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Top ten international military hot events in 2020

时间:2021-01-14 ReadingNumber:我爱军事网 鼎盛军事论坛 Source:http://www.52sdg.com
The international situation has seen dramatic changes in 2020, with new military hotspots ever emerging. Let's take a look back on some hot events that will have significant impacts on the future international landscape.

By Yang Zhongjie

The international situation has seen dramatic changes in 2020, with new military hotspots ever emerging. Let’s take a look back on some hot events that will have significant impacts on the future international landscape.

1. The raging COVID-19 pandemic accelerates changes in the world

On March 11, WHO announced the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. As of December 30, Beijing time, more than 80 million people have been confirmed with novel coronavirus infection cumulatively worldwide with over 1.77 million deaths. In the face of the pandemic, people around the world have united in mutual assistance. China’s contribution of wisdom and strengths to the global efforts to get through this tough period has been recognized and applauded by the international community.

The pandemic has accelerated the change of international landscape, hit hard the world economy, and incredibly complicated the international security situation. Combatting the virus and its fallout through solidarity and mutual assistance against all difficulties, the international community has shown how important it is to practice multilateralism and improve global governance, and the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind is deeply driven home.

2. The confrontation between NATO and Russia intensifies

The military confrontation between NATO and Russia escalated in 2020. Their targeted military exercises and other assertive military operations have caused a new round of regional turbulence. NATO has held large-scale joint military exercises such as “Defender-2020” and “Baltops-2020” on a high profile, intensified arms sales to countries like Ukraine, and kept reinforcing forward combat deployments in Poland and Estonia. In response, Moscow has strengthened its combat forces toward Europe and the reconnaissance of surrounding NATO member states.

Given the deep-rooted mistrust between NATO and Russia, if their consistent strategic gaming escalates, a high-intensity, head-on conflict is possible, which will quickly worsen the regional situation.

3. The US keeps quitting international organizations and treaties

As novel coronavirus outbreak kept wreaking havoc, the US government announced to withdraw from WHO on July 6 and refused to pay its outstanding dues for this year. On November 22, it announced to exit the Open Skies Treaty, incurring extensive attention and strong discontent from various parties.

Moreover, Washington has unilaterally loosened the Missile Technology Control Regime and UAV export restriction, been very passive about arms control, and owed more than 2 billion USD to the UN in membership dues and peacekeeping funds.

The US’ constant exit from international organizations and treaties fully attests to its obsession with the Cold War mentality, “America First” and unilateralism, and its betrayal of international commitments. These faith-breaking moves have undermined the military mutual trust and transparency among regional countries and negatively impacted global security. The world’s only superpower is now regarded as one of the biggest destabilizers for world peace.

4.Nagorno-Karabakh conflict draws extensive attention

On September 27, Azerbaijan and Armenia broke into a new round of conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Since then, the two countries have reached three ceasefire treaties under the mediation of Russia, the US, and France, but all failed. On November 9, leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia signed a declaration announcing a full truce in the region starting from 00:00 of November 10, Moscow time, finally bringing the conflict under control after a fashion.

The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is very complicated due to long-standing ethnic hatred, religious conflicts, and territorial disputes. Although the mediation by out-of-region countries has temporarily suppressed the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the outbreak of new conflicts remains highly likely.

5. Libya’s way to peace is filled with twists and turns

On January 19, a UN summit on Libya was held in Berlin that showed a ray of hope for peace in the country. However, starting from March, the Government of National Accord (GNA) troops and KhalifaHaftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) have engaged in multiple conflicts. The UN-led 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission held five rounds of talks successively. Eventually, it inked a ceasefire agreement in Geneva on October 23, which promised a “complete and permanent” ceasefire in the whole of Libya from the next day.

The Libyan situation has become increasingly complex due to meddling by NATO members, including the US and Turkey, and some Middle East countries. Domestic unrest and external interference have inflicted severe economic and humanitarian repercussions on the land. The ceasefire is just the first step, and the prospect of peace is anything but optimistic.

