Sunday, September 18, 2016


Hi all

Welcome to the Modern Conflicts project!
During this school year, you will follow an ongoing conflict: anything from the war in Syria to cyber-espionage.  Each week you'll post a brief update on a variety of subjects.

There will be four main themes: Background, evolution, media coverage, and foreign involvement. They'll last about six weeks each, and in each week's post, I'll give you specific things to look for.

This week's assignment is simply a description of the who, where and why of your conflict. You can find this information on the conflict homepage, which is here.

You submit your entry by commenting on each week's post. (So I know it's you, always have your name and your conflict at the top of the post.)

Good luck!


  1. Tim d'Aboville-Civil War in Syria

    The full-scale war in Syria wasn't always as huge as it is today. In 2011, protests against President Assad quickly escalated to an armed conflict between the Syrian government—backed by Russia and Iraq—and Syrian rebels. This favored the development of the Islamic State in the country (Syria is estimated to have between 20,000 and 31,000 Islamic fighters on its land) which incited Western countries such as France and the UK to participate in this conflict. What started out as minor protests again a dictatorship in 2011 has now turned into a war which status is worsening daily. The Civil War in Syria is now a full-scale, multilateral war.

  2. Deniz-Kurdish conflict
    The Kurdish conflict is an insurgency waged on the Turkish government by the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, since 1984, with the ultimate goal being the creation of an autonomous Kurdish state. The Kurds are an ethnic group from the Middle East, with close cultural ties to the Iranian peoples. The largest population of kurds is in Turkey, with an estimated range of 12 to 22.5 million people, or 15.7 to 25 percent of the total Turkish population. The reason for the insurgency is the large amount of discrimination faced by Kurds living in Turkey; the PKK states that they want “greater cultural and political rights”. The conflict is not limited within Turkey; the large Kurdish populations in neighboring countries provide large amounts of support, and the Kurdish Peshmerga are one of the main fighters against incursions by the Islamic state.

  3. Chloé Erny, refugee crisis in the EU

    Refugees worldwide have migrated to Europe, of which more than half are under 18 and with a majority coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2015 a record-high total of 63.5 million people migrated to Europe, the largest influxes concerning Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Italy and Greece. 80 percent are fleeing conflict and persecution; Since 2011, the war in Syria has been the leading cause of migration, followed by conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others are migrants in search of job opportunities, or economic migrants.

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

    Since 2012, tensions have appeared in the East China Sea, over the possession of the Senkaku and Diaoyu Islands, after the privately-owned islands were bought by the Japanese government. These Islands have potential oil and natural gas, with an estimated 200 barrels of oil. Moreover, these islands are situated near rich fishing grounds and are near important shipping routes. The Chinese government claims a historic right over the islands. Also, another natural gas pocket is found under the sea causing both countries to want to drill the oil. Unfortunately all countries of the East China Sea claim an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles and since the distance between China and Japan is of only 360 miles, there is a disputed area, where the two overlap. Unfortunately, natural gas that China found was near this disputed area, and it is possible that it can be found in the disputed area. Therefore, Japan objected to any drilling in the area, which started to create tensions.

  5. Juliette Debray - Boko Haram

    Boko Haram, officially named Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad meaning People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad, is currently one of the biggest Islamist military groups in Africa. It is controlling approximately 20% of Nigeria’s territory and aims to overthrow the country’s current government and install an islamic state which would promote a “haram” version of Islam where all things involving the Western world are forbidden : pants, t-shirts, secular education, etc. The group was called Boko Haram by the citizens living in the region of their headquarters, which approximately translates to “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language. The group has been orchestrating attacks on religious and political representatives, local police and military, and civilians since 2009. And although they are based in Nigeria, they have been extending their military campaign to neighboring states.

  6. Marine Tallon - Territorial disputes in the South China Sea

    As early as the 1970's, countries such as China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines all claimed as their own the Paracels and the Spratyls islands in the South China Sea. Recently, since 2012, tension was created around these islands that have approximately 11 billion barrels of untapped oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gaz. Moreover, these islands are situated in rich fishing grounds and are near important shipping routes.
    Vietnam says it has actively ruled the islands since the 17th century and has documents to prove it. All countries claim the territory as it falls into every country's EEZ (Economic Exclusion Zones), as defined by UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). China claims the largest portion of the territory with the "9 dash line", unfortunately not clear enough. China backed it's claims with island-buildings and naval patrols. The US has therefore sent military ships and planes near the disputed areas, calling them "freedom of navigation" operations to ensure access to key shipping and air routes. Both the US and China have accused each other of "militarising" the South China Sea.

