Monday, September 26, 2016

Phase 1, week 2

Welcome back!

You're all off to a good start. I've sent you all some suggestions about what to look at next, but here are some other things:
Check for any significant wars or events that have defined the conflict.
See what you can find out about the leaders of relevant groups or governments: names, backgrounds, etc.

You'll probably need to go beyond the CFR site... now would be a good time to take note of the sources you find useful... they're likely to continue to be useful as the year goes on!

Good luck!


  1. Delphine Chiffaudel - Israel and Palestine

    1936-1939 : Arab Revolt in Palestine

    The first outright hostility is the Arab revolt in Palestine (1936-1939). By that time, Jewish immigration had been going on for about 55 years, despite the Palestinian opposition. Moreover, Palestine was also a British mandate. Consequently, Palestinian patriotism and arab ethnic pride was widespread. A union of Palestinian political parties was formed: The Arab Higher Committee. They called for a strike, shut down of municipal governments, and a boycott of taxes. They wanted to stop giving jews land, stop jewish immigration and a national Palestinian government. Palestinians had the support of other arab nations in the neighboring countries.
    In reaction to the revolt, the British sent in 20 000 troops to ‘calm the disturbances’ and a royal commission led by Lord Robert Peel in 1937. After analysing the situation, he declared that Palestine as a mandate was no longer working; instead this land should be divided between the arabs and the jews. To the British, it was the solution to stabilize the political future of Palestine. The Palestinians disagreed; for they were further angered when they learned that even more of their land was attributed, simply handed over to the jewish. The revolt therefore became more fervorous in 1937. The uprising was bloody: arabs, jews and british were murdered. Railroads were sabotaged and chaos reigned.
    The revolt ended in 1939 with a massive fleet and arrest of arab leaders. Even though their goals had not been reached, the revolt left an indelible feeling of national identity in the Palestinian population.


  2. Paul, ISIS IRAQ
    The war against the Islamic State is currently making a lot of damage in various cities because of the numerous soldiers involved in the conflict. Determining the number of fighters is rather a complicated task because of the war but according to experts, Iraq had at least 4000 ISIS fighters on their territory back in june 2014. Today, US officials claim that in between 15000-20000 fighters are present on the Iraq-Syria conflict (they can’t be very precise due to war).By comparison the Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic state are composed of 600000 men; 300000 are part of the army and the other 300000 are police forces. Statistically, ISIS are by far outnumbered by the Iraqi security forces but seem to still be awake in Iraq. The local forces seem to be struggling with getting rid of these Islamic state fighters .

    Kurds are people born in or residing in Iraq who are of Kurdish origin, they present between 15% and 20% of the total Iraqi population ( Estimated 6,5 million). They’ve always wanted Independance and have gone through a lot of persecution. Lately, they’ve been involved in Iraq as they’ve partnered themselves up with the US troops to fight against ISIS , which is a way to show to the other nations that Kurdish forces are to be treated seriously.

  3. Anna - War in Yemen
    The Houthis-Shia conflict started way before the Houthis launched a full-scale insurgency in September 2014. It all began as early as 2004, when Hussein al-Houthi, founder of the Houthi movement, led a revolt against the Yemeni government, killing hundreds. Minor attacks and clashes have occurred since, one in which Hussein al-Houthi was killed in September of 2004. His youngest brother, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, has replaced him at the head of the rebel group. His two other brothers, Yahia al-Houthi and Abdul-Karim al-Houthi, are also powerful figures who help and advise their brother in his leadership.
    This insurgent group has international connections and alliances with Iran, Syria, Iraq, North Korea and Russia, and they control the western quarter of Yemen, including Sana’a, biggest city and capital of Yemen.
    These rebels are opposed to the Hadi government of the Republic of Yemen, led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, president since the 27th of February 2012, detaining international connections and support with Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Senegal, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Somalia and the United States of America. The Yemeni government’s headquarters are now situated in Aden, a south-western port city.

  4. Pierre-Malo -- Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    The Second War of Congo also known as the African World War is the most significant one. It started in 1998 and ended in 2003 in the DR Congo. This war involved more than nine African countries and approximately 30 armed groups. The Second Congo War is the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II. By 2008, the war and its aftermath has caused 5.4 million deaths, especially because of diseases and starvation. After the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, many Hutu's came to the DRC in refugee camps, but the Rwandan governement did not accept this; they decided to arm the Tutsi's for them to defend themselves. This action was denounced by the DRC president Mobutu Sese Seko, that was supported by the United States because he prevented communism in this area. However, at the end of the Cold War, the United States slowly withdrawed from this area. Therefore, other countries as the Rwanda and Ouganda fought to remove the president from the head of the DRC to let Laurent-Desiré Kabila take power. When Kabila came to power he decided to replace his Rwandan principal private secretary by a Congolese. Kabila had enough power on the DRC and orders Rwanda to remove its military troops from his soil. Because of this forced removal, Rwanda decides to promote an anti-Tutsi campagne and creates great tensions between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Because of the unstable Congolese military troops, many milishas were created making the ceasefires very difficult to respect.

  5. Sophie Lemmerman - Conflict between India and Pakistan

    Who controls the region of Kashmir?

    Since the partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947, India and Pakistan have bitterly disputed the region of Kashmir. Given its predominantly Muslim population at the time of the partition, it seemed logical that Pakistan – created as a home for the Muslim population of former British India – would be given command of the region. Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, decided to remain neutral instead of choosing sides. However, when Pakistan sent Muslim tribesmen into Kashmir to demand control of the region, the Maharaja fled to India and appealed for military assistance. He signed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, ceding the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to India. Pakistan was furious. And so began the implacable tension between the two countries that would last for decades. After having fought two wars over Kashmir in 1947-8 and 1965, India and Pakistan signed the Simla Agreement which resolved to end all conflict and confrontation. This agreement turned the ceasefire line of 1971 into the Line of Control (LoC), which represents the de facto border between the Indian- and Pakistani- controlled states of Kashmir. Today, the region is divided into three main portions: the India-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir, which represents roughly 45% of the territory; the Pakistan-controlled portion – three areas known as Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan – which makes up about 35% of the territory; and the China-controlled area of Aksai Chin which constitutes the remaining 20% of Kashmir.

