The World’s Many Conflicts

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There are multiple regions of tension around the world where trouble could flare up over any one of the above-mentioned issues; the Middle East being just one of them.

As Barack Obama takes over as president of the only remaining superpower, he inherits a troubled world where people are fighting and dying over ethnic differences, religion, nationality, oil, drugs and in the future, water.

There are multiple regions of tension around the world where trouble could flare up over any one of the above-mentioned issues; the Middle East being just one of them.

Consider these facts compiled by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies in their report on “The Military Balance 2009.”

Though criticized and often deemed ineffective, the United Nations remains actively involved in various forms in trying to reduce violence around the globe. The U.N. maintains a total of 88,116 peacekeepers and observers at a yearly cost of $7.452 billion in the following countries and/or regions. Some have been deployed for more than six decades. In some instances they have been successful; in others they have not been able to prevent the outbreak of violence.

Middle East: United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, (UNTSO). Strength: 152; deployed since 1948.

India/Pakistan: United Nations Military Observer Group, (UNMOGIP). Strength: 44; deployed since 1949.

Cyprus: Middle East: United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, (UNFICYP). Strength: 938; deployed since 1964.

Israel: United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, (UNDOF). Strength: 1,088; deployed since 1974.

Lebanon: United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, (UNIFIL). Strength: 12,341; deployed since 1978.

Western Sahara: United Nations Mission for the Referendum, (MINURSO). Strength: 228; deployed 991.

Georgia: United Nations Observer Mission, (UNOMIG). Strength: 151; deployed 1993.

Kosovo: United Nations Administration Mission, (UNMIK). Strength: 1,956; established 1999.

DR Congo: United Nations Organization Mission, (MONUC). Strength: 18,446; deployed 1999.

Afghanistan: United Nations Assistance Mission, (UNAMA). Strength: 19; deployed 2002.

Liberia: United Nations Mission, (UNMIL). Strength: 13,382; deployed 2003.

Iraq: United Nations Assistance Mission, (UNAMI). Strength: 229; deployed 2003.

Ivory Coast: United Nations Operation, (UNOCI). Strength: 9,168; deployed 2004.

Haiti: United Nations Stabilization Mission, (MINUSTAH). Strength: 9,012; deployed 2004.

Sudan: United Nations Operations, (UNMIS). Strength: 9,929; deployed 2005.

Timor-Leste: United Nations Integrated Mission, (UNMIT. Strength: 1,550; deployed 2006.

Darfur: United Nations/African Union Hybrid Operations, (UNAMID). Strength: 9,237; deployed 2007.

Chad: United Nations Mission, (MINURCAT). Strength: 105; deployed 2007.

Nepal: United Nations in Nepal, (UNMIN). Strength 141; deployed 2007.

In the post-World War II era, conflicts have continued to claim hundreds of thousands of lives. Among the bloodiest conflicts in order of the greatest number of fatalities they caused are:

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: 1979-89. Fatalities: 1,500,000.

Iran-Iraq War: 1980-1988. Fatalities: 1,000.000.

India: Muslim-Hindu clashes 1947-48. Fatalities: 800,000.

Afghanistan civil war, 1992-2001. Fatalities: 130,000.

Iraq: Government-Kurdish clashes. Fatalities 105,000.

Lebanon civil war, 1975-1990. Fatalities: 100,000.

Algeria civil war, 1954-62. Fatalities, 100,000.

Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, 1967. Fatalities 22,000.

Israel-Lebanon Border, 1968-78. Fatalities 30,000.

Kuwait, Gulf War, 1990-91. Fatalities, 20,000

Besides ethnic and religious violence that is the root cause of many of the above mentioned conflicts, in other parts of the world people are fighting and killing over two other major issues: drugs and water.

Since 1987 drug-related wars in South America have claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people. Killings related to powerful drug cartels in countries such as Mexico rose to almost 4,000 in 2008.

The growing concern about future conflicts is going to be over one of the planet’s most precious elements: water.

In years to come – just as in the most recent James Bond movie, “Quantum of Solace,” where Her Majesty’s secret agent with a license to kill takes on the villains who, this time, are not after gold, oil, computer technology, or world domination through political means – the fight will be over who controls the water.

The water-related hot spots to watch for are the following:

Mexico-U.S.: Rio Grande, Rio Bravo and Rio Conchos.

Mexico-Guatemala: Grijalva River system.

Brazil-South America: Amazon River Basin

Hungary-Slovakia: Danube River

Armenian-Azerbaijan-Georgia: Kura-Araks River system

Israel-Jordan-Lebanon-Syria: Sea of Galilee and Jordan River

Cameroon-Chad-Niger-Nigeria: Lake Chad

Egypt-Northeast Africa: Nile River

Kenya-Tanzania-Uganda: Lake Victoria

Afghanistan-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan: Syr and Amu Darya River systems.

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