THE SYSCA CONFLICT INDEX
 

The SYSCA Conflict Index is an ever evolving encyclopedia of some of the conflicts currently plaguing the world. If you want to write a paragraph about a conflict that you think people should give a shit about, contact us here.

In case you needed a reminder that the world isn’t all rainbows & butterflies I’ve decided to gather all the bad shit and put it in one place. This means that if you want to educate yourself on some of the tougher stuff, you can - but it doesn’t have to permeate your entire newsfeed.

If anything, the fact that we even have access to resources like this should be a reminder that we are coming from a place of privilege - and we need to use that privilege to be educated & at least try to figure out how we can make things a bit less shit!

So I’m super proud of you for taking the jump to educate yourself on some of the less palatable happenings in the world. You’ll be all the better for it.

P.S: If you’re looking for a certain conflict, hit ctrl+F and type it in, you’ll be able to jump straight to it!

THE SYSCA CONFLICT INDEX


Africa

Sudan:

After the ousting of Omar-al Bashir, Sudan’s previous ruler (who caused a rising cost of food & fuel shortages, in brief), there was a peaceful sit-in in the city of Khartoum demanding civilian rule. 

Image from CNN.

Image from CNN.

Then on Monday, June third, security for The Transitional Military Council (TMC,) or Rapid Support Forces (RSF), unleashed an attack on protestors. Internet access in the country was shut down and media reporting was censored by the military council. It is reported that RSF used means of force such as tear gas, beating activists with sticks, and sexual violence, resulting in over one hundred deaths, hundreds injured, and many raped. 

The people then asked for an immediate transfer to civilian power, but TMC refused, leading activists to start a campaign intending to stop the military council from governing. Civilians announced that they would only back down once they held power, and Internet access was soon turned back on.

Who’s involved?

The Transitional Military Council (TMC), The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudanese civilians.

When did it start?

December 2018: This was the Sudanese Uprising to oust President, Omar al-Bashir.

How did it start?

The problem began in April when Omar al-Bashir, Sudans previous ruler, was arrested due to his unjust leadership style.

The Transitional Military Council (TMC) was set to rule for an estimated two-year-long period until a civilian-led democracy could be put into place. For two months, there was a peaceful sit-in in the city of Khartoum demanding civilian rule.

What’s happening right now?

Currently in the country, officials have reported an agreement between TMC and protestors. The deal features a joint governing system with eleven seats. Five seats will go to the current military while five will go to the people. The remaining seat is granted to a civilian which both parties agree upon. For the first twenty-one months, the military will rule, rotating leadership to the people for the remaining eighteen months. This system will remain in place for an estimated three years until a fully civilian-run government can take place in Sudan.

By Isabelle Van Winkle


Boko Haram in Nigeria:

Image from TIME magazine

Image from TIME magazine

Boko Haram is an armed militant group based in Nigeria, that opposes anything influenced by the West, and attempts to destroy secular (non-religious) authority. Things influenced by the West include voting, non-religious education and wearing shirts and trousers. The group is also known as “Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA).”

Founded in 2002, Boko Haram is one of the largest Islamist militant groups in Africa. 

It’s been called the world's deadliest terrorist group, carrying out terror attacks, assassinations and kidnappings in Nigeria, typically targeting officials, christian churches and schools, and Muslims who were critical of the group. It seeks to hold onto territory and establish an Islamic State. Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, regardless of whether the president is Muslim or not

Some notable actions:

In 2010 the group attacked a prison in Bauchi, releasing more than 700 inmates, 100 of whom were Boko Haram members. On Christmas Eve of that year the group attacked two Christian churches and detonated explosives in Christian neighborhoods, killing over 30 people. 

In 2011 the a suicide bomber from the group crashed a car into the UN building in Abuja, killing 23 people and injuring over 100 others.

In 2012 over 185 people were killed by the group when the members coordinated attacks in Kano. 

Since 2013 the group has kidnapped more than 1,000 kids. The most famous kidnapping was the Chibok abductions where 276 girls were taken from their beds their secondary school dormitory in the town of Chibok. 

How did it start?

In 2009 Boko Haram started an amber rebellion against the government, and have been contributing to large scale acts of violence in the country ever since. Why? To uproot the corruption and injustice in Nigeria that they believed to be because of Western influences and establish an Islamic State. They also want to impose Shariah - or Islamic - law. 

