan moves out of the North Atlantic sphere of influence?
The Obama administration will certainly withdraw some of the 68,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan throughout 2013, though the timetable and the number to be pulled out have still not been decided. Gen. John Allen, outgoing commander of U.S. forces and of the International Security Assistance Forces in country reportedly wants to delay any further withdrawals until fall of next year. (Some 34,000 troops came out in 2012). Allen’s hand was presumably weakened in November, however, when he was reportedly investigated over inappropriate communications with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, as part of the fallout of an FBI investigation of CIA director, David Petraeus. He will be succeeded in 2013 by another Marine, Gen. Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, who spent 22 months in the Iraq War.
By Alberto Saravalle, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Alberto Saravalle, a member of Fermare il Declino, is a professor of European Union Law at the University of Padua, and managing partner of a law firm in Milan. The views expressed are the author’s own.
Just as the rest of the world was beginning to have some confidence in Italy’s ability to overcome its structural problems, the goodwill generated under Prime Minister Mario Monti could be about to vanish.
Italy is once again in the Eurozone hot seat, leaving observers with four key questions about Italy and its prospects for 2013: What happened? What happens next? Should we be worried? And what does the government plan to do?
By Alex de Waal, Special to CNN
Editor’s note:Alex de Waal is executive director of the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School. The views expressed are the author’s own.
Eighteen months after the secession of South Sudan, its future is still tied to its northern neighbor and former mother country. In 2013, Sudan and South Sudan will rise or fall together. If the two can overcome their rancor and work together, both can be economically viable and rebound from their respective economic crises. If not, both countries may become ungovernable.
At a summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on September 27, 2012, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir signed a series of agreements to resolve the outstanding business left over from the secession, to settle the disputes that had brought them to the brink of all-out-war in April, and to reopen South Sudan’s oil production – source of 82 percent of its GDP. But they haven’t been implemented yet.
By José Ignacio Torreblanca, Special to CNN
Editor's note: José Ignacio Torreblanca is a lecturer at UNED University and Head of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Madrid office.
How does 2013 look for Spain? Is the worst over? The answer to that question depends largely on how “worst” is defined.
The absolute worst scenario, the collapse of the euro, can now be set aside thanks to the decisive action of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. The wording he chose in a statement on the issue – “I will do whatever it takes to save the euro and, believe me, it will be sufficient” – was exactly what the markets had been waiting for since 2010. Markets now know that betting against the euro could be dangerous.
But this does not mean that the crisis is fully over.
For domestic political reasons, EU leaders are still reluctant to follow Draghi’s lead and do whatever it takes to consolidate the euro. A banking union has been born, but it is still half-baked, while the more ambitious proposals aimed at a fiscal union are still in their infancy. EU leaders are expected to continue with their exasperatingly slow and piecemeal approach. And, especially with German elections looming, expect “too little, too late” to best define the EU’s snail-like progress.
By James Shields, Special to CNN
James Shields is professor of French politics and modern history at Aston University in the U.K.He is the first winner of the American Political Science Association’s Stanley Hoffmann Award for his writing on French politics. The views expressed are his own.
While it could hardly be more eventful than 2012, with the toppling of a president and an emphatic swing of legislative power from right to left, 2013 could prove to be more decisive for France. As the electoral promises of the past year recede, they are replaced now by an urgent need to deliver.
The three biggest questions hanging over France in 2013 are a potentially hazardous mix of the political and the economic. How will President François Hollande and his Socialists square their election pledges with the hard choices of governing in economic crisis? How will the center-right UMP recover from its bitterly divisive contest to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as leader and face down mounting pressure from a resurgent far-right Front National? And, as a second credit rating agency downgrades France, can the world’s fifth-largest, and the Eurozone’s second-largest, economy bring its public finances into balance for the first time in almost four decades?
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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Obama as a foreign policy president?
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Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
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