CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
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Our monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in five countries in August.
We also noted political and security improvements in three locations.
Aside from the 70+ conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked notable developments in: Brazil, Djibouti, Guatemala and the United Arab Emirates.
Cross-strait tensions continued between Beijing and Taipei as U.S. announced new arms deal with Taiwan and China conducted military exercises. After U.S. Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman late July met Chinese FM Wang Yi, raising concerns over Beijing’s conduct across Taiwan Strait, U.S. State Dept 4 Aug approved arms sale to Taiwan valued at up to $750mn; China 17 Aug said U.S. was breaching commitments on arms sales to Taiwan made under 1982 Joint Communiqué. U.S. warship 28 Aug sailed through Taiwan Strait, eighth transit in 2021. U.S. also continued to deepen unofficial engagement with Taipei. Notably, U.S. and Taiwan 11 Aug held first meeting on coastguard-related cooperation; China 13 Aug expressed its opposition. Partly in response to U.S. arms sales, China 17 Aug conducted military drills near Taiwan’s southern coast, with warships and 11 aircraft. At least 34 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone during month, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry. In rare interview with international media, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen 10 Aug stated that international concern over Taiwan Strait would prompt more cautious approach by Beijing, Taiwan would not give in to military pressure, and Beijing should cease crackdowns on Hong Kong and Xinjiang province, also rejected “one country two systems” model; China 11 Aug rebuked remarks. In response to Taiwan’s July decision to open representative office in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, China 10 Aug announced plan to withdraw its ambassador to Lithuania and has reportedly suspended direct rail freight between two countries; U.S. officials publicly expressed support for Vilnius. Representatives of Taiwan’s and Japan’s ruling parties 27 Aug held first ever security dialogue.
In rapid takeover, Taliban regained control over country, prompting fall of govt and ending 20-year U.S. occupation; uncertainty over new political order fuelled domestic and international security concerns. In dramatic shift, govt 15 Aug collapsed and Taliban gained control of most territory, including all border crossings and major urban centres – with notable exception of Panjshir Valley province (north). As Taliban reached capital Kabul, President Ghani 15 Aug fled abroad, along with many other govt officials. Govt’s fall prompted mass exodus of Afghans fearing Taliban retaliation, notably causing chaos at Hamid Karzai International Airport; two bombs 26 Aug exploded outside Kabul airport, reportedly killing as many as 200 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members; Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility. Following Taliban’s takeover, U.S. mid-Aug froze Afghanistan’s central bank reserves in U.S. while International Monetary Fund and World Bank suspended payments to country; UN and humanitarian organisations called for continued assistance to country amid dire humanitarian crisis. Regional and international partners to Afghanistan had yet to announce positions on sanctions, financial aid and recognition of new govt by month’s end, waiting for Taliban to make meaningful compromises in new political order. Taliban’s rapid advances in early Aug partly due to local ‘surrender deals’ which granted safe passage to security forces in return for weapons and district centres as insurgents late July to mid-Aug launched simultaneous attacks on provincial capitals in south, east and north. Following initial hearty resistance, particularly in Helmand province (south), Kandahar city (south) and Herat province (west), insurgents captured provincial capitals in lightly defended areas. Taliban 6 Aug held first provincial capital in Nimroz province (south west), gaining control of last remaining border crossing to Iran under govt oversight; 7 Aug captured capital of Jawzjan province (north); 9 Aug captured provinces of Sar-e Pul (north) and Kunduz (north), second largest city in north; 12 Aug captured Ghazni (centre), Kandahar (south), Herat (west) and Badghis (north west). Loss of Herat and Kandahar, notably important cities, seemed to have broken security forces’ moral, who following day had abandoned provincial capitals of Helmand (south), Logar (east), Uruzgan (south), Zabul (south) and Ghor (centre) provinces.
