Wars Update: Hidden Headlines Revealed


December 23, 2007: While the headlines concentrate on peace breaking out in Iraq, that's but part of a worldwide trend for the last few years. Violence has also diminished, or disappeared completely, in places like Nepal, Chechnya. Congo, Indonesia and Burundi. This continues a trend that began when the Cold War ended, and the Soviet Union no longer subsidized terrorist and rebel groups everywhere.The current wars are basically uprisings against police states or feudal societies, which are seen as out-of-step with the modern world. Many are led by radicals preaching failed dogmas (Islamic conservatism, Maoism), that still resonate among people who don't know about the dismal track records of these movements.

The War on Terror has become the War Against Islamic Radicalism. This religious radicalism has always been around, for Islam was born as an aggressive movement, that used violence and terror to expand. Past periods of conquest are regarded fondly by Moslems. The current enthusiasm for violence in the name of God has been building for over half a century. Historically, periods of Islamic radicalism flared up periodically in response to corrupt governments, as a vain attempt to impose a religious solution on some social or political problem. The current violence is international because of the availability of planet wide mass media (which needs a constant supply of headlines), and the fact that the Islamic world is awash in tyranny and economic backwardness. Islamic radicalism itself is incapable of mustering much military power, and the movement largely relies on terrorism to gain attention. Most of the victims are fellow Moslems, which is why the radicals eventually become so unpopular among their own people that they run out of new recruits and fade away. This is what is happening now. The American invasion of Iraq was a clever exploitation of this, forcing the Islamic radicals to fight in Iraq, where they killed many Moslems, especially women and children, thus causing the Islamic radicals to lose their popularity among Moslems.

Normally, the West does not get involved in these Islamic religious wars, unless attacked in a major way. Moreover, modern sensibilities have made that more difficult. For example, fighting back is considered, by Moslems, as culturally insensitive ("war on Islam"), and some of the Western media have picked up on this bizarre interpretation of reality. However, some historians like to point out, for example, that the medieval Crusades were a series of wars fought in response to Islamic violence against Christians, not the opening act of aggression against Islam that continue to the present. Thus, the current war on terror is, indeed, in the tradition of the Crusades. And there are many other "Crusades" brewing around the world, in the many places where aggressive Islamic militants are making unprovoked war on their Christian neighbors. Political Correctness among academics and journalists causes pundits to try and turn this reality inside out. But a close look at the violence in Africa, Asia and the Middle East shows a definite pattern of Islamic radicals persecuting those who do not agree with them, not the other way around.

While Islamic terrorism grabs most of the headlines, it is not the cause of many casualties, at least not compared to more traditional wars. The vast majority of the military related violence and deaths in the world comes from many little wars that get little media attention outside their region. Actually some of them are not so little. While causalities from terrorism are relatively few (usually 5,000-10,000 dead a year worldwide), the dead and wounded from all the other wars actually comprise about 95 percent of all the casualties.The Islamic terrorism looms larger because the terrorists threaten attacks everywhere, putting a much larger population in harms way, and unhappy with that.

Current wars are listed in alphabetical orders. Text underneath briefly describes current status. Click on country name for more details.


The Taliban attempt at a comeback made a lot of noise, but accomplished little. A sharp increase in Taliban activity in 2006 brought forth a sharp response from government and NATO forces. This years' Spring Offensive was a flop. Independent minded tribes, warlords and drug gangs remain a greater threat to peace, prosperity and true national unity, than the Taliban (which is based across the border in Pakistan). The Pakistani government has gone to war against the pro-Taliban tribes and various Islamic terrorist organizations. That has reduced the flow of gunmen from Pakistan into Afghanistan. But the violence inside Afghanistan is growing, largely because of the growth of the drug gangs, and their support for tribes (especially pro-Taliban ones) that oppose the national government.


