Conflict News

This page features the latest news and analysis on under-reported conflicts from around the world. The Conflict News page is a new feature of Geopolitical Conflict as of March 2017, and will be updated several times each month, linking to in-depth analysis and latest news stories on under-reported conflicts from trusted external sources.

Note: the author of this site is not responsible for the content or views expressed in external sources, and all have been linked here either with permission from the site concerned, or as permitted under their existing syndication terms.

Nigeria Risks Wider Destabilization With Its Crackdown on Biafra Separatists

With the arrest of 60 supporters of the Biafra separatist movement this week, Nigeria has taken a step closer to provoking a violent insurgency in the southeastern region of the country. As tensions rise, both the government and the separatists are threatening to push Nigeria further into conflict. In an email interview, Ryan Cummings, director of Signal Risk, an Africa-focused risk management consultancy, examines what is driving the Biafra separatist movement, the evolution in the government’s response and the risks if the conflict escalates.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (28 September 2017)

Kurdistan’s Referendum Gamble

Three areas of Iraqi Kurdistan have gone to the polls for a referendum that is intended to add meat to the bone of any future negotiations for secession. The desk minders in Baghdad are fuming; regional power brokers are minding their military inventories. The Reuters news agency noted the words of a man queuing to vote in Irbil. “We have been waiting 100 years for this day. We want to have a state, with God’s help. Today is a celebration for all Kurds.” President of the Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani was unflappably confident on Sunday: “From now on, Kurdistan will be a neighbour of Iraq, but not a part of it.” Iraq remains a construction, an artificial confection of miscellaneous, often murderous groups. It is being held together – barely – and the Iraqi leaders wish to keep it this way.

Read the full article on International Policy Digest (25 September 2017)

Half a Century of India’s Maoist Insurgency

With the largest Communist guerrilla army in the world — the FARC of Colombia — handing over its guns to the United Nations on June 27 this year and preparing to contest elections in the coming month, a curtain has been drawn on the once ubiquitous phenomenon of “Marxist insurgencies.” Once present all across the globe, Communist guerrillas and their armed offensives against governments had shaped much of the 20th century. From small bands of deadly fighters to full-fledged armies with combatants numbering in the thousands, such groups once held significant firepower and control of land across Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. But as things stand today most of these groups have either been crushed, chosen the ballot over the bullet, or have withered into political irrelevance. Bucking that trend, a protracted people’s war has been running for the past 50 years between Maoist guerrillas and the Indian government with no end in sight.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (21 September 2017)

Is it too late to pull Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis back from the brink?

Violence has again engulfed Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state, killing scores of people and stoking fears that the long-running crisis there has grown more intractable and more likely to foster radicalization. Many had hoped that Myanmar’s democratically elected government, which took over 18 months ago amid a transition from military rule, could take steps to alleviate the conflict and end the underlying human rights abuses of the Rohingya minority. But the rapidly deteriorating security situation has emerged as a key stumbling bloc for Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration, overshadowing recently proposed measures to address grievances.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (31 August 2017)

Colombia’s FARC concludes weapons disarmament

The last batch of weapons carried by Colombia’s former Farc rebels has been removed under UN supervision. Speaking at a camp in the north of country where the arms were loaded onto a lorry, President Juan Manuel Santos said this was the “last breath” of the 52-year conflict with the Farc. The UN mission head Jean Arnault said a total of 17 containers of arms had been handed over over the past year. About 7,000 rebels have demobilised and are to be reintegrated into society. The weapons were turned over by the rebels as they gathered to demobilize in so-called “transition zones” across Colombia.

