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Conflict Terrorism Regional Stability

Evolving Conflicts: an Analysis of Ongoing Violence in the Middle East and North Africa

Free Syrian Army rebels preparing for battle. Image: Freedom House/Flickr

Since the start of the Iraq war, the Middle East has been descending into deeper levels of violence. Currently, most of the countries in the region are either suffering from internal conflicts or being affected by other conflicts. And much of the violence in the region is centred in the two least peaceful countries in this year’s Global Peace Index: Syria and Iraq.

The Global Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, measures peace in 162 countries according to 23 indicators of the absence of violence or the fear of violence. This year’s GPI discusses the ongoing conflicts in the six Middle Eastern and North African countries most affected by conflict. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Israel and Lebanon had the highest number of conflict-related civilian and battle fatalities in the region in 2014, and in many cases, that number has been sharply on the rise.

These conflicts have global significance for a variety of reasons, not least because of their fluid nature and increasing intensity. While there is a lot of uncertainty about how events may unfold, what is clear is that the dynamics underlying these conflicts are complex. The fact that each conflict includes numerous state and non-state participants with different tactical and strategic interests only makes the path to peace less clear. The report highlights some of the more important drivers of violence and sets out some of the opportunities for building peace. It includes a detailed discussion of conflict in each country and addresses the following key themes:

Categories
Conflict Terrorism

Is Wildlife Trafficking a National Security Threat?

Confiscated illegal animal products at JFK airport. Image: Steve Hildebrand/Wikimedia

This article was originally published on 10 June 2015 by New Security Beat, a blog run by the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Wilson Center.

Trafficking of illegal wildlife goods is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative illicit businesses in the world. With growing demand in Asia, an industry that was once fed by isolated, small-scale poaching incidents is now run by well-organized, transnational criminal networks, similar to narcotics and guns. The Obama administration labeled wildlife trafficking as a national priority in 2013 and released a National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking in 2014. A detailed implementation plan for the strategy followed this year, identifying key steps and implementing agencies to help end trafficking in the United States and abroad.

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Security Terrorism

Chad: Taking the Lead in the War on Boko Haram

The President of Chad, Idriss Déby. Image: Rama/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Strife on 6 February 2015.

The ground offensive in Gamboru, in which over 200 Boko Haram fighters were reportedly killed, followed several days of air raids against the militants and is the latest in a string of successful strikes by Chad against the Islamist group. As Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks in recent weeks, so Chad has stepped up its military presence in neighbouring countries: Chadian troops now operate in Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria. On 29 January, Chadian forces drove the Islamists out of the Nigerian town of Malum Fatori after attacking their positions from across the border in Niger. In mid-January, Chad deployed its military to Cameroon to assist its neighbour in fending off Boko Haram’s incursion into its territory and recapture Baga, the Nigerian border town ravaged in a massacre earlier that month.

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Regional Stability

Cameroon and the Growing Threat of Boko Haram Contagion

Image: Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the IPI Global Observatory on 14 August 2014.

On July 26, a group of heavily armed assailants attacked Kolofata, a Cameroonian town located near the country’s shared border with Nigeria. While there have been no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack, in which three people were killed and the wife of Cameroon’s deputy prime minister was kidnapped, the incursion conformed to the modus operandi typically employed by the Boko Haram Islamist extremist sect.

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Human Rights Development Humanitarian Issues Terrorism

Fear and Loathing in Jos, Nigeria

Image: ArnoldPlaton/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Mats Utas on 14 July 2014.

Since 2001, Jos, Nigeria is internationally known for intermittent bursts of violent, inter-religious conflict. In addition, for the past several years Nigeria has faced terror attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram, what many would call the worst violent crisis since independence.

On 20 May 2014, two bombs went off in the center of Jos, killing at least 118 people and injuring 56 more. The area targeted was Terminus Market, arguably the busiest and most densely populated location in town, a market used by all ethnic groups and by Christians and Muslims alike.