Global flash points: How to spot signs of peace
Monitor correspondents and experts suggest what to watch for in eight international conflicts.
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THE STATUS: Some 30,000 paramilitaries have demobilized, but Colombia's largest left-wing rebel group, the FARC, is holding some 45 high-profile hostages whom they're leveraging for political recognition. Numerous negotiations have failed, and international pressure is growing on the hard-line administration of President Alvaro Uribe to strike a humanitarian deal.Skip to next paragraph
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WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
• Release of some hostages as the FARC seeks a public-relations upper hand against Mr. Uribe's government.
• The resumption of preliminary peace talks with the smaller, leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) – a process that fell apart when Uribe fired Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as negotiator. "If they can ... find another third party to mediate, significant progress could be seen in six months," says political analyst Gerson Arias at Ideas Para La Paz, an independent think tank in Bogota.
• The first convictions of top right-wing paramilitary leaders who demobilized in exchange for reduced sentences.
• New right-wing paramilitary groups. While the government has dismissed them as criminal gangs tied to drug trafficking, Mr. Arias says that they are recruiting members of the paramilitary groups to train them.
THE CRUX: The five-year-old conflict has largely centered on fighting between black African rebel groups and the government-supported janjaweed militia drawn mainly from Arab tribes. Casualties are estimated at more than 200,000. More than 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
THE STATUS: On Jan. 1, the beleaguered African Union force that has failed to bring peace gave up their green berets for the blue hats of an expanded hybrid force with the United Nations.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
• How quickly the UN troops can bring security to Darfur's sprawling aid camps. It will take at least a year for the full 26,000 troops and police officers to be deployed, and they lack air support.
• Whether rebel groups can agree on a common position and return to peace talks abandoned in Libya in October.
• New agreements springing from the 3-year-old Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was designed to end the decades-old civil war between the Arab-dominated north and the Christian and animist south. Little progress has been made in agreeing how to share revenues from oil-rich areas on the border. If the North-South war starts up again, observers are concerned that it could become intertwined with the conflict in Darfur, complicating peace efforts.