What's Behind International Land Grabs?

In the Fergana Valley, located on the border of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikstan, conflict began in the early 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin divided the countries to prevent unity and any attempt at independence.

A peaceful region for many years, the valley's complex mesh of nationalities has been pulled in three different directions, with sporadic incidents of ethnic violence. The region has been of extra concern to the United States because it's been home to a rebirth of Islam — with some groups tied to the al Qaeda terrorist network.

Egypt and Sudan have fought over a stretch of desert called the Halaib Triangle for more than 100 years. Waters off the southeastern corner of Egypt are thought to be rich with oil, so the land's maritime boundaries are of great potential value. Like many other long-standing disputes, poor diplomatic relations between the two countries also has fed the conflict.

Quoting a late friend and geographer, Oxman said, "Where there are maritime boundary disputes, there are resources."

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