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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 12-Feb-2011
12-Feb-11 News -- As Egypt's president Mubarak resigns, tension grows in the Sinai

Web Log - February, 2011

12-Feb-11 News -- As Egypt's president Mubarak resigns, tension grows in the Sinai

Updating the Conflict Risk Graphic for the Mideast

As Egypt's president Mubarak resigns, tension grows in the Sinai

Egypt has been thrown into completely unknown territory by the decision of Hosni Mubarak to resign as President.

Somber Omar Suleiman, vice-president of Egypt, delivering Mubarak's resignation announcement
Somber Omar Suleiman, vice-president of Egypt, delivering Mubarak's resignation announcement

Vice president Omar Suleiman delivered the following extremely dramatic address, according to the NY Times:

"In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody."

The resignation bypasses the parliament and constitutional processes and puts the country in the control of the "high council of the armed forces." Whether this military committee can govern the country, especially when the young protesters discover that the disappearance of Mubarak will not make any real difference in their lives, remains to be seen.

News organizations around the world have been laser-focused on Cairo's Tahrir (Freedom) Square, squealing with delight in practically every sentence. Meanwhile, many important developments have been occurring in other countries.

In yesterday's report, I described how the events in Egypt could destabilize Saudi Arabia. There have been conflicting reports over the last couple of days over whether the 87 year old Saudi King Abdullah has died. What is known is that Abdullah was furious about President Obama's handling of the Egypt situation. Some sources, like the Islam Times, are claiming that Abdullah was so infuriated that he suffered a sudden heart attack and died. But nothing has been confirmed.

Sinai (WSJ)
Sinai (WSJ)

Another area of increasing instability is the North Sinai region of Egypt that borders both Gaza and Israel. The unrest in Egypt has forced the Egyptian police to withdraw from most of the region. Last weekend, a natural gas pipeline that supplies Egyptian gas to Israel, Jordan and Syria was bombed. The perpetrators have not been identified, but both Hamas and Bedouins are suspected.

There are hundreds of thousands of people from the nomadic Bedouin ethnic group living in the northern Sinai region of Egypt, where they have long felt mistreated by Egyptian authorities, complaining about heavy-handed treatment by the police, according to WSJ (Access).

Because of the unrest, police have lost control of this region, and the Bedouins are now preparing to take control themselves, with the help of operatives from Hamas. There have already been firefights between the Bedouins and Egyptian security forces.

For Israel, these events open up an whole new southern front for Israel. In 30 years of peace along this border, Israel has completely dismantled its defensive apparatus, according to the Debka subscriber-only newsletter, forwarded to me by a subscriber:

"The Egyptian army and its security forces lost control of the Sinai Peninsula, excepting only the Sharm el Sheikh pocket. Much of the territory was seized by Hamas gangs, the Army of Islam which takes orders from Al Qaeda in Iraq, and Bedouin militias. The last group established a form of local government calling itself 'The Bedouin Force for Socialist Reform.'"

The report adds that Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) are stretched too thin to adequately defend this border, while also defending against threatened attacks by Hamas, Hizbollah, Syria and Iran.

Updating the Conflict Risk Graphic for the Mideast

The examples of instability that we've discussed in Saudi Arabia and Sinai are not unique. The 'contagion' from Egypt is also spreading to Bahrain, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan, resulting in renewed instability in the entire region.

Because of this regional instability, I'm raising the Conflict Risk Level for this region from 2 (medium risk) to 3 (high risk).

On January 1, the conflict risk graphic was changed to the following:

Conflict Risk Graphic, January 1, 2011
Conflict Risk Graphic, January 1, 2011

I designed this graphic in 2004 as a way of depicting my view of the chances of a crisis within 6-12 months in each of six regions, as well as in the area of global finance and disease. The six regions were chosen because a regional conflict in any of those areas had a high probability of spiraling into a world war.

On January 1, there were only two areas with high risk of major crisis:

Thanks to the growing instability of the Mideast, we're raising the conflict risk level for the Mideast to 3 (high risk). The revised graphic, which appears on the home page of my web site, is as follows:

Conflict Risk Graphic, February 12, 2011
Conflict Risk Graphic, February 12, 2011

I realize that many people are concerned about the events in the Mideast, and are not happy about some of the predictions that come out of the Generational Dynamics methodology. Very often I don't like them either, but there they are.

So far, my analyses of the situation in Egypt have been spot on. My expectation is that this will continue to be the case, but as always, we'll see what happens.

Over the years, I've now analyzed numerous crises -- Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iraq, Iran, and many others. In all cases, the Generational Dynamics predictions turned out to be correct, while almost every other analyst was rarely correct more than half the time. (I always like to say that it's easy to get a million predictions right; just make two million predictions.)

Perhaps now would be a good time to renew a challenge that I issued five or six years ago, which has never been answered: If there is any web site, analyst, journalist, politician or blogger with anything remotely close to the predictive success of the Generational Dynamics web site, then I'd like to know who it is. After all these years, I'm pretty sure that no such person or web site exists.

Already starving, North Korea admits to foot-and-mouth disease

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency has admitted, for the first time, to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, according to Global Post. More than 10,000 oxen, cattle and pigs have been infected.

According to the article, farmers are particularly dependent on oxen to plow fields and haul harvests. An expert is quoted:

"Oxen are so important in North Korea’s agricultural industry that the government owns them all. During the rice planting season you can see more oxen than tractors in the country.

It is no doubt that the outbreak will have a negative impact on North Korea's food shortages. It is likely to worsen the nutritional imbalance of North Koreans, whose consumption of animal protein already falls far below the recommended levels."

North Korea has reported the outbreak to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), according to the Financial Times (Access). According to the article,

"South Korean media reported that the UN agency will dispatch a team next week to evaluate the situation and help the North contain the disease.

It was unclear whether the disease had spread from the South to the North. South Korea has been battling a severe outbreak of the disease since November, described as Asia’s worst in half a century by Juan Lubroth, chief veterinary officer of the FAO.

It has culled 3 [million] animals, prompting a UN warning that all Asian nations should tighten import controls and begin vaccinations to prevent the disease from spreading to the whole continent."

As we reported yesterday, for the last two months, North Korea has been frantically begging for food around the world, and this comes at a time when their best friend forever China is having major food problems because of a severe drought. According to an official quoted by the New Zealand Herald, "This year, all 40 North Korean embassies have been ordered by Pyongyang to ask Governments for food. They have each been given a quota."

The events in Egypt and Tunisia have shown everyone how quickly things can change. With North Korea deep into a generational Crisis era, and with much of the population facing malnutrition and starvation, the Korean peninsula remains, along with the Mideast, the most dangerous place in the world today.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Feb-11 News -- As Egypt's president Mubarak resigns, tension grows in the Sinai thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Feb-2011) Permanent Link
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