  7. Delphine Chiffaudel - Israel & Palestine

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been ongoing for decades on end in the land of Palestine. Since the end of the nineteenth century, it opposes the Palestinians, who are arab therefore muslim, and the Israelis, who are jewish. Unfortunately enough, these TWO different ethnicities with TWO different religions happen to share the ONE piece of land, considered a holy land by THREE different religions; the original conflict between Israeli and Palestinian is a fight over land which starts after the first world war.

    But how did such different ethnicities become neighbors? The nineteenth century in Europe is the century of the nations, where the trend is to feel a national attachment, belonging, pride. Jews at the time, are scattered all over the world… but they wanted to come together as a nation. They chose to reunite in the iconic region of their ancestors: Palestine. For this land was, without exception, embedded in every jew's history. The Zionist Movement, beginning in 1882, sent the first wave of jews in Palestine. Except the jews had left that there were already people in Palestine: Palestinians. Here goes the conflict between two people on one land.

    (I wanted to use italics instead of caps but italics didn't work out)

  8. Sophie Lemmerman - India and Pakistan

    The conflict between India and Pakistan has been ongoing since the partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947, when both countries secured independence from Britain. This partition led to the creation of two sovereign states: the Dominion of Pakistan (now split into Pakistan and Bangladesh) and the Union of India (now the Republic of India). Territorial disputes over the region of Kashmir –– former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir which lies between the borders of India and Pakistan –– have led to three major Indo-Pakistani wars in 1947, 1965, and 1999. Although the two countries have maintained a “fragile cease-fire” since 2003, tension between India and Pakistan remains high to this day; Pakistan-based militant groups have committed repeated terrorist attacks in the region of Kashmir, and the threat of a serious military confrontation between the two countries remains menacingly high. Furthermore, India and Pakistan bear nuclear weapons. This is a global concern, as the possibility of a nuclear war implicates the entire world. Therefore, it is in the United States’ interest to ensure regional stability between India and Pakistan.

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  10. paul, ISIS IRAQ
    The war against Islamic state all started off in 2014 when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ( ISIS )’s troops advanced and invaded territories in Iraq. The islamist and jihadist group wants to establish a “caliphate” regulated with Islamic laws and wants everyone to follow these rules, they won’t hesitate to use violence and brutality to enforce these laws. For that they want to invade as much territory as possible, so that is why they basically started snatching territories outside of Syria.They took control of parts of the Anbar province (located in Iraq).

    This,of course, infuriated the United States so they came up with a plan to form a coalition and fight ISIS in Iraq. This coalition regrouped more than sixty countries ( including : France, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Italy,...) and was originally created to counter ISIS attacks but today it’s main task is to regain all of the territories that ISIS illegally took over and restore peace in Iraq. As of today, the Islamic State has lost more than 47% of their total territories in Iraq and the Iraqi troops have regained the capital of the Anbar province, Ramadi.

  11. Romane Centis - War against the Islamic State in Iraq

    In 2014, the Islamic State Advanced into Iraq from Syria and took over the Anbar Province. ISIS is an extremist militant group that rules by Wahhbi/Salafi laws. They are known for their crude acts and terrorism around the world. President Obama authorized the target of the Islamic state taking along with him more than sixty other country to fight against this new self proclaimed state. Today, the group has lost more than 48% of the land they had invaded,but the resources used to gain such a result have been huge. Indeed, after the Iraqi army along with local tribes and the Kurdish Peshmerga freed the Anbar Province Iran has sent more than thirty thousand troops as well as resources to the Shiit. However, this conflict is even harder to fight as there are internal tensions amongst the Shiite and Sunni groups. The state of this war is worsening, as many thousands of people are fleeing their homes and country and many are scared that this conflict will lead to the breakup of Iraq.