A few hundred Islamic rebels persist, despite the hostility of most Algerians. The local Islamic terrorists have now officially become a part of al Qaeda, and have turned to suicide bombing. This kills a lot of civilians, and increases the hatred the population already feels towards the Islamic radicals. The level of terrorist violence is still much lower than it was a few years ago. The population is not happy, and a general uprising remains a threat because of dissatisfaction with the old revolutionaries that refuse to honor election results, share power or govern effectively.


The Greater Albania Movement is driven by part time Albanian nationalists, full time gangsters, political opportunists, Kosovo separatists and a growing number of Islamic radicals.West Europeans inclined to let Kosovo become independent, Serbia disagrees, and Big Brother Russia offers all manner of support. Bosnia continues to attract Islamic terrorists, despite the local government becoming increasingly hostile to these foreign troublemakers and alien Islamic conservatism.


Dictators brew rebellion by suppressing democrats and Islamic radicals. But not much violence, just a lot of potential.


Rebel movements grew and united, aided by Sudanese backed Arab militias from across the border. The government thought they had a peace deal, but it quickly fell apart. European peacekeepers are on the way, but are having problems obtaining sufficient helicopters and air transport. Much of the unrest is caused by refugees from tribal battles in Sudan, who bring their feuds with them.


The confrontation with Taiwan continues, as do hostilities with neighbors, separatists, dissenters and ancient enemies. China speeds up modernization of its armed forces, but in ways Westerners have a difficult time understanding. China has developed a major Cyber War capability, and has been using it for over a year. The targets of this, in Western Europe and the U.S., have figured this out, and a new crises is born. China has become major secret supplier of cheap weapons to bad guys everywhere.


After over three decades, leftist rebels losing support, recruits and territory.Leftist demagogue Hugo Chavez of Venezuela supports the Colombian rebels, and is providing sanctuary for them and their cocaine producing allies.The drug gangs and leftist rebels have merged in many parts of the country, and war in increasingly about money, not ideology.The leftist rebels are slowly losing, but all that drug money will keep them in the game for quite a while.


Multiple tribal and political militias, plus an increasing number of bandits, continue to roam the countryside. Peacekeepers and army action have reduced the size of these violent groups, but not eliminated them. However, there are fewer places that the bad guys can roam freely. Attempts to merge rebels into army has not worked well. The last major problem is a Tutsi militia in the east, which will not disarm until the government destroys Hutu militias built around Hutu mass murderers who fled neighboring Rwanda in the 1990s. UN peacekeepers criticized for not fighting more, but that's not their job. Congolese army not up to it yet either, so there is simmers.


Border dispute with Eritrea festers, and invasion of Somalia bogs down in local clan feuds. Internally, rebellious Moslem groups are a constant threat, especially with more active support from Eritrea.Ogaden province, right on the Somali border, and full of ethnic Somalis, has rebelled again. Not a big deal, but one more hot spot that burns up troops and scarce cash.


Peacekeepers keep a lid on two century old violence between the rich and the poor, and the criminal and political gangs. Peacekeepers have busted up many of the gangs, and sharply lowered the crime rate.


Kashmir is but one of many rebellions that beset the region. India also has tribal and Islamic rebel in the northeast, and Maoist (communist) ones in between. Pakistan has Islamic radicals in the north, and rebellious Pushtun and Baluchi tribes along the Afghan border. The Taliban had become stronger in Pakistan, where it originated, than in Afghanistan. But that changed this year when the tensions triggered a major army effort against the Pushtun tribes and their terrorist allies. India and Pakistan both have nukes, making escalation a potential catastrophe. As a result, recent peace talks have lowered the possibility of war, but both sides continue an arms race.Pakistani Islamic radical groups continue to support terrorism in India and Afghanistan, and have joined a coalition of other groups to overthrow the military dictatorship controlling the Pakistani government.Pakistan has always been a mess, and does not appear to be getting better.


Basically at peace, but separatism, pirates, Islamic terrorists and government corruption create a volatile situation that could get hot real fast. Islamic terrorists have been greatly diminished, as Islamic moderates flex their traditional popularity. Aceh, however, is becoming a stronghold for Islamic conservatives. Newly independent East Timor has been unable to govern itself.


