Iraq No. 2 among nations most likely to implode

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Iraq advanced to second place in an index of “failed states,” further destabilized from its perch at No. 4 a year ago, according to an annual survey that grades the world’s most unstable nations.

The Failed State Index, produced by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace, ranks 60 teetering countries according to 12 social, economic, political and military indicators to determine which nations are most at risk to collapse. Guatemala was No. 60.

Conditions in Iraq deteriorated despite billions of dollars in development and security aid, as well as the continued presence of U.S. troops.

Sudan remained the most unstable country for the second straight year, largely because of the continuing violence and instability in its western region of Darfur.

With an estimated 200,000 killed and nearly 3 million displaced, Sudan’s continued unrest has threatened neighboring countries as well.

Increased refugee migration into Chad (No. 5) and the Central African Republic (No. 10) from Sudan has yielded significantly higher rankings for both nations.

Zimbabwe, beset with rising hunger and political violence as President Robert Mugabe attempts to hold on to power, was ranked No. 4.

Eight of the top 10 at-risk nations are in Africa.

Another African nation, Liberia, was rated the most improved country, ranking six notches better at 27.

Lebanon experienced the greatest loss of stability from last year, 12 places on the list, to come in at No. 28.

Lebanon experienced increased instability beginning with last summer’s war between the Hezbollah militia and Israel, which caused an estimated $2.8 billion in damages to the country’s infrastructure.

The report also revealed a disturbing trend of continued deterioration in at-risk countries, with nine of the 10 worst becoming even more unstable in the past year.

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