Cambodia-Thai dispute forces creation of another DMZ

A two square mile patch of grassland on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, surrounding the 11th-century Hindu temple of Preah Vihear, has been a regional flashpoint for decades. The skirmishes have escalated in recent years and both countries maintain hundreds of troops along the border. But the fighting could quiet down soon if the sides agree to a ruling today by the U.N.'s International Court of Justice. The court declared that a demilitarized zone should be established immediately in the region surrounding the temple, outlined here in diagrams from the Bangkok Post. The two countries have indicated they would abide by the decision. 

With the U.N. ruling, the area surrounding Preah Vihear joins a handful of other demilitarized zones around the world. The most famous of these has divided North Korea and South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The zone has played an important role maintaining the uneasy peace between the two countries, while also serving as a surprisingly effective wildlife refuge for a number of northeast Asia's endangered species. A similar phenomenon has emerged in the buffer zone established under U.N. control in 1974 between Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a breakaway region recognized only by Turkey.

Israel also deals with its share of DMZs -- one at the Golan Heights, where U.N. forces have maintained the ceasefire between Syria and Israel since 1974, and one at the Sinai Peninsula. But the latter now contains Egyptian soldiers deployed with Israel's permission during the chaos of the Arab Spring, after Bedouin tribesmen started bombing gas lines in the region to protest their treatment at the hands of the Egyptian government. Israel imports 40 percent of its gas from Egypt.

Looking for the next emerging DMZ? The two Sudans agreed in late May to set up a demilitarized zone along their border, but the details are still very much in the works. Conflict continues to brew over the contested region of Abyei, which lies in the middle of the border. Without a resolution to the dispute, the DMZ there could be a long ways off.



Paula Bronstein/Getty Images


How many British phone-hacking inquiries are enough?

Since the News of the World scandal went into hyper drive two weeks ago, Britain has been overloaded with high-level officials announcing inquiries into the matter. But has the country gone overboard in its rush to inquire?

According to the Guardian's Andrew Sparrow, there are now 10 separate probes going forward. Yes, it's a fast-moving, expansive story with tentacles into a number of areas (police corruption, media ethics, political influence). But 10 separate inquiries? Surely, in this age of British austerity they can't all be needed.  

Today, three new inquiries were announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in response to the shake-up at the top of Scotland Yard. One will look at the relationship between the media and the police; another will look at police corruption in general; and a third will look at the independent police complaints commission -- the internal investigative arm of the police -- and whether it needs new authorities (given that they seem to have missed a lot of police corruption lately).     

Meanwhile, all of Britain is on tenterhooks awaiting the testimony of Rupert and James Murdoch at a parliamentary inquiry tomorrow ( before one of two committees exploring the fallout from the scandal).

There are also two judge-led inquiries set up by Prime Minister David Cameron: one of which will look specifically into phone hacking, and the other, more generally, into media standards in the country. Additionally, there are two criminal investigations by the police -- the first stems from a January civil lawsuit brought by the actress Sienna Miller and other celebrities against News International for allegedly hacking their phones; the second opened this month to look into police bribes by people connected with Murdoch-owned papers. Not to be outdone, there's also an internal News Corp investigation led by Joel Klein.

And then of course there's the preliminary inquiry opened last week in the United States by the FBI looking into whether News Corp. employees tried hack the phones of September 11 victims (technically, this is probe  No. 11).

What does it all amount to? Too early to say, but the flood of new information, allegations, leaks, rumors -- and added noise -- isn't likely to ease up anytime soon.