Read the full article on BBC News (16 August 2017) 

Sectarian War Is Looming Over Afghanistan

A nightmare is coming true: Afghanistan is falling into sectarian war. On July 22, 2016 twin suicide bombers attacked a rally of the Shiite Hazara community, taking the lives of more than 80 people. More than 250 were injured. In November 2016, a suicide attacker targeted a Shiite mosque in Kabul, killing 27 members of the Shiite Hazara community. On June 6, 2017 in an attack on Herat Jamma Masjid, seven Shiite Hazaras were killed by a suicide bomber. On August 2, in the same city, a suicide attack blew up a Shiite mosque, claiming the lives of 29 worshipers. Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (the group’s outfit in South Asia) claimed responsibility for each of these attacks.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (9 August 2017) 

Yemen conflict: A nation’s agony as cholera and hunger spread

Amid UN warnings of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen, the BBC’s Orla Guerin has overcome attempts by Saudi Arabia to block her team from entering the country and has seen for herself the depth of the suffering. Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems are collapsing after two years of war between government forces – backed by a Saudi-led coalition carrying out air strikes – and the rebel Houthi movement. The conflict and a blockade imposed by the coalition have triggered a humanitarian disaster, leaving 70% of the population in need of aid.

Read the full article on BBC News (27 July 2017) 

Is Cote d’Ivoire’s Instability Here to Stay? 

More than six months after a series of military mutinies kicked off in the city of Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire still can’t shake the intermittent unrest that has provided a dark counter-narrative to what was once widely viewed as a sterling post-conflict success story. Last weekend, three soldiers were killed when shooting erupted at a military camp in the northern city of Korhogo; gunfire was also reported in the Abidjan neighbourhood of Abobo. This was followed by further violence on Wednesday, when, as Reuters reported, gunmen attacked the base of the CCDO rapid response security unit in Abidjan, making off with weapons.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (21 July 2017)

The Political Geography of the India-China Crisis at Doklam

Starting in June, a tiny piece of strategically important and until-now obscure Himalayan territory sitting at the intersection of India, China, and Bhutan became the site of the one of the most serious border standoffs between New Delhi and Beijing in three decades. As of July 12, 2017, the standoff continues, with no end in sight. Scores — potentially hundreds — of Indian Army and Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops remain at an impasse near the Doka La pass in Doklam. Nearly one month after the standoff began, details about the geography of the area and the motivations of all three governments involved remain murky.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (13 July 2017)

Libya eastern commander Haftar declares Benghazi ‘liberated’

The head of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has said his forces “liberated” the eastern Benghazi city after years of fighting with Islamists. Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar said the city now enters a new era of “security, peace and reconciliation”. If confirmed, victory would mark a major advance for the one-time commander in the army of late strongman Muammar Gaddafi. The LNA is not recognised by Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli.

Read the full article on BBC News (6 July 2017)

A Year of Bangladesh’s War on Terror

On July 1, 2016, Bangladesh saw a bloodbath at the Holey Artisan Bakery, a ritzy eatery a stone’s throw away from the American embassy inside the heavily fortified diplomatic enclave of the country’s capital Dhaka. The organization that claimed the attack has many names: Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham (Daesh), Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Islamic State (IS). The nomenclature depends mostly on who’s talking, but the names are usually used interchangeably. The Bangladeshi government however, refuses to use any of the above and instead called the attackers neo-JMB, referring to the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (6 July 2017)

Why the latest peace deal failed to stop violence in the Central African Republic

On June 19, Central African Republic’s government and more than a dozen armed groups signed a peace deal mediated in Rome by the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, briefly raising hopes of a break, or at least a reduction, in violence. Those hopes were seemingly dashed the following day, when heavy fighting resumed in the town of Bria. The town;s mayor said at least 100 people were killed.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (29 June 2017)

Revival of an Old Rivalry: Saudi Arabia and Qatar Clash

A full understanding of the current crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is impossible without looking at the history of the tensions between these relatively new nation states. The Qatar peninsula’s rulers have been at war with their neighbors several times, especially after the creation of Wahhabism in the Arabian Peninsula by Muhhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792). The House of Saud united Arab tribes in the peninsula around a new puritanical reformist reading of Sunni Islam, and had captured large portions of the area by 1790.