  6. Olivine Silier --- Kashmir Conflict
    Considering Sophie nailed it I decided to concentrate more on recent events as things have been heated...

    01/10 A new recent development has occurred in the Kashmir conflict last Thursday (10/29). The Indian army has led “surgical attacks”along the border on the pakistani held side of Kashmir during the night, killing two pakistani soldiers.
    The Indian Express adopted an extremely factual approach to the issue in their article “Inside the Surgical Strike: Choppers on Standby, 70-80 soldiers” published on october first. The reporter argues that the Indian army reacted to a pro-pakistani terrorist threat that planned to attack indian cities as well as indian held Jammu in the same region all the while praising the efficient organisation of the Indian strike force.
    CNN, a more neutral source, has also mentioned the Indian army’s declaration in their article “Kashmir: Pakistan calls emergency meeting amid 'deteriorating situation” published on september thirtieth. CNN, however, also presented Pakistan’s point of view. Prime minister Nawaz Sharif declared that these attacks were an "unprovoked and naked aggression" and even went so far as to say that "If India tries to do this again we will respond forcefully. India is doing this only to please their media and public,".
    A turkish newspaper, the Daily Sabah concentrated more on the U.N.’s role in this conflict in their article “Kashmir: Inhumane insanity” also published on September thirtieth pointing out how absent the international organisation has been since the beginning of the conflict. Indian Prime minister has asked the UN to help find a solution to the conflict last month and enforce the resolutions taken by the organisation’s security council nearly seventy years ago. India has not respected these resolutions that promised self-determination to the Kashmir people by violently repressing pro-pakistani demonstrations in the last years. She concludes by saying that the UN will not be able to continue ignoring the rising tensions in the region for long as the rising tensions between these two countries could well result in a nuclear war. He does point out though, that both the UN’s and India’s unwillingness to cooperate to come to a peaceful compromise is alarming.

  7. Ambre Perron - Civil War In South Sudan

    Although the trigger of the fighting was a result of the direct disagreements between Kiir and Machar, the basis of the problem lies elsewhere. Rivalries between the Nuer and Dinka tribe have been a constant throughout history. As a result of the European colonialism, Britain imposed new borders, grouping different tribes of Africans together with no regard for their differences. During the wars for Independence from Sudan, the tribes were fighting against a common enemy and as a result their relations stayed relatively convivial. Yet within the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement, South Sudan’s national army, people “organiz[ed] themselves by tribe or ethnicity” (Fisher) due to a lack of national identity. The people of South Sudan see themselves as individuals associated with a tribe and not with a country. Therefore, when Kiir accused his ex-vice president of being a traitor, the Nuer tribe saw his statement as being to directed towards the whole tribe Riek represents. Much like had been the case when South Sudan belonged to Sudan, the Nuer tribe fears the Dinka president and his tribe will use their power against them.

  8. Marin Duroyon - Libyan Civil War

    In the Libyan Civil War there is majorly 3 different rival coalitions; the pro-government, the anti-government and the jihadists. The pro-government coalition, called the House of Representatives (HoR) and the Government of National Accord (GNA), is composed of the Libyan army, the Zintan brigades, the Tebu militias, and the Tuareg militias. One of the leader of the pro-government is Fayez al-Sarraj and the chairman of the HoR is Aguila Saleh Issa, and they currently control the right half of Libya and the lower left of the country. The pro-government coalition is supported by France, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, and the United nations. Their rivals are the General National Congress (GNC), Libya Dawn and Amazigh militias, this anti-government coalition controls the upper right and the waterfronts of Libya, including Tripoli the capital. The president of the GNC is Nouri Abusahmain, and they are supported by Qatar and Turkey. Libya is also home to a range of jihadist groups, the two major groups are ISIS and al Qaeda. They control the mid-north and the bottom-left of Libya.

  9. Theodore FEVRE - Taliban in Afghanistan

    The balance of power has been very contrasted in Afghanistan for over twenty years. After the last Soviet troops left the country, the never ending conflict between the Talibans and the government began. In 1996, the Talibans carried out their first big scaled operation and seized Kabul as well as most of the country. They quickly imposed their strict version of Islam and renamed Afghanistan the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They caused fear throughout the whole country for years until the US's intervention in 2001 which led to their loss of power and isolement. With the government regaining control of their capital, a form of political hierarchy was developing. In 2002 with the Loya Jirga, an organized assembly for choosing a new head of state, after adopting a new constitution, Afghanistan held its first presidential election. In 2004 Hamid Karzai was elected president and stayed in office until 2014. After his resignation, in the same year NATO decided to leave the country and give back the responsibility of stabilizing the country to the Afghans and a new president was elected, Ashraf Ghani. With the US forces going back home, the Talibans were free again. Almost immediately after their withdrawl, the Talibans took control of the country once again. According to Bill Roggio, editor for the Long War Journal, one fifth of the country was either contested or controlled by the Taliban. However he states that this is a conservative estimate and in reality half of the country is controlled or heavily influenced by the Taliban. Which is expalined by the rapid evolution of the death toll in the country which has risen by forty percent in 2014 with the extremist group avid for power. Free once again in Afghanistan, the Talibans are expanding their influence in a war torn country, demonstrating their power and ruthlessness with no opposition.

