2013 brought change in the Vatican, thousands more deaths in Syria and millions more displaced as the civil war rages with no end in sight, and the death of iconic anti-apartheid statesman and former South African president Nelson Mandela. KGOU's World Views wraps up the year by looking ahead to 2014.
Optimism In The Middle East
Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says Tunisia is the only country that has shown positive signs since the start of the Arab Spring three years ago.
“Islamists and secularists have agreed to form a new government and the Islamists stepped down willingly,” Landis says. “The U.S. and Iran are in talks. I don't think that they're ever going to be totally successful, but they've been partly successful. And given the estrangement between Iran and the U.S. – different systems, different philosophy, that’s perhaps as much as we can ask for.”
Heightened Tensions In Eastern Europe
Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of OU’s College of International Studies, says recent protests in Ukraine and a pair of bombings in Southern Russia this week highlight broader trends in a troubled region ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“Putin is going to make this thing go, but what it is going to do is continue to bring Russia into the national media, and not all in good ways,” Cruise says. “The other thing I would watch out for is Scotland. They're going to vote on independence this summer, early fall. I think they're going to vote no.”
More Sports, More Violence
The 2014 FIFA World Cup takes place in June and July in Rio de Janeiro, and Cruise says murders and a stadium collapse that killed two people has Brazil anxious about the soccer tournament. But Landis is more optimistic.
“We always expect these things to fall through,” Landis says. “In Greece we expected it to fall through, in China too. But they've been glorious. Even if there's some hitches, I think we're going to have a lots of fun, pageantry. Brazil is a nation on the march.”
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