  12. Eliott - The Kurdish Conflict

    The Kurds are an ethnic group from the Middle East. They are present in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, In Northern Iraq, they have their own government but however are not independent, since it is not in the interest of Iraq for them to be independent. The Peshmergas (kurdish for "those who face death") in Northern Iraq are currently fighting off ISIS incursions in the Iraqi territory. In Turkey, Iran and Syria, the Kurds have no government for themselves. In Turkey however, where the Kurdish population is estimated at 15 million (approximately 1/5 of the entire Turkish population), since 1984, the PKK (the Kurdish Working Party) has waged an insurgency against the Turkish authorities, to obtain better rights, political and cultural (they have been persecuted for a hundred years. Ever heard of the Kurdish Genocide, or Turkish authorities air striking Kurdish positions, and claiming they were bombarding ISIS?). The Democratic Union Party (PYD) is a Syrian Kurdish group and its armed wing, the People s Protection Unit (YPG) in Syria have ties with the PKK. The conflicts in the Middle East regarding the Kurds are due to the different interest and belief systems. The Kurds want a nation as the other want to keep their natural ressources (gas and oil).

  13. Ito Choho - Burundi Political Crisis

    The political instability in Burundi, just like its neighboring country of Rwanda, stems from several conflicts between two ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis, since Burundi’s independence from France in 1962, that led to a 12 years civil war in 1993. This war ended in 2005 with the Arusha Accords, a peace agreement promising a more balanced political representation between opposing sides, including rebel groups like the CNDD-FDD, which is the current president Pierre Nkurunziza’s party.
    Nkurunziza has been in power since 2010, and has led a controlling and restrictive regime, passing laws restricting freedoms such as press public gatherings. His party is also said to have used violence to intimidate opposing parties and their supporters, like assassinations of government and military officials, human rights activists, and civilians.
    In July of 2015, Nkurunziza was illegally elected president for a third term, when Burundi’s constitution only allows presidents to serve two five-year terms. As a result of this, since October of 2015, violence has increased within the country, killing as many as 400 people and causing 285000 refugees to flee the country, seeking refuge in neighboring countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and DRC.
    The African Union, the UN, and various European countries have tried to send police and peacekeepers to Burundi, or bring the opposing parties to negotiate and make peace, but Nkurunziza has refused these offers and even threatened to retaliate against armed forces that these groups wanted to send to the country.

  14. Leah Sadoff- Al-Shabab

    Since the establishment of al-Shabab in 2006, they managed to takeover Somalia’s central government. Al-Shabab being allied with al-Qaeda, wish to gain control over all of Somalia, and make it a refuge for terrorist groups. Kenyan troops were sent into Somalia as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) late 2011 and cleared al-Shabab out of the main strongholds they had in the capital city of Mogadishu, and the very important port of Kismayo. The United States has intervened by leading counter-terrorism acts, such as sending in drone strikes which killed 150 soldiers and their leader. Al- Shabab rapidly put Ahmed Umar as his successor. The US has also helped by providing financial aid, $82.6 million, and have given logistical support to AMISOM. Although most of the fighting and attacks happen in Somalia, there have been over 150 attacks in Kenya which have caused tremendous deaths. With al-Shabab in Somalia the United States’ interest in the country are being undermined, which could cause a problem because the US’ help is what has been keeping the refuge of terrorist groups in Somalia at bay.

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  16. Mika - Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea

    Tensions between China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei resurfaced in 2012 when China and the Philippines engaged in a lengthy maritime standoff, accusing each other of intrusions in the Scarborough Shoal. Previously, China and Vietnam engaged in bloody skirmishes in 1974 and 1988.
    The area subject to contention lies in the South China sea, 150 nautical miles from the Philippines and 800 nautical miles away from China. China claims to own the entire South China sea while the Philippines claims the area around the Spratly Islands due to geographical proximity, contradicting Vietnamese claims who affirm their control over the Pratly and Paracels Islands meanwhile Malaysia and Brunei assert some of the Spratly Islands fall in their economic exclusion zones (as defined by UNCLOS).
    The area is estimated to have an estimated 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas which roughly makes 11 billion barrels of oil. In comparison, Saudi Arabia's reserve is estimated at 268 billion barrels. Moreover, the area is an essentiel trade route which sees 5.3 trillion US dollars worth of goods pass through it annually.
    in 2014, China was seen building islands close to the Spratly Islands leading to multiple collisions between Chinese and Vietnamese ships. The US has sent military ships to ensure freedom of passage is respected.

