Any Potential 2011 Trouble-Spots to Add to this List?

I recognize this is just the tip of the iceburg for this year, but here are some brewing troublespots to keep an eye on. Feel free to add to the conversation:

Cote d’Ivoire

October of last year was witness to the first presidential elections in roughly 5 years, but the recognized (by the UN, African Union, France, US) winner, Alassane Ouattara has not been able to take office. Incumbent Laurent Gbagbo still stands in the way and will not step down. Both sides are building arms and the UN is already reporting incidents of disappearances, rape and deaths.


A tough addition considering the progress this country has made over the past 10 years. Yet the FARC has maintained a stubborn resistance and lax border patrols with neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela can exacerbate this situation considerably. Homicide rates have already started to climb in Medellin which was spotlighted a couple years back as having finally kicked its cocaine reputation of the 70’s and 80’s.


Two leaders (Mugabe and Tsvangirai) trying to keep power come the 2011 elections. Tsvangirai had won the 2008 elections, Mugabe failed to recognize his successor, and Mugabe still yields control over the army, security forces, and all pertinent state actors generating revenue.  Mugabe has stated 2011 will not be conciliatory on his end, so the ride could get much bumpier.


Nowadays it is not the country’s militants causing the most trouble, but rather its politicians. The new government is understandably weak and security forces still rely heavily on the U.S. Although fatality numbers are down compared to the previous 3 years, 300 Iraqis died amidst sectarian violence alone in November. Probably the most worrisome is entry by unsavory characters in the general area taking advantage of weak oversight and a fertile ground for recruitment. U.S. troops might be gone by end of next year which will please the U.S., but without an adequate safety net we might be back in there in due time.


Gotta love Chavez. I was recently listening to a podcast with a reporter who was asked who was the smartest person she has ever interviewed. Her response astounded me … Chavez. He is not going to win any academic decathlons anytime soon, but she said he is so charismatic, charming, manipulative to the point where you know you’re being duped but your senses and better judgment rendered helpless in his presence. Sounds like the perfect leader for this once-proud nation.

He has successfully consolidated control over the military and police, seizes private business on the daily, all this amongst spiking violence, runaway inflation and natural disasters (which by the way are the fault of the U.S., and you too Canada, so there!)


In a couple days a referendum is scheduled to take place which might result in independence for the south of Sudan. This however doesn’t solve much in terms of violence as respecting this referendum is a whole different ballgame. Problem in the meantime is if the vote goes poorly which could ignite much more violence in the short-term.


From what I hear from Mexicans and those in the region, the news has overblown the level of violence and moreover, the threat level to say a tourist looking to soak up some sun for a week or two. Regardless, 30,000 have died since Calderon declared war on the drug lords 4 years ago, and there a few words to describe the scene in Ciudad Juarez at the border with the U.S.

$400 million in U.S. aid later and where are we? The military and police are still quite corrupt, the judicial system needs a complete overhaul, and Americans need to stop coveting illegal substances. A couple of these are fixable, the latter never fixable unless the illegal component switches sides.


A fascinating country, rich in history and culture, and seemingly doomed in the face of shock after shock. A feel for Haiti. The November presidential election did not go according to plan so a run-off in planned for January. More than 1 million still remain homeless, international aid organizations are struggling to coordinate aid drops with the government, and the country sits in an area that geographically mother-nature has never smiled upon. Suggestions anyone?


An interesting case. Wikileaks exposed some rampant corruption throughout the government, private business and the president’s office. Most public services have been rendered unusable, with the larger economy leaning heavily on remittances from laborers in neighboring Russia. The real danger comes from extremists who have crossed back into the country seeking what many to believe a safe haven from the watchful eye in Afghanistan. This could get uglier should Afghanistan not get better.


Most troublesome is now the displaced 10 million people from the floods. Add to this the omnipresent security threat from terrorist groups, political instability, and the military ever so slowly splitting from conventional government oversight, 2011 is not commencing on auspicious terms.


The African Union peacekeeping force has actually kept this country from all out anarchy, but that fact doesn’t instill much confidence moving forward. Al Queda has made some inroads and if Mogadishu goes, so goes Somalia. Pirates are still quite common and without a permanent international watchdog presence this would be hell on earth.


Get this, last year Nigeria’s president disappeared, later explained to be a medical leave, and he then died. In the meantime hundreds were killed in sectarian violence and this year voting resumes re-surfacing festering memories of 2007 election fraud and mis-management. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and with terrorist activity still flaring up in the Niger Delta, the country’s struggling government has its hands full in 2011.



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