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Tensions within Nations

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Tensions within Nations

Conflict and war have been going on for millennia, and it is no different today. A study from 2021 has revealed that only 23 countries and territories have not reported any battles, violence against civilians, explosions or remote violence, riots or protests in 2021. That means that a staggering 174 countries saw politically-motivated violence in some form in 2021.

With the current conflict in Ukraine, increasing conflict between Israel and Palestine, the rise of extremist insurgency, multiple coup d'états and an increase in protests being met with violence, it seems that conflict is everywhere. However, the number of people killed in direct combat worldwide has mostly declined since 2014.

World conflicts - 2020

The map below (figure 1 ) shows the types of violence occurring across the world in 2020.

Tensions within Nations Map showing the different types of violence per country StudySmarterFigure 1: Map showing the different types of violence per country, ACLED (2022)

What causes conflicts between nations?

Since 1946, the absolute number of war deaths has been declining; however, conflict and violence are rising. In 2016, more countries experienced violent conflict than over the previous 30 years.

Several things can lead to conflicts, such as:

  • Unresolved regional tensions
  • A breakdown in the rule of law
  • Bad leadership or government
  • Illicit economic gain
  • Scarcity of resources

Countries at war 2020/2021

'War' can be defined as:

  1. a period of inter-country or inter-group conflict
  2. a state in which people and/or groups compete with or fight one other
  3. an organised effort by a government or other large organisation to stop or defeat something that is viewed as dangerous or bad

Not all wars are formalised with official declarations of war. Also, not every ongoing armed conflict is classified as a war. For this section, we will use the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) as a guide, which states that a war is "a state-based conflict or dyad which reaches at least 1,000 battle-related deaths in a specific calendar year".1

When considering the UCDP, the following countries were at war in 2020/2021 (table 1)

CountryType of warCasualty range 2020/2021
AfghanistanCivil war/Terrorist insurgency10,000+
AlgeriaTerrorist insurgency1,00-10,000
Burkina FasoTerrorist insurgency1,00-10,000
CameroonTerrorist insurgency1,00-10,000
ChadTerrorist insurgency1,00-10,000
ColombiaCivil War/Drug War1,000-10,000
DR CongoTerrorist insurgency1,000-10,000
EthiopiaCivil War10,000+
IraqTerrorist insurgency/Political unrest1,000-10,000
LibyaCivil War1,000-10,000
Mali Civil War/Terrorist insurgency1,000-10,000
Mexico Drug War10,000+
MozambiqueTerrorist insurgency1,000-10,000
MyanmarCivil war1,000-10,000
NigerTerrorist insurgency1,000-10,000
NigeriaTerrorist insurgency1,000-10,000
South SudanEthnic violence1,000-10,000
SyriaCivil War1,000-10,000
TanzaniaTerrorist insurgency1,000-10,000
TunisiaTerrorist insurgency1,000-10,000
YemenCivil War 10,000+

Table 1 - countries at war in 2020/2021

The map below (figure 2) shows the countries and casualty range mentioned above in table 1. This clearly shows that the majority of the conflicts in 2020/2021 were situated in Africa.

Tensions within Nations Map showing casualty range of countries at war in 2020 and 2021 StudySmarterMap showing casualty range of countries at war in 2020/2021

If we look further into this, we can see that Africa suffers from a large number of terrorist insurgencies in different countries (figure 3), namely 11 out of the 13 terrorist insurgencies mentioned in table 1.

Tensions within Nations Map showing terrorist insurgencies from countries at war in 2020 and 2021 StudySmarterFigure 3: map showing terrorist insurgencies from countries at war in 2020/2021 - Created with MapChart © 2022

Examples of violence in the world today

While the world seems to be a slightly more peaceful place today, unfortunately, there are still plenty of conflicts today. Below are just 3 examples of violence in the world today.

