Ethnic Conflict: Welcome to 2011

It may be a new year but old (and in some cases ancient) conflicts still plague humanity, I thought I’d highlight a few that I’ve been thinking about as they’ve been/will be in the news.

On January 9th the people of South Sudan will vote on whether to secede from Sudan and form their own state. They are extremely likely to do so and there is a strong possibility the North will not allow this and fighting – which has gone on for decades and killed tens of thousands of people – will resume. The South has much of the country’s oil wealth (as well as potential mineral resources and agricultural potential) and the North will not be happy to let it go. Here is an excellent column that lays out the history of the conflict, the scary possibility of a proxy war between the US and China, and the positive prognosis that fighting can hopefully be avoided.

I just got finished reading the third installment of the amazing Alexandria Quartet over the holiday break when news of a church bombing in Alexandria, Egypt, broke out. The book I finished, “Mountolive”, deals with tensions between the Copts and the Muslim majority and involves a conspiracy by the Copts to stand up for their shrinking strategic interests as Egypt transitioned from colonialism in the first part of the 20th century. The bombing was a reminder that those issues have never been solved. Sad the way Middle Eastern countries have over time basically chased out everyone that isn’t Muslim; the same thing is going on in Iraq right now as well. Maybe that’s one of the reasons those countries rank so very low on the UN’s development index.

Then there’s good old Pakistan. What post on ethnic conflict is complete without a word on that wonderful country. The latest news is Muslim protest against proposed changes to the blasphemy law, that some say makes simply being anything other than a Muslim in Pakistan a dangerous idea.

Ah, happy new year!

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