There are too many wars and conflicts around the world to keep up with. It’s difficult to stay updated on some of the conflicts that do occasionally make their way to the headlines, even just for a little bit. Firefights in Afghanistan will sometimes make the headlines, but to many consumers they look like the same headlines over and over and over again. The same goes with a lot of violent crimes across America. For example, in 2001 Chicago has actually surpassed the number of American troops killed in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. When an average of a dozen people are shot a day, like violence in Afghanistan, the headlines appear to be the same over and over to many.
There are wars, conflicts and horrific events that do make the headlines, and rightfully so. The situation in Syria, the strained relationship between North and South Korea, and the rising tensions with Iran are all over the headlines as they are recently developing situations that are threatening to (or already have) boil over into serious conflict. They ought to be at the center of everyone’s attention, as they often are.
Still, there are conflicts that have been going on for so long that they are largely overlooked by the international community.
Burma has suffered through one of the longest civil wars in human history, with active violence in its ethnic areas going on since WWII.
Much of the media attention has been directed toward the Rohingya recently. When the Burmese government started their offensive targeting the Rohingya, they killed a lot of civilians — over 1,200 children under the age of 5 were killed due to the government aggressions in the very first month of fighting. They have displaced almost 700,000 people, forcing them across the border into refugee camps in Bangladesh.
While most of the victims of the Burmese push against the Rohingya are civilians, it would be disingenuous to dismiss the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the Rohingya insurgent group, that has recently been accused of massacring almost 100 Burmese civilians. This act is one in a myriad of human rights abuses and war crimes committed on the battlefield and off it. The state-sponsored media groups in Burma would have many believe that they were proportionally responding to ARSA attacks when they begun what they U.N. would describe as “textbook ethnic cleansing.” Conversely, many would insinuate that ARSA or other groups had never committed acts of aggression against the Burmese government or its people, and that would also be false. The actual conflict goes back decades, and to understand it, one must see past modern Islamic extremist groups and state-sponsored media reports and reach back into history that remains somewhat unstudied by the international community.
The Rohingya aren’t the only ones under the iron fist of the Burmese government. The government tends to shift their focus from ethnic minority to ethnic minority, all of which form a sort of horse-shoe shape around the central population. SOFREP readers might see a shift in future months from the Muslim Rohingya toward the Kachin, who are mostly Christian, and who are about to take on the brunt of Burmese military forces. It is one of many examples that illustrate the government’s true priorities (which have nothing to do with Muslim extremism) in stifling the ethnic minority populations in rural Burma.
On top of the Kachin, the Burmese government keeps constant pressure on the Karen people to the east, who are Christian, Buddhist and some animist. They are currently weathering a very unstable cease-fire, and peace is on a knife’s edge as the Karen authorities navigate and attempt to negotiate with the Burmese military rule.
Pakistan, India and Kashmir
This conflict has not only resulted in three outright wars throughout the countries’ histories, but it is important to realize that the last of those wars occurred while both nations were also threatening to use nuclear weapons against one another. While this might be boiled down to a simple territorial dispute over the land of Kashmir, there are infinitely more complex politics at play here. You have a culture of self-determination in northern Pakistan and India, mired with the politics of land ownership and — on the Pakistani side — Taliban influence, on top of other things. You also have a long history of conflict that has borne very deep, complex wounds throughout the region.
The death and displacement toll in the Kashmir is significant, but it isn’t quite as high as some of the other conflicts mentioned in this list. It’s the potential for nuclear war that concerns those who follow the crisis as it develops. Any rise in tensions between Pakistan and India, especially armed conflict, threatens to escalate quickly as it has in the past. All it takes is one nation to feel backed into a corner and deploying a nuclear weapon, which will end in nuclear retaliation from the other party. This is a quick way to draw in other countries to a nuclear war, and all of the sudden a dispute between two large but local powers becomes a multi-national conflict that could change the course of world history.
Most recently, six Indian civilians are reported to have been killed due to Pakistan mortaring and directing machine-gun fire toward Indian villages and military outposts. On top of this, Indian military service members were also allegedly killed.
Sudan is a well known name when it comes to mass conflict. Many think of the genocide that occurred in the Darfur region of western Sudan that began in 2003. The UN estimated approximately 300,000 were killed in this conflict, and up to 3 million were displaced.
South Sudan is now one of the hardest places in the world to live, and the violence only exacerbates the poverty and ability to access even the most modest aspects of modern healthcare. SOFREP recently spoke to an aid pilot in the area who said that there are whole swaths of people in South Sudan who have grown up living almost entirely off of aid given by charity groups and aid organizations. This is not out of some grown dependency, it’s due to the fact that the South Sudanese Civil War is ongoing. For example, in April of 2014, one of the most infamous massacres of the war occurred. Militants from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition Army slaughtered scores of civilians in the town of Bentiu, killing over 400 people. This is only indicative of the continuing violence in these areas four years later in 2018.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been a country plagued with violence for years, and like Burma or South Sudan, the violence seems repetitive to outsiders across an ocean who have difficulty discerning names and dates that seem so similar. Still, some international entities have put forth efforts to aid in these conflicts however they can. Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, has said that the situation there has been worsening in recent years. He has compared this conflict to that of Syria, though the politics driving the war are quite different.
The President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, has continued to remain in power despite the fact that his term limits have expired. Many in the DRC have demanded elections, as have those in the international community like Nikki Haley, and as of now they are scheduled to take place in December. Protests and uprisings have been violently quelled, media outlets that speak out against the government are silenced, and droves of political prisoners have been taken after expressing voices of dissent.
These are just a handful of the forgotten conflicts around the world, and they have been explained almost criminally briefly. ISIS is on the rise in Southeast Asia, Boko Haram continues to ravage Nigeria and its surrounding nations, and drug cartels still rule with an iron fist across many Central and South American countries. Many of these are common knowledge, but still remain in the back of our minds.
What conflicts do you wish had more media coverage?
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.