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# Recent Conflicts

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There were 17 active conflicts in the world in 2021.1 Examples of recent tensions between powers include Brexit: EU (European Union) vs the UK (United Kingdom), intra-Africa tensions, and Israel vs Palestine. Beyond discussing current tensions and conflicts between powers, we need to consider future areas of worldwide concern. The Arctic and global warming are likely to pose new issues that inflame nations.

## Recent conflicts definition

Conflicts and tensions are occurring all over the world. But what exactly is the definition of recent conflicts?

Conflict is active disagreement on a national or international scale. This could be a conflict with large masses of military power or occupancy of opposition territories.

Tension is when the disagreement is under the surface. If tension is not resolved, it is likely to break into conflict.

## Recent conflicts between Israel and Palestine

Palestine (made up of the West Bank and Gaza Strip) has been recognised as a de jure (by law) sovereign state. However, Israel controls the borders of the Gaza Strip and considers the West Bank disputed territory.

The tensions and conflict between Israel and Palestine have a long history. Islam is the majority religion in Palestine and Judaism is the majority religion in Israel. Jerusalem is a contested city and is highly significant to both religions. While the whole region is considered the Holy Land, Jerusalem is particularly sacred. This has led to an increasing number of Israelis moving to Jerusalem. The tension and conflict arise because East Jerusalem is located and claimed by Palestinians.

Map of Israel and Palestine, including Holy Sites, Wikimedia Commons

Many regard Gaza as an open prison to its citizens because Israel controls a land, sea, and air blockade: the lone airport is destroyed, there is no port, and the Mediterranean coastline is heavily patrolled. The United States seems to be pro-Israel as the Palestinian office in Washington has been closed since 2018, and the US embassy has been moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in Israel.