The basic problem is that an Islamic conservative minority has veto power over the reformist majority. The supply of peaceful solutions is drying up. After that comes another revolution. Half the population consists of ethnic minorities (mainly Turks and Arabs), and these groups are getting more restive and violent. Meanwhile, the Islamic conservatives are determined to support terrorism overseas and build nuclear weapons at home, rather than improving the economy and improving living standards. Unrest and terrorist violence becoming more common, and government seeks foreign adventures to distract an unhappy population.


The "surge offensive" earlier in the year was a success, and violence plunged by over 60 percent. More areas of the country are now at peace (as some have been since 2003.) The Sunni Arab minority tries to make peace with the majority Kurds and Shia Arabs, which now possible because the Sunni Arab Islamic radicals are seen as on the way out. Some Sunni Arabs, who had fled the country, are returning, but nearly half the Sunni Arabs are already gone. The new threat is Shia militias seeking to acquire more power with firepower, as well as votes. Corruption and inept government continues to be a major problem.


Palestinians are trying to make some kind of peace, in order to reverse the economic disaster they brought on themselves because of their seven year terror campaign against Israel. Palestinians are tired of terrorism, even though they still support it. The Palestinian economy has collapsed, as foreign charity dried up because the people elected the Hamas (Islamic terrorists) party to power. Civil war between radical Hamas and corrupt Palestinian old guard (Fatah) has split Palestinians. Iran backed Islamic radicals in Lebanon have revived fears of civil war up there. Hizbollah threatens to drag Lebanon into another civil war, or another war with Israel.Meanwhile, Israeli economy booms as Israel continues its effective counter-terrorism campaign.


An uneasy truce continues. The north and the south finally make a deal over money, religion and power. All this is watched over by peacekeepers set up between the factions.


Growing unrest, corruption and privation threaten the iron control the North Korean government has long exercised. North Korea continues to destroy its economy, in order to maintain armed forces capable of invading South Korea and keeping its own population in bondage. Continued famine in the north has prompted China to send more and more troops to the border to keep hungry North Koreas out.North Korean military declines in power, as lack of money for maintenance or training cause continuing rot.Government split into reform and conservative factions, making change difficult to achieve. South Koreans are growing tired of the madness that still reigns in the north.


Turkish aircraft and troops now operating on the Iraqi side of the border, seeking to either destroy Kurdish separatists, or push their bases further into Iraq. Kurds continue 5,000 year struggle to form their own country. Iran is cracking down on its Kurds, while Turkey threatens even more action if the Iraqi Kurdish government doesn't get serious about the Kurdish separatists who operate inside Turkey, from bases in Iraq. Iraqi Kurds believe they will get control of some Iraqi oil fields, providing cash for all manner of opportunities.But that is opposed by Iraqi Arabs and other minorities.


The U.S. border is like a war zone. The passing of one-party rule, the growth of drug gangs, and increasing corruption in the security forces, has triggered growing violence and unrest.The government has gone to war with the drug gangs, and the outcome is still in doubt.


Radical communist rebels still struggle to overthrow a popular monarchy, but now do it inan alliance with political parties. This has decreased Maoist violence, and greatly reduced the powers of the monarchy, and triggered uprising by other unhappy groups (more radical Maoists, hill tribes, ethnic Indians). Maoists still pushing for an immediate end to the monarchy, and making threats about it. Maoists apparently believe they would lose a vote over the monarchy.


Too many tribes, not enough oil money and too much corruption creates growing violence. The tribes in the oil producing region (the Niger Delta) are getting organized, and a lot more violent. The northern Moslems want more control over the federal government (and the oil money).Local rebels threaten loss of most oil revenue, which is getting the governments attention.


Various places where the local situation is warming up and might turn into a war. Zimbabwe and Yemen are hot right now.


