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 October 2018

Conflict Risk Alerts

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month September 2018

Conflict in Focus

In September, Cameroon’s Anglophone separatists and security forces stepped up attacks and violence could rise around the 7 October presidential vote, while Afghanistan’s parliamentary polls are likely to be marred by violence and their results contested. Yemen missed an opportunity as Huthi rebels refused to take part in UN-led consultations and fighting resumed outside Hodeida, boding ill for October. Militia fighting worsened in Libya’s capital, militant attacks rose in eastern Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia’s capital saw a spate of ethnic violence. Al-Shabaab carried out ambitious attacks in Somalia’s capital and regional states cut ties with the federal government, risking worse political divisions and violence in coming weeks. In Syria, a Turkey-Russia deal seems to have averted a major offensive on rebel-held Idlib, but it needs to take root in October. Djibouti and Eritrea agreed to work toward normalising relations, and a surprise electoral result in the Maldives gave hope for a peaceful political transition. In Guatemala, the president’s attempt to dismantle a UN-backed anti-corruption body prompted a political crisis, while a significant confidence-building measure in Georgia’s conflicts with its breakaway republics broke down. In East Asia, a summit between the leaders of North and South Korea opened up prospects for denuclearisation.

CrisisWatch Digests

In the run-up to Cameroon’s presidential elections, both the security forces and militants fighting for the independence of the English-speaking zone intensified attacks in the Anglophone west. Two flashpoints could trigger more flare-ups: the one-year anniversary of separatists’ declaration of independence on 1 October and the presidential poll, which separatist militants have pledged to disrupt. To kick start conflict resolution, international powers should support an Anglophone General Conference that could enable Anglophones to adopt a common position and identify the issues they want to address in a future national dialogue.

Political tensions are also growing in Afghanistan as it moves closer to its 20 October parliamentary elections. The continued high level of violence across the country makes it harder to hold the elections, increasing the risk of disenfranchisement or fraud, and raising the risk of a contested vote. Observers fear that Islamic State-Khorasan Province and the Taliban may step up attacks.

The collapse of pre-talks between Yemen’s conflict parties sparked renewed fighting near the Huthi-held port city of Hodeida. The UN can still work to mediate confidence-building measures, but the battle for Hodeida is now imminent, potentially the bloodiest of a war approaching its fourth anniversary. Such a contest would be catastrophic and a mediated solution remains the best option for all. In Libya, armed groups from towns surrounding the capital Tripoli intensified their offensives on the city in a bid to oust militias based there and pressure Prime Minister Faiez Serraj to step down. There was some respite in Syria’s north west, as Turkey and Russia signed an agreement that seems to have averted an offensive by pro-government forces on rebel-held Idlib province. Presidents Erdoğan and Putin said they would work with their allies to create a demilitarised zone on the edge of Idlib to be policed by Turkish and Russian forces. International actors should support the plan as it offers some hope of preventing another humanitarian catastrophe.

Burkina Faso experienced a marked rise in attacks on both civilians and security forces in the east, embroiling the country further in the Sahel’s interlocking conflicts. The military responded with airstrikes and ground operations against as-yet unidentified armed groups, and thousands protested in the capital against growing insecurity.

In the Horn of Africa, Somalia’s regional states severed ties with the federal government, plunging the country into a new political crisis and triggering a clan-based standoff in Galmudug state. This political fragmentation could continue, creating yet more opportunities for Al-Shabaab, which escalated its attacks in the capital and remains a menace in the region. Identity-based violence rocked Addis Ababa, capital of neighbouring Ethiopia, and surrounding areas, as ethnic Oromo – who see themselves as long side-lined – targeted minority groups. More positive news on the regional front as Eritrea and Djibouti, following Ethiopian encouragement, began talks to resolve their decade-old border dispute.

Following months of growing crisis in the main negotiation forum for Georgia’s conflicts with its breakaway republics, de facto South Ossetian officials walked out of a meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, bringing the only communication channel to tackle practical problems in the conflict zones closer to collapse.

Guatemala became submerged in a political and constitutional crisis after President Morales renewed his battle to expel the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, and defied a Constitutional Court ruling that its head be allowed to re-enter the country.

South Korean President Moon visited Pyongyang on 18-20 September for his third summit meeting this year with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. The resulting Pyongyang Declaration stated that Kim agreed to allow international observers to oversee the closing of a missile test site and launch pad, while expressing a “willingness” to permanently dismantle the main Yeongbyeon nuclear complex provided the U.S. takes unspecified “corresponding measures”.

In a surprise result in the Maldives’ presidential elections, opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih defeated incumbent President Yameen. Widely criticised for his government’s crackdown on the political opposition, judiciary and media, Yameen said he accepted the result, and the security forces pledged to uphold it, paving the way for an orderly transfer of power.

Bosnia And Herzegovina

Campaigning began 7 Sept for 7 Oct presidential, parliamentary (state and entity level) and cantonal (for Federation entity) elections.  Russian FM Sergey Lavrov visited Bosnia 21 Sept; meeting with tripartite state presidency in Sarajevo, said Russia supports Bosnia’s territorial integrity and constitution and denied interfering in elections; also visited Republika Srpska (RS) capital Banja Luka, where he met with RS President Dodik (who is running for tripartite state presidency) and Serbian PM Dacic, and opened new Russian church and cultural centre; Dodik visited Russia late month, met with President Putin 30 Sept.

Kosovo

Talk of possible border adjustment between Kosovo and Serbia as part of EU-facilitated normalisation dialogue continued to prompt strong opposition within Kosovo and internationally, while tensions rose between countries. Serbian President Vučić 7 Sept called off meeting with Kosovo President Thaci, reportedly citing “lies” from Pristina; same day ordered Serbian institutions to stop all communications with Kosovo police and international peacekeepers. Vučić went ahead with rare visit to Kosovo 8-9 Sept; addressing thousands of Kosovo Serbs at rally in Mitrovica 9 Sept, his remarks praising former Serbian President Milosevic, who died while on trial for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, as a “great Serbian leader”, drew criticism from neighbouring countries. Kosovo opposition continued efforts to block potential border change as part of normalisation deal, arguing it would require two-thirds parliamentary approval; local media 20 Sept reported Thaci had asked Constitutional Court to clarify whether his signature of an international agreement would be sufficient for ratification. Thousands joined opposition-organised protest against border correction proposal 29 Sept. Vučić in interview published 13 Sept said Serbia would need clear guarantees of EU membership in 2025 if it reaches agreement with Kosovo. Pristina deployed special police to Gazivode Lake area in northern Kosovo 29 Sept for visit by Thaci, prompting Serbia to put its troops on alert and accuse Pristina of breaking agreements. Govt 13 Sept approved bill expanding competences of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) without need for constitutional changes; Thaci expressed concern about need for support from Western allies including U.S. and NATO. Local NGO Kosovar Center for Security Studies published report 19 Sept claiming Belgrade put pressure on over 60 ethnic Serb members of Kosovo Security Force to resign. Local NGO Aktiv reported that integration of courts in Serb-run north into Kosovo judicial system, which came into force Oct 2017 following agreement as part of Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, has not helped backlog of tens of thousands of court cases.