The CSS Blog Network

Boko Haram in 2016: A Highly Adaptable Foe

Courtesy of Surian Soosay/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 7 February 2017.

Significant security gains have been made in the fight against Boko Haram, but the war is far from over.

Last year marked the seventh year since Boko Haram re-merged following a heavy-handed crackdown on the group in July 2009. Since then, the outfit has employed violence in Nigeria and the surrounding region at a dizzying pace. In 2014, according to data collected by the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), it was the world’s most deadly terrorist entity.

A lot has changed in the struggle against Boko Haram since then, including the advent of operations by the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the eviction of militants from most areas of territorial control.

This past August, the movement split into two factions. Long-time leader Abubakar Shekau favours a more indiscriminate attack profile, while the new Islamic State-backed Abu Musab al-Barnawi faction prefers to engage security forces directly (such as in Bosso, Niger in June). Despite these developments, the high rate of violence perpetrated by the group remains a consistent feature.

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Ceasefires Don’t Work: We Have the Numbers to Prove It

Ceasefire by Juana Alicia

Courtesy Steve Rotman/Flickr

This article was originally published by War is Boring on 31 October 2016.

On Sept. 10, 2016, the U.S.-brokered a ceasefire with Russia and Syria in the besieged city of Aleppo. Although low-intensity fighting never really stopped, the ceasefire didn’t begin to fall apart until a week later, when U.S. aircraft mistakenly killed about 80 Syrian troops.

The killings heightened tensions between the United States and Russia, who had agreed to the ceasefire with the aim of negotiating a combined effort against Islamic State and Al Qaeda-linked fighters. By Sept. 21, the ceasefire collapsed — and the following day, the Syrian government announced a new military offensive to retake Aleppo.

The offensive featured some of the most intensive ground combat and bombing of the entire war, costing hundreds of lives within the span of just a few days. The humanitarian cost on the ground was described by U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien as “a level of savagery that no human should have to endure.”

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Burundi Crisis Year One

A number of machetes, courtesy Rene Passet/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project in May 2016.

As the crisis is Burundi officially enters its second year, the country remains unstable, as dead bodies (often with signs of torture) continue to be discovered throughout various provinces, high-profile assassinations are on the rise, and newly formed armed opposition groups become more active. The conflict has a current reported fatality count of 1,155 between 26 April 2015 and 25 April 2016 (as of the time of publishing); at least 690 of the reported dead (or approximately 60%) are civilians. More than 260,000 people have reportedly fled outside Burundi and thousands have disappeared without trace: approximately 137,000 Burundian refugees have crossed into Tanzania, 77,000 into Rwanda, 23,000 into Uganda, and 22,000 into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (UNHCR, 29 April 2016).

Direction

In recent weeks, the crisis has become increasingly wide-spread throughout the country and increasingly varied with respect to actors targeted by violence – ranging from security forces, former soldiers, and members of various opposition groups. The consequences of the past year are stark, but the crisis is not materializing into a civil war, a coup, or any other form of instability that is immediately recognizable. Since June 2015, reports have been referring to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s actions as ‘trigger for civil war’ and ‘spiraling into chaos’, yet continue to use the term ‘political crisis’ rather than ‘civil war’ to describe ongoing events in the country ( Al Jazeera, 28 June 2015).

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Robust Peacekeeping – A Desirable Development?

Image: flickr/Irish Defense Forces


This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 2 September, 2014.

A UN-sponsored report recently concluded that more than 191,000 people have now been killed in the Syrian conflict. Commenting on the report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay strongly criticized the Security Council for its inaction. The case of Syria has once again raised the question about the relevance of the UN and its ability to protect civilians. While civilians are being slaughtered on the battlefield, the UN Security Council fails to agree on an appropriate reaction. It may remind us of historical failures of the UN, like in Rwanda and Bosnia. What happened to the promises that “never again” would this happen? » More

Afghan Price Tags

100 Afghanis banknote

100 Afghanis banknote, courtesy of Wikipedia

Nearly one year after the devastating Kunduz airstrike the German military has decided to pay $5,000 to each of the families of the 100 civilian victims. This is the latest move in an affair that forced the German public to face the reality of the country’s military involvement in Afghanistan.

Overall the Bundeswehr transferred $430,000, stressing that the payment is only a voluntary, humanitarian measure. This was preceded by demands by the families’ attorneys, who demanded up to 28,000 euro per family. Compared to the amount actually paid, the attorneys did not get very far.

The price tag of $5,000 appears even lower if one considers earlier reports that Germany had paid $20,000 to the family of an Afghan woman who was shot at a checkpoint, and $33,000 for a dead Afghan boy.

The German compensation policy appears ‘generous’ compared to other nations militarily engaged in Afghanistan. One report mentions a sum of $40,000 for 15 people killed, breaking down to roughly $2,700 per person, paid by US commanders. Other sources state that US military commanders are authorized to pay between $1,500 and $2,500 to a family that has lost a child or an adult. The loss of a limb or other injury is ‘worth’ between $600 and $1,500; a damaged or destroyed vehicle, $500 to $2,500; damage to a farmer’s fields is valued between $50 and $250. » More