Tuesday, 25 February 2020
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Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman delivered the following statement Feb. 11: "In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody."

Suleiman's statement is the clearest indication thus far that the military has carried out a coup led by Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. It is not clear whether Suleiman will remain as the civilian head of the army-led government. Egypt is returning to the 1952 model of ruling the state via a council of army officers. The question now is to what extent the military elite will share power with its civilian counterparts.

At a certain point, the opposition's euphoria will subside and demands for elections will be voiced. The United States, while supportive of the military containing the unrest, also has a strategic need to see Egypt move toward a more pluralistic system.

Whether the military stays true to its commitment to hold elections on schedule in September remains to be seen. If elections are held, however, the military must have a political vehicle in place to counter opposition forces, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. The fate of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) thus lies in question. Without the NDP, the regime will have effectively collapsed and the military could run into greater difficulty in running the country. While the military council will be serving as the provisional government, it will likely want to retain as much of the ruling NDP as possible and incorporate elements of the opposition to manage the transition. Sustaining its hold over power while crafting a democratic government will be the biggest challenge for the military as it tries to avoid regime change while also dealing with a potential constitutional crisis.

Read more: Red Alert: Mubarak Resigns, Military is in Charge | STRATFOR www.stratfor.com


By Nick Cranston, B.A, Research Associate, U.K. Defence Forum

Viewpoints has been following the Cambodian-Thai standoff recently as the latest round of a century long dispute involving the Preah Vihear Temple in Preah Vihear Province. This temple, built during the 9th and 10th centuries, has been at the centre of conflict and debate between the two nations goes back to the early 1900s but the ownership dispute has reappeared in recent years Cambodia submitted an application to UNESCO requesting that the site be designated as a World Heritage site after the 46 years of disputes. Thailand contended that the land surrounding the site belonged to them. The Cambodians withdrew the application, and in 2008, after winning support, resubmitted a modified request requesting the designation just for the temple, not surrounding land. The World Court now has ruled that it belongs to Cambodia, was listed as a UN heritage site, angering nationalists in Thailand who still regard it as Thai.

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By Jamie Ingram

The UK called a meeting of the UN Security council on 16 November 2010 to address concerns over violence relating to the forthcoming referendum on South Sudanese independence on 6 January 2011. The meeting aimed to demonstrate to the North Sudanese government that the international community is paying close attention to the country and will not permit the situation to regress into violence. This was just the latest visible sign of concern over the situation in Sudan, coming shortly after the visit of a high level UN panel to the country between 10-15 October to closely examine the situation and a statement from US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton condemning the Northern government. Clinton stated that there was only one possible outcome of the referendum, South Sudan's secession, and that any attempts by the North to interfere would be unacceptable.

Sudan's divisions are strikingly evident in both its geography and history. The deserts of the North are in stark contrast to the savannah and jungles of the South, while the populations of these two regions are just as varied. The North is predominantly Arabic speaking and Islamic while the South is populated by English speaking black Africans. After the British gained control in 1899 both regions were ruled from Khartoum in the North. Since gaining independence in 1956 Sudan has been racked by bloody civil wars between the North and South. The first civil war began in 1955 before Sudan even gained independence and ended in 1972; half a million died. The second civil war began in 1983 and lasted until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 after over 1.9 million civilians had died. Exploitation of the Nile by the North at the expense of the South was a major cause of the conflagration

The CPA resulted in the promise to hold a referendum for South Sudanese independence in January 2011, but difficulties surround the process and tension is rife. The precise delimitation of South Sudanese territory has proven to be extremely difficult, especially regarding the Abyei region. These boundaries were to be delimited by the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) but the findings of their 2005 report were rejected by the Northern Government. Eventually the boundary dispute was referred to the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration which ruled on the delimitation of Abyei's boundaries on 22 July 2009. In addition to the referendum on Southern independence, Abyei is due to hold an election in which its population will vote on whether they wish to be part of South Sudan or remain with the North.

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By Patrick Nopens

A perfect storm

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, "a perfect storm of drugs, crime and insurgency that has swirled around the Afghanistan/Pakistan border for years, is heading for Central Asia".