    On July 2016, under the auspices of the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea tribunal, the tribunal backed the Philippines claims saying China had violated the country's sovereign rights; a ruling China says it will not be bound by.

  17. Pierre-Malo Vienney --- Violence in Democratic Republic of Congo

    Since the refugee crisis and the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been constant and incessant. The government wasn’t able to control the armed confrontations opposing the Hutus and the Tutsis. From 1998 to 2003, Congolese troops supported by Zimbabwe, Angola and Niambi fought armed, rebel groups in Uganda and Rwanda; this conflict is now called the Second Congo War. Although a peace treaty was signed, weak governance and corruption contributes to ongoing violence made by armed groups on eastern civilians.

    1. Today, although nineteen thousand UN peacekeepers try to stabilize the confrontations, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces, persevere in terrorizing communities and controling weakly governed areas. More than seventy armed groups still operate in the eatern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the United Nations there are 2.7 millions internally displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 450 000 refugees in other countries. Moereover, the current president, Joseph Kabila, declared a possible desire to delay the upcoming elections and stay in power after the end of his term creating a great instability enhanced by very violent protests. Moise Katumbi, a popular opposition leader announced his candidacy for the futur elections. These new events made mass protests common.

  18. Olivine Silier --- Indo-Pakistani Kashmir Conflict

    The Indo-Pakistani conflict has been ongoing since the partition of India in 1947 and has created tensions between these two nations. China was also occasionally involved and is currently occupying parts of Ladakh. The Kashmir conflict is centered around a territorial dispute for the Kashmir region (subdivided into Kashmir and Jammu and Ladakh) that caused three wars as well as thousands of deaths. India’s main argument for claiming the land is the Instrument of Accession ratified in 1947 giving Kashmir to India. Pakistan argues that Kashmir ought to belong to them by virtue of the predominantly Muslim population (80 percent) and pakistani support in Kashmir. As both India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons, this conflict is of global importance and high of the United States’ priority list.

  19. Billy McGovern -- Israeli-Palestine Conflict
    The Israeli-Palestine conflict is a war over territory that can be traced back to the end of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, when Palestinian, Arab, and Israeli nationalist movements emerged and clashed for the territories of the Holy Land. To this day, Israel and Palestine have been in constant, bloody conflict, an example of which is the First Intifada of 1987, a Palestinian mass uprising against the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, the Second Intifada of 2000, or the air strikes killing civilians on both sides. These clashes and outbreaks of extreme violence have entailed failed attempts for peace such as the Camp David summit of 2000. Both Israel and Palestine have fought with both armies, terrorist groups, and paramilitary groups, funded on each side by other nations, for example the United States ceding enormous military grants to Israel.

  20. Anna Mulbert - War In Yemen

    In September of 2014, Yemen faced a still-on going insurgency of the Houthis, who took control of Sanaa, the capital, demanding lower fuel prices and a new government. This rebel group adhere to a branch of Shia Islam, which differs to the one the Sunni government of Yemen follow, both in their rituals and interpretations of Islamic law.
    The negotiations between the two orders failed, leading to the rebels seizing the presidential palace in January 2015, forcing the resignation of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government.
    In March of 2015, an alliance of Gulf States presided by Saudi Arabia launched an air-strikes campaign withholding US logistical and intelligence support, targeting Houthi insurgents. This led Hadi to rescind his resignation and return to Yemen in September of 2015.
    The political instability and turmoil in Yemen created the perfect opportunity for AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and other terrorist groups to expand. In April of 2016, the US sent a small team of forces to assist Arab-lead mission groups to retake that territory.
    The UN Human Rights Council has tried unsuccessfully to lead international inquiry in human rights abuse in Yemen, as more than 10 000 people were killed, 3,15 million were displaced, along with 14,4 million now food insecure.