  10. Romane Centis- Isis in Iraq

    The United States announced last wednesday that they were sending 600 more troops to Iraq to help retake Mosul from Isis. This means that approximately 5,000 American troops. The president’s action were greatly criticized by, especially by Donald Trump for the decision that has been taken. The additional troops would help with the logistics as well as provide intelligence for the Iraqi security forces in the fight for Mosul. It was said that with the additional forces, the city would be under their hands by the beginning of october. “These are military forces that will be deployed to intensify the strategy that’s in place, to support Iraqi forces as they prepare for an offensive,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday. The officials said that the Americans would be there to assist the Iraqi and Kurdish forces who are planning on leading operations to take back the Islamic State’s remaining territory. The kurdish group has said that it was decided that the operations had to start on the first week of October. Other groups will be helping with this operation such as the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces, who “have already liberated several major Kurdish settlements from the jihadists and are now approaching Mosul’s borders.” It was also stated that even though the Peshmerga troops were allowed to enter the center of Mosul, they will not do so because of the fragile relationship in between the Arabs and the Kurds. The liberation of Mosul may cause some tensions on who would be at the helm the city. Decisions therefore had to be taken in order to avoid conflicts on this issue.

  11. Rémi Masia-Depardieu, Destabilization of Mali
    The Northern part of Mali, representing ten percent of the country’s total population, is itself populated of inner ethnic groups. The Arabs and the Tuaregs represent sixty percent of the septentrion. However, the domination of the Tuaregs isn't absolute. One of the barriers to the limitation of their terrestrial dominance are internal divisions within the Tuareg communities. Tuareg clans and subclans are very common : in the city of Kidal, there are sixty sub-groups. After Mali’s independence in 1960, some sub-groups were closer to Bamako and the central government than others. In the Tuareg rebellion of 1990, the Tuareg groups weren’t fighting for the same motivations and didn’t seek the same consequences and changes post-war. The disagreements allowed the Malian Central Government to regain control of the country, and end the rebellion with little to no changes. The main figure since the 1980’s of the Tuareg militant groups is Iyad ag Ghali. His influence and dominance in the Azawad region (Northern Mali) is uncontested among the Tuareg groups. However, he doesn’t have full control over the population of Azawad.

  12. Marc de Laportalière, Tensions in the East China Sea

    The conflict for oil in the East China Sea, has for been entirely diplomatic since its beginning in 1970, as China cited historic rights to take control of the islands that had been privately owned by Japanese citizens for over a hundred years. Incidentally, high levels of tensions have arisen in multiple instances including during the summer as Chinese warships were seen waiting near the islands causing the Japanese self-defence forces (JSDF) to intervene. Sending a clear message to the other countries implicated in the conflict. Unfortunately, America has been required to intervene since when the Japanese Constitution was written after the Second World War, it made Japan unable to have an army. To assure the country’s protection, it obligated the United States to protect Japan. Therefore, this matter isn’t contained to East Asia. Furthermore, Taiwan also takes part in this conflict as the disputed islands are in its EEZ also. This makes it difficult to speak of the Islands as they are referred to as the Diaoyu islands in China, the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyutai islands in Taiwan.

  13. Domitille Bordeaux- Conflict in Ukraine

    On the Ukrainian ground, tensions have been building since the start of the conflict. The first anti-government protests started in 2013 with hundreds of thousands of participants. They became deadly in February 2014 (88 people killed). On the 5th of September, 2014, a ceasefire was agreed, however it was broken four days later with fighting around Donetsk’s airport, a strategic point that fell into the hands of rebels. On the 15th of Januray, 2015, another truce was put in place, however it did not stop the voilent fighting in Debaltseve. Therefore, the situation on ground was and is still very tense, and there have been many unsuccessful attempts to end them. Recently, on September 22nd, 2016, Ukraine and separatists have agreed to withdraw troops from three fronts in eastern Ukraine, however, even if that has reduced the fighting, it did not end it. Throughout the whole conflict, rebels have overall held the eastern front of Ukraine, with cities like Luhansk, Debaltseve or Donetsk; and Russia, Crimea. The main actors in this conflict can be divided into three categories: pro-government (President Victor Yanukovych, the group “Titushkos” or “Oplot”); anti-government (activists, like the protest group “Common Cause” led by Oleksandr Danylyuk), and foreign actors (Russia, European Union or the United States).

  14. Billy McGovern - 1948 Arab-Israeli War

    Over the decades of struggle, the Israeli Palestine conflict has been marked by considerable conflicts. One of the most important wars by far was the Arab Israeli War of 1948, fought between an Arab military coalition and the Israeli state.

    The origins of this war can be traced back to when Jewish nationalism, or Zionism appeared in the Ottoman Empire, and the Jews living there longed for a land of their own. Therefore, in the midst of World War I, wanting to gain the support of the Jews the British issued the Balfour Declaration of 1917, promising a land for the Jewish people in Palestine, which still belonged to the Ottoman Empire.(To help them overthrow the Ottoman Empire, the British had also promised Palestine to the French and to Arab leaders.) However, the British created a colony in Palestine with the the foundation of the British Mandatory in 1920, the policies affecting both Jews and Arabs. In the following years Palestine nationalist movements emerged and developped into the 1936-39 Arab revolt against the British.
    This and the Israeli insurgency in Palestine resulted in the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, dividing Palestine into 3 parts, one belonging to the Arab state, another to the Jewish state and a separate regime for the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Following the Civil War and the Israeli Declaration of Independence, war erupted on May 15th 1948 and lasted for 9 months, ending on the 10th of March 1949 with the victory of Israel. This Israeli victory gave Israel an extra ⅓ of land than they had in the plan of the UN, including territories such as West Bank, West Jerusalem and other areas. This had serious consequences, with 700,000 Palestinians forced to leave their homes in the new state of Israel.