6. The rift within NATO reveals interest divergences

NATO member states have seen intense gaming revolving around regional hotspot issues and forward military presence in the past year. The rift within the military bloc has kept widening and deepening. On June 30, the Trump administration announced to cut its troops stationed in Germany from 34,500 to 25,000, which the German media called the symbol of a period of profound divergences in the bilateral relationship. Soon afterward, France and Greece also broke into fierce conflicts with Turkey due to interest divergences, and Washington sanctioned Istanbul for buying the S-400 air defense missile system from Moscow.

After the end of the Cold War, the value of NATO has been questioned, and its cohesion has been falling. Over recent years, NATO members and Turkey have been in a subtle relation with multiple arguments over hotspot issues in the Middle East. Washington and Berlin are also dissatisfied with each other for their widely different attitudes on the Iran nuclear deal, the Open Skies Treaty and other international treaties.

7. The US-Iran relations keep worsening

On January 3, the US military assassinated Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, following which Iran launched more than ten ballistic missiles at two American military bases in Iraq and suspended implementing phase-5 of the Iran nuclear deal. Since then, the US has exerted multi-faceted “maximum pressure” on Iran, further worsening the bilateral relation.

The complexity of the current confrontation and gaming between the US and Iran is never seen before. The US has been exerting “maximum pressure” on Iran on political, economic, military and diplomatic fronts, the adverse effects of its Middle East policy keep emerging, and the Iran nuclear deal is looking at a gloomy prospect – all these factors have added fuel to the chaotic Middle East situation.

8. The UK seeks global influence in the post-Brexit era

The UK officially left the EU on January 31, and the two sides reached a post-Brexit trade agreement on December 24. Worried about its falling presence in the international community after Brexit, the UK has taken intense moves to enhance its global influence. In September, the British government launched Integrated Reviewto enhance the country’s international standing in security, national defense, foreign policy, and other domains across the board. According to the plan, the UK will set up a Space Command, a National Cyber Force and an AI agency. On November 18, it further announced an additional £16.5 billion (about 143.8 billion yuan) defense budget that will mainly be spent on cutting-edge space and cyber technologies.

The official Brexit and inking of the trade deal are a significant relief for the UK, but the road ahead is no plain sailing. On the one hand, Brexit will strongly impact the British economy and trigger the split and opposition between social classes. On the other hand, the post-Brexit UK has a subtler relation with NATO’s European members. It must intensify the interoperability with NATO members and allies and enhance its international influence through reinforced military presence.

9.The situation in Afghanistan is entangled

On February 29, the US and Taliban reached an agreement that American and NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan would leave the country before May next year. On September 12, the Afghan government and Taliban began peace talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar. On December 2, the two sides announced separately that they had come to an initial understanding of how to proceed with the peace negotiation in the future.

Despite the recent positive signs in Afghanistan’s security situation, the peace negotiation will be tough every step of the way as the constant attacks, grave political divide within the country, colossal losses resulting from decades of warfare, and the interference by out-of-region forces are pulling different factions in Afghanistan in various directions.

10. Terrorism is spreading in Europe

A shooting attack took place in Vienna, capital of Austria, on the evening of November 2. The shooter fired shots at six different locations in the downtown area, causing 4 dead and 17 injured, before he was shot by the police. The extremist organization IS later announced to take responsibility. The Vienna shooting was the third violent attack in Europe launched by extremists after a teacher was beheaded on the street of Paris on October 16 and the knife attack in Nice on the 29th of the same month.

The constant terror attacks in Europe show that non-traditional security threats represented by terrorism are seriously eroding world peace and stability. The localization of terrorist forces in Europe reveals the region’s weak economic development and ineffective diversification policy. The counter-terrorism combat in Europe may get more severe.

(Responsible editor:鼎盛军事论坛)

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