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 April 2019

Conflict Risk Alerts

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month March 2019

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

March saw ethnic violence in central Mali rise in scale and frequency, risking escalation in April, and jihadist attacks intensified in Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. Fighting flared in Yemen’s north and south as de-escalation in Hodeida stalled, jeopardising peace efforts. Retaliatory strikes between Israel and Hamas pushed both sides closer to war. In Myanmar, an ethnic Rakhine armed group ramped up attacks on security forces, and in New Zealand, a far-right extremist killed 50 Muslim worshippers in a terror attack. In Algeria, millions took to the streets as a risky transition got underway. Protests erupted in Comoros following disputed presidential elections; surged in the North Caucasus’s Ingushetia; and continued in Sudan despite hardened repression. Tensions between Uganda and Rwanda rose over Uganda’s alleged harassment of Rwandans, and Venezuela’s people faced nationwide blackouts amid heightened political polarisation. In a positive development in negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh, a much anticipated summit saw Armenia and Azerbaijan commit to strengthen the ceasefire, improve communications and implement humanitarian projects.

In Mali, hostilities between ethnic communities spiralled – at least 173 men, women and children were killed – raising the risk of reprisals in the weeks ahead. Tensions between the Dogon and Fulani over access to land and political positions have deep roots, but the fight against jihadists, with whom Dogons suspect Fulanis collaborate, has unleashed unprecedented violence. To help avert a cycle of killing, the government should disarm ethnic militias and take steps to end impunity for past crimes.

Jihadist violence rose in Burkina Faso where radical militants upped attacks on both security forces and civilians, especially in the east and north. While in south west Chad, the Boko Haram faction known as Islamic State West Africa Province launched a bold attack on a military position killing 23 soldiers, an unusually high toll.

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired several rounds of rockets into Israel, injuring Israeli civilians and provoking retaliatory strikes on over 100 targets in Gaza. Israeli forces pushed back Palestinian protesters at the border, killing four. The escalation comes at a sensitive time as Israel prepares for elections in April. To prevent a war that neither side wants, both should return to implementing measures outlined in their November ceasefire agreement, and do more to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

In Yemen, fighting escalated in the north between Huthi rebels and Hajour tribesmen and in the southern city of Taiz between nominally allied pro-government groups. Meanwhile, the process aimed at de-escalation in Hodeida port city initiated by the December Stockholm Agreement seemed to founder, raising the risk that fighting resumes in April.

In Myanmar, the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine insurgency group, stepped up attacks against security forces across broad areas of Rakhine State and southern Chin State, despite vows by the military and government to crush the insurgency. We fear that serious escalation on the security and political front will greatly complicate efforts to bring peace and stability in the region and further undermines the prospects for repatriation of one million Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.

In an unprecedented terror attack in New Zealand, a far-right extremist shot dead 50 Muslim worshippers, including four women and four children, at two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March.

Algeria’s long stagnant politics entered a potentially volatile new phase. Under pressure from millions of protesters across the country, 82-year-old President Bouteflika – in power since 1999 – decided not to run for a fifth term. The army and ruling party called on the constitutional council to rule him unfit for office, a move that would kick-start a political transition. But protesters demand more, a wholesale change in the ruling elite. To avoid violence, we have argued that any change should take place gradually and in line with the constitution.

In Sudan, nationwide protests calling for President Bashir to step down entered their fourth month, but Bashir dug in. Though he stepped aside as head of the ruling party, he showed no sign of intending to leave power as his regime upped arrests of activists and opposition members. On the Comoros Islands, a far-from-credible election saw President Assoumani claim a fourth term in office. The result sparked protests in the capital, moved the opposition to try to replace him with a transitional council and triggered fighting between loyal and dissident security forces. With tensions still running high, April could see more confrontation.

Tensions between Uganda and neighbouring Rwanda continued to rise. Objecting to Uganda’s alleged harassment of Rwandans and harbouring of dissidents, Rwanda further curbed trade across their common border.

In Venezuela, a massive electricity grid failure on 7 March left around 90 per cent of the country without power for days, affecting hospitals, cutting off water supplies to major cities and causing communications to break down. Heralding a new and more critical phase of the protracted political crisis, the blackouts are an illustration of how, absent negotiations and compromises for all involved, Venezuela’s prospects are extremely grim.

In Russia’s North Caucasus region, thousands took to the streets in the Ingushetian capital Magas and in Nazran in late March against last September’s controversial border demarcation agreement between Ingushetia and neighbouring Chechnya, prompting concerns over stability in the region. In a positive development, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held their first official summit on Nagorno-Karabakh at the end of March, where they committed to strengthen the ceasefire, improve communications and implement humanitarian projects. While much more needs to happen to reach peace, including a greater focus on the needs of populations, recent steps are giving rise to cautious hope in diplomacy.

China/Japan

Amid ongoing diplomatic efforts on both sides, Chinese FM Wang 8 March noted relations improving and both countries would work to “deepen mutually beneficial cooperation”. Beijing 28 March said Japanese restrictions on Chinese technology companies such as Huawei could damage relations. Military exercises and operations continued; Japan Air Force 20 March scrambled jets to intercept Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) electronic warfare and surveillance plane passing through East China Sea, and again 30 March to intercept PLA aircraft flying through Miyako Strait. Japanese island of Iejima 11-14 March hosted U.S. Marines training exercises (see South China Sea), while U.S. flew B-52 bombers in joint training exercise with Japan Air Force over East China Sea 19 March.

Korean Peninsula

Uncertainty over denuclearisation talks continued following abrupt end of late Feb U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi, also setting back inter-Korean ties. Observers blamed unrealistic expectations on both sides, while North Korean Vice FM Choe Son-hui 15 March told press conference in Pyongyang that U.S. President Trump had been prepared to consider sanctions relief with provisions to reapply them if Pyongyang violated commitments, but Sec State Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton blocked move; also said Pyongyang may rethink ban on nuclear and missile tests absent concessions from Washington. U.S. General Abrams told House Armed Services Committee that observed North Korean activities were “inconsistent with denuclearisation”. Following fraught discussions, South Korea and U.S. 8 March signed new one-year Special Measures Agreement, under which South Korea is to raise its annual cost-sharing contribution for U.S. Forces Korea to nearly $920mn, up from approximately $800 million during previous agreement; U.S. used opportunity to publicly reaffirm strength of alliance. Inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong thrown into turmoil as North Korean staff 22 March informed South Korea of intent to withdraw from operations, allegedly under direction of Kim Jong-un, leading to concerns of abandonment of key aspect of broader inter-Korean talks; however half of North Korean staff came to work 25 March, reportedly after Trump attempted to reverse sanctions on two Chinese entities accused of doing business with DPRK. Pyongyang 31 March said that 22 Feb break-in at its embassy in Spain was a “terrorist attack” and called for investigation, intimating the possibility of state-level involvement.

Afghanistan