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 July 2019

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month June 2019

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

In June, Iran-U.S. tensions continued to climb, raising the risk of a military conflagration. Yemen’s Huthi forces, seen as Iran-backed, increased the pace of strikes in Saudi Arabia, which in turn stepped up bombing in Yemen. Attacks on U.S. assets in Iraq multiplied, and protests erupted in the south. High-level assassinations rocked Ethiopia, and Sudan’s security forces reportedly killed over 120 protesters. Major ethnic violence hit north east DR Congo and Mali’s centre and could escalate in both places. In Cameroon, violence raged in Anglophone areas and Boko Haram upped attacks. Political tensions rose in Guinea, Malawi and Tunisia, and Algeria could enter a constitutional void in July, possibly inflaming protests and repression. In both Honduras and Haiti, anti-government protests turned deadly. In the Caucasus, killings in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone pushed up tensions, and in Georgia anti-Russian sentiment fuelled major protests. Widespread repression marred Kazakhstan’s elections. In a positive step, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Trump agreed to restart talks on denuclearisation.

Tensions between Iran and its allies on one hand and the U.S. and its allies on the other rose to alarming levels in June, raising the risk of more intense political and military confrontation in July. The U.S. blamed explosions on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Iran, which denied responsibility. Fanning the fire, Iran downed a U.S. drone on 20 June off the Iranian coast, which nearly led to U.S. strikes on Iranian soil. Huthi forces in Yemen, whom Riyadh considers Iranian proxies, stepped up the pace of cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia. Riyadh in turn intensified bombing of Huthi areas in Yemen, especially in the capital Sanaa, risking a further aggravation in July. Meanwhile, in Iraq, unclaimed attacks on U.S. assets multiplied and protests erupted in the south, with demonstrators demanding more jobs and better services. To avoid a military conflagration, Iran and the U.S. can still and should walk back from the brink.

In the Horn of Africa, high-level murders in Ethiopia exposed a dangerous power struggle. Gunmen shot and killed five officials, including the leader of Amhara state, the second-largest federal region, and the military chief-of-staff, triggering a wave of arrests targeting ethnic Amhara nationalists. The ruling coalition and government should take urgent steps to restore calm, including a clear commitment by Prime Minister Abiy to try to rein in discord within the ruling alliance. Security forces in Sudan unleashed attacks on protesters early June reportedly killing over 120 and the military leadership continued to resist demands to hand over power to civilians. To prevent widespread conflict, world leaders, including Sudan’s Arab backers, must press the military to resume talks toward a civilian-led transitional administration.

In north east DR Congo, longstanding enmity between ethnic Hema and Lendu in Ituri province erupted in attacks that have left at least 170 dead and, with tensions still high, the toll could climb in coming weeks. In Cameroon, Boko Haram upped attacks on security forces and civilians in the Far North and violence intensified in the west as government forces continued efforts to crush the Anglophone separatist insurgency. In Mali’s troubled centre, ethnic Fulanis carried out large-scale attacks – suggesting a new level of organisation and ambition – leaving at least 73 dead and raising the risk of reprisals in July.

Ahead of Guinea’s 2020 presidential polls, tensions continued to rise between those supporting and those opposing a third term for President Condé and security forces violently suppressed an opposition march. In Malawi, thousands demonstrated to denounce alleged vote-rigging in May’s election, which President Mutharika narrowly won. With neither side backing down, the confrontation could escalate in July.

Meanwhile, in North Africa, tensions mounted in Tunisia between the ruling coalition and opposition when parliamentarians voted to change the eligibility criteria for presidential candidates. If signed into law, the amendments would bar three opposition front-runners from taking part in polls due later this year. President Essebsi’s “severe health crisis” also sparked speculations about a possible power vacuum. Algeria could enter a constitutional void in early July when interim President Bensalah’s mandate ends, possibly leading to more intense protests and repression. 

In Latin America, tensions increased in Honduras, where protesters initially demonstrating against planned health and education reforms clashed with police, leading to several deaths and the army deploying across the country to maintain order. Deadly protests also rocked Haiti, with demonstrators demanding President Moïse resign over corruption allegations.

Tensions rose in Georgia and between Georgia and Russia when a Russian legislator visiting parliament committed what was seen as an insult to Georgia on live TV, sparking mass protests. The killing of four soldiers in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone strained relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In Kazakhstan, widespread repression of protesters and arrests of journalists marred presidential elections.

Finally, on a positive note, U.S. President Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un held a meeting in the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea. Although both agreed to restart denuclearisation talks, all parties will now need to work toward realistic goals based on mutual concessions to build confidence and generate momentum.

Colombia

Violence between armed groups remained high, while political tensions continued over role of transitional justice mechanism of 2016 peace deal with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  Ex-FARC commander Jesús Santrich, released from prison in May after Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP, created under peace deal to handle cases deriving from govt-FARC conflict) ruled against his extradition to U.S. on drug trafficking charges, took seat in Congress 11 June as part of peace deal; other legislators protested his swearing in, claiming incident undermined legitimacy of peace agreement. Despite previous objections, President Duque 6 June signed statutory law regarding functioning of SJP. Violence between armed forces and FARC dissident groups continued; military operation killed seven fighters from Seventh front dissident group in Meta (centre) 1 June, while one soldier died in clash with dissident group in Cauca (south west) 10 June. FARC dissident groups revealed proof of life videos for two people previously abducted: 9 June for soldier taken 5 March in Arauca (east) and 15 June for civilian kidnapped 10 June in Cauca. Dissidents 3 June attacked National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group unit, prompting displacement of over 400 people, in Litoral San Juan in Chocó (west); army 16 June killed regional ELN commander in Cauca. In north west, conflict between Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC, country’s main drug trafficking group) and AGC splinter group “Caparrapos” continued; gunmen killed four members of same family in Antioquia 4 June, with local media reporting killing was part of AGC-“Caparrapos” conflict. Attacks on activists increased including unknown assailants killing social leader María del Pilar Hurtado in Tierralta, Córdoba (northwest) 21 June.

El Salvador

New President Nayib Bukele, sworn in 1 June, launched flurry of anti-gang measures. Bukele early June named cabinet including two hardliners in fight against armed groups, René Merino Monroy as minister of defence and Mauricio Arriaza Chicas as director of national police. Human Rights Institute of Central American University decried Arriaza appointment, said he previously led police units accused of extrajudicial killings. Bukele 11 June ruled out possibility of truce with gangs while Arriaza next day said police would adopt harsher measures. Bukele’s “Territorial Control Plan” began 20 June with three focus areas: tightening control of jailed gang leaders; curbing financing for illicit activities; and strengthening capacity of security forces. Gang attacks on security forces continued with four police officers killed 1-17 June, and a soldier 26 June. Amid regional focus on migration and govt criticism that U.S.-Mexico 7 June deal to increase anti-migration efforts did not include Northern Triangle countries, Bukele 20 June met Mexican President López Obrador in Tapachula, Mexico, to discuss migration, with latter pledging $30mn in support for El Salvador.

Guatemala