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Kosovo’s Partition Imminent?

This weekend finally saw the much anticipated declaration of independence by Kosovo. We’ve been predicting this moment for a couple of months, so back in November we asked United States Institute of Peace scholar Daniel Serwer to help us anticipate some of the immediate consequences of a Kosovo’s declaration of independence. At the time, he was quite pessimistic.

What would be the fall-out [from Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence?] It could be bad. You could have efforts by Belgrade to grab the northern piece of Kosovo, which has a Serbian majority, and declare its own independence. And perhaps even Republika Srpska (the Serbian half of Bosnia) as well. Belgrade is in a position to make a lot of trouble in the aftermath of a Kosovo declaration of independence.

So far, things are relatively stable in Republika Srpska. But this is certainly not the case in the northern part of Kosovo, where Reuters is reporting that mobs of Kosovar-Serbs torched border crossings and a police station in protest. The New York Times even quotes one unnamed western diplomat, saying “we are minutes to partition.” Kosovo, a very small country, may soon become even smaller–and more ethnically homogeneous.

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UN Plaza: The Conflict in Northern Uganda

In the latest edition of UN Plaza, the Enough Project’s Julia Spiegel discusses the conflict in Northern Uganda, from where she recently returned. In this segment, Spiegel offers a smart background on the conflict, and introduces viewers to Joseph Kony, the murderous, child abducting leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

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Tuesday Morning Coffee

Obama gets the endorsement of Obama, Japan, … well at least part of it, while McCain is endorsed by Bush, Sr. Today, Wisconsin and Hawaii will decide for themselves.

Top Stories

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>>Cuba – Fidel Castro has officially stepped down as the president of Cuba, citing his “physical condition” (read his letter to “compatriots”).  At 49 years, this ends the world’s longest reign in power, not including monarchies. In the next few days, the National Assembly will meet to chose a new head of state, expected to be his brother Raul.

>>Pakistan – President Pervez Musharraf’s Pakistan Muslim League-Q party suffered a devastating loss in parliamentary elections, with most of its top leadership losing their seats. An opposition leader will likely become the next Prime Minister, but it is not yet clear whether that will be the head of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party or Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N. The Guardian reports from Punjab.

>>Kosovo – Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Sunday, sparking a divided reaction, both domestically and internationally. Though ethnic Albanians from around the world held a massive celebration in Kosovo, Serbs in Belgrade and northern Kosovo stoned the American Embassy, burned a border crossing, and threw a grenade at a UN building. President Bush recognized Kosovo’s independence today (as did others) causing Serbia to withdraw its ambassador, while Russia suggested that recognition threatens international stability.

>>BBC World Service – More than 75 years after King George V first used “Wireless” to speak to “men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them” through a Christmas speech prepared by Rudyard Kipling, the BBC World Service is shutting down its English-language shortwave service in Europe, another casualty of the rising price of fuel.

Quote of the Day

“I will not aspire to neither will I accept — I repeat I will not aspire to neither will I accept — the position of President of the Council of State and Commander in chief.” – Fidel Castro, in a letter to “compatriots” on Tuesday.

“I feel the heartbeat of our ancestors. We, the leaders of our people, democratically elected, through this declaration proclaim Kosovo an independent and sovereign state.” – Hashim Thaci, Prime Minister of Kosovo

Friday in UN Dispatch

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Bono’s Musical Tribute to Tom Lantos

About halfway through the clip, the U2 frontman sings “All You Need is Love” by the “old Hungarian folk singer, Jan Van Lennon.”

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At the UN, Al Gore Warns of ‘Subprime Carbon’

Al Gore spoke to the United Nations Investors Summit on Climate Change today, and invoked the ‘s-word’ to warn that carbon is more like kryptonite to investors.

“You need to really scrub your investment portfolios, because I guarantee you — as my longtime good redneck friends in Tennessee say, I guarandamntee you — that if you really take a fine-tooth comb and go through your portfolios, many of you are going to find them chock-full of subprime carbon assets,” the former vice president said.

[Snip]

“The assumption that you can safely invest in assets that come from business models that assume carbon is free is an assumption that is about to go splat,” he said. “You have lots of assets, many of you do, in your portfolios right now that truly do deserve that epithet ‘subprime.’”

Read the whole thing. Also, be sure to follow Matt’s excellent dispatches from the summit.

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Friday Morning Coffee

A day after Valentine’s, and where’s the love? Romney has some for McCain. I have some for Indy.

Top Stories

>>Hezbollah – In front of 10,000 mourners at the funeral of Imad Mughnieh in Beirut, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah threatened Israel with “open war,” because he said, “you have killed Hajj Imad outside the natural battlefield.” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki read a letter of condolence from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Israel stepped up security in the wake of his death. Tens of thousands also gathered yesterday in Beirut to commemorate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. (Photos of both rallies.)

>>OceansScience has published a report suggesting that only four percent of the world’s oceans remain pristine. Roughly 41 percent has been affected strongly by human activity — including climate change, overfishing, and pollution. The report was unprecedented in its detail: each square kilometer of ocean was examined individually.

>>Iraq – Iraq’s parliament announced that it would rely heavily on the United Nations to help organize the October 1 provincial elections mandated by the package of legislation passed earlier this week.

>>Eritrea – UNMEE, the UN peacekeeping force for Ethiopia and Eritrea, has begun to withdraw from its bases. Eritrea had attempted to force the hand of the international community on a border dispute by cutting the fuel supply of the mission.

Quote of the Day

“We want to assure the Iraqi people that this time the elections will
be free and transparent. We will cooperate completely with the United Nations and
prevent any violations.”
– Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, speaker of Iraq’s Parliament

Yesterday in UN Dispatch
  • Bono, Ban
    ki Moon, and many others honor Tom Lantos
    by
    Mark Leon Goldberg
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/02/a_crisis_is_a_t.php">“A
    crisis is a terrible thing to waste” – by Matthew
    Cordell
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/02/bush_administra.php">Bush
    administration pushes for bilateral ties with Iraq – by
    John Boonstra
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/02/the_demandside.php">The
    Demand-Side Attack on Climate Change – by Matthew
    Cordell

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Africa

Americas

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Europe

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Elsewhere

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