Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Foreign Updates: Sudan; the European Union

     Southern Sudan is voting this week on its independence referendum, which I had posted about last year. So far, the only violence has been in the Abyei region, the status of which was supposed to be determined in a separate plebiscite, in which the inhabitants would choose whether to be in the north or south. The vote in Abyei, which, like Southern Sudan, is rich in oil, has been delayed indefinitely. The Arab Islamist northern Sudanese government appears resigned to lose the Christian and animist black south, in the hopes of gaining some international support and trade, and possibly the dropping by the United States of its designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. The independence referendum is the result of the mediation by the Administration of U.S. President George W. Bush that ended the twenty-year long Sudanese Civil War that killed one to two million people that was characterized by atrocities against the south. This conflict is separate from the genocide being conducted by Arabs with northern Sudanese government backing against black Muslims in Darfur, the western part of Sudan, for which the northern Sudanese leader remains under a war crimes indictment that will not be withdrawn even if he accepts the outcome of the Southern Sudanese referendum. I am continuing to monitor the latest developments.

     Deeply divided Belgium’s inability to form a coalition government amidst a financial crisis has the potential to spread the contagion further around the European Union about which I have been posting. Belgium is a Dutch and French-speaking state that has failed to resolve its linguistic differences. King Albert will now have to decide whether to allow the caretaker government that has lost its parliamentary majority to continue in power. Meanwhile, Portugal is under increased pressure to accept a bailout, like Greece and Ireland.

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