  15. Boris Hullin - Mexican Drug Wars

    Criminal violence in Mexico was bound to rise the way it did in the past decade and is not showing any signs of potential decrease. This is due to several factors that today cause constant insecurity nationwide.
    First of all, the U.S sustains the drug traffickants with a guarantee of a stable market, being the world's biggest drug consuming country. The northern neighbors also provide the cartels in guns, giving them the means to terrorise the population and to fight their wars againts both other cartels and the Mexican armed forces. In fact, a Mexican congressional report has shown that 70% of the firearms seized by the authorities have been proved to come from the United States. The American authorities helping the Mexican government to fight the cartels are tackling a beast they are simultaneously feeding.
    Secondly, the cartels are too intricately structured for direct military confrontaion to be effective. There are too many active cartels composed of too many branches themselves to be tackled all at once, and their behavior is unpredictable. For instance, the strategy through which Mexican forces are targeting high-level kingpins has shown to be unsuccessful in bringing back security in the country: the strategy's main consequence is the fragmentation of the bigger cartels, causing more chaos. An example is the creation of the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel, who directly targets the Mexican army and police, proving to be terrorists more than narcotrafficants.
    Thirdly, the corruption that flaws Mexican overnmental institutes paved the path to the quasi-impunity the criminals rely on. In spite of improvements in that domain since ex-president Calderon's measures came into place in 2006, statistics show that there is still more to do: according to the United Nations, only one to two percent of the 102,696 homicides on mexican territory between 2006 and 2012 have been investigated to conviction.

  16. Lucca Stagno-Al Shabaab in Somalia
    Al Shabaab's presence in Somalia initiated the till on-going War for Somalia in 2009 when the radicalism sect, after related confrontations with Somalian and African Union forces in 2007 and 2008, accumulated sufficient strength and allies (most notably Hizbul Islam) to launch a series of attacks following the installation of a secular government led by Sheik Sharif Ahmed and almost succeeded in overthrowing it. The newly appointed president declared a state of emergency and the government's spokesman called out to neighboring nations for help. Throughout 2009, Mogadishu passed from the hands of the Somalian Government to Al Shabaab multiple times as the Somalian government made several attempts to regain control of the capital and although they sometimes managed to regain substantial parts of the lost territory Al Shabaab regained even more territory every time they launched a counter offensive. By the end of 2009, Mogadishu was in the hands of Al Shabaab and according to Wikipedia, over 1,739 people had been killed in the capital.

  17. Deniz Erdogan-Kurdish Conflict

    The conflict between the Turkish and Kurdish peoples has been ongoing since the Young Turks gained power over the Ottoman Empire in the 20th Century. The nationalist group followed a strict policy of assimilation or destruction of minority groups in Turkey. In response, the 20th century was marked by Kurdish uprisings and multiple protests, which generally ended in massacres. The first Kurdish rebellion was the Koçgiri Rebellion, in 1921, followed by other rebellions in 1927 (Ararat Rebellion) and in 1937 (Dersim Rebellion). The current conflict, with several insurgencies and ceasefires, is much more vast in size than previous rebellions. The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan), was founded in 1974 by a group of political students led by Abdullah Öcalan, the other members being Cemil Bayik, Ali Haydar Kaytan, Haki Karer and Kemal Pir. The group been clashing with Turkish forces since the employment of armed members in 1978, in response to aggressions by the neo-fascist Grey Wolves militia, a nationalist group with historical ties to Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with the full-scale insurgency beginning in 1984.

  18. Elise du Crest- War in Yemen

    Supporters of rebel leader al-Houthi began to gain power in the summer of 2004, and the death of their leader on September 10th brought about a new-found strength in the rebellion lead politically by his brother Abdul Malik al-Houthi, and spiritually by his father Badr Eddin al-Houthi.  
    From 2004 to 2009, approximately 3 000 rebels and civilians were killed in resurgences of fighting between supporters of president Hadi and his government, and the Houthis. Despite several ceasefires, including one in 2007, American and Saudi forces launched anti-Houthi offensives, creating an international conflict. More than 80 people were killed during the first air raid in northern Yemen.
    Key points in the conflict in 2011 have been the mass demonstration with over 16 000 protesters in the capital, followed by the the Houthi rebels’ declaration of their own government, separate from Yemeni authorities.
    However, if Houthis are accusing Saudi Arabia of supporting the Yemeni government in attacking the rebels, it is important to know that they themselves are accused of being supported financially and militarily by Iran. Iran is a Shiite led government and is allegedly helping (Shiite movement) Houthi rebels.
    Sunni forces ISIS and AQAP have supposedly entered the conflict to gain more territory in the Middle East and to try to recruit more soldiers. AQAP still holds the most territory. Although southern Yemen is now controlled by pro-Hadi forces, and Sanaa remains totally Houthi, the rest of the country is still being fought for, in hopes of gaining and staying in control of more territory.

  19. Juliette Scholler - Taliban in Afghanistan

    Since 1978, Afghanistan has been in conflict. The Civil War from 1992 to 1996 that erupted after the end of communist regime was when the Taliban emerged as one of the fighting parties for power. Mohammad Omar was its founder and stayed leader until his death in 2013. At the end of the war, with the support of the Pakistani and Saudi Arabian governments as well as the terrorist movement Al Qaeda, he established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and used means such as terrorism to stay in power. In 2001, they were in control of 95% of the land, the 5% belonging to the rebels. The Talibans were officially removed from power in November 2001, when the United States invaded the country after the attacks of 9/11.
    Today, the Taliban is lead by Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, and they control 10% of the land, fighting for 20%, mainly in the mountains of Nangarhar in three to four districts. The western-backed government, lead by Ashraf Ghani, and the NATO has cut 25% of the group in 2016.