Violence in Ukraine

The Ukraine war began in 2014 when Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and backed separatists in the Donbass region, east Ukraine. For years, the conflicts were relatively minor until 2021, when a truce agreement between Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky fell apart. Putin gathered more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. A few weeks later, he withdrew the troops after a meeting with US President Biden, only to gather troops again, similar in size, in November 2021.

In early January 2022, Biden had threatened Russia with damaging sanctions and a larger military buildup on NATO's eastern flank. This did not deter the situation, and as of 24 February 2022, Putin has invaded Ukraine, displacing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, and the fighting is already resulting in casualties. This is now an ongoing war, and it is a waiting game to see how things progress.

In the meantime, many countries have been aiding Ukraine with both military support (figure 4) and humanitarian aid (figure 5).

Tensions within Nations Map showing countries providing military aid to Ukraine StudySmarterFigure 4: map showing countries providing military aid to Ukraine - Created with MapChart © 2022

Tensions within Nations Map showing countries providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine StudySmarterFigure 5: map showing countries providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine - Created with MapChart © 2022

Violence in Afghanistan

As mentioned earlier, the latest war in Afghanistan started in 2001, fighting against the Taliban. In 2020, The US signed a deal with the Taliban where they stated that they would begin withdrawing their forces. This was the Taliban's chance to advance, and in the spring and summer of 2021, they started seizing towns and cities.

In mid-August 2021, the Afghan government collapsed, and the Taliban entered Kabul without any problems.

The world took action upon this seizure of Kabul and froze all state assets; they stopped budgetary aid and only provided limited humanitarian relief. With the freezing of the assets, the new Taliban government could not pay civil servants, and the economy was smashed. At the same time, Afghanistan is suffering a massive drought as well.

Afghanistan is an entirely aid-dependent state, but the UN and the US have stated they would lift some of the restrictions; however, more is needed, such as healthcare and food provisions.

Violence in Israel-Palestine

Over the past decade, there have been 4 Gaza-Israel wars, with the last one dating from 2021. One side attacks and the other retaliates, keeping up an endless fight.

In June of 2021, Israel's longest-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been removed in favour of a new government to lessen the conflict. They tried to achieve this by improving the economy of occupied territories and strengthening the Palestinian Authority, which rules part of the West Bank.

Renewed negotiations seem off the table as successive Israeli governments have moved away from talks, albeit without officially announcing this. While opening up Gaza, and therefore ending the expulsion of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, seem to be a good idea, this is most likely only a short-term solution.

Conflicts to watch in 2022 are:- Ukraine- Ethiopia- Afghanistan- Yemen- Israel-Palestine- Haiti- Myanmar

Conflicts & Wars involving the United States - 2021

America has been involved in wars ever since the 18th century, starting with the American Revolutionary War (American War of Independence) from 19 April 1775 to 3 September 1783. In 2021, America was involved in 5 wars.

War in Afghanistan (2001-2021)

This war began when the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in order to end the Taliban rule under Osama Bin Laden, who was the unofficial ruler of the country. The start of this war was the September 11 attacks. These attacks were orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden.

The US war lasted 19 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days, surpassing the Vietnam War (1955-1975) as the longest war in US history.

American intervention in Yemen (2002 - present)

The American intervention in Yemen is more commonly known as the US drone strikes in Yemen. It got this name because the intervention was done using drones rather than conventional warfare tactics. The drone strikes started on 5 November 2002 and resulted from the September 11 attacks. The US military attacked Islamist militant presence in Yemen, particularly Al-Qaeda.

The American intervention with the drone strikes is part of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), which started on 11 September 2001 and continues to this day. The Yemeni Civil War began on 16 September 2014 and continues to this day.

Second US Intervention in the Somali Civil War (2007-present)

The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) began in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York. The Federal Government of Somalia is being supported by US Military in counterterrorism, mainly against the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

The support mainly consists of drones- and airstrikes, advising, training, and intelligence. The support increased during both the Obama and Trump administrations.

