The year of the gun

Ezzat Ibrahim
Tuesday 27 Dec 2022

Unheard of since World War II, military hostilities in the heart of Europe set the tone for a difficult year. From political polarisation to the economic fallout of a war on the heels of a pandemic, 2022 saw the whole world scrambling for cover


This year ends with many serious developments as peoples and societies across the world continue to be affected by disturbing events that are likely to extend well into the new year.

 The world was counting its losses from the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of the year, but the situation in Eurasia had not revealed all its surprises. In February, political circles across the world woke up to the fact that a war had broken out in Eastern Europe after Russia invaded Ukraine. With no sign of this war coming to an end in the near future, the reactions of the world’s economies, supply chains, and petroleum and money markets have been as expected, with an open-ended war now disrupting them worldwide.

The problems that eventually led to World War I also emerged from Eurasia, which was an arena of major confrontations in World War II. Today, the region is witnessing the prelude to a possible third world war between the US and the Western powers on the one side and Russia and its supporters on the other.

There were reactions of support and of hostility on social media at the beginning of the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine. Ten months later, people around the world have had to get used to a new reality, one in which their living standards will not return to what they were before the war broke out after inflation hit the markets, the cost of food and other commodities increased, and a new situation emerged in the energy market.

The global shortage of petroleum and gas as a result of the unprecedented political situation on the European continent has come about at the same time as the world’s political and economic blocs are fighting among themselves over production quotas and how to set prices at a level that will bring the world out of a major crisis.

At the same time, over the last 10 months the developing world and the poor have been the forgotten victims of the conflicts between the major producers of wheat, corn, gas, and petroleum, as the burdens on them in terms of buying food, fuel, and other necessities have increased without the world moving a finger to support them.

What the world has feared over the past few years concerning the rise of populism and the increasing divisions within societies against a background of growing ideological, sectarian, and economic differences is now becoming a reality in many regions where the volatile economic situation is imposing new divisions in turbulent societies that could pave the way for the rise of more violent and divisive groups. The longer the present wave of global turmoil lasts, the greater will be the risks of such divisions.  

At the same time, there have been setbacks to the global agenda aiming to deal with urgent crises such as climate change, increasing natural disasters, epidemics, and the poor quality of education in the developing world and its accumulating debts. There is a need to make more resources available to researching human, water, and economic security. But all these issues have taken a back seat when compared to what is happening in Ukraine, and priority has been given to ensuring that the developed countries continue to enjoy energy security.

The UN COP27 Climate Conference held in Sharm El-Sheikh in November demonstrated that the need for the governments of the industrialised countries to adopt measures to expand the production of clean and renewable energy is remaining unmet in the light of the global scramble to obtain fossil fuels and the unwillingness to abandon them in the near future.

The world also showed itself to be unable to find solutions to the chronic conflicts that have erupted in different regions over the past decade, especially in the Middle East, after the return of superpower competition and the building of new alliances. These conflicts have disappeared from the priorities of the major powers, meaning that countries hit by civil wars and economic hardships can see no way out from them and have been plunged into further deterioration.

The changes brought about by the war in Ukraine on domestic and foreign policies worldwide constitute a historic turning point, and the new year will likely see an extension of the chaos and suffering that befell the world in 2022. The major question remains of how the world as a whole is going to be able to find a way out of its problems and how we are going to be able to stop the global chaos before we see the outbreak of a more extensive confrontation.

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