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Thursday, January 22, 2015, 10:35 (GMT+7)
10 prominent military events of 2014

The 2014 world panorama experienced a great difference from the previous years. Major incidents happened in a number of countries and regions, causing great concern and impacting global life and society. The National Defence Journal would like to introduce 10 most prominent military events of the year.

1. Ukraine Crisis

The comprehensive and severe crisis in Ukraine in 2014 shocked the world and involved major powers. On 22 February 2014, under the pressure of the opponents (through violent demonstrations), Ukrainian Parliament ousted President Yanukovych and established the new pro-Western government. This caused a chain effect leading to the Crimea’s annexation to Russia and the demand of some eastern provinces of Ukraine for their own republic states, etc. As a result, armed conflicts spread throughout Ukrainian eastern provinces. More than 4700 people were killed, tens of thousands others were wounded and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes. Despite the Kiev’s objection, Donetsk and Luhansk (commonly known as Donbass) held their own referendums and established their self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic states. In retaliation, Kiev revoked the law on special status of Donbass and, at the same time, rearmed and prepared for a war. Recently, Ukrainian crisis seems to be less severe but the main contradiction has not been solved, particularly the outside interventions make the crisis and future of Ukraine unpredictable.

2. The self-proclaimed Islamic State

IS fighters showing their force on street in Syria (Photo: Reuters)

In June 2014, this organization suddenly rose, attacked and occupied many cities of Iraq, Syria and caused a number of bloody massacres of innocent people making hundreds of thousands of people flee their homes. In response to this threat, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2178 on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. Threat from IS also forced Washington to announce its comprehensive strategy against IS and established an international alliance headed by the US to cope with this notorious organization. However, due to the US underestimation of IS capability, and its reliance on air strikes and supports (training, weapons, etc) for Iraqi security, the results gained haven’t met expectations. At present, IS not only escalates violence, employs more fighters (from a number of countries) but also adjusts their reactions flexibly. As a result, the war against IS is deemed to be prolonged and problematic.

3. The contradiction between Russia and Western countries

The confrontation between Russia and the US and EU reached its climax when the West openly supported the “second orange revolution” in Ukraine and ousted the pro-Russian president Yanokovych. Then Russia decided to annex Crimea and recognized the result of the referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk (November 2014). Condemning Russia for the unrest in Ukraine, the US and EU immediately boycotted and excluded Russia from the G8 summit planned to be held in the city of Sochi of Russia; established a rapid reaction force in Europe and imposed a number of economic sanctions against Russia. As for Russia, it used energy as a weapon in reply. Many rounds of negotiation have been held throughout the years without progress. International opinions have expressed concern that the severe contradiction around the Ukrainian crisis not only inflicts damages on involving parties but also drives Russia, US and EU into a new dangerous “Cold War”.

4 China’s illegal placement of the Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig in Vietnam’s continental shelf and EEZ.

In the first week of May 2014, China unilaterally placed its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig (escorted by a number of warships and aircrafts) deep into Vietnam’s continental shelf and economic exclusive zone. Many countries expressed their deep concern of this provocative and dangerous act. Vietnam and international opinions strongly condemned China’s move. In response to the act, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’s Meeting issued its Foreign Ministers’ Statement on 10 May 2014 and the 24th ASEAN Summit released a Joint Communique raising deep concern over the issue on the East Sea and stressed the importance of the absolute compliance with international laws, particularly the UNCLOS 1982. Under the pressure of international community, on 15 July 2014, China had to withdraw its oil rig out of Vietnam’s waters.

5. Conflict between Israel and Palestine

The conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated and reached its climax on 17 July 2014 when Tel Aviv launched the largest ground offensive attack in 10 years into Gaza Strip. Palestinian fighters answered Israeli military operations with rockets making the conflict more severe. The 50-day conflict caused the death of more than 2200 people, tens of thousands wounded and hundreds of thousands became homeless. Under the pressure of international community, on 26 August 2014, Israel government and Palestinian armed groups reached an unlimited ceasefire agreement in Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, with many unsolved contradictions, a long-lasting peace for the area is unlikely in prospect.

6. Japan’s exercising the right of collective self-defense.

In July 2014, Japanese cabinet decided to remove legal barrier which restricted Japan from the use of force overseas since the Second World War. Accordingly, Tokyo has the right to exercise collective self-defense when a foreign country, that is in a close relationship with Japan, is under attack and on the condition that the attack threatens Japan’s survival and poses a clear danger to fundamentally overturn (Japanese) people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Besides, Japan also announced its relaxation of the long held restriction on arms exports and its deployment of troops to UN peacekeeping operations mission. Yet, the decision is still await for Japan’s parliament approval and limited in action.

7. The US announcement of new foreign policy

On 28 May 2014, US Predsident Barrack Obama declared the new US foreign policy. Accordingly, the US won’t maintain “military adventures” but encourage self-restraint and “collective action”. Changes in the US foreign policy caused diverse opinions. The Republicans criticized that the policy would weaken the US power and credit globally. According to observers, no matter what policy adjustments, it’s not easy for the US to get out of violent cyclone elsewhere in the world because of its hegemony thought.

8. The escalation of terrorist acts threatening global security

The escalation terrorist acts threatened security of many countries in 2014. Besides extremists of IS in Iraq and Syria, the Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Taliban also kicked off their acts in Asia, Africa and Europe. The most bloody one was the Taliban attack into a school in Pakistan which killed 145 people and wounded several other hundreds. In Afghanistan, there were more than 80 terrorist attacks in Kabul in 2014, which is more than twofold in comparision to 2013. The recent attacks in Canada and Australia raised a warning that no country is exempt from terrorist acts. More dangerously, there have been signs of collaboration of terrorists coming from countries which have rarely faced the issue before such as France, England, Italy, etc. This has made global security more threatened.

9. Iran nuclear talks coming to deadlock.

On 24 November 2014, talk between Iran and the P5+1 group (US, Russia, England, France, China and Germany) on the Tehran’s nuclear program failed to reach any break-throughs and was forced to extend to July 2015. Previously, in July 2014, a chance for the final agreement had been missed. According to analysts, key disagreements are the degree of uranium enrichment of Iran and the schedule for sanction removal of the US and the West. But these are only technical issues and there remains the hope to settle them step by step. Trust, pressure and calculations of each side are main challenges to narrow the gap. Although there are still chances for a final agreement, deadlocks of the past rounds have negatively impacted the regional and world security.

10. Syria’s conflict remains complicated

Although the UN and international community have carried out a number of methods to restore peace in Syria, conflicts escalated in this  country. In reality, Syria is deeply divided. Severe conflicts happened between  Damascus government forces with the militant groups  namely IS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, etc and the Kurds. Notably, the fight in Al Tabaqat airbase which killed more than 500  Syria troops and IS militants. Meanwhile, the US airstrikes on IS in Syria’s territory and its aids for “mild” force to counter IS without collaboration with Damascus government also worsen the situation. According to UN statistic, since the outbreak of the conflict in November 2011, as many as 195 thousand Syrian people have been killed, more than 2.5 million had to flee and nearly 11 million Syrian people are under urgent needs. Escalated conflict in Syria also threatens security in a number of other countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, etc.

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