  20. Emma Ghafari: Conflict in Ukraine
    Ukraine has seen much violence since the wake of its crisis in 2013. Action began on December 1 of 2013 when outbreaks erupted in Kiev. Outbreaks escalated until the government fell on the 22nd of February 2014 before pro-European Petro Poroshenko was elected on the 25th of May. Crimea was then seized by pro-Russians and violence in the peninsula followed. The European Union and the United States soon got involved as they announce sanctions against Russia on July 30, 2014. On September 5, 2014 a ceasefire is agreed on however fighting resumes shortly after and on March 2, 2015, it is announced that there have been approximately 6000 deaths in Eastern Ukraine since April 2014, as violence persists in spite of the ceasefire.
    There are two principal groups involved in the Ukraine conflict: the pro-government group and the pro-Russian rebels. The pro-government group includes Eastern Ukraine and a prominent figure of this group is former president Yanukovych. On the other hand, the pro-Russian rebel group consists of a militia run by commander Igor Girkin. The US and EU have also played their part in the conflict, in support of Ukraine. The cities of Lugansk and Donetsk are in pro-Russian hands as is Crimea, of course, who was annexed by Russia.

  21. Marine Tallon - South China Sea

    China has stationed missiles on a contested island in the South China Sea and is expanding its territory in the waterway through island-building. New runways allow Chinese fighter jets to land on these artificial islands, while Chinese fishermen are encouraged by the state to work on waters claimed by five other governments. But lately, the spokesperson for China’s National People’s Congress placed the blame on the U.S. for escalating tensions in the South China Sea. America made an important decision, which is deploying over 60% of its navy to the Asia-Pacific region and is strengthening military deployments with its alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Japan. The U.S. announced that its Navy, along with those of Japan and India, would be conducting joint exercises later this year in waters north of the Philippines. Vietnam and the Philippines have clashed with China over specks of reef and rock in the South China Sea, 90% of which Beijing claims as its own through the nine-dash line. This obviously creates tension as China and the U.S. are both accusing themselves of militarizing the South China Sea, as they both are very present.

  22. Julie Clar - Boko Haram

    Boko Haram’s military campaign is mostly based in Nigeria but is starting to spread to neighboring countries such as Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. In 2015, the group renamed itself “Islamic State's West African Province” (Iswap) shortly after having formed an alliance with the Islamic State. In December 2003, they organized their first attack on police stations near the Niger border. After the group’s founding leader Mohammed Yusuf was killed in police custody in 2009, the group designated a new leader in 2010, Abubakar Shekau, a Salafi just like his predecessor was. Since then, the terrorists have provoked kidnappings, fires, shootings, and bombs that have killed thousands of civilians and militants. Boko Haram is most famous for its abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in August 2014. They declared they would use the girls as slaves and marry them off, referring to an old Islamic belief. Today, 219 of the schoolgirls are still missing. We have just recently in April received video proof of the girls’ survival.

  23. Ito Choho - Political Instability in Burundi
    This situation of political instability is a direct result of the Burundian civil war (1993-2006). The country had had a long history of Tutsi political monopoly and domination, as it was a Tutsi monarchy before its independence and went through 25 years of Tutsi military regimes with no opposition after its independence. In 1993, Melchior Ndadaye, Burundi’s first Hutu president, was assassinated by Tutsi extremists, resulting in extreme violence breaking out between both groups, which created between 50000 and 100000 casualties in a year, and started the civil war. The war ended starting in 2005 when transitional president Domitien Ndayizeye signed a law creating a new national army composed of Tutsi military forces and Hutu rebel groups. A new Constitution was approved by referendum of the Burundian people, and a few months later, they elected current president Pierre Nkurunziza.
    Nkurunziza is a former Hutu rebel leader. In Burundi, the Hutus are the majority ethnicity, and their rivals, the Tutsis, are the minority. Because of this, his repressive party has many supporters and even though his illegal action of running for a third presidential term created multiple serious protests in the capital, Bujumbura, for over three weeks, Burundi’s highest court decided to support Nkurunziza. However, a member of this court is said to have fled the country because he had received death threats from member of the government.
    However, not all supporters of the CNDD-FDD have remained loyal to Nkurunziza: On May 14th, 2015, Major General Godefroid Niyombare lead an attempt at a coup while the president was traveling to Tanzania, which was stopped by Nkurunziza a day later. Niyombare is a Hutu who was part of the CNDD-FDD rebel group during the Burundian Civil War, and was later appointed a top officer in the army and later the head of the Burundi Intelligence Service under Nkuruziza, but was dismissed in February 2015 by the president because he had opposed Nkurunziza’s plans to run for a third term.

  24. Matteo Valderrama- Violence in DRC
    Following the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, refugees in DRC created rebel groups backed by Rwanda and Uganda in order to wage war against the DRC government led by Laurent-Desire Kabila. This marks the start of the Second Congolese War which lasted from 1998 to 2003 and will eventually be one of the deadliest wars in human history with five million people killed. In 2001, DRC president Laurent Kabila is assassinated and replaced by his son, Joseph Kabila. While attempts of cease fire are presented, the rebels prolong the war so that they can plunder the resources from the very rich reservoir DRC has. A temporary constitution is put in place in 2003 under Kabila’s mandate, and with it comes the arrival of thousands of UN troops. In 2006 the first elections in 40 years take place where Joseph Kabila emerges as the victor. That same year, UN troops and a defected general named Laurent Nkunda, who will become the leader of the Tutsi rebel movement, clash resulting in tens of thousands of people fleeing from the country. Jean-Pierre Bemba, the man who went against Kabila in the presidential race is tried, in 2009, for letting his troops rape and kill in the Second Congolese War In 2012, the first person convicted by the International criminal court for war crimes involving arming children is sentenced to prison, his name is Thomas Lubanga. After that, the M23 rebel group became the main opponent of the DRC government, but they signed for peace in 2013. However, rebel parties continue to bring dissent in DRC.