Maoist violence continued in south and centre, farmers marked nine months of protests, and inter-province tensions remained high in north east. Maoist violence continued. In Telangana state (south), exchange of fire between militants and police 1 Aug killed one Maoist in Bhadradri Kothagudem district. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), Maoist IED attack 5 Aug killed one labourer and injured eleven civilians in Dantewada district; Maoists 20 Aug killed two paramilitary police personnel in Narayanpur district; security forces 24 Aug killed two Maoists in Sukma district. In Bihar state (east), Maoists 25 Aug killed two suspected police informers in Jamui district. Farmers’ protests against agriculture laws marked nine months on 26 Aug; Punjab chief minister 11 Aug urged PM Modi to withdraw laws, warned that protests had potential of posing security threats as Pakistan-supported forces were trying to exploit farmers’ anger. In north east, following late-July border dispute between Assam and Mizoram police forces, which left six Assam policemen dead, Assam residents 8 Aug lifted unofficial economic blockade on Mizoram state in place for ten days following govt intervention. Unidentified assailants 14 Aug bombed school in Hailakandi district, Assam state; authorities in Mizoram 17 Aug alleged Assam police opened fire on three Mizo civilians. Following 12th round of military talks with China about unofficial border known as Line of Actual Control (LAC), govt 6 Aug confirmed Indian and Chinese forces had disengaged from Gogra area of Eastern Ladakh, with sides having also verified dismantlement of all temporary structures, creating wider buffer zone. India mid-Aug held military exercises in East Sikkim district, close to LAC. Chinese media 25 Aug reported military drills in Tibet, described by Chinese commentators as warning to India.
Pakistan-India tensions ran high amid regional security concerns over Afghanistan and anniversary of India’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). India, as UN Security Council (UNSC) president, 6, 17 Aug held meetings on security developments in Afghanistan, during which India’s External Affairs Minister Jaishankar 17 Aug told UNSC Pakistani-based militant groups operating with “impunity and encouragement”; Islamabad denied allegations, protested India’s decision to deny requests to attend UNSC meetings. Pakistani FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi 12 Aug blamed Indian intelligence for 14 July attack that killed ten Chinese workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. On two-year anniversary of end of J&K special constitutional status, Pakistan’s foreign ministry 5 Aug summoned India’s High Commissioner to Islamabad to register “unequivocal rejection of India’s illegal and unilateral actions since 5 August” in J&K; People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, J&K opposition coalition, same day held protests in J&K while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrated anniversary of revocation. Political and religious leaders from Kargil and Ladakh regions 1 Aug met and rejected union territory status, demanding statehood and safeguards against outsiders buying land or obtaining jobs; govt 10 Aug told parliament two people only had purchased property in J&K since Aug 2019. Counter-insurgency operations and militant attacks continued. Police 14 Aug claimed to have foiled terrorist attack planned for following day (India’s Independence Day), arrested four alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed militants. Security forces 3 and 7 Aug killed two alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militants in Bandipora and Budgam districts. Clashes between militants and security forces 6 Aug left two alleged militants dead in Rajouri district, 12 Aug killed five in Kulgam district including two civilians, and 17 Aug left one security personnel and one militant dead in Rajouri. Militants 3 and 7 Aug killed two police officers in Srinagar city and Kulgam; 9 Aug killed BJP member and wife in Anantnag district; 19 Aug killed leader of pro-BJP Apni party leader in Kulgam. Series of grenade attacks in Rajouri, Handwara and Baramulla districts 13 Aug, 16 Aug killed two including two-year-old.
Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan heightened concerns regarding associated security risks for Pakistan, while deadly militant violence persisted. Following Taliban takeover of Afghan capital Kabul in mid-Aug, President Alvi 17 Aug said that Islamabad wants assurances “that Afghan territory will never be used against any other country”; govt same day said they would make decision on recognising Taliban govt “after consulting with regional and international powers”. Military 27 Aug told journalists “cordial” relations were expected with incoming Afghan govt, which would take “effective measures” against Pakistan Taliban. Cross-border gunfire from Afghanistan 30 Aug killed two Pakistani soldiers; military retaliated, claiming it killed two or three attackers. Meanwhile, militant attacks and security operations persisted. In Balochistan province, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) militants 8 Aug killed two police officers in provincial capital Quetta; security forces 10-11 Aug claimed to have killed five BLA militants in Quetta; attack on Frontier Corps vehicle 14 Aug killed one soldier in Loralai district; BLA militants 20 Aug in suicide attack in Gwadar district killed two children and injured Chinese national; bomb blast 21 Aug killed one officer and two soldiers in Gichik area; BLA militants 26 Aug killed four security personnel in Ziarat and Panjgur districts. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, militant attacks 1, 6 Aug killed three soldiers in North Waziristan and Khyber districts; 2 Aug killed police officer providing security to polio vaccination team in Dera Ismail Khan district. In South Waziristan, counter-insurgency operations 13, 18 Aug left two soldiers killed. Elsewhere, other violent attacks took place. Notably, in Sindh province’s capital Karachi, grenade attack 15 Aug killed 13 relatives of Awami National Party leader and of Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami local leader; clash between two Sunni factions 18 Aug left one dead. In Punjab province’s Bahawalgar city, grenade attack targeting Shia Muharram procession 19 Aug killed at least two and injured more than 50; counter-terrorism police 18 Aug arrested two alleged al-Qaeda members in Lahore city. Also in Punjab, Muslim mob 4 Aug vandalised Hindu temple in Bhong city after release of eight-year-old Hindu boy accused of blasphemy 24 July; 7 Aug 50 people suspected of participating in attack arrested.