What’s happening right now?

In 2013 the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in 3 states: Brono, Admawa and Yobe.

The United Nations says more than 250,000 people have already been displaced from northeast Nigeria, and surging militant attacks targeting civilians have forced thousands more to run for their lives each day.

UNICEF says that of the 4500 children who were recruited to Boko Haram between 2013 and 2017, almost 900 have been released. 

By Lucy Blakiston


Central African Republic:

Since the end of French colonialism, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been home to ongoing conflict centered on religious and ethnic differences found among the country’s population. The country has long faced political instability coupled with high levels of extreme poverty. The current civil war, which started in 2012, can trace its roots back years earlier to 2001 when François Bozizé, the Army Chief of Staff under then-President Ange-Felix Patassé started a rebellion against the leader. In 2003, Bozizé’s forces succeeded in capturing Bagui, the capital, while Patassé was out of the country and carried out one of the many coup d’états in Central African history. In 2005, Bozizé won an election to remain the president in a hotly-contested two-round contest that pit the president against Martin Ziguélé, a former Prime Minister who was supported by Patassé’s party. In addition to Bozizé’s victory, his supporters also gained a majority in parliament.

However, tensions remained high as rebels who favored the former president engaged in a bush war against the government that killed hundreds and displaced over 200,000 between 2004 and 2007. This fighting ended in a peace treaty that fell through in the early 2010s.

In 2013, Séléka (coalition in Songo) forces led by Michel Djotodia succeeded in ousting Bozizé from the presidency. The forces, made up of different constituent groups, were formed due to Bozizé’s failure to honor the deals made in the 2007 peace agreement. Djotodia’s presidency was shrouded in controversy not only due to Bozizé’s popularity but also because he became the first Muslim leader of the primarily Christian country. 

In order to counteract the control of the mostly-Muslim group, militia forces known as anti-Balaka began to form. While the Séléka raided Christian settlements and killed supporters of Bozizé, the anti-Balaka started to fight back by targeting Muslims. The name itself, translating into anti-foreigner, outlines a common belief in CAR that Islam is a foreign influence that should not be accepted in the country. With that understanding, the Central African Civil War, officially starting in 2012, quickly turned into a pseudo-religious standoff between the Christian majority and Muslim minority that makes up about 10% of the population. 

Though President Djotodia dissolved the Séléka coalition after his ascension to the presidency, the constituent groups continued to fight against anti-Balaka belligerents. As conditions deteriorated, Djotodia resigned in 2014. He was replaced by CAR’s first female leader Catherine Samba-Panza. Under her leadership, anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka representatives signed a ceasefire in Brazzaville that led to the de facto partition of the country between the two leading the Muslim rebels to establish the unrecongized Republic of Logone in northern CAR. Despite the agreement, antagonism and religious and ethnic differences continues to push conflict between the factions. Atrocities committed have included forced religious conversion, attempted ethnic and religious cleansings, and violence against foreign aid workers.

With President Touadéra, a Bozizé supporter, now in power, thousands dead, and over 1.1 million people internally displaced, it does not seem like the violence will end soon. Having one of the lowest GDPs per capita in the world at less than $1000 per person per year, CAR will likely face many obstacles stemming from the sectarian violence well into the future.

Who is involved?

  • Ex-Séléka 

  • Anti-Balaka

  • Central African government, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), France (former), South Africa (former), European Union Forces RCA (former)


When did it start?

  • December 10, 2012

How did it start?

  • Mostly-Muslim Séléka forces began to gain power on their campaign to oust President Bozizé

  • Mostly-Christian anti-Balaka militias comprising mostly of rural farmers who supported the then-president formed to protect themselves

  • Fighting worsened after the successful coup carried out by Djotodia, leader of the Séléka

What’s happening right now?

  • In early 2019, an eighth peace deal was brokered in Khartoum by the governments of Sudan and Russia.

  • It gave the leaders of the ex-Séléka armed groups positions in which they would work as special military advisors as the army attempted to create mixed units made of both soldiers and former rebels. However, 3R, one of the groups, has continued to kill over 50 civilians since May.


