Monday, November 15, 2010

Three places to watch - November edition

There are always places out there hanging on the edge of conflict. Here at CompHyp, I've made it a habit in the past to point them out as the first open-sources (usually minor media reports) come out about them. This is by no means exhaustive, but for now let's live up to that tradition again with Three Places to Watch:

1) Sudan ~ It is voter registration time as of today for the national devolution referendum. This almost didn't happen, but a last minute deal seems to have kept the door open. For the next 17 days registration will compile voter lists all through Sudan that will be used for the 9.January 2011 vote. But to get to this point several side deals have been cut; the matter of contesting the demarcation of Abyei region will be treated with negotiation between the al-Bashir regime (the de jure government; represents the 'North') and the SPLM autonomous area government (the opposition separatists; the 'South') and that is just a recipe for a sellout done out of the media's view. There have also been some (upon examination) absurd claims of military build-ups and border fights along the separation line between North and South this weekend. That being what it is, the real risk is that there *will* be a military build-up as both sides think that a vote in favor of Southern secession will come. So put this on your watch list, but do be careful of breathless panic stories that could be the product of the flame-fanning on both sides.

2) Lebanon ~ The investigation into the Hariri assassination is coming to a close, and it looks like Hezbollah (Hizb' Allah; Party of God; the Iranian-sponsored faction of terrorist and Israel-attacking infamy) is going to get indictments from the Special Tribunal laid on several of their leadership. Hezbollah has angrily denounced that possibility, and says they will not comply. The last time they had a bout of 'non-compliance' they damn near restarted the Lebanese Civil War. If the indictments *are* upon leadership elements of Hezbollah, and there is a will by the State to try and enforce them, Hezbollah will likely start a fight. With someone. Plan for the worst there.

3) Nicaragua ~ Specifically, the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border violation along the San Juan River by Nicaraguan military elements. This is happening now. No, it isn't just a Google Maps error. It is claim jumping of the first order. The problem is made worse by the obvious contempt held by the Nicaraguan military for the Costa Rican Fuerza P├║blica (Public Force; Police with some paramilitary capability; Costa Rica has no regular army). Costa Rica also has depended in the past on the OAS to provide some amount of diplomatic protection for their interests, but that isn't going to happen if this matter is left in the hands of the current ALBA-influenced leadership at the OAS. Nicaragua under Ortega is proving to be another example that friends-of-Hugo are really bad neighbors. Oddly enough, this is also related to Iranian gamesmanship as they've got interests in their new Atlantic-side port project in Nicaragua and are in bed with the ALBA Chavistas. Potentially a really ugly situation.

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