Read the full article on International Policy Digest (20 June 2017)

India and the fight against Islamic State

The Islamic State (ISIS) is gaining momentum in India. By taking a greater role in the global fight against ISIS, India can prevent the extremist group from taking a stronger hold over its Muslim population, and make it more difficult for radicalized Bangladeshis to carry out attacks. Combating ISIS also provides India with the strongest basis for continued progress on US-India security co-operation under the Trump administration.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (14 June 2017)

Taliban territory: Life in Afghanistan under the militants

Sixteen years after they were ousted in the US-led invasion, the Taliban have fought their way back to control swathes of Afghanistan. The country remains mired in conflict, and recent months have seen a series of bloody attacks. In the south, key towns are now Taliban territory. The BBC’s Auliya Atrafi was invited by the militants to spend four days behind the front line in Helmand province witnessing life under their control.

Read the full article on BBC News (8 June 2017)

Duterte Places Philippine Island of Mindanao Under Martial Law. What Next?

On Tuesday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the southern Philippines after violence broke out in Marawi City between Islamic State-linked militants, local police, and the Philippine military. On Tuesday afternoon in Marawi City, the capital of the Philippine province of Lanao Del Sur on the island of Mindanao, armed militants with the Maute Group carried out multiple explosions around the city, with authorities warning all civilians to remain indoors. Fighting in Marawi continued into the night.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (24 May 2017)

Has Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony been defeated?

The international hunt for Joseph Kony seems to be over, but the notorious rebel leader, who was first chased from his native Uganda to South Sudan and then to the Central African Republic, is still at large. So what do those civilians most vulnerable to attacks from Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army do now?

Read the full article on BBC News (23 May 2017)

Will Uganda’s Open-Door Refugee Policy Survive South Sudan’s Endless War?

Uganda has been celebrated for its progressive approach towards refugees. But its open-door policy is being tested by the ongoing flood of arrivals from neighboring South Sudan. The conflict in South Sudan has been raging for more than three years, but it has proliferated after a tentative peace deal collapsed in July 2016. Since then, more than 841,000 South Sudanese have fled the country, raising the total number of refugees to nearly 1.7 million, according to the United Nations. Roughly half of them have headed to Uganda.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (16 May 2017)

A Fresh Crisis in the Kashmir Valley

On April 9, the Kashmir Valley saw a fresh bout of violence and protests during the voting for the Srinagar parliamentary constituency. Instances of violence were noted in many places, with reports describing incidents of stone pelting on polling stations, sabotage, pitched battles between security forces and protesters, and obstructing the poll officials from performing their duties. The day ended with eight civilian deaths at the hands of Indian security forces.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (18 April 2017)

Are Yemenis Expecting a Breakthrough in their Civil War?

Are Yemenis expecting a breakthrough in their conflict? Will there be an end to the war between Houthi rebels and their allies in former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah al-Saleh’s loyalist camp on one side and the internationally-recognized government’s forces and their Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) backers on the other? Steps towards the ascendancy of a new Yemeni leader and the withdrawal of Saudi-led coalition forces are in the works.

Read the full article on International Policy Digest (17 April 2017)

Why Ethiopia is keeping its State of Emergency in Place

In late March, lawmakers in Ethiopia voted unanimously to extend the country’s state of emergency for four more months. The emergency was first imposed last October as violence escalated following more than a year of anti-government protests. The protests have largely occurred in the Oromia and Amhara regions, the homelands of the country’s two biggest ethnic groups who complain of being marginalized by the central government.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (12 April 2017)

‘One step forward, two steps back’ for Stability in Northern Mali

The arrival of interim authorities in northern Mali, combined with the launch of joint security patrols involving soldiers and former rebels underline the government’s determination to make significant headway this year toward implementing a stagnating 2015 peace accord with separatist insurgents in the region. But both efforts have run into trouble, and the recently announced alliance of three jihadi groups is a reminder that the threat of disruptive extremist violence isn’t going away.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (9 March 2017)

What’s Next for Myanmar’s Rakhine State?

Four months after a retaliatory counterinsurgency campaign plunged Myanmar’s western coast into the depths of a humanitarian crisis, the government suddenly, and without much fanfare, declared the military operation over as of February 9. For beleaguered Rakhine State and the tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims displaced by the recent violence, this cessation marked a barely perceptible shift in a long-entrenched conflict.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (9 March 2017)