  25. Jack Singer - DPRK

    North Korea is governed by an oppressive and authoritarian party : “The Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland”. De facto, the DPRK is ruled by a family in the way of a dictatorship or absolute monarchy. Currently, at the head of this government is Kim Jong-un, the third generation of Kim family leaders.. He holds the title of chairman at the “Worker’s Party of Korea” which is the “foundational political party” (as said in Wikipedia's article on the WPK). The family came to rule over North Korea as his grandfather : Kim II-sung was a founding member of the Korean National Association in 1917. The entire system was originally based on Marxism-Leninism however, a new ideology --very similar to communism-- was created and named by Kim II-sung “Juche”, or self-reliance. More recently, the Juche ideology was amended to remove all references to communism.
    So North Korea is essentially a communist dictatorship ruled by a unique family. Most of the ideology promotes North-Korean prevalence and how come the Kim family should be viewed as saviors of what they call the “Korean race”. Even though the information on North Korea is rather limited as it is such an isolated country, it is filled with lies, execution of political opponents, cheating and oppression of citizens who may be against the system. There is no actual right to vote or right of expression and even though the WPK tries to appear fair, it gains its power through tyranny.
    The Korean war followed from the end of the cold war. Korea was split in two distinct governments both claiming to be the legitimate government of Korea as a whole : a communist North and a pro-western South. The North then decided to invade South Korea in June 2950 leading the US to join in on the side of South Korea claiming to “protect their ally” and ‘fight against communism”. The war never officially ended. There has been no peace treaty just an “Armistice Agreement” signed in July 1953.

    "Politics of North Korea." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Sept. 2016. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.
    "Juche." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.

  26. Emilie Shagrin: Refugee crisis in the EU

    The International Organization for Migration has estimated the numbers of refugees crossing the European borders. In 2015 there were more than 1,011,700 migrants arriving by sea, and another 34,900 by land. In contrast, 280,000 detected refugees arrived in 2014 with both methods of travel combined. Once these displaced people arrive they need basic humanitarian assistance as they come with nothing.
    Syria is the country with the most refugees (4.9 million at the end of 2015). Next come Afghanistan and Somalia (2.7 million and 1.1 million). Other countries are South Sudan, Palestine, Iraq and Iran.
    Germany, Hungary and Sweden are the countries with the most asylum applications.
    This flow of migrants impacts Turkey, Greece and Libya, as they are transit countries. Some refugees going to Greece travel from Turkey in small rubber or wooden boats, stopping along the islands. Others cross from north Africa to Italy. Due to the fact that these boats are incredibly overcrowded, many of them capsize, leading to the drowning of passengers. More than 3,770 migrants were reported dead in 2015 as they tried to cross the Mediterranean, and another 800 at least in the Aegean. Most of these deaths occur during the Summer as it is the busiest time of year for migrants to try and get to Europe.

    Sources: News, BBC. "Migrant Crisis: Migration to Europe Explained in Seven Charts." BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.
    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency." UNHCR News. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.
    Makkas, By Helen. "Genealogy of a Crisis: Europe, Greece, and the Management of the Refugee Population." RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.

  27. Leah Sadoff- al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Al-Shabaab was the right militant wing of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts up until 2006 when they tried to take over southern Somalia. Over time they gathered and lost control over strategic locations. In these locations they would recruit and train people. Since 2011, AMISOM as well as other forces, such as the Kenyan ones, have been diminishing al-Shabaab’s control, but many major operations have been launched, such as the bombing of the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi Kenya, 2013, or the massacre of the university students in Garissa Kenya, 2015. There have also been numerous suicide attacks in Somalia, as well as roadside bombs, and beheadings. Since 2012, there is the Federal Government of Somalia that has been put in place with at the head president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Currently al-Shabaab has many training camps spread out on the southern part of Somalia, such as near Mogadishu, or in the central region of Hiran, and we know that there are 7 000 to 9 000 fighters total. The current leader of al-Shabaab is Ahmed Umar.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Juliette Debray - Boko Haram
      Although Boko Haram was more or less officially founded in 2002, its first recorded attack occurred on the 24th of December 2003 where they targeted police stations in the Yobe state of Nigeria. The leader, then Mohammad Yusuf, had founded an Islamic school in Maiduguri in the hope of attracting the sons of the poor Muslim families in the neighboring towns and reportedly to then convert and train them into jihadis. However, it was not question of overthrowing the Nigerian government just yet. The first important altercation happened in July 2009 when a Boko Haram uprising starting in Bauchi killed scores of police officers, resulting in the Nigerian armed forces leaving 700 militants dead, the operative mosque destroyed, and leader Mohammad Yusuf captured. Abubakar Shekau, Yusuf’s deputy, claims leadership then on and increases cooperation with Al-Qaeda and the violence and lethality of the group’s attacks. With the election of Christian president Goodluck Jonathan, Boko Haram orchestrated attacks during the presidential inauguration in May 2011. Later on, the group attacks the UN compound in Abudja, their first foreign target. But the group is most known by the Western world for their capture of 300 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria in April 2014; it fueled the trend of the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Because of the worrying increase in violent attacks on civilians, in 2015 the countries of Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Benin, and Nigeria (all affected by the group’s strikes) united in a multinational joint task force to attempt to prevent further spread of the group. With major strikes on strategic points, Boko Haram has been weakened; so have said freed wives of fighters. After pledging allegiance to IS, a rift between two disputed leaders has been observed; however, some are afraid this will not be beneficial to the conflict.