There has been a series of attacks between the two parties. Ahead of Operation Protective Edge (an attack launched by the Israeli military) in 2014, Muslims in Gaza fired numerous unguided rockets toward towns in Southern and Central Israel. Israelis returned fire in the form of drone attacks on Gaza, killing over 100 people. Operation Protective Edge involved fighting between Gazan guerrilla paramilitaries and Israelis. At least 2000 Palestinians were killed during the seven weeks. Most recently, in June 2021, the United States approved a $735m arms sale to Israel, suggesting that this struggle is far from over. Did you know? There is also a water conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is over the city of Gaza where the river Jordan lies. Israel relies heavily on the expensive desalination of saltwater. ## Recent conflicts in Africa Seven out of ten countries with the highest increase in terrorism in 2020 were located in sub-Saharan Africa.2 Tensions have escalated from violent grabs of power in the era of independence to bloody conflicts for political power and financial gains. ‘Silence the Guns’ is a campaign run by the African Union to promote peace in the continent by 2022. Recent tensions among the seven most violent Sub-Saharan countries are summarised below.  Country Description Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Twenty armed groups have been participating in a civil war involving neighbouring countries since 1998. Some groups only use the war to exploit valuable mineral resources like gold, platinum, and coltan. The UN Mission in DRC suggests the country needs reconciliation, law enforcement, and shared resources management.3 Somalia 2012 marked the start of a new federal government since armed groups began fighting in 1991. Sporadic attacks from militant groups still occur. This is seen as an improvement from the prior failed state with no central administration when rival warlords and groups controlled the capital and Southern parts. South Sudan Tensions between government forces and rebels have existed over control of the new Southern oil fields since the country’s independence in 2011. Attempted peace agreements took place in 2015 and 2018 but have not come to a conclusion. Nigeria Boko Harem suggested Nigerian culture was in the process of being westernised and wanted to regain control. An alliance was pledged to ISIS and the tensions extended to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Central African Republic (CAR) The UN Mission in CAR in February 2019 pushed for the government and 14 armed groups to sign a peace agreement, which has led to fewer direct clashes. However, tensions are still ongoing from the six-year history of conflicts, fragmentation, and reforming of alliances. Libya Gaddafi’s regime collapsed in 2011 and left a vacancy for territory and oil fields ownership in the country. The House of Representatives (HoR) controlling south and east Libya fought the Tripoli (capital)-based General National Congress in 2014, which ended in the coalition of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in 2015. Old forces on each side still disagreed and formed the new force of the Libyan National Army, which controlled the countryside. Mali Fighting continues despite a 2015 agreement on peace and reconciliation. MINUSMA is one of the UN’s most challenging operations.3 Table 1 ## Recent conflicts involving the UK The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union following the 2016 referendum represents tensions in the economic sphere. The results of the vote shocked the financial world, and the British pound fell to its lowest level. Key details of the future relationship are yet to be agreed upon, but there is a willingness from both sides to develop a provisional free-trade agreement called the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. ‘No-deal’ Brexit, which would have been very damaging to the UK, did not happen. There were, however, complications when it came to Northern Ireland. As per the Good Friday Agreement (1998), a hard border does not exist, and cooperation with the Republic of Ireland is significant. Therefore, the so-named 'Irish backstop' acted as an appendix to the Brexit agreement to prevent the introduction of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and allow economic transactions between the two. What would this mean? This means that Northern Irish residents still have access to some of the single market and retain their EU citizenship. Failure to introduce this appendix would have likely incited the conflict for many reasons. Namely, it would go against the Good Friday Agreement and severely disrupt Northern Irish economic activity. While some Unionist (pro-UK) individuals were not supportive of the Irish backstop, this seems to be a solution that, to a certain degree, protects the Northern Irish economy. The UK comprises England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Each territory voted, but as England has the largest number of citizens, the decision swayed towards English views. ### Brexit - EU and UK: The Withdrawal Agreement In 2021 and 2022, the UK and EU have been edging towards their divorce under the rules found in the Withdrawal Agreement, where the future relationship is still to be negotiated. It offers guidance on one of the most challenging issues that have led to the initial nationalist separatist attitude: the EU Free Movement Agreement. Currently, there are EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU. Since the Withdrawal Agreement, EU citizens have been increasingly leaving the UK. This might disadvantage the UK as EU migrants are more likely to be employed than native-born British citizens. Contrastingly, this may reduce foreign competition for scarce jobs in the UK. This contrasts with the third of UK ex-pats in Europe who are pensioners and do not provide labour to the country. This period will allow the UK to finalise its debt to the EU, make its final membership contribution fees, and collect its last allocations of funding from EU programs, including investment in the European Investment Bank. #### The UK’s future position in a post-Brexit world A white paper has suggested that the UK will be allowed to negotiate its own free trade agreements with other countries once free from the boundaries driven by its EU membership. However, the outside is a scary world: free trade equals tariffs, especially to its main trading partner, the EU. British companies may earn less, and services, one of the UK’s main exports, will be heavily affected. American companies, which see the UK as a gateway to the European market, may also feel uneasy and relocate to EU markets. ## Future conflicts in the world Many think that China will challenge the United States as a new power. This theory is popularised by the Power transition theory.4 People have compared rising China to Germany over 100 years ago. On the other hand, power take-overs have also been peaceful, for example, the United States taking over from Britain as the dominant power. The key, suggested by some,4 is that the challenger loses because of smaller or weaker alliances compared to the existing hegemon. The recent economic troubles in both China and the United States have slowed down movement on both fronts. There are two major suggestions for possible futures: • Global order dominates regional order. China will continue to compete with the States. • Regional order dominates global