Region witnessed uptick in military activity as China as well as U.S. and its allies held naval exercises; Washington deepened diplomatic ties with claimant parties. U.S. 1 Aug concluded joint naval exercise off Australian coast, involving 17,000 military personnel from Australia, UK, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. U.S. 4 Aug announced further combined naval and amphibious exercise running until 27 Aug with Australia, Japan and UK, coinciding with global naval exercises, largest since 1981, that included two U.S. aircraft carriers and UK’s carrier; China 4 Aug announced military drills in SCS 6-10 Aug reportedly in response to “US military’s Indo-Pacific exercise”, according to state-run media. Malaysian military 6-12 Aug carried out exercise “Taming Sari” in SCS, including test-fire of three live anti-ship missiles. On diplomatic front, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 3 Aug announced launch of “strategic dialogue” with Indonesia and reaffirmed commitment to freedom of navigation. Blinken 9 Aug reaffirmed that “it is the business” of U.S. to resolve dispute in SCS and urged every member to “peacefully resolve disputes”; Chinese Deputy Ambassador to UN Dai Bing same day responded that U.S. failure to ratify UN Convention on Law of the Sea gave it “no credibility” and that U.S. is “biggest threat to stability” in region. U.S. VP Kamala Harris 22-24 Aug visited Singapore, affirming “commitment to a longstanding relationship...with the Indo-Pacific region”; Harris 24 Aug rebuked China for “coercion” in SCS. In Vietnam 24-27 Aug, Harris told Vietnamese officials that U.S. supports upgrading ties from comprehensive to strategic partnership. China 27 Aug issued new regulations requiring, from 1 Sept, range of foreign vessels to notify authorities when entering what Beijing claims are China’s territorial waters.
Regular and large-scale anti-govt protests resumed in capital Bangkok, leading to clashes with police, while violence continued in deep south. Hundreds of anti-govt protesters 1 Aug demonstrated in Bangkok, demanding resignation of PM Prayuth Chan-ocha; protesters launched projectiles at police, injuring 13 officers, and police responded with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas, arresting 11 protesters. Over 1,000 anti-govt protesters 7 Aug clashed with police near Victory Monument en route to Government House; police used water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators, leaving at least two civilians and three police officers injured. Protesters 10 Aug gathered for rally and clashed with police in Din Daeng district; police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, arresting at least 48 people. Near-daily clashes continued 11-19 Aug in Din Daeng. During protest at Government House, 15-year-old protester was shot 16 Aug; police denied using live ammunition. Protesters 20 Aug marched to Swiss, U.S. and Chinese embassies to air grievances against govt. Police 24 Aug arrested seven men in Nakhon Pathom province with 18 small improvised “ping pong” bombs, allegedly for use in upcoming anti-govt rally. Meanwhile, media outlets and human rights lawyers 2 Aug petitioned Civil Court to void PM Prayuth’s late-July order to censor online criticism of govt’s COVID-19 response; court 6 Aug ruled emergency decree order was unconstitutional, forcing Prayuth 10 Aug to rescind order. Opposition 16 Aug filed no-confidence motions against PM and five other ministers, chiefly triggered by alleged mismanagement of pandemic. Violence continued in deep south. Security forces 2 Aug killed insurgent in Nong Chik district, Pattani province. At least 15 militants next day attacked ranger camp on Kolok River, (Tak Bai district, Narathiwat province) on Thailand-Malaysia border, killing one ranger and injuring four others. Pipe bomb 23 Aug injured one soldier in Myang district, Yala province. Militants 28 Aug ambushed cargo train in Rangae district, Narathiwat. Bomb same day in Muang district, Yala province, wounded local official.