It has been a busy week in the international arena; an assassination in Iran, Syria descending further into civil war, results of elections in Egypt, alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan and Burma(Myanmar) coming in from the cold. We are but fourteen days into the new year and we are already seeing the seeds of new crises, conflicts and political tensions – not to mention the continuation of old rivalries and problem cases. The last seven days could give an indication of future trends in international politics for 2012 and the complexities that western policy-makers will face.
More positively, we are seeing potential glimmers of hope; democratic movements are gaining a foothold across the world, especially in the Middle East and Asia. Policy-makers and global strategists will be keenly watching events as they unfold, trying to predict just what 2012 may have in store for us. Their lack of foresight in 2011 and their failure to predict events – especially the Arab Spring movement – will lead to a greater push to be proactive rather than reactive.
With all eyes on the Arab Spring, it is inevitable that certain reports, even of high importance, will go unnoticed. Therefore, although my past few articles have been particularly focused on the occurrences in Libya and Syria and the UK’s role in both countries, this week I have decided to steer my focus towards the recent news of rising opium production in Afghanistan. Disturbingly, it has just been reported in the Afghan Opium Survey, released last week by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MNC) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), that opium production has reached 131,000 hectares this year; this is a shocking seven percent increase from 2010.
Over the last ten years British security personnel have experienced a tempo of operations unknown since the end of the Cold War. A global war, both overt and covert, has been waged against international terrorism and those that facilitate its development. Soldiers and spies have stalked the enemies of Britain all over the world from Helmand to Hong Kong. Often hidden behind a wall of secrecy, these operations have pushed the limit of what is morally acceptable and questioned more than ever the premise of Britain’s stance as a ‘force for good’. click here to keep reading
On Monday, while most of the British media were caught up in the ongoing soap opera of ‘hackgate’, another British soldier was killed in Afghanistan. The death of Corporal Mark Palin of the 1st Battalion the Rifles has taken the number of deaths in Afghanistan since 2001 to 377 (he is the 39th soldier to have died while David Cameron has been Prime Minister). Two days before another soldier was killed while on patrol with reports suggesting he was shot by a man dressed in Afghan Army uniform. Click here to keep reading
Afghanistan has once again been the focus of international headlines this week. The country is showing signs of a security and political system deteriorating beyond its already weakened state. On Tuesday the Taliban attacked a hotel in Kabul in a daring night-time raid killing 12 people. Earlier, on the same day, the Kabul authorities issued an arrest warrant for the former Afghanistan Central Bank governor in what is developing into a deeply worrying corruption scandal. Around thirty people also died last weekend in a deadly car bomb attack on a hospital in Logar province. This deterioration raises serious questions about David Cameron’s decision to unconditionally withdraw all UK soldiers from Afghanistan by 2015.