As the eyes of the world turn to the stew of goodwill simmering in Sochi, the global community is infatuated with itself. But curling, bobsledding and snowboarding are little more than a welcome distraction away from the realities of global events.
Ukraine -- Opposition prisoners have been freed by the Ukrainian government on the condition the protests come to a peaceful end. So far, attempts at finding common ground between the opposition and the Yanukovych administration have amounted to a colossal failure. Talk about a reorganized Ukrainian government is becoming more pervasive on both sides of the national debate.
The situation is beginning to cool, but nothing has fundamentally changed. The myriad of factors that have influenced the people into a fury include a corrupt police force and justice system, disagreements over ties with Russia and the European Union, basic human rights, natural gas policy, jailed former Prime Minister Tymoshenko and a history of storied civil war.
Opposition leadership says it will partially comply with the conditions of the prisoners' release, but they are intent on maintaining a foothold in Independence Square and at City Hall. Meanwhile, protesters are gearing up for a Sunday rally in Independence square.
The skids of violence have already been greased in Ukraine and tempers will be on a hair trigger on Sunday.
Egypt -- Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has received the endorsement of Vladimir Putin. The nod from Moscow clears the way for cooperation between Russia and Egypt and the local press reports there has been talk of a $2 billion dollar deal in which Russia which would equip Egypt with military aircraft missiles and other armaments with the help of other Arab countries.
Sisi has not yet been elected or even announced his formal candidacy, but the writing is on the wall and his first foreign visit after sending former president Morsi packing speaks volumes about who Sisi's friends are. Sisi has already spurned the Obama administration for the way recent violence in Egypt was handled by the U.S. and with a $2 billion dollar carrot and stick routine in progress, Sisi will likely look to capitalize on the warm fuzzies between Cairo and Moscow.
It is possible Putin will look to include Egypt as part of its Customs Union which could give Putin sway over happenings in the Suez canal. This would give him the kind of power over passage through that key waterway that he now wields over Europe and Ukraine with natural gas. Putin has shown several times he is not afraid to cut natgas supplies during the winter and if control over the Suez canal lands in his lap, transit through the Suez could be left to his discretion..
Libya -- Eastern Libyan crude oil is still in the hands of Jathran and his followers. Lost export revenues now add up to more than $7 billion. The post-Qaddafi leadership made a run at a military coup last Friday when Major General Khalifa Hifter posted an online video and sent press releases to news outlets saying, "...the Libyan Army is declaring a movement for a new road map." Many believe the attempt was inspired by Egypt's history of military coups, but lacked the starch of a long standing, well funded military.
Nothing really came of it and the fragmented nature of the current Libyan military complex stifled the effort from the get-go. Meanwhile, Interpol filed a 'red notice' -- something like a worldwide all points bulletin -- for Jathran's brother and brother Khalid was picked up shortly after in the United Arab Emirates where he awaits extradition.
Ukraine protester photo credit BBC News.