  21. Domitille Bordeaux- Conflict in Ukraine
    What triggered this conflict in Ukraine was president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision, in November 2013 in Kiev, to refuse an accord with Europe to unify his country’s economy better with the economy of the European Nation. This verdict caused protesters to manifest agaisnt his choice, and security forces were unable to settle them down. As a result, protesters grew in number and the conflict widened; the president had to flee the country in 2014. After his departure, Russian troops came into the region of Crimea. When the Crimeans voted to join the Russian Confederation, through a highly contested referendum, Russians officially added the region. Since then, the conflict has highly escalated between separatists and the Ukrainian Military. Furthermore, it has altered relations between Russia, and the United States and Europe; creating tensions, of which the culminating point was when the Malaysian Airlines flight was brought down over Ukraine -supposedly by separatists. Until now, there has been no diplomatic accord reached.

  22. Elise du Crest- War in Yemen
    The Houthis are an insurgent Shiite group that decided to take control of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.  Essentially, the Houthis were unhappy with the government and were demanding a reform as well as lower fuel prices. When neither side was able to come up with an agreement, the Sunni president,  Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, stood down after numerous mass protests, and was forced to flee. Now, however, with the support of the US and Saudi Arabia, the president has reclaimed his power, which is at the heart of the conflict. ISIS and AQAP, Sunni forces,  have also entered the conflict, bombing Yemeni citizens, in hopes of gaining more power and territory in the country. There have so far been over 10 000 civilian deaths and close to 13 million are without access to clean water.

  23. Marin Duroyon - Civil War in Libya
    The civil war in Libya is an important conflict that damaged Libya and affects many other countries. First of all, the country of Libya is in danger because many rebels and militia groups have tried to fracture the country, furthermore the Libyan civil war is also affecting the ability to produce oil, which has many repercussions. The civil war started in February of 2011 where there was a chain of civil protests that later turned into an uprising against the installed dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. He was killed in October 2011 and from there on Libya has had a hard time to rebuild state institutions with all the violence. The rival groups in Libya are Libya Dawn, a militia coalition, and an elected parliament installed in Tobruk. The war has killed more than 5,000 people, ruined the economy, and has left more than half a million people homeless, furthermore the values of the 2011 revolution has been forgotten.

  24. Theodore FEVRE- Taliban in Afghanistan

    The United States have been militarily present in the Middle East since the Carter Doctrine in the 80's, but tensions with the Taliban group only begun in 2001. After the terrorist attacks carried out in New York on September 11th, the US decided that this incident could not be ignored. When Afghanistan refused to give up Osama Bin Laden, the US invaded the country. Soon after their intervention, the Taliban group began to lose control of the country and was forced to isolate themselves in the south. While the US were tracking them down and stabilizing the country, the Taliban members carried out attacks on Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan. Since the US drew out most of its troops from the country in 2014, the Talibans have been gaining the power and influence they had lost in 2001. This sudden gain of power threatens the US's interests of protecting its economic and political achieved since their intervention, but in addition asks the question of redeploying soldiers in Afghanistan in the war against terrorism.

  25. Matteo Valderrama_ Violence In DRC
    After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo. From them rose rebel groups such as the Tutsi, which the Congolese government was unable to contain. In between 1998 and 2003, the Second Congo War took place opposing the DRC government, along with allies Angola, Namibia,and Zimbabwe, to the rebel groups supported by Rwanda and Uganda. Death tolls were estimated up to more than five million people. In 2003, a peace treaty as well as a transitional government were put in place. However because of the weak, and corrupt infrastructure, along with the absence of the rule of law, the violence caused by armed rebel groups was not tamed. Out of the aftermath of the government’s failure to uphold a peace treaty in 2009, an important rebel group going by the name of “March 23 Movement” threatened the country. However it was defeated by the Congolese government backed up by the UN peacekeepers in 2013. Since then, tensions and violence have not diminished because of the incredible resource wealth of the DRC estimated at 24 trillion dollars of non exploited resources. However, because of the rebel’s exploitation of these resources, and the US’ involvement, the country faces difficulties in making a profit off of their resources leading to a bad economic state in the country as well as rising tensions.