order. The States backs Japan as an aggressive rival to China, redirecting its focus from the world stage. Power transition theory: The challenger country is a new power that starts to compete with the dominant great power. As the differences between the challenger and dominant power dynamics decrease, the challenger country becomes more successful. As the power difference reduces further, the challenger begins to take over as the dominant power, and the potential for conflict increases. Below are summaries of how countries and superpowers are reacting (or not) to climate change. #### Superpowers and climate change Different countries have differing views on climate change and willingness to act. As a nation develops, the middle class grows and consumes more resources, such as food, fossil fuels, and minerals. A significant problem is that the middle class is eating more meat than ever, which is very water-intensive. The price and demand for grains will grow exponentially, and wheat, corn, soybeans, and rice reserves will be strained. Don’t forget about plastic packaging! Much of our waste ends up in our oceans. #### Commitment to change for the climate Additionally, new infrastructure is built to accommodate the growing wealthier nations: China has used large amounts of iron, steel, cement, and energy over the last 20 years. Currently, China is the world’s largest energy consumer coming from fossil fuel extraction from its coal mines. This all may cause increased environmental degradation and carbon emissions, pushing global warming. In 2017, China wanted to shift towards a lower-carbon economy and set up a new EU alliance to further tackle climate change. The EU aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, which it states it achieved in 2021. Joint initiatives to tackle climate change include the environmental alliance of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). IPCC was set up by the United Nations in 1988 for a gathering to produce a report on the latest research on climate change every five years. Members of IPCC represent over 120 countries. Some negotiations include tradable carbon credits, and some nations have further tried to promote this concept to businesses as ‘pollution permits’ within countries. #### Contrasting climate change views The 2015 Paris Agreement was a commitment to combat climate change and is important in understanding the country's current stance on the issue. The United States initially signed in 2015 but pulled out in 2017. Previous investments in renewable energy and a deal with NASA to monitor carbon dioxide levels to check if countries met carbon emissions reduction targets ended in 2018. Under President Joe Biden, the US is now a part of the Paris Agreement once again. Russia did not sign the Agreement in the interest of natural resource extraction, which is a vital part of its economy. Strangely, Russia’s current emissions are lower than its 1990 levels. If Russia had signed the Agreement, Russia could increase its emissions without consequences. We explore this topic further in our explanation, Political and Military Power. Measures of dominance are the methods used by nations to develop their power. Measures of dominance vary between countries and change over time. There are three main groups: Economic Power and Size; Political and Military Power; and Culture, Demographics, and Resources. Spheres of influence are the regions that a country has power over. Hot topics that have led to tensions include: • Intellectual property, such as accusations of China stealing Monte Santos’ genetically modified seed technology from the United States. There is also an issue of counterfeiting goods: Alibaba is a Chinese online marketplace that hosts counterfeit goods. Counterfeiting brands is illegal and is a crime against The World Organization rules. There is also imitation, which is not on the level of counterfeiting, but it is the development of technologies with many similarities. This is not illegal but strains relationships between TNCs and originating nations. • Water, including the many South Eastern countries that surround the Mekong River. • Borders, including India and China in the Himalayas. ### The Arctic as a future tension for resources Global warming is the increase in global temperature, largely due to the burning of fossil fuels and increased greenhouse gas emissions. This has caused a large portion of the Arctic to melt. The treasures of oil and gas reserves are now extractable. Canada, Norway, and four other neighbours formed the Arctic Council to promote cooperation, coordination, and interaction between different members and indigenous communities. The United Nations Convention of Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) has decided that countries control the seabed and resources within 200 nautical miles of the coastline, and these zones are exclusive economic zones (EEZ). Claims over Arctic ownership overlap. Both Canada and Norway have exerted military pressure on the region. Additionally, there are questions about whether resources can be exploited and whether the Arctic Council can extract these resources in a sustainable and environmentally protective manner. ## Recent Conflicts - Key takeaways • Conflict is an active disagreement on a national scale, whereas tension happens when disagreement is under the surface with the potential to escalate to full conflict. • Examples of conflict are Israel vs Palestine for Gaza, many African civil wars, and the EU vs the UK in Brexit. • There is plenty of potential for future tensions. The rise of China is a sore topic for the United States. Climate change is on the rise, but not every country wants to tackle it straight away. New technologies and resources are being revealed and created, which will give rise to future international tensions. ## References 1. Tola Amusan, ‘Why Africa Should Be Concerned With Increasing Tensions in the East and South China Sea’, The Diplomat, 20 November 2021. 2. Koop Avery, ‘Mapped: Where are the World’s Conflicts Today?’, Visual Capitalist, 4 October 2021. 3. Kingsley Ighobor, ‘Work in progress for Africa’s remaining conflict hotspots’, Africa Renewal Magazine, 23 December 2019. 4. Woosang Kim and Scott Gates, ‘Power Transition Theory and the rise of China’, International Area Studies Review, 20 August 2015. ## Frequently Asked Questions about Recent Conflicts Palestine is contested territory. It is the subject of much tension, as both the Israelis and Palestinians believe they lay claims to it. There are currently seven countries at war in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Libya, and Mali. There are currently seven countries in the midst of conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Libya, and Mali. There were 17 active conflicts in the world in 2021. The water conflict between Israel and Palestine is over the city of Gaza where the river Jordan lies. Israel relies heavily on the expensive desalination of salt water for its drinking freshwater. ## Final Recent Conflicts Quiz ## Recent Conflicts Quiz - Teste dein Wissen Question How is a conflict different to tension? Show answer Answer Conflict is an active disagreement whereas tension is disagreement without action. Show question Question Which of these words fit in the sentence below: high and low? The Middle East shares similar levels of economic liberalisation and levels of authoritarianism. Show answer Answer The Middle East shares similar low levels