The Americas

Venezuela:

Image from Mercycorps.org

Image from Mercycorps.org

The Venezuela crisis has made headlines around the world over the past year. Boasting the world’s largest oil reserve, the once wealthy and affluent Latin American nation has seen a rapid juxtaposition since 2013, with over 3 million fleeing the country in the past four years alone. Despite the current humanitarian emergency unfolding into an issue well-deserving of global attention, there are a number of factors often hidden from the public eye that have contributed to the current crisis.

The crisis is marked by hyperinflation, escalating starvation, disease, crime and mortality rates, resulting in massive emigration from the country.

Who’s involved?

Venezuela’s current leader, Nicolás Maduro, was ushered into power in 2014 by predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Although Maduro is often seen as the direct catalyst of Venezuela’s economic demise, it is both Maduro and Chávez’ fiscal mismanagement that broke down Venezuela’s economy. Inheriting what many Venezuelans imply as a broken economic model, riddled with unsustainable policies that fed into Venezuela's rising debt, Maduro proceeded to further worsen economic affairs and turn his back on his responsibilities to the Venezuelan people. With an inflation rate of over 250%, Venezuela stands as the most inflated country in the world. The turbulent situation in Venezuela, however, is far more than just inflation and economic irresponsibility.

What’s happening now?

Financial pressure, lack of accessibility to resources and absent, poor leadership have lead to third-world conditions, with some families having to eat rotten meat to survive. The capital city, Caracas, has also become the homicide capital of the world, with experts agreeing that strong, transformative leadership is the next important step in the Venezuela recovery chapter.

With popular rival and self-appointed 'Acting President' Juan Guaido slowing rising into power against the Maduro regime, only time will tell if the country will be able to rebuild, recover, and retake Venezuela.

By Iri Edwards


Mexico

Since 2006, the Mexican government has been engaged in a war aiming to counter the control and actions of drug cartels within the country.

Image from storybench.org

Image from storybench.org

The ongoing conflict and organized crime carried out by militant groups have produced a death toll of 115,000 and caused numerous disappearances affecting politicians, civilians, cartel members, and servicemen. The fighting, often worst in the areas closest to the U.S. border, is complicated by the rivalries and coalitions between different groups. As cartels battle the Mexican government and its American and Colombian allies for local control, armed groups such as Los Zetas and the Beltran-Leyva Cartel are often caught in skirmishes against rivals such as the Sinaloa Cartel or the Tijuana Cartel in order to increase territorial control and power.

In addition to killings and kidnappings, cartels have resorted to torture, the assassinations of journalists, and human trafficking. Many of these crimes cross international borders into the United States, Guatemala, and El Salvador as well. In recent years, the cartels have withstood major blows with the capture, American extradition, and even death of key leaders such as El Chapo and the Beltran Leyva brothers.

After years of armed operations with only minimal effect, conditions have begun to deteriorate once more with the presidency of Lopez Obrador. He claimed in the beginning of his term that the war was over; however, murder rates increased in the country to its highest rates in years during the first months of his presidency. This comes as the centrist president has faced harsh criticism for his approach which aims at avoiding any violence and confrontation with cartel groups. With no end in sight, it seems this violence may continue not only to complicate Mexico’s domestic situation but also hurt Mexico’s relationship with the United States as the violence is cited as one of the most pertinent causes for the ongoing immigration crisis. 

Who is involved?

  • Mexican military, security, and police forces with support from the United States and Colombia

  • Sinaloa Cartel, Gulf Cartel, Knights Templar Cartel, La Familia Michoacana

  • Los Zetas, Juarez Cartel, Milenio Cartel, Beltran-Leyva Cartel, MS-13

  • Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CNJG), Tijuana Cartel, Logan Heights Gang


When did it start?

  • December 11, 2006

How did it start?

  • Right-wing president Felipe Calderón sought to use military power to fight the lawless and violent drug cartels as their sphere of influence continued to grow thoughout Mexico

What’s happening right now?

  • After 12 years, the situation has only slightly improved

  • Current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has taken a pacifistic approach as he instructs the armed forces to avoid violent confrontation with cartels at all costs

  • Though he claimed the situation to have drastically improved, murder rates increased by nearly 10% in the first 3 months of 2019 with nearly 8,500 homicides, many of which can be linked to organized crime committed by the cartels.

    By Winston Ardoin