CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

Global Overview

Outlook for This Month June 2018

Conflict Risk Alerts

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month May 2018

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

May saw Cameroon’s Anglophone conflict escalate and new clashes between Somaliland and Somalia’s Puntland over disputed territory – in both cases, fighting could increase in June. Intercommunal violence rose in the Central African Republic and on both sides of the Mali-Niger border. In Burundi, President Nkurunziza pushed through changes to the constitution, entrenching his increasingly authoritarian rule. In Yemen, both sides intensified their campaigns and the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive on Hodeida could mean more bloodshed in coming weeks. Israel killed over 60 Palestinian protesters in one day, and Israel-Iran tensions climbed in Syria. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal could ramp up confrontation between the U.S. and Iran or their respective allies. Fighting intensified in Afghanistan, while Indonesia faced ISIS-linked terror attacks. In North East Asia, China and Japan established a crisis management hotline, tensions flared over the Taiwan Strait, and a planned summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un in June could advance denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

CrisisWatch Digests

Cameroon’s Anglophone insurgency against the mainly Francophone state intensified again, leaving at least 60 dead and raising the risk of worse violence in June. Anglophone separatist militants launched multiple attacks, killing members of the security forces and kidnapping officials. Some Anglophone leaders adopted virulent rhetoric, telling Francophones to leave the Anglophone west or face consequences, and the government stuck to its military strategy. As we have urged, dialogue – potentially mediated by the Catholic Church – is the only way to avoid a long and costly struggle.

In Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, a flare-up of fighting between Muslim and Christian gangs raised fears of a return to largescale intercommunal violence, while in the provinces militias continued to attack civilians, national forces and UN peacekeepers. With most voters endorsing the Burundian government’s proposed constitutional changes in the 17 May referendum, President Nkurunziza could now extend his authoritarian rule until 2034 and upset the delicate power balance between Hutus and Tutsis. To prevent a slide back into conflict, we argued the African Union must press the government to open political space and end its inflammatory discourse.

A festering territorial dispute on the border between Somaliland and Puntland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia, saw new fighting that left dozens dead and could worsen in June. Along the border between Mali and Niger, intercommunal attacks rose sharply pitting ethnic Dossaak and Tuareg against Fulani, the former taking part in counter-insurgency operations alongside French and national forces, the latter suspected of supporting jihadists.

Yemen’s unrelenting war could be about to get much worse. The United Arab Emirates and their Yemeni allies launched an offensive to take Hodeida, the main port city in Huthi-controlled territory. Hodeida’s invasion could compound the already acute humanitarian crisis and spark a wider conflict. To avert worse suffering, relevant actors should press Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to hold off, persuade the Huthis to stop missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, and support the new UN envoy to revive a political process that is more inclusive and realistic. Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal on 8 May upped the risk of confrontation between the U.S. and Iran or their respective allies in the coming weeks. To save the deal, the onus lies on European powers to preserve as many of the deal’s benefits for Iran as possible.

Trump’s exit was swiftly followed by a major escalation between Israel and Iran over the latter’s role in Syria, with Israel claiming to have hit “dozens of Iranian military targets”. As we had warned, the Israel-Palestine conflict escalated: on 14 May, its bloodiest day since the 2014 Gaza war, Israeli forces killed over 60 Palestinian protesters at the Gaza-Israel border, as tens of thousands demanded the right to return to their old homes in Israel and an end to the Gaza siege.

With fighting season in full swing in Afghanistan, the Taliban intensified attacks on rural centres and provincial capitals. In Indonesia, three families coordinated deadly terror attacks, involving the use of children to deploy bombs, on three churches and the police in and around Surabaya city. These attacks, the deadliest claimed by the Islamic State on Indonesian soil, left at least 25 dead.

Taiwan lost two more of its remaining diplomatic allies after both the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso formally established diplomatic relations with China. Taiwan’s government said that “outrageous” manoeuvres by China were intended to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty, and “crossed a bottom line”.

On 9 May, after years of negotiations, Japan and China agreed to set up a maritime and aerial communication mechanism for crisis management, which will help reduce the risk that assertive or aggressive manoeuvres could spark a major diplomatic or military conflict. Crisis Group has long urged the two countries to reach this agreement, calling on them to manage disputes with professionalism and refrain from risky or intimidating behaviour.

The month saw a flurry of diplomatic activity to keep the U.S.-North Korea dialogue process moving forward ahead of the planned 12 June summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Colombia

In first round of presidential elections 27 May, right-wing candidate Iván Duque, prominent critic of peace agreement between govt and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), won 39.1% of vote, leftist former guerrilla Gustavo Petro 25.1%; both go through to second round 17 June. Drug trafficking probes involving FARC commanders continued: Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), established under peace deal to handle cases deriving from govt-FARC conflict, 17 May suspended extradition of former FARC commander Jesús Santrich to U.S. on trafficking charges until govt proves his alleged crimes took place after signing of peace agreement; Colombia’s attorney general accused JEP of having “threatened democratic institutions”, said ruling invalid. Former FARC commander Iván Márquez, also suspected of drug trafficking and who left Bogotá for southern Caquetá province 19 April, announced he would not take office as senator in July in protest against drug trafficking charges against Santrich, and accused govt of wrecking peace accord. Four former FARC fighters killed during May, bringing total former FARC members killed in 2018 to 24. Conflict with FARC dissident groups continued. Gentil Duarte-led Seventh Front allegedly killed two Colombian marines 1 May in town of Puerto Cachicamo, in Guaviare (south east); security forces operation led to death of eight Seventh Front dissidents in Putumayo (south) 16 May; army 11 May captured alias “Mordisco”, leader of Sixth Front dissident group, in Cauca (south west); govt bombed camp in Caquetá belonging to Seventh Front 28 May, killing eleven; some civil society organisations stated two fighters said to have died in operation were peasant leaders. Govt and National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group 10 May resumed negotiations in Cuba following Ecuador’s April announcement it would no longer host talks. ELN 14 May announced unilateral ceasefire around elections 25-29 May. Security forces 17 May captured five ELN Héroes de Anorí front guerrillas in Antioquia (north west). Fighting continued between ELN and Ejército Popular de Liberación (EPL) in Catatumbo (north east); clashes in Hacarí left several dead 15 May. JEP 8 May ruled that “parapoliticians” – politicians who sided with paramilitaries during conflict – would be excluded from transitional justice system, arguing that they were motivated by personal interest rather than political cause.

El Salvador

Govt confirmed further increase in violence in first months of 2018, with homicides up 10% on 2017. Attorney General Douglas Meléndez 10 May noted existence of new gang violence in northern San Salvador, in centre of country, and expansion of gang violence in many municipalities prioritised under “Safe El Salvador” govt violence prevention program. In 15 May media interview, two heads of MS-13 gang highlighted new call by three largest gangs for new truce with govt. Gender-based violence also increased; Ministry of Justice and Public Security announced 17% increase in femicides in 2018, totalling 165 as of 15 May. Govt 3 May approved initiative presented by women’s rights groups to combat gender violence. Minister of Justice 26 April acknowledged police and armed forces’ involvement in causing insecurity and forced displacement. Seven police officers sent to trial 7 May for killing four people; thirteen police officers convicted of crimes including extortion, murder and sexual harassment. Former President Saca and six members of his govt 16 May sent to trial for money laundering. FMLN ruling party chose FM Hugo Martínez as its presidential candidate for 2019 elections.

Guatemala