  29. Cassiopeia Libya
    In understanding Libya and its current civil war one it is vital that one acknowledges Libya’s rich cultural and ethnical background. As opposed to its neighbors, Libya wasn’t actually a historically determined area, rather it was just what was left of an Italian colony who after the second world war briefly was under French and British authority. The Italian administration recognized three very different regions in the Territory, the west, the eaat, and the south. Today one can still divide it into three regions: Tripolitania in the north west, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the south west. Tripolitania and Cyrenaica harbor an enduring rivalry, this wasn’t an issue in the past because the desert served as military buffer and split their two regions geographically as well. One should also know that Lybia is a very ethnically diverse country with tribes occupying an important role in administration which complicates matters. A majority of the country is Arab- Berber but there are also Toubous and Tuaregs. In Tripolitania there are the Gaddafi who are located about 50 miles south of Sirte and allied with the Magariha, the Warfallah who are the largest tribe making up a sixth of the population although some supported the revolution against Gaddafi, and the Zetan who live in the Nafusa Mountain range and there too have a few members who were opposed to Gaddafi. Cyrenaica is home to the Zuwaya whose land has several oil fields and export facilities and were very clearly against the Gaddafi regime and his tribe as well, to the Misurata seen as the largest eastern tribe fragmented all over the region but with many in Benghazi and Darnah, and to the Toubou isolated from the others because of their position in the south eastern corner of the country. The third region is Fezzan were the Tuaregs, an interior tribe whose culture is very different from that of the coastal tribes, and the Magariha, who are the second largest tribe, dominant in their region and are present in coastal cities too, reside. Seeing as Libya consists of so many different tribes who each have their own system it is easy to understand the fact that they have so may different groups controlling their country today. The non jihadist pro GNC groups have Lybia Dawn the GNC’ “armed forces” who control most coastal cities in Tripoli and an important amount of cities further south including Gharyan, Nalut, Jadu in mainly the Berber mountain range of Nafusa and has many fighters from Misrata.Lybia dawn doesn’t exactly agreed within its group on its stance on UN-sponsored talks. The non- jihadist pro-GNC side also has the Libya Shield grouping several militias including the Central Libya Shield seen as the “ministry of Defense” of the GNC and are in control of the Birak al-Shati airport in central Libya and including its Benghazi branch lead by Wisam Bin-Hamid known to have fought beside Muhammad al-Zahawi commander of Ansar al-Sharia and the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council. Other non jihadist groups on the pro GNC side are for example Battalion 166 who fight against IS in Sirte and the Libyan Petroleum Facilities Guard who also face IS militants. Jihadist groups in Lybia include IS who broadcast and control Sirte, are important in the Derna, a city in the east, as well as claim to be present in Bin-Jawad, Nafilia, Didra, and Ra’s Lanuf. Is also has cells in Bengazi and Tripoli. Other Jihadist groups are Ansar al-Sharia, affiliated with al-Quaeda most present in eastern Libya combating the Libyan National Army, but also involved in Derna and Sabratha. The Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, Derna Mujahidin Shura council, and Ajdabiya Revolutionaries Shura Council are other jihadist groups controlling part of the country. The pro-government forces are the Libyan National Army, its Specil Forces al-Saiqa, and its Tanks Battalion. The Zintan and al-Qaqa battalions are also pro-gouvernment anti-islamist militias.

  30. North Korea Crisis
    The north korean civil war ends with no peace treaty, creating ongoing tensions between the North and the South. Since then a nuclear program is being developped and there have already been 5 nuclear tests.
    Kim Jong-un is the supreme leader of Korea. He took his post in 2011, succeeding his father Kim Jong-il. Since he has come to power, he has put in place agricultural and economic improvements, however it is has been reported many times that he keeps violating human rights and being aggressive to deal with opposants. Even though most of the world dissaproves, he continues to test nuclear weapons and develop wide range missiles.
    North Korea in the Civil War against the South was aided by China and Russia. The alliance with Russia had been destroyed with the fall of the russian communist government but is today seeing the day again with Putin at the head of Russia. On the other hand, the alliance with China is extremely strong and consists of a lot of trading. These alliances have not been as strong ever since North Korea tested nuclear weapons which is disapproved of. Although China is still backing North Korea up economically as it doesn’t want the regime to fall because it would cause huge amounts of refugees coming into China.

  31. Tensions over control of the islands in the South China sea have been present since 1947 when China released a map of its territories. According to it, China owned the Paracel and Spratly islands. Today, its claims have not changed. These claims have not changed. Vietnam still claims those same islands and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan are still claiming some islands.
    Currently, Vietnam occupies 21 features in the Spratly Islands. They are tiny parts of land not big enough to be called islands. The Philippines occupies 9 features in the Spratly islands. It is unclear how many features Taiwan owns as past reports suggest them having one in 2012 but no satellite image can prove there is construction on Itu Aba Island, the feature in question. Malaysia occupies five features and Brunei does not occupy but only claim a reef in the Spratlys. China occupies seven features.
    Although they do not occupy a great number of islands, China is the most aggressive country in the region. It have deployed a number of military ships to put pressure on other foreign military installations but have also, most famously, been building islands on three different reefs: Mischief Reef, Subi Reef and Fiery Cross Reef. The Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia have also been busy building landing strips and extending Islands to intensify military presence. None of these countries however have been building as much as China who now has enough landing strip for fighter jets and big transport aircrafts.