  26. Lucca Stagno - Al Shabaab in Somalia
    The most extreme and radicalist faction of the former Islamic Courts Union, Al Shabaab is a Somali-based terrorist group that has declared jihad against "the enemies of Islam" and chiefly the weak central government of Somalia which it seeks to defeat in order to put in place a new constitution entirely in accordance with the Sharia.
    Founded in 2006 after the separation of the Islamic Courts Union, the Islamic terrorist sect has been gradually loosing influence over the last decade in south-western Somalia after their ousting by African Union forces from the capital Mogadishu in 2011 and the key-port (and since former headquarters) of Kismaayo the following year but still manage to commit terror attacks in both Somalia and neighboring Kenya with an alarming ease.
    The Somalian terrorist organization has know two leaders in its decade of existence: Ahmed Godane (2007-2014, was killed in a US led drone strike) and its current leader Ahmad Umar who was declared Emir of Al Shabaab after Godane's death in 2014.
    Under Godane in 2012, Al Shabaab pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and has recently been coveted by the so-called Ismalic State in Syria to change its allegiance but Ahmad Umar has made no move to separate from the infamous terrorist organization formerly led by Osama Bin Laden.

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  28. Emilie-- Refugee Crisis in the European Union

    Refugees have been fleeing their homes; eighty per cent of them come from Greater Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The largest drivers of this migration are war, conflicts or a repressive government. These refugees are migrating --many illegally-- towards the European Union. The contries most concerned are Greece, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and Hungary. Fifty one per cent of refugees are under eighteen and most have travelled in perilous conditions. There have been about 1,411,840 asylum seekers in Europe since June 2015, with a steady influx of newcomers every day. The question of taking them in without limits has sparked debates throughout the world, resulting in severe tension along the European borders. The countries are attempting to handle the situation as best they can.

  29. Maximilien Tirard: Destabilization of Mali

    Mali has been a “troubled nation“ since the Touareg Rebellion broke out in January 2012. The conflict took place in the the northern, more arid regions of Mali, referred as Azawad, and opposed the Malian government and several insurgent groups, mainly the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the militant islamist group Ansar Dine. Both Ansar Dine and the MNLA are made up of Tuareg– berber inhabitants of the Sahara desert. However, the MNLA seeks the independence of Azawad whereas Ansar Dine does not seek independence but rather to keep Mali ‘intact’ and convert it into a rigid theocracy. Furthermore, Ansar Dine is suspected of having ties with Al-Quaeda. Tensions between the two groups culminated at the battle of Gao, with MNLA losing control of northern cities to Ansar Dine. However, the MNLA and Ansar Dine later made a pact in which they would merge and control Azawad together, renaming it the Islamic Republic of Azawad. Shortly after the outbreak, In March 2012, a coup d’état took place, complicating matters further still. Soldiers, dissatisfied by the course of action taken by the Defense Minister, stormed the presidential palace, forcing the president - Amadou Toumani Touré - into hiding. The next day, the leader of the rebellion, captain Amadou Sanogo, took all powers. Touré later resigned. The Rebels in the north took advantage of the uncertainty following the coup to launch offensives. Later, in January of 2013, foreign forces started arriving, notably French forces. By December, the MNLA began peace negotiation with the malian government. The Malian military progressively gained control of northern territory until a peace treaty was signed with the Tuareg rebels in June 18 2013. However, in September 2013, the MNLA ended the ceasefire after government forces opened fire on protesters. Since, a new ceasefire was agreed upon on 20 February 2015.

  30. Julie Clar: Boko Haram in Nigeria

    Boko Haram was created in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf as a way to fight against Western education. Its original arabic name means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad" but the Nigerians renamed the group Boko Haram which, translated from the local region’s Hausa language, means “Western education is forbidden”. Boko Haram advocates a version of Islam that prohibits Muslims to participate in any political or social activity associated with the West. Their goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government and install their own islamic state. Northern Nigeria was under British control in 1903 making the country its number one target. When the group’s founding leader was killed in police custody in 2009, the government thought that Boko Haram was over. However, the remaining members of the group designated a new leader, Abubakar Shekau, and provoked many bombings, assassinations, and abductions killing thousands of civilians and Nigerian military. In 2013, The United States recognised Boko Haram as a terrorist group when it started to form alliances with Al Quaeda and the Islamic State. Boko Haram is most famous for its abduction of two hundred 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. As stated by CIA officials, the terrorist group has recruited nine thousand men and collected numerous weapons and money over the years. According to the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari, along with poverty, the threat of Boko Haram is currently the most pressing problem in Nigeria considering the fact that they have control over 20% of the country.

