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Terrorism Report for 2012!

Interesting Op-Ed piece: "No peace, No prosperity, No progress" by SIMON TISDALL / London published Thursday, December 29, 2011

An interesting op-ed piece talked about the upcoming year of 2012. In it the writer mentions that in conflict zones from the Middle East to Africa and Asia, there is scant prospect of relief in 2012 and good grounds for believing that worse is to come. Economically speaking, the monetary and sovereign debt crises affecting Europe and the US threaten to taint global markets further and trigger a general depression. In plain political terms, resurgent nationalism, self-serving or downright corrupt electoral processes, and a growing emphasis on the politics of fear and envy. So, let us look ahead to what 2012 holds!

The year 2012 will be remarkable for the fact that four out of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the US, Russia, China and France, with the exception of Britain) will conduct high-profile elections that will distract attention and curtail their engagement in international affairs. Elections (of a kind) are also due in China and Russia. Until recent mass street protests over fraudulent parliamentary polls disrupted the plan, Vladimir Putin was expected to be effortlessly enthroned as Russia's president in March. Putin is still odds-on to win – but the shine has gone off his particular red star. A third Putin presidency now presages a period of ever more chauvinistic nationalism and increased domestic confrontation. It is not yet a second Russian revolution – but it warrants careful attention. In Beijing, the Communist party's October conference, barring unexpected earthquakes, will appoint empty-space apparatchik Xi Jinping as general-secretary and prospective successor to chief empty-space, President Hu Jintao. Continuity will be the watchword. Last but not least, the voluble, vituperative French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, will seek a second term in spring polls that pit him against the socialist-lite candidate, François Hollande, centrist François Bayrou, and the far-right standard-bearer, Marine Le Pen. Sarkozy will run on a France-first, Gaullist style platform, abandoning his previous reformist message. He will be judged primarily on his handling of the eurozone crisis and its negative impact on the French economy and jobs. 2012 should be another historic year for the Middle East. The first thing to look at is the quartet of issues in the Middle East—Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Iran. The Arab spring is just over one year old and everywhere the outcome of this unprecedented popular drive for democracy and self-determination, from Yemen and Algeria to Egypt and Libya, remains in doubt. Tunisia offers the only clear success story so far. The ongoing repression of the Syrian uprising represents the nadir. A key issue for 2012 is the survival, or not, of 2011's leading crimes against humanity contender, President Bashar al-Assad. His downfall could trigger momentous upheavals in Lebanon, where Syria's close ally Hezbollah dominates, in Palestine, where Hamas's grip on Gaza owes much to Syrian support, and in Iraq, where the Sunni minority might seek to emulate Syria's Sunnis in overturning the status quo. But the biggest impact of a successful Syrian revolution could be on the country's chief non-Arab ally, Iran. Assad's fall would be a big blow for the Tehran regime's regional ambitions and might even encourage Israel to use the opportunity to strike a blow at its main adversary. We are entering a particularly dangerous period in Iran. The latest intelligence is that Iran is planning to expand enrichment activities at an underground facility near Qom. Israel is engaged in a debate over whether to attack before such a facility is fully operational. The politics of this for the U.S. administration in an election year are awful. This would be a war that Israel can start but can’t finish. Meanwhile, Republican candidates are trying to outdo each other on bellicosity toward Iran. The United States could be drawn into military action that would cause global oil prices to skyrocket and in all probability lead to an outbreak of Shia terrorism. The biggest threat from an Iranian nuclear weapon is not that Iran’s rulers are lunatics who will start a nuclear war, but that it will set off a nuclear arms race in one of the most dangerous regions in the world and where governments have the money to pay for it. The end of the nine-year war in Iraq gives the United States the chance to leave some of the responsibility behind. But what this means in concrete terms depends entirely on what happens in Iraqi politics. If sectarian strife rises, there will be an entirely new set of problems on everyone’s hands, particularly if Iranian influence grows. 2012 will see plenty of other actual or potential conflicts. Border and resource tensions affecting South Sudan, which gained independence from the North in 2011, have raised fears that the world's newest state could be throttled at birth. Post-election disputes in the Democratic Republic of Congo are showing signs of degenerating into general violence. The sporadic murder perpetrated by Boko Haram across the Christian-Muslim faultline in Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, shows no signs of abating. In East Asia, the death of Kim Jong-il in North Korea has introduced massive uncertainty amid doubts that the youthful, inexperienced "Dear Successor", Kim Jong-un, is up to the job. In Burma, 2012 may determine whether recent progress towards more inclusive governance is permanent and substantive, or mere window-dressing designed to rehabilitate the regime. The long endgame in Afghanistan can be expected to continue to be bloody, unsatisfactory and confusing. American combat troops will begin to leave in 2012, and with Britain also accelerating its departure, a successful security handover to Afghan forces will become ever more crucial – and problematic. Chronic instability in Pakistan can also be expected to increase as long as the standoff with the US over counter-terrorism tactics continues and an Afghan peace settlement with the Taliban remains elusive. The fear in Pakistan is of another military takeover. A coup could bring intensification and widening of the Af-Pak conflict. There is also the continuing question of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Things in Pakistan are going from worse to horrible. Tensions are on the rise between its powerful military and the civilian government, and it is imaginable that a military coup could end yet another era of civilian rule in 2012. And this is all complicated by the war in Afghanistan, which is not going well. In this decade-long war, the two highest years for NATO casualties are 2010 and 2011. The defining issue in Afghanistan is the U.S. withdrawal date. There are few indications that NATO and Afghanistan can build security forces capable of keeping the country whole and protected from a Taliban resurgence. The government, weak and rife with corruption, will require much more funding than Afghanistan itself can afford. This makes them a ward of the international community for the indefinite future—no one has focused on this reality yet but obviously it isn’t a healthy outcome. At the same time, the situation in Pakistan is only getting worse and the country is high on the list of worries for 2012. There are indications that there is a renewed move against the civilian leaders by the military. Every civilian government in Pakistan’s history has been deposed through military action and the country’s economy is in a horrible state. Look for Imran Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), to make headway in Pakistan, as his support is growing daily. In South America, 2012 is a big one for Venezuela's president, the ailing firebrand Hugo Chávez, who is expected to seek re-election. Likewise the ageing autocrat, President Robert Mugabe, could call early polls in Zimbabwe, heralding the now depressingly familiar scenario of rigging, violence and intimidation. A change in the top in Venezuela would have big implications for its tiny ally, the Castro brothers' communist-Catholic Cuba, which will play host to the pope in one of the year's more curious events. The Fidel-Benedict show could make great viewing.
So, as you can see, 2012 is in for an interesting year. Our military and the young men and women working long hours in Washington, analyzing data from all over the world continue to work hard to prevent another 9-11. May they have all the information they need to stop another attack. Remember to support our troops as they work every day to keep us safe. One final note, I want to thank my readers for their feedback, many of you have written to my Gmail account, and I enjoy all the great insight and wish you all a great new year. I will carry on my entries starting January 2nd, 2012.




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