As 2016 comes to a close, in this UpFront year-end special, we take a look back at the past 12 months with a compilation of some of our interviews and debates.

Highlights: Headliners

Over the past year, UpFront guests have included foreign ministers, ambassadors and former presidents.

In a February interview, Mehdi Hasan pressed Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on whether she supported a Palestinian state.

In March, we asked the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, why his government supported the idea of a democratically elected government in Syria, but not at home.

And in June, former cricket star and chairman of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, Imran Khan, condemned Pakistan's Taliban, calling them "terrorists".

Other high-profile politicians included Iranian Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, former Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, and Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

As former boxing champion Klitschko puts it, "In boxing, you have clear rules ... in politics, it's a fight, no rules."

Highlights: The intelligence community

It's a spy's world, and some of the many guests that have appeared on UpFront came from the intelligence community.

In an April interview with Mehdi Hasan, former CIA Director Michael Hayden refused to call waterboarding "torture" and defended the US' use of drone strikes.

In May, General Michael Flynn, the former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency and now President-elect Donald Trump's choice for National Security Adviser, debated with General Asad Durrani, the former head of Pakistan's ISI, the sensitive relationship between the two countries' intelligence agencies.

And in a June interview, Israel's former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy would not confirm or deny, to Mehdi Hasan, the secretive organisation's alleged use of torture and assassination.

Highlights: The Arena

We've also had some heated debates in the Arena.

In August, Rana Ayyub, author of Gujarat Files: The Anatomy of a Cover-Up, and columnist Sadanand Dhume debated whether Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was turning a blind eye to religious violence targeting Muslims in Gujarat.

In July, leading atheists Lawrence Krauss and Greg Epstein debated if "New Atheists" undermine the atheist cause, and whether questioning the faithful's belief is helping or hurting.

And in June, then Ethiopian Communication Affairs Minister Getachew Reda debated whether the country's government was guilty of a violent crackdown on the Oromo people with Lencho Bati, an executive committee member of the Oromo Democratic Front.

Highlights: Noam Chomsky

During the controversy-filled year of 2016, acclaimed public intellectual Noam Chomsky sat down with UpFront twice.

In a January interview, Chomsky spoke about the progress the world has made with civil and human rights.

"In many respects, it's a more civilised world than it was before," said Chomsky.

When asked if he was optimistic about the future, Chomsky said pessimism was counterproductive.

"You have two choices: You can say, 'I'm a pessimist, nothing is going to work, I'm giving up, I'll help ensure the worst will happen', or you can grasp on to the opportunities that do exist - the rays of hope that exist - and say, 'Well, maybe we can make it a better world'. It's not much of a choice."

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Source: Al Jazeera News