Conflict News

This page features recent news and in-depth analysis on armed conflict and emerging security issues across Asia. The Conflict News page is updated several times each month, linking to a select range of content from trusted external sources and major news sites.

Note: the author of this site is not responsible for the content or views expressed in articles shared on this page. All have been linked here either with permission from the site concerned, or as permitted under their existing syndication terms.

Deadly Caste Violence Erupts in Indian State of Maharashtra

Deadly caste violence has erupted in the western state of Maharashtra in India for a third day following protests by a community demanding quotas for government jobs, officials said. Protests have been growing across the western state since Monday, when a Maratha community activist jumped to his death from a bridge. Another protester killed himself with poison on Tuesday, the same day a police officer died in clashes, reports said on Wednesday. More than 30,000 police forces have been deployed across the region but the first trouble on Wednesday emerged in the city of Thane, near Mumbai. “Two incidents of stone-pelting and arson were reported near Thane and we have prevented further incidents by deploying our teams,” Sukhada Narkar, a police spokesperson in Thane, told AFP.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (25 July 2018)

Pakistan Election Raises Fears of a ‘Creeping Coup’

A day before Pakistan’s 11th national election, the country’s dream of undiluted democracy appears to be receding – again. In its 70-year history, Pakistan has alternated between quasi-democracy and pure military rule. In the process it has become embroiled in international conflicts and morphed into a home base for Islamist militancy. Over the past decade, Pakistanis have witnessed democracy at its most undiluted thus far, but it’s now under threat from what some say appears to be a “democratic coup” of sorts. And just as in the past, the country’s powerful military establishment remains the chief suspect behind the fresh round of political manipulation. In the past, the military used to either stage a direct coup or use special powers to sack an elected government and then manipulate elections to ensure it wasn’t re-elected. In 2008, those special powers were done away with, leading to a first in 2013: an elected government completing its five-year term. But since then the tide appears to have reversed, and critics say the establishment is resorting to more primitive tactics to recover its edge.

Read the full article on BBC News (23 July 2018)

Dozens Injured in Police Clashes at Nepal Healthcare Protest

Dozens of protesters in Nepal have been injured in clashes with police at a demonstration in support of a hunger-striking doctor seeking better healthcare in the impoverished Himalayan country. Thousands took to the streets on Saturday in solidarity with Dr Govinda KC, who has been on a hunger strike for nearly a month demanding reforms in the medical sector and education. Protestors from Nepal Tarun Dal, the youth wing of the opposition party Nepali Congress, were injured when police fired multiple rounds of teargas and used batons as they entered a restricted area near the parliament in capital Kathmandu. Activists on Sunday said they planned more protests following the clashes. “We are protesting against the government’s authoritarian-like behaviour. They are not listening to the people and to the just demands of Dr Govinda KC,” Bhupendra Jung Shahi, general secretary of Nepal Tarun Dal, told AFP. Viewed by his supporters as a medical Robin Hood, Dr KC is well known in Nepal for his philanthropic work, travelling to some of the country’s most remote communities to provide medical care and train local health workers.

Read the full article on the New Straits Times (22 July 2018)

Duterte’s Drug War Has Killed Thousands. Now the Victims’ Families Are Pushing Back

The battlefield of this war looks like any other bustling urban district in the Philippines. The sidewalks are crammed with street vendors selling everything from food to underwear. Pedestrians zigzag through the roads, avoiding motorized rickshaws known as tricycles and careening jeepneys, the colorful converted jeeps that are the country’s most common form of public transportation. The air is thick with smog and heavy with the sound of blaring horns and screeching tires. Set back from the streets are rows of makeshift homes stitched together by pieces of wood, corrugated steel and tarpaulin. This is Bagong Silang, an informal district of the city of Caloocan, located about 17 miles north of the Philippine capital, Manila. Caloocan and its neighboring cities, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela, form an area commonly known as CAMANAVA. Over the past two years, however, it has acquired another moniker that highlights its front-line status in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs: the killing fields.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (26 June 2018)

North Korea Offers to Remove Long-Range Artillery from Border

During last week’s high-level cross-border military talks, North Korean officers allegedly suggested the removal of long-range artillery pieces from the military demarcation line — the de-factor border between North and South Korea running near the 38th parallel — to areas 30 to 40 kilometers to the rear, according to local media reports. The talks, taking place in the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), involved two-star generals from the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and the Korean People’s Army. It was the first military-to-military dialogue between the two sides in over a decade and a follow up on the Panmunjom Declaration from the April 27 inter-Korean summit at the border village. According to a source, the North Korean delegates during the talks brought up first the possible removal of long-range artillery pieces “as a matter of principle.” However, another source speaking to South Korea media suggested that it was the South Koreans who initiated discussions on the removal of long-range artillery from the border.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (13 June 2018)

India-Pakistan Cross-Border Shelling Hits Kashmir

Six civilians and a soldier have been killed along the border between India and Pakistan on the sixth consecutive day of shelling in the divided Kashmir region, reports say. Indian police told the Associated Press news agency that at least five civilians were killed and 30 more injured on the Indian side on Wednesday when Pakistani soldiers targeted Indian border posts and villages with mortars and automatic gunfire in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Jammu region. Pakistani security forces, for their part, told AP that a civilian and a soldier were killed as they exchanged fire with their Indian counterparts near Sialkot in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province. Several people, including three border guards, were wounded, the Pakistani officials told AP. An Indian government official told AFP news agency at least 80,000 people living along the border between Jammu and Pakistan’s Punjab have fled their homes since Friday.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (23 May 2018)

Do Indonesia’s Surabaya Attacks Signal a Rising Terrorism Threat?