  31. Juliette Scholler: Taliban in Afghanistan

    After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States demanded the afghan Taliban government to hand in Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist group Al Qaeda responsible for the attacks. They refused, and quickly after, the US invaded Afghanistan. In result, the Taliban lost its power over the country and were obliged to move to southern Afghanistan and into Pakistanian borders. Since the downdraw of US troops in 2014, Taliban controls more and more territories, to the point where, today, they have more territories than they initially did in 2001. The Afghan National Security Force struggles to fight them off, and the numbers of casualties keeps increasing. In 2014, with the help of the US, formed a national unit of government with a new president, Ashraf Ghani. The country faces economic problems as they change into a peacetime economy, even though the United States promises to help, seeing a raise in the budget deficit as well as an increase in unemployment.

  32. Emma Ghafari - Conflict in Ukraine

    The conflict in Ukraine involves, in short, the disagreement between two groups in the country: pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian military.
    In November of 2013, protests began in Kiev after Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, declined a proposal with the European Union. The protests aggravating and becoming uncontrollable, Yanukovych flees the country in February 2014. Russian troops, following the president’s retreat, seize Crimea as the latter chose to join the Russian Confederation in a controversial referendum. Hence, the crisis created the two distinct groups in Ukraine that have created ongoing violence which quickly became an international affair now involving the United States and Europe who are now at odds with Russia. The conflict continues today as a resolution is yet to be reached.

  33. Ambre Perron - Civil War in South Sudan

    Starting in December 2013, the Civil War in South Sudan has been responsible for over 50,000 deaths and the displacement of over 1,6 million inhabitants. The ongoing conflict began only a few years after South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011. Following power struggles between former vice-president Machar and President Kiir, two significant ethnic groups, Dinka and Nuer, opposed. Riek Machar, allied with the Nuer, had previously fought against his own government until April 2016. Exactly nine months after signing a peace agreement with President Salva Kiir he returned to Juba. After the return of Machar, new violence erupted in July 2016 leading to yet again another departure on his part. Consequently, Kiir appointed General Taban Deng Gai as vice president after Machar’s abrupt withdrawal. Overall, this conflict has proved to be political in the past yet gradually turns to more ethnic friction.

  34. Singer Jack - DPRK
    Over the past 70 years, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has “withdrawn” itself from the world. Indeed, it hardly takes part in worldwide trade and causes threat to South Korea and hence the United States. Furthermore, it is also facing severe impoverishment as well as countless human rights violation within their own country.
    The reason behind the United-State’s military involvement originates from the Korean war in 1950. The US supported Southern activists who fought against communism from the North which rapidly spread across neighboring countries such as China and started to grow in popularity within Korea. Consequently a war between a communist North supported by China and a democratic South supported by the United States began. It ended in 1953 with no actual peace treaty. Nevertheless, there is a stark difference between North and South Korea which became two different countries. Since then, North Korea had proven to be a weak yet aggressive country threatening South Korea and the United States. More recently, N Korea tested a fairly strong nuclear missile and there is some concern in the US that N Korea could soon reach the US west coast with a missile.

  35. Cassiopeia Van den bussche Libya
    October 2011 in Libya, Northern Africa, the Qaddafi (also spelled Gaddafi) Regime was ousted and its leader murdered by the NTC( national transitional council). Ever since the country has attempted without success to rebuild itself and its institutions. First the GNC, elected in 2012, rose to the challenge but was voted out in 2014 and chose to ally itself with Islamist militias to form a government in Tripoli while the HoR tried to assert its position as main authority without avail. Also rivaling the HoR and controlling their own territory with a government and institutions are Islamist and militia coalitions like Libya Dawn in the West and Dignity in Cyrenaica and Benghazi in the East. However within these coalitions divisions are present. Another player is the many jihadists whose area of control have increasing significantly in recent years thanks to political unrest. The civil unrest has led to 434869 people being internally displaced in the past year and half a million more fleeing across the ocean.

