Tuesday, 19 June 2007

States, failed and failing

The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have published the 2007 Failed States Index.

The index measures the vulnerability of failure for 177 of the states surveyed — i.e. the chance of outright collapse. As the index says,

The world’s weakest states aren’t just a danger to themselves. They can threaten the progress and stability of countries half a world away.

The index uses 12 socio-economic and political indicators to score the potential for failure for each nation.

Let's see who made the top-12 cut this year...
1. Sudan
2. Iraq
3. Somalia
4. Zimbabwe
5. Chad
6. Côte d'Ivoire
7. Democratic Republic of the Congo
8. Afghanistan
9. Guinea
10. Central African Republic
11. Haiti
12. Pakistan

Most of the states are in Africa (eight), and the rest are in the Middle East (three) — hold Haiti, a turmoil-stricken Caribbean nation.

Let's now take a look at these top 12 most faltering nation-states. Sudan is number one. Because of the state-encouraged ethnic genocide and fighting in its Darfur region, among other political reasons including international pressure, Sudan is a breeding ground for state collapse and instability.

Iraq is another obvious one: the sectarian civil war and the insurgency arising from the occupation, not to mention an unbelievably week government that even the strongest military force on the planet has a hard time keeping up. Iraq practically is a failed state.

Next is Somalia, which is more worse off governmentally than Iraq. The consensus a few years ago kept in line with the common wisdom about the Horn of Africa state: it is a failed one. Islamic rebels, traditional warlords, and foreign troops (Ethiopians supported by America) are all forces pushing this country on the brink of irreversible collapse. Its people aren't doing too well either. In the cases of both Somalia and Iraq, the worst fighting and actions posing the strongest threat to stability occur in the capitals, Mogadishu (I spelled it correctly on my first try!) and Baghdad, respectively.

Zimbabwe is high up on the list because of the humanitarian and economic disaster there. The inflation rate is tin the thousands and the thuggish leader Robert Mugabe shows no signs of giving up power, but even his own party is becoming discontented.

Chad is inheriting a lot of the problems of its neighbor Sudan. It also has problems of its own similar to the other failed or failing states in the index.

Côte d'Ivoire I do not know much about. From some research on the internet I have figured out the country also known as the Ivory Coast is experiencing civil war, or the aftermath of such a war. Elections have been put off time after time because of the fighting or the prospect of fighting. It has received little coverage by American media, like many other major world issues, including those talked about in the index and this blog post. Some consider the West African nation out of civil war, but the prospect of renewed fighting is daunting.

DPRC, or rather Congo has been recently stabilized by UN peacekeeping. It finally had elections last summer after years of bloody war.

Afghanistan is similar in many ways to Iraq, though not as dire: insurgency to foreign occupation, weak government, foreign and local Islamic extremist forces, etc.

Further down the list, Haiti has been in political mayhem for years now and UN peacekeepers are trying their best to maintain some form of stability.

Pakistan is facing the threat of an overthrow by extremists or other groups, and opposition to its dictatorial president Musharraf for allying himself with and against the people, with America, and with the militants. Not to mention the surprising inflammation caused my him dismissing a senior judge who disagreed with his regime's legal and political policies.

As we see, some instability is centered on certain regions (e.g. Darfur) or cities (e.g. Baghdad; Mogadishu; Port-au-Prince), whereas some is nation-wide (e.g. Zimbabwe).

Iraq and Somalia are probably the worst on the list, although none of the aforementioned 12 are by any means stellar in their state political security. If Palestine was a state — though it is looking like two right now — it would surely be near the top of the index due to its civil war and massive amounts of homegrown terrorism.

The Economist has made a map of the top 10 countries of the Failed State Index.

For more on happy topics like this one, see Conflict Meter.

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