A string of attacks in the East Java capital of Surabaya last week in the wake of a prison siege in West Java has once again brought Indonesia’s fight against terrorism to the forefront. The first of the Surabaya attacks, orchestrated by one family unit including young children, appears to be a major departure from ‘traditional’ Islamic extremism in the region which is almost exclusively conducted by men. Paired with fears of fighters returning from Syria and other structural issues including in the legal realm, concerns have been sparked about how serious the threat is and how Indonesia will respond. In the wake of these natural concerns, it is important to note that the actual dimension of the challenge is difficult to quantify and that there are various elements to this – from returning fighters from the Middle East all the way down to how the Indonesian government walks the line between freedom and security and resources its agencies and institutions to contend with the threat.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (19 May 2018)

Beijing Urges Ceasefire After Deadly Myanmar Border Clashes

China on Sunday condemned fighting on its border between Myanmar forces and ethnic rebels that has left 19 dead, mostly civilians, in some of the worst violence to rattle the restive frontier in recent years. The fighting erupted on Saturday when ethnic-minority insurgent groups, who are locked in a long-running battle with the Myanmar state, attacked security posts around Muse, a border town and trade hub in northeastern Shan state. A local resident told AFP she heard gunfire through the night until early Sunday morning, with fear gripping a town that lives at the mercy of both government militias and ethnic armies fighting for more autonomy. “We heard shooting the whole night until this morning around 6:00 am. We do not know what was going on and who was fighting,” said Muse resident Aye Aye. Saturday’s carnage, which also left at least 27 injured, was one of the bloodiest days in recent years in a long-running rebellion that is separate from the Rohingya crisis to the west.

Read the full article on the New Straits Times (13 May 2018)

Myanmar Violence: Thousands Flee Fresh Fighting in Kachin State

Thousands of people have fled renewed fighting between the army and ethnic Kachin rebels in Myanmar’s northernmost state. Some 4,000 people have been driven from their homes since early April, according to the UN. It comes as a longstanding conflict between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and government troops escalates. The military is said to be pounding the rebels with airstrikes and artillery. As well as the thousands displaced, there are fears that many people remain trapped in conflict-stricken areas, near the border with China. Aid organisations have urged the government to allow them access. “Our biggest concern is for the safety of civilians – including pregnant women, the elderly, small children and people with disabilities,” Mark Cutts, the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told AFP news agency. “We must ensure that these people are protected.”

Read the full article on BBC News (28 April 2018)

Korean Leaders Aim for End of War, ‘Complete De-nuclearization’

The leaders of North and South Korea embraced on Friday after pledging to work for the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”, on a day of smiles and handshakes at the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade. The two Koreas announced they would work with the United States and China this year to declare an official end to the 1950s Korean War and seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace. The declaration included promises to pursue phased arms reduction, cease hostile acts, transform their fortified border into a peace zone and seek multilateral talks with other countries including the United States. “The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the two sides said.

Read the full article on the New Straits Times (27 April 2018)

Iran: Five Killed in Clashes with Fighters Near Pakistan Border

At least five people, including two Iranian security forces personnel, have been killed in clashes with fighters in southeastern Iran, near the border with Pakistan, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported. The clashes took place in the Mirjaveh district, about 10km west of the Taftan border checkpost, on Tuesday, the news agency said. A group of fighters attempted to seize control of an Iranian border post, resulting in an exchange of fire with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) soldiers, IRNA reported. At least two soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device in that attack, security officials said. Three attackers were also killed. The two soldiers who were killed were identified as Vahid Hossein and Abolfazl Gholampour. The IRNA news agency quoted security forces as saying that the attackers had come from the Pakistani side of the border.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (18 April 2018)

What to Make of Recurring Fears of Jihadism in Southern Thailand?

There are recurring fears of a jihadist threat in Southern Thailand. Although Thailand suffers from a long-running insurgency in the deep south, the issue has often been branded as an ethno-nationalist struggle rather than as part of global jihad. However, with a series of ISIS-linked activities in Southeast Asia, compounded by returning ISIS fighters from the Middle East, there are renewed concerns about jihadist elements taking advantage of the existing vulnerability in Southern Thailand. This examination of those fears draws from International Crisis Group’s November 2017 report Jihadism in Southern Thailand: A Phantom Menace. The jihadist elements might not be focusing on fighting the Thai state, but could be concentrating on neighbouring Malaysia. There is a historical precedent from back in the Cold War when the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) took refuge in Southern Thailand but planned for attacks targeting Malaysia. There are