A Look Back, A Look Ahead

Here’s what our experts have chosen as the top stories of 2015, and the big stories that they will be watching closely in 2016.

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In 2016, All Eyes on Britain’s In-Out EU Referendum

“One of the things that [the United States] looked to the United Kingdom to be over the last twenty years is a partner who can help us in relations with the EU and who can bring other European countries to an agreement on issues that concern us. If Britain is no longer at  the EU table, that function is not there.”

– Fran Burwell, Vice President, European Union and Special Initiatives 

Can India’s Prime Minister Secure His Mandate in 2016?

“South Asia’s destiny resides within its neighbors and for that to succeed it is very important for India to succeed as a regional giant.”

– Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director, South Asia Center

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Russia’s Intervention in Syria Biggest Story in 2015

“The biggest story in terms of ink was Moscow’s military intervention in Syria. But the deeper story was the growing problems facing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.”

– John E. Herbst, Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center 

2016 Can Be a ‘Turning Point’ for Europe

“[I]t is very important for American investors that Europe goes back to a sustainable growth path.”

– Andrea Montanino, Director, Global Business and Economics Program

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Dip in Oil, Gas Prices Had Markets on Edge in 2015

“This may be the last best chance to have a significant impact on climate and it is all going to depend on implementation of the Paris agreement.”

– Richard L. Morningstar, Founding Director, Global Energy Center 

Breakdown of Global Order Had Far-Reaching Consequences in 2015

“The deepening turbulence in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe appears to be proceeding at such a rapid pace that astute observers are growing increasingly concerned about where these trends may lead even by the time of the presidential election in November.”

– Barry Pavel, Vice President, Arnold Kanter Chair, and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security

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Islamist Militant Groups Cast Deadly Shadow Over Africa in 2015

“[T]he big story in Africa is that notwithstanding politicized proclamations of ‘success,’ the security situation in a number of countries remains very precarious with the ongoing resilience of Islamist militant groups.”

– J. Peter Pham, Director, Africa Center 

Collapse of States Had Implications Beyond the Middle East in 2015

“[T]he big question in 2016 will be whether the United States and Europe, including Russia, can collaborate with states in the region as well as positive and legitimate regional actors, such as much of the Syrian opposition, the Palestinian Authority, and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, to resolve or at least to mitigate these conflicts. So far we have had mixed results at best.”

– Francis J. Ricciardone, Vice President and Director, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East

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Global Warming: US-Cuba Thaw Biggest News Out of Latin America in 2015

“[T]he biggest story to watch in Latin America is what will happen in Venezuela. The good news of the opposition’s victory in the elections in early December 2015 could well degenerate into a crisis of ungovernability in Venezuela.”

– Peter Schechter, Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center 

Related Experts: Andrea Montanino, Bharath Gopalaswamy, Francis J. Ricciardone, J. Peter Pham, John E. Herbst, Peter Schechter, and Richard L. Morningstar

Image: A Syrian migrant waits to cross the border with Croatia near the village of Berkasovo, Serbia, on October 21. More than one million refugees and migrants came to the European Union in 2015, while almost 3,700 died or went missing in perilous journeys which reaped huge profit for smugglers, according to the International Organization for Migration. Atlantic Council experts picked the migrant crisis as one of the top stories of 2015. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)