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 2019

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month May 2019

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

May saw an alarming rise in tensions between Iran and both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and an escalation in Yemen’s war, which could intensify further in June. Pro-government forces in Syria stepped up bombing in Idlib, and fighting worsened in and around Libya’s capital, Tripoli. Relations between Somalia’s federal government and regions deteriorated and Al-Shabaab upped attacks, boding ill for June. Sudan’s military council resisted demands to hand over power to civilians and is already stepping up repression of protesters. Militia violence rose in north-western Central African Republic, intercommunal raids left dozens dead in eastern Chad, and in western Niger suspected jihadists ramped up attacks. Benin’s security forces cracked down on opposition protesters, constitutional reforms that could give Togo’s president two more terms worsened tensions, and Guinea-Bissau’s political stalemate could trigger unrest in coming weeks. Anti-Muslim violence rose in Sri Lanka, and tensions spiked within Kosovo and between Kosovo and Serbia. In Honduras, violence broke out as the government faced large protests against planned reforms. In Nicaragua, talks between the government and opposition stalled fuelling concerns they could falter in June, further deepening the country’s political crisis.

CrisisWatch Digests

As we have warned, a marked rise in tensions between Iran and the U.S. could lead to a military confrontation – direct or by proxy – unless both parties and outside actors take greater steps to de-escalate. The U.S. tightened its economic stranglehold on Iran, revoking waivers that allowed countries to import Iranian oil, and announced it would bolster military assets in the Middle East. Tehran responded by downgrading its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal and threatened to step up uranium enrichment if the accord’s other parties (the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) failed to protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors from sanctions within 60 days. Unclaimed attacks on four oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates – which Washington claimed Tehran directed – and drone attacks on a pipeline in Saudi Arabia added fuel to the fire. The latter strikes were claimed by Huthi forces in Yemen, but Saudi Arabia accused Iran of guiding the Huthis’ actions. In apparent retaliation, the Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes in Yemen’s capital Sanaa causing civilian deaths. Fighting also escalated on several fronts across Yemen, raising fears of more violence on Yemeni soil and more Huthi attacks on Saudi and Emirati assets in coming weeks.

In Libya, hundreds were killed in and around the capital Tripoli as fighting intensified between Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces and those nominally loyal to the UN-backed government. To prevent a protracted regional conflict, the warring parties and their external backers should agree an immediate ceasefire, including a partial withdrawal of Haftar’s forces, and give the UN a chance to restart talks. Pro-government forces in Syria intensified a bombing campaign against jihadists in Idlib province in the north west, with hundreds reportedly killed, many of them civilians.

In Somalia, already fraught relations between the federal government in Mogadishu and the regional states soured further, raising the risk of greater political turmoil and insecurity, just as Al-Shabaab ramped up attacks in the capital and rural areas. After talks between President Farmajo and regional leaders collapsed with no agreement on critical issues from the electoral process to resource sharing, two regions suspended cooperation with the centre. Hope for a peaceful transition in Sudan after President Bashir’s ouster is fading fast. In May, the ruling military council resisted pressure to hand over authority to civilians and soldiers twice reportedly opened fire on protesters. Violence could rise in June; already clashes erupted when security forces tried to clear a sit-in protest from outside the defence ministry in Khartoum. In neighbouring Chad, inter-ethnic attacks spiked in the east, and militia violence rose in the Central African Republic.

Suspected jihadists ramped up attacks in western Niger near the border with Mali and Burkina Faso, killing several civilians and dozens of soldiers. After disputed elections in Benin, security forces clashed with opposition protesters in the economic capital Cotonou, reportedly leaving at least seven dead. Both the government and opposition hardened their positions, prompting fears that violence could worsen in June. Neighbouring Togo’s parliament voted through constitutional changes that could see President Gnassingbé, in power since 2005, stay until 2030, much to the opposition’s ire. In Guinea-Bissau, President Vaz continued to resist pressure from the ruling party to name a new Prime Minister after the March elections and allow the formation of a government. Thousands took to the streets to protest, and there are fears security forces could forcibly suppress further protests, especially around the end of Vaz’s term on 23 June.

In Sri Lanka, the fallout from the Easter Sunday terror attacks continued as intercommunal tensions and anti-Muslim violence increased, with hundreds of Muslim businesses, homes and mosques damaged or burned during attacks by Sinhala Buddhist extremist groups. In Europe, tensions rose within Kosovo and between Kosovo and Serbia after a police raid on organised crime suspects in the Serb-majority north.

In Honduras, political tensions flared as protests continued against the government's planned health and education reforms, leading to violent clashes between protesters and the police. Talks between Nicaragua’s government and opposition stalled, with fears that the political crisis could worsen in June as the agreed deadline for the government to release political prisoners expires, and the country faces expulsion from the Organization of American States.

Colombia

Political tensions continued over role of transitional justice mechanism of 2016 peace deal with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), while violence between armed groups led to mass displacement. Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP), created under peace deal to handle cases deriving from govt-FARC conflict, 15 May ruled against imprisonment and extradition to U.S. of ex-FARC commander Jesús Santrich, arrested on drug trafficking charges in joint U.S.-Colombia operation April 2018; SJP ruled evidence did not establish that Santrich had committed trafficking crimes after 1 Dec 2016, date FARC demobilisation began. Police 17 May re-arrested Santrich immediately after his release following attorney general’s office distribution of video allegedly showing Santrich committing crimes post-demobilisation date. Santrich released 30 May on Supreme Court’s order. Attorney general, deputy attorney general and justice minister resigned in protest at SJP’s decision to not extradite Santrich. Constitutional Court 29 May ruled Congress had rejected President Duque’s objections against SJP, obliging him to sign law regarding functioning of SJP. Duque 24 May announced appointment of independent commission to review military orders and operational instructions following New York Times report 18 May alleging military leaders had set targets for army including number of deaths or surrenders of enemy combatants. Conflicts between armed groups displaced or confined over 2,000 during month. FARC dissident groups 2 May clashed in Nariño (south west), displacing over 200 and putting Dec truce between various dissident groups under strain. In Juradó, Chocó (west), fighting between Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC, country’s main drug trafficking group) and National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group displaced over 900 people and confined 800 within their communities between late April and mid May. Other violence continued; unknown attackers 14 May attacked judicial commission in Tibú, Norte de Santander (north east), killing two members of commission and wounding five policemen. Attacks on activists increased with almost ten killed during month, mainly in Putumayo (south west), Bolívar (north), Antioquia (north west) and Arauca (east) departments.

El Salvador

Gang-related violence remained high amid continuing anti-gang and anti-corruption operations. National Police 20 May reported 1,236 homicides since start of year, 13% less than same period in 2018, however homicide rate on rise since April. Gang attacks on police increased including police officer killed in San Juan Nonualco, La Paz (centre) 17 May, 19th police officer killed in 2019. In ongoing anti-gang operations, Attorney General 16 May issued 274 arrest warrants in attempts to attack criminal groups’ structures, including targeting collaborators in police and judicial institutions. Legislative Assembly 27 May resumed debate on controversial National Reconciliation bill with input from civil society; critics allege new law would entail amnesty for war crimes during 1980-1992 civil war.

Guatemala