Image via WikipediaIt will be a surprise in the West, at least. Get ready for a vicious little war in Sudan that will spill over into Uganda and Ethiopia. And it will be about oil.
Come January, the independence referendum in southern Sudan will either have been approved resoundingly or Khartoum will delay the vote. Both will result in war and if anyone thinks that Darfur is bad - well, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
The proposed border is vague, to say the least. The oil resources straddle the border. Northern Sudan has been at war in the south for three decades. Over 1 million people have died. Both the north and south depend on the oil revenues while China and India depend on the oil. The rest of the planet is distracted - there will be no US or EU intervention. The African Union is weak and broke.
The factors coming together - oil, religion, geography and no prospect of outside intervention - are deadly. The importance of avoiding a major conflict cannot be overstated. If Uganda and Ethiopia become destabilized the prospects of penetration by trans-national Islamic militants is huge and their own internal problems will be made worse. Loss of oil production will force China and India to look elsewhere - and prices will go up.
Three months and counting.