Afghanistan is the major producer of the world's opiates and cannabis. From there the drugs are trafficked chiefly to Europe, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China. Drug trafficking and consumption are linked to other crime, turning Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into narco-states. Furthermore, money generated by the drugs trade is being channelled to insurgent movements, not only in Afghanistan but also in Central Asia.
If the international community does not act swiftly and in unison, this will not only impact drug related crime and consumption worldwide but also jeopardise the vast energy reserves in Central Asia and risk further destabilising the Caucasus.

Counter-narcotics in Afghanistan are an area where NATO's and Russia's interests clearly coincide. If NATO and Russia cannot find a way of effectively cooperating in this matter, not only will the Afghan narcotic problem spiral completely out of control, but NATO-Russia cooperation could come under pressure.

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By George Friedman and Reva Bhalla

Strange statements are coming out of Cuba these days. Fidel Castro, in the course of a five-hour interview in late August, reportedly told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations that "the Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."

Once that statement hit the headlines, Castro backtracked. Dressed in military uniform for the first time in four years (which we suspect was his way of signaling that he was not abandoning the revolution), he delivered a rare, 35-minute speech Sept. 3 to students at the University of Havana. In addition to spending several minutes on STRATFOR's Iran analysis, Castro addressed his earlier statement on the Cuban model, saying he was "accurately quoted but misinterpreted" and suggesting that the economic model doesn't work anymore but that the revolution lives on.

Castro, now 84, may be old, but he still seems to have his wits about him. We don't know whether he was grossly misinterpreted by the reporter during the earlier interview, was acknowledging the futility of the Cuban model and/or was dropping hints of a policy shift. Regardless of what he did or did not say, Castro's reported statement on the weakness of the revolution was by no means revolutionary.

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By Dr Robert Crowcroft

Predicting the future is usually a mug's game. Trying to discern what will, and will not, happen is not a profitable activity. Fortunately, however, the outlines of the international order over the coming decades are already there, at least for those who want to see them because, in a very real sense, the 'future' is happening now. And that future is dystopian.

Definitions of 'dystopian' yield phrases like 'grim' and 'as bad as can be'; there is widespread 'human misery' and 'repressive social systems' under the guise of idealism, as well as 'poverty', and a 'constant' state of warfare and conflict. To those willing to recognise it as such, a new international political order has been emerging since the 1990s, gathering force by the year, and extending ever wider. This is a dystopian order, and, in short, is a very bad thing for humanity. Seeing the world in this way offers a far more realistic framework for understanding contemporary events and international dynamics than the unfounded dreams of an approaching golden age of co-operation forced down our throats by shrill Western leftists.

What makes the new international system qualify as dystopian is a convergence between the near-universal utopianism that marks political language in today's world with the increasing prevalence of violence, the impact of ethnic tensions, unprecedented global population growth, resource shortage and climate change, and the way in which technological advance facilitates police states. The strength of these forces is striking. Take Africa. In the last two decades the 'dark continent' has been exceptionally violent. Warfare has occurred virtually everywhere in Africa, both within and between states. There are precious few polities that function even adequately, let alone well. Tribal loyalties remain a powerful call on loyalties, and where ethnic tensions occur they ripple across national borders. In Central Africa, for example, in 1993 Tutsis in Burundi staged a coup and slaughtered around 100,000 Hutus. In 1994 the Hutus struck back with a coup in neighbouring Rwanda, overthrowing the Tutsis and celebrating the victory by instigating a genocide that left up to one million Tutsis dead. The effects rippled out across the geopolitics of the Great Lakes region: Uganda, Tanzania, and Sudan all felt the impact, as did the Democratic Republic of Congo, essentially a huge ungoverned space for several decades. But this is just one example; indeed the African states system has essentially collapsed. External states display only a fleeting interest in the region, and the two Sub-Saharan powers of any significance, Nigeria and South Africa, are both unwilling and probably unable to do much about it. This, surely, is 'as bad as can be'. During the football World Cup, when South Africa scored in the opening match of the tournament the BBC commentator obviously brainwashed with comforting liberal assumptions about Mandela and so on couldn't wait to exclaim that 'It's a goal for South Africa! It's a goal for all of Africa!' Presumably someone had written the line for him, but I wonder how the Hutus and the Tutsis feel about being lumped together, by the ignorance of the white man, into an imaginary emerging multicultural paradise? The arrogance is outrageous. When Germany defeated Uruguay in the third place play-off, was anyone stupid enough to yell that 'It's a victory for all of Europe'?

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