  36. Rémi Masia-Depardieu, Destabilization of Mali

    The mali conflict is a constant tension war between the South and the North of the country. The northern pole of the country, known as Azawad, is populated with the Moors and the Touaregs, representing 10% of the Malian population.However, their cultures are significantly different and inner Northern tensions also exist. Since 1960, these northern populations have been deprived of economic development and fair political representation, which led to four major Touareg revolutions, in 1963, in 1990, in 2006, and in 2012. Therefore, Bamako, the capital, though acting as they were attempting to re-unite the country, signed numerous peace treaties, which have mostly failed due to their constant unfairness, and also to the arrival of militant groups such as Al-Qaeda, seeking to gain territory in the North and destabilize the region. The economical and social programs the United States used to fund ceased in 2012, but the French and other Mali allies such as the G5 Sahel countries (Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, and Niger) still try to resolve the situation. However, in June 2015, a peace treaty was signed, though it hasn’t had much significance in the past year, and the war has yet to have ended.

  37. Victoria Munsel - Criminal Violence in Mexico

    Criminal violence in Mexico mainly derives from the different leading drug cartels. This crisis not only affects Mexico, but also the United States because 90% of cocaine that comes into America is smuggled across the border by the cartels. The U.S. is also very involved in the war on drugs because Mexico is an important regional partner. Today, there are about 54 operating criminal organizations in Mexico, some of the most infamous are the Sinaloa Cartel, Guadajara Cartel and Tijuana Cartel. These major drug cartels rose to power thanks to the downfall of the Colombian drug empire in the late 1980s.
    The cartels are spread all around Mexico, but the drug trafficking issue is most relevant at the U.S. border. This puts a strain on the issue of refugees because many try to flee the country and search for asylum in the U.S.. Mexico’s corrupt and weak law enforcement agencies unfortunately makes way for the cartels to gain more and more power. Former mexican president Felipe Calderon started and initiative to fight the cartels with military force, and partnering with the United States. This caused an unnecessary amount of violence and led to deaths of many innocent civilians, but in 2012 the newly elected Mexican president Pena Nieto decided to focus on improving law enforcement in order to take down the cartels instead of fighting them directly. This stratagem decreased the homicide rate but was at the root of many kidnappings and extortion cases.

  38. Boris Hullin - Cartel Wars in Mexico

    The uprise of organized criminality in Mexico takes its roots in the dismantling of the Columian drug cartels in the late 80s. Their monopoly on the cocaine market no longer existed, and their former mexican courriers were the first to seize the opportunity to control it. The growth of their business caused drug-traffick related violence to spread throughout the country in the past two decades, and the corrupt mexican law enforcement struggles in its fight against the powerful drug lords that make the entire nation victim of collateral damage in their wars for supremacy on the drug network. The most influencial cartels inculde the cartel of Sinaloa and the cartel known as Los Zetas. In 2006, the Mexican government engaged formal combat against the cartels, with the strong assistance of the U.S army. This operation led to an escalation of violence in the country, taking the lives of an estimated 80 thousand mexican citizens. Today, the mexican president has focused anti-narcotic efforts in intelligence operations, which has led to the capture of high-profile drug lords, such as the recent arrest of the Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
    The United States interests are at stake in this conflict, for the drug trade on american soil is almost entirely controled by mexican cartels. In fact, 90 percent of the cocaine entering the country comes grom Mexico, the southern neighbor also being the first heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine supplier. Furthermore, the violence and social precarity in Mexico are sources of migration waves towards the U.S, causing an illegal immigration crisis at the border.

  39. Davdi Ripayre - Uighur conflict in China

    The Uighur conflict in China takes place mostly in the Xinjiang Uighur region in western China, this country is home to twenty million people and represents a sixth of Chinese territory. It opposes the Uighur, a Muslim and ethnically Turkic to the Han Chinese ethnic group. Whereas Uighur’s represent half of the Xinjiang region (10 million), the Han Chinese ethnic represents the majority of Chinese population (1.240 billion).
    The tension in Xinjiang started with demonstration of violent acts of terrorism in the 1990's. Separatist groups like the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) have perpetuated those kind of attacks. These Uighur people claim to be submitted to brutal repression in China but the Chinese government denies any kind of discrimination.
    The ETIM has been sanctioned by the UN Security Council because it was believed to have ties with Al-Qaeda.