Although too early to know, it seems that the feared repeat of the horrific killing of hundreds of innocent Congolese by fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army on Christmas day last year did not take place.
But that does not mean Joseph Kony and his LRA have been quiet. Far from it. Instead, Kony and the LRA are looking at their 24th year of existance as perhaps the most ruthless band of killers in Africa.
The LRA's future, in fact, is bright.
While reports continue to emerge of sporadic attacks by the LRA in the Central African Republic, the most worrisome are coming out of western South Sudan.
A Dec. 21 article in the Sudan Tribune, written by Manyang Mayom, reports the killing of four LRA fighters in the Boro-Al-Madina village of Raja County in the Western Bahr-El-Ghazal state.
Western Bahr-El-Ghazal borders the CAR on the west and South Darfur on the north, which is the region where Kony has been operating most recently.
Although details of the story cannot be independently verified, they appear to confirm earlier reports that Kony and the LRA are receiving training and supplies from the Sudan government in Khartoum.
This underscores what I have been predicting for nearly two years now, that Kony is being positioned by the Sudan government to wreak havoc in the region and disrupt not only the tentative national elections in 2010, but also the pending independence referendum for South Sudan in 2011.
According to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) official spokesman Major General Diem Kuol, South Sudan forces struck LRA fighters on Dec. 19 when they "attacked the hideout of the LRA."
When the dust settled, four LRA fighers were dead, along with one SPLA soldier. The SPLA recovered "a large quality of food, most of which are Dak, made in North Sudan," Kuol said.
The LRA apparently fled to the west and toward the Central African Republic.
Of course, it is to the South's advantage to demonize the Khartoum government, but the opportunities to do that are plentiful.
"In fact, (the) LRA is re-grouping and gaining intensive training in Sudan," Kuol said. "They are training in Dimo in Southern Darfur. This is fact is known to the intelligence community - in the area of Kaskagi in the northwest of Darfur."
Kuol added that, Kony "is still alive (but) I don’t know where he is now."
One might suspect that the intelligence community to which Kuol refers might also include that of the U.S., which in the past has provided satellite imagery of suspected LRA locations to the Ugandan army currently in the CAR chasing LRA units.
Kuol went on to say that the SPLA forces in the region were being expanded for the purpose of chasing the LRA.
Strategically, this could be the beginnings of critical phase in the pursuit of Kony and the LRA, a classic hammer-and-anvil maneuver. With the Ugandan army pushing the LRA to the east and north from the CAR, and the South Sudanese pushing the LRA westward into the CAR, a trap is being set.
In such a scenario, the only means of escape would be to the north into the border area of Darfur and Chad, or south and east, in the direction of northeastern Congo.
A northern escape could only be with the help of the Khartoum government, which calls into question America's and the international community's dealings with Khartoum.
At last report, the U.S. envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, had convinced Congress that his nebulous carrot-and-stick approach was most productive. Does that include allowing Sudan to feed, equip and train the LRA?
Neither Gration nor the state department are saying.
Meanwhile, Kony and the LRA continue to run free and are looking at yet another new year in which innocent people continue to die at their hands.