of economic liberalisation and high levels of authoritarianism. Show question Question When did the term Middle East start to be used? Show answer Answer Following WW2 Show question Question Which empire formed the majority of modern day Turkey? Show answer Answer The Ottoman empire Show question Question Which agreement led to the independence of the Middle East region? Show answer Answer Sykes Picot Agreement Show question Question What event in the United States shocked the world in 2011? Show answer Answer 9/11 attack Show question Question Define Pan Arabia Show answer Answer Pan Arabia is the political thinking that there should be an alliance of all Arab states such as in the Arab League. Show question Question How many nations were in the Arab League of Nations? Show answer Answer 22 nations are in the Arab League of Nations. Show question Question What is the theory to describe the escalation of events that led to the Six Day war of 1967? Show answer Answer Conflict cycle Show question Question Which country did President Bush support in the invasion of Kuwait in 1990? Show answer Answer Bush spoke out on Iraq on behalf of Kuwait, urging that the United States should aid Kuwait to defeat Iraq. Show question Question Which wars in the Middle East had the most international participants? Show answer Answer Iraq 1991 and 2003. Show question Question What are Sharia laws? Show answer Answer Sharia law are teachings of the Koran that are embedded into the political law of some countries. Show question Question What are % of Sunni Muslims in the Middle East? Show answer Answer 85% Show question Question Where do the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow through? Show answer Answer Tigris and Euphrates rivers run through Turkey, Syria and Iraq; and the Persian Gulf via the Mesopotamian Marshes. Show question Question Which war had the prior United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 in aim to prevent it from happening? Show answer Answer The Six Day War of 1967 Show question Question What borders does Israel control in Gaza? Show answer Answer Israel controls a land, sea and air blockade on Palestine. Show question Question What campaign has been ran to promote peace in Africa? Show answer Answer ‘Silence the Guns’ is a campaign ran by the African Union in an attempt to promote peace in the continent by 2022. Show question Question How many groups have been fighting in the civil war of the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Show answer Answer 20 armed groups have been participating in a civil war of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Show question Question What natural resource is heavily fought over in Libya? Show answer Answer Oil Show question Question Which Sub-Saharan African country has been the most challenging for the UN to deal with? Show answer Answer Mali Show question Question What was the provisional free-trade agreement developed by the EU and UK for Brexit? Show answer Answer The Trade and Cooperation Agreement Show question Question Which country has been compared to China 100 years ago? Show answer Answer Germany Show question Question What resources do the middle class consume more of? Show answer Answer Food, fossil fuels, and minerals. Show question Question What % did the EU aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by in 2020? Show answer Answer 20% by 2020. Show question Question What is the international environmental alliance for tackling climate change? Show answer Answer International panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Show question Question What is the international environmental alliance for tackling climate change? Show answer Answer International panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Show question Question What deal did the United States end with NASA in 2018 in regards to climate change? Show answer Answer The US ended a deal with NASA to monitor carbon dioxide levels to check if countries were actually meeting carbon emissions reduction targets in 2018. Show question Question Is counterfeiting goods illegal? Show answer Answer Yes Show question Question What is the claim for countries to have on the new melted Arctic space? Show answer Answer Countries control the seabed and resources within 200 nautical miles of the coastline. Show question Question What happens in the future of regional order dominates global order for China vs the US? Show answer Answer Regional order dominates global order. Japan is backed by the States to be an aggressive rival to China redirecting its focus from the world stage. Show question Question What is the most important climate change international agreement in recent years? Show answer Answer The 2015 Paris Agreement Show question Question What is China's main motivation for its relationships with African countries? Show answer Answer China is seeking to expand its influence to supply its growing demand for raw materials. Show question Question What is neocolonialism? Show answer Answer Neocolonialism refers to continuing economic and political exploitation of former colonies. Show question Question Which country hosts China's first overseas military base? Show answer Answer Djibouti Show question Question What are some negative impacts of China's companies running mines and infrastructure projects in Africa? Show answer Answer Chinese companies allegedly treat African workers poorly with low pay; many jobs are given to Chinese workers coming to Africa; Chinese goods and services push local products and businesses out of the market; human rights abuses; pollution. Show question Question Name one way China is trying to expand its cultural influence in African countries Show answer Answer China builds schools and centres that teach Chinese culture and language Show question Question A Chinese-funded dam on the Blue Nile is causing conflict between which two countries? Show answer Answer Ethiopia and Egypt Show question Question What were three types of negative effects of colonialism on Africa? Show answer Answer Genocide, the slave trade, and resource (raw material) extraction Show question Question What does "dependency" mean in the context of this explanation? Show answer Answer "Dependency" signifies the over-reliance of countries such as those in Africa on foreign aid, and is a typical feature of neocolonialism. Show question Question Of what did Zambian ministers accuse a private Chinese firm? Show answer Answer Tax avoidance, as they failed to declare accurate total production of coal. Show question Question What was the total cost of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway? Show answer Answer US$4 billion

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Question

What is the freight capacity of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway?

Over 24 million tonnes of freight annually

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Question

How much of the world's mineral reserves are found in Africa?

30%

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Question

What percentage of the World's platinum and chromium is Africa home to?

90%

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Question

What was the total amount of trade between China and Africa in 2014?

US$220 billion Show question Question What was the total amount of trade between China and Africa in 2000? Show answer Answer US$10 billion

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