“Next Year’s Wars” 

 The 16 brewing conflicts to watch for in 2011 according to Foreign Policy magazine and the International Crisis Group.

Captions by International Crisis Group*

Across the globe today, you’ll find almost three dozen raging conflicts, from the valleys of Afghanistan to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the streets of Kashmir. But what are the next crises that might erupt in 2011? Here are a few worrisome spots that make our list.

1. Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire is on the brink of what may be a very bad 2011. After a five-year delay, Côte d’Ivoire held presidential elections on Oct. 31. A peaceful first round of voting was commended by the international community, but the runoff between incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara was marred by clashes and allegations of fraud on both sides.

2. Colombia

At first glance, Colombia’s prospects for 2011 look bright. The country’s new president, Juan Manuel Santos, has surprised many former critics with his bold reform proposals, many of which are aimed at addressing the root causes of the country’s 46-year civil conflict against leftist rebels. He has mended relations with neighbouring Venezuela and Ecuador, committed to protect human rights advocates, and proposed legislation to help resettle the country’s four million displaced.

3. Zimbabwe

Keep an eye on Zimbabwe in 2011 as the country’s “unity” government — joining longtime President Robert Mugabe with opposition leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — will warrant its conciliatory name less and less by the day. The flashpoint next year? Elections. Both men want to hold them — but they don’t agree about what Zimbabweans should be voting on.

4. Iraq

Iraq today is in far better shape than it was in 2007, when nearly two dozen Iraqis were dying each day in suicide bombings. But it’s still far from out of the woods. And these days, it’s not militants but the country’s politics that post the biggest threat. The new government, formed in December after nine months of wrangling, is weak and lacks the institutions to rule effectively. Iraq’s bureaucracies are nascent and fragile, and its security forces remain heavily dependent on U.S. training as well as logistics and intelligence support. Meanwhile, grievances abound — from minority groups to repatriated refugees — and it is unlikely that the state will be able to appease these many political demands. Sectarian violence resurfaces in fits and spurts, and is far from quashed entirely; approximately 300 Iraqis died in violence in November.

5. Venezuela

Over the next 12 months, watch for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to take his brand of 21st-century socialism to the extremes. Having lost his majority in Parliament in September, Chávez has since been working hard to ensure that the new, opposition legislature will be irrelevant by the time it is sworn in in January. The Venezuelan president has consolidated control over the military and police, seized more private companies, and won temporary “decree powers” from the outgoing, pro-government National Assembly.

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 As published in www.foreignpolicy.com on December 28, 2010

* The International Crisis Group (ICG) is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization whose mission is to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts around the world. The ICG has field-based analysts working in over 50 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents.


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