The US got involved on 7 January 2007, and by late 2020, then-president Trump announced that he would pull most of the troops out of Somalia by early 2021. On 17 January 2021, The US Africa Command confirmed the complete troop withdrawal from Somalia. That said, some training of allied forces, limited airstrikes, and special operations activities continue on a small scale under the Biden administration.

American-led intervention in Iraq (2014-2021)

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a militant jihadist group, attacked several cities and surrounding territories in Iraq, leading to the Northern Iraq offensive starting in June 2014. On 15 June 2014, then-president Obama ordered US troops to aid the Iraqi government. They were joined by 9 other countries who also launched airstrikes, and eventually, by December 2017, ISIL had no remaining territories in Iraq.

Besides aiding in the direct military invasion, the American-led coalition also provided support to the Iraqi Security Forces by training, intelligence and personnel.

In January 2020, the Iraqi government demanded the US troops withdraw after an Iraqi Deputy Chief and an Iranian Quds leader were killed in a US airstrike. Following this, the UK and Germany announced that they would cut down on troop size in Iraq, with the UK even promising to completely withdraw if requested by the Iraqi government. Later on, Canada also announced their coalition withdrawal.

The US, France, and Australia all objected to having to withdraw. Ultimately, the combat mission in Iraq ended in December 2021; however, US troops remain to advise, train and assist Iraqi security forces in the ongoing insurgency by ISIL. The US would have also continued to provide air support and military aid when needed/requested.

American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War (2014-present)

The US supports the Syrian opposition, comprising of Syrian rebels and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in the Syrian Civil War that is going on against ISIL. This Civil War broke out in 2011, and the US initially supplied the rebels with non-lethal aid, such as food rations, but they quickly began to provide training, money and intelligence.

The US officially joined the Civil War on 22 September 2014. The US, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to attack ISIL forces in Syria and the Khorasan group in Aleppo and the al-Nusra Front near Raqqa.

On 19 December 2018, then-US President Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,00 to 2,500 American troops in Syria, which was to be completed by the end of 2019. A small group of soldiers would remain garrisoned in Syria indefinitely. It was announced that their withdrawal would be gradual and conditions-based. As of February 2021, around 900 US soldiers are still operating in Syria.

What is clear from the wars/interventions mentioned above is that America is engaging in 5 wars. However, not all wars are directed at a specific country; they are fought within a country. What is important to remember is that these wars are often not fought against any country in particular, but are supposed to be fought against terrorist groups. For example, most of the wars/interventions fought by the US are against Islamic extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIL, ISIS and al-Shabaab.

Ethnic conflicts in the world today

An ethnic conflict is a conflict that involves 2 or more ethnic groups. Reasons for an ethnic conflict can be political, social, economic or religious issues.

Ethnic groups = a grouping of people who identify with each other based on shared attributes that clearly distinguish them from other groups. This can be based on different attributes such as language, religion, history and traditions.

There are still quite a few conflicts going on in the world right now, several of which have been mentioned above (conflicts to watch in 2022). Countries experiencing ethnic conflicts are:

  • Myanmar
  • Haiti
  • Israel and Palestine
  • Yemen
  • Afghanistan
  • Ethiopia

Tensions within Nations - Key takeaways

  • Conflicts between nations can be caused by:- Unresolved regional tensions- A breakdown in the rule of law- Bad leadership or government - Illicit economic gain- Scarcity of resources- Oppression
  • Ethnic conflict is a conflict that involves 2 or more ethnic groups. Reasons for ethnic conflicts can be political, social, economic or religious issues.
  • The Uppsala Conflict Data Program states that war is "a state-based conflict or dyad which reaches at least 1,000 battle-related deaths in a specific calendar year".
  • Conflicts to watch in 2022 are:- Ukraine- Ethiopia- Afghanistan- Yemen- Israel-Palestine- Haiti- Myanmar
  • Wars in 2021 that include America are:- War in Afghanistan (2001-2021)- American intervention in Yemen (2002-present)- Second US intervention in the Somali Civil War (2007-present)- American-led intervention in Iraq (2014-2021)- American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War (2014-present)
  • Examples of countries currently experiencing ethnic conflicts:- Myanmar- Haiti- Israel & Palestine- Yemen- Afghanistan- Ethiopia

