3. Southern Sudan
After a protracted Sudanese civil war that lasted over two decades, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 between the government and rebels in the south was hailed as an historic achievement. In accordance with that treaty, the southern region of Sudan held a referendum in January in which it voted overwhelmingly for independence.
Despite the heralded peace agreement, it is clear that the fight is far from over; unifying the south will be a Sisyphean task. "U.S. media, western media, the U.S. government--they have painted the conflict in Sudan as a sort of this north-south conflict, where this evil northern Islamic regime was attacking and denying autonomy to the...peoples of Southern Sudan," says Kuperman. "That neglects the fact that the people of Southern Sudan are not one people," he adds, pointing to the South's myriad ethnic groups.
In particular, the fate of Abyei, an ethnically divided border region that has not yet voted on whether to join the south or the north, remains to be negotiated. This is perhaps the most important issue to be decided before the south's July 9 independence. The violence in Abyei remains constant, and the International Crisis Group has warned that new conflict could erupt. Just this week, four U.N. peacekeepers on patrol in Abyei were wounded in an attack.