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2014 Conflict Prevention Priorities: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Paul B. Stares, Director of Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations
December 20, 2013

CFR's Center for Preventive Action conducts an annual survey of leading experts assessing global conflict from several conceivable sources. Each conflict is examined in regard to likelihood and role in affecting U.S. interests. To help summarize the findings of the latest survey, Paul Stares, CFR's Director of the Center for Preventive Action, prioritizes three regions to keep an eye on in 2014:

Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: With the civil war in Syria now close to entering its third year, an unresolved political situation in Egypt, and a surge in sectarian violence in Iraq, the Middle East and North Africa are regions to watch in 2014, Stares says. Both regions are on the precipice of destabilization as Jordan faces "intense strain" from the inflow of Syrian refugees and Libya's central power authority "remains in doubt" in contrast to the rising power of militant groups, Stares warns.

East Asian Brinksmanship: In North Korea, it is unknown if the recent purge of senior officials, including leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, will "presage a period of acute instability and more military provocations," Stares says. Meanwhile, in the East China Sea, Japan and China have been flexing their military muscles in an ongoing territorial row over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. "The risk of either a miscalculation or an accident occurring that leads to serious incident between the two countries is very real," Stares says.

Insecurity in Afghanistan and Pakistan: There is concern that a U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan will give way to growing instability and violence, according to Stares. Also, in Pakistan, Stares says, a "fragile" political climate and a weak relationship with neighboring India cause fears that "militant activity in Kashmir could cause another major crisis in the short term."

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