Sources:

Figure 1: ACLED https://acleddata.com/#/dashboard

1 and table 1: https://ucdp.uu.se

Frequently Asked Questions about Tensions within Nations

  • Yemen
  • Somalia
  • Iraq
  • Syria

  • The conflict between Ukraine and Russia
  • The conflict between Israel and Palestine

There are several things that can lead to conflicts, such as:

  • Unresolved regional tensions
  • A breakdown in the rule of law
  • Bad leadership or government
  • Illicit economic gain
  • Scarcity of resources
  • Oppression

  • The conflict in Yemen
  • The conflict in Afghanistan
  • The conflict in Ethiopia
  • The conflict in Ukraine
  • The Mexican Drug War

Final Tensions within Nations Quiz

Question

In 2021, how many countries have seen violence in some form or another?

Show answer

Answer

174

Show question

Question

Name a few examples of what can lead to conflicts between nations.

Show answer

Answer

  • Unresolved regional tensions
  • A breakdown in the rule of law
  • Bad leadership or government
  • Illicit economic gain
  • Scarcity of resources
  • Oppression

Show question

Question

How does the Uppsala Conflict Data Program define war?

Show answer

Answer

A state-based conflict or dyad that reaches at least 1,000 battle-related deaths in a specific calendar year.

Show question

Question

Which countries have seen more than 10,000 casualties in the year 2020/2021?

Show answer

Answer

  • Afghanistan
  • Ethiopia
  • Mexico
  • Yemen

Show question

Question

What are some conflicts to watch in 2022?


Show answer

Answer

  • Ukraine
  • Ethiopia
  • Afghanistan
  • Yemen
  • Israel-Palenstine
  • Haiti
  • Myanmar

Show question

Question

Which wars include America in 2021?

Show answer

Answer

  • War in Afghanistan (2001-2021)
  • American intervention in Yemen (2002 - present)
  • Second US Intervention in the Somali Civil War (2007-present)
  • American-led intervention in Iraq (2014-2021)
  • American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War (2014-present)

Show question

Question

The wars involving America are not against a specific country. What are the wars about?


Show answer

Answer

The wars are against terrorism, mostly being a part of the Global War on Terrorism. The wars are mainly against groups such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIL, ISIS and al-Shabaab

Show question

Question

How do you define an ethnic conflict?


Show answer

Answer

An ethnic conflict is a conflict that involves 2 or more ethnic groups

Show question

Question

What are some of the reasons for an ethnic conflict?


Show answer

Answer

  • Political
  • Social
  • Economic
  • Religious

Show question

Question

Which countries are experiencing ethnic conflicts today?

Show answer

Answer

  • Myanmar
  • Haiti
  • Israel and Palestine
  • Yemen
  • Afghanistan
  • Ethiopia

Show question

Question

The war in Ukraine is between which countries? Name their respective leaders.

Show answer

Answer

  • Ukraine - Volodymyr Zelensky
  • Russia - Vladimir Putin 

Show question

Question

What event marked the beginning of the war in Afghanistan and the Global War on Terrorism?


Show answer

Answer

The attack by Al-Qaeda on America on 11 September 2001.

Show question

Question

Who orchestrated the September 11 attacks on the US?


Show answer

Answer

Osama Bin Laden

Show question

Question

How long did the US war in Afghanistan last and what is 'special' about it?


Show answer

Answer

The war lasted 19 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days, surpassing the Vietnam War (1955-1975) as the longest war in US history

Show question

Question

What led to the Northern Iraq Offensive?


Show answer

Answer

The attacks by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) on several cities and surrounding territories.

Show question

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