Islamic minority in the south wants its own country, and the expulsion of non-Moslems. Communist rebels in the north fight for social justice and a dictatorship. Both of these movements are losing and the Moslems are negotiating a peace deal that inches closer to a done deal. The communists are taking a beating, and not willing to talk seriously yet.


Rebuilding and reforming the decrepit Soviet era armed forces continues. The war against gangsters and Islamic radicals in Chechnya has been won, but the Islamic radicals continue to operate in other parts of the Caucasus. Russia returns to police state ways, and traditional threatening attitude towards neighbors.


War between better organized and more aggressive Tutsis and more numerous Hutu tribes. It's been going on for centuries, but the latest installment has finally ended, with the last Hutu group in Burundi giving up, then changing its mind.


A failed state that defies every attempt at nation building. It was never a country, but a collection of clans and tribes that fight each other constantly over economic issues (land and water).The new "transitional" government, was nearly wiped out by an "Islamic Courts" movement (which attempted to put the entire country under the rule of Islamic clergy and Islamic law). When Islamic Courts threatened to expand into Ethiopia, Ethiopia invaded and wiped out the Islamic Courts. The Islamic radicals have turned to terrorism, and Eritrea continues to provide support. The country remains an economic and political mess, a black hole on the map.


Tamil minority (19th century economic migrants from southern India) battles to partition the island.A long ceasefire ends and fighting has resumed. Tamils (the LTTE) are losing this time. LTTE will not go quietly, even though they lose a little more each month.


Moslems in the north try to suppress separatist tendencies among Christians in the south and Moslem rebels in the east and west. All this is complicated by development of oil fields in the south, and Moslem government attempts to drive Christians from the oil region. Battles over land in the west pit Arab herders against black Sudanese farmers. Both sides are Moslem, but the government is backing the Arabs. The government uses Arab nationalism and economic ties with Russia and China to defy the world and get away with driving non-Arab tribes from Darfur. The government believes time is on its side, and that the West will never trying anything bold and effective to halt the violence.


Malay Moslems in the south are three percent of the population, and different. Most Thais, are ethnic Thais and Buddhist. In the south, however, Islamic radicalism has arrived, along with an armed effort to create a separate Islamic state in the three southern provinces. Islamic terrorists grew more powerful month by month for several years, and refuse to negotiate. But new military dictatorship took a softer line towards the south, and that appears to be hurting the terrorists. But the generals are about to be voted out of power, and the new government may go back to dealing with the Islamic terrorists using the traditional Thai approach (much violence).


Religion and tribalism combine to create a persistent rebellion in the north, which was aided by Sudan. But now the northern rebels have been worn down, and the unrest is just about done with.Final peace deal with LRA rebels being negotiated. It's taking longer than expected.


International terrorism has created a international backlash and a war unlike any other. The only terrorist victories are in the media. On the ground, the terrorists are losing ground everywhere. Their last refuges are chaotic, or cynical, places like Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Gaza, the Sahel, a few of the Philippine islands, and tribal regions of Pakistan. They are being chased out of Iraq, Somalia and the Philippines, while Pakistan is getting increasingly tough with terrorists and pro-terrorist groups. Iran continues to support terrorism in the face of much local disapproval. Syria and Lebanon are in chaos because of Iranian subsidized factions. Gaza went the same way. Islamic radicals are a traditional reaction to tyranny in their region, and inability of local despots to rule effectively. Economic and diplomatic ties with the West are interpreted as support, leading to attacks on Western targets that created a devastating counterattack. The result of this in the Moslem world has been dramatic, finally forcing leaders and people to confront their self-inflicted problems. Al Qaeda is as self-destructive as its many predecessors. For example, an al Qaeda suicide bomber recently blew himself up in a crowded mosque, killing 48 worshippers. This, naturally, turns Moslems against al Qaeda in a big way. But the terrorists justify such dumb attacks because their doctrine holds that Moslems who don't agree with them, are not really Moslems. You can imagine how well that goes over with most Moslems. You can, but al Qaeda can't, and that is what guarantees their demise.


Article Archive

Wars Update: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close