FROM the backstreets of the Syrian city of Aleppo to the mountainous region of Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, the world has been a pretty volatile place over the last 12 months.

Now, as a new year begins, it is perhaps worth pausing to consider where the world's hot spots are likely to be in 2013.

While there will always be an arbitrariness to any list of such places, few organisations are better placed to make a credible assessment than the highly respected think tank International Crisis Group (ICG), which monitors and works to prevent conflict worldwide.

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The 10 countries and regions highlighted on these pages are those which ICG president Louise Arbour believes are most likely to make the headlines in the year ahead and for that reason are well worth keeping an eye on.