  32. Maximilien Tirard: Destabilization of Mali

    The Touareg Rebellion of 2012 is in fact the fourth of its kind. Prior, there were the rebellions of 2007-2009, 1990-1995, and 1962-1964. The first of these uprisings, occurring shortly after the end of French colonialism in Mali (1960), helps to explain the ones that came after. The Tuareg people from the north of Mali, southern Algeria, and northern Niger had expected an independent Tuareg, Berber, and Arab nation to be formed by the Sahara desert regions. However, their expectations were not met, leaving their land divided by multiple borders. Furthermore, their nomadic, pastoralist lifestyle clashed with the newly formed government, leading to discontent and ultimately a rebellion. This rebellion was short-lived as the military response of the new Malian government was swift and harsh. Resentment among the Tuareg fueled the second uprising in 1990-1995. The insurgency occurred in a period following the regional famine of the 1980s and subsequent refugee crisis. The rebellion of 2007-2009 came to be due to land and mineral wealth disputes. Since French colonialism, Tuareg people have been diplomatically and economically marginalized, remaining poor and not being represented in the central government.

  33. Timothee d'Aboville-Civil War in Syria

    The Civil War in Syria started out as a rebellion against Syrian leader Bashar Al Assad. The Syrian government, to this day, has always been supported by Vladimir Putin which today, causes important conflicts with countries such as the US. Foreign involvements in the ongoing war in Syria are significantly increasing. Even though some countries, such as the US, back the rebels and others, like Russia and Irak, support Assad's regime, the ongoing growth of the Islamic State has led to a common agreement: the true enemy is ISIS. A little over a month ago, Turkey led an offensive to retake the border town of Jarabulus from the self-proclaimed Islamic State. At the same time, US-backed rebels liberated the city of Manbij, and the Syrian government fought ISIS notably in Palmyra. It seems that the conflict that started off as a rebellion against President Assad's government, is now the beginning of a new world conflict.

  34. Eliott - The Kurdish Conflicts

    Outside their immediate region, Iraqi Kurds, under the leadership of Masud Barzani of the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), have relationships with India ("an important partner" and main purchaser of the Kurdish crude oil), the United Kingdom (providing military equipment vital to "those who face Death"), the United States (providing military and financial aid) and surprisingly, Turkey (main business partner; kurdish oil passes through Turkish companies to get sold). As for the others, as the old saying says; "The Kurds have no friends but the mountains". The PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), with as leader the jailed Abdullah Ocalan, is even considered as a terrorist group by NATO. The Syrian YPG (People's Protection Forces) are even more targeted by airstrikes from Turkish forces then ISIS. Each Kurdish area has different circumstances, so depending on the region, the Kurds have powerful enemies (ISIS, Turkey) and powerful allies (US, UK, India). One event that has started tensions is the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, that gave up the Kurdish territory to Turkey (territory given to Kurds in 1920 in the Treaty of Sèvres). Since that treaty of Lausanne, the Kurds have been continuously persecuted. Founded in 1978 by a group of Kurdish students, the PKK lead an insurgency in 1984 against Turkish authorities which is still going on today. These events have marked and defined the Kurdish Conflict.


  35. Paul, ISIS IRAQ

    As of today , this war is clearly double sided:
    On one hand we have ISIS fighters, whose leader is known as Abu bakr al-baghdadi, appointed in June 2014 as a caliph( muslim leader) who is in charge of all the military actions taking place in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. ISIS proclaimed itself a caliphate and as a caliphate their main goal is to claim religious, political and military authority over all muslims on an international scale.
    On the other hand we have all of the troops fighting ISIS in Iraq , that includes the coalition ( United states, United Kingdom, France,...), the Iranian forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga support. The coalition is currently led by many different commanders such as Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, François Hollande, David Cameron ... and they all agree on the will of eradicating ISIS. Iranian forces, who sent over 30 000 soldiers in Iraq, are led by General Qasem Soleimani and the Kurdish Peshmerga group/organization are led by Massoud Barzani.!/conflict/war-against-islamic-state-in-iraq

  36. Chloé Erny, refugee crisis in the EU

    In 2015 there was a sudden increase in immigrants entering Europe with a record of 1.3 million arrivals. Over 258,000 have arrived by the end of July 2016. A majority of refugees are from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Eritrea, with 4.8 million fleeing Syria and an additional 1 million from Iraq and Afghanistan. Most arrivals are by sea: refugees go from North Africa on makeshift or smuggler boats to arrive on the European Mediterranean coast, or from Turkey through the Aegean sea to arrive in Greece and Italy. Others travel on foot, the most common route being through the Western Balkans. The leading causes of immigration to Europe are the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. In Syria, the civil war between president Bashar al-Assad armed forces and rebel civilians and military is on since 2011, and the Islamic State terrorist group has seized large parts of its territory. This is also the case in Iraq, the birthplace of the Islamic State, where it has claimed much territory and where the civil war between Iraqi armed forces and the Islamic State rages since 2014. In Afghanistan, the US and NATO are involved in the conflict between Afghanistan government forces and the Taliban and IS, which has resumed in March 2015. The other major cause of immigration is the deterioration of conditions and lack of opportunity in first asylum countries— especially Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, neighboring countries of Syria and Iraq, who receive the most immigrants. There are also immigrants from Africa, South Asia and the Balkans, which are mostly economic migrants.

  37. Billy McGovern-- Overview of the recent violence, Israeli-Palestine conflict

    2014: Israel-Gaza conflict. Three Israeli and one Palestine teenagers are murdered, causing an outbreak of violence between Israeli military and Hamas, a Palestine paramilitary group. Both sides launch rockets at each other, the conflict ending with a truce organized by Egypt, the final body count at 71 Israeli for 2,200 Palestine deaths.

    September 2015: Renewed escalation of violence, due to the profanation of a mosque and the killing of a Palestine woman.

    October 2015- March 2016: Countless violence and terrorist attacks resulting in hundreds of casualties; “the Wave of Terror.”

    Summer 2016: Violence slowly receding again. Another outbreak would cause violence on a more dangerous scale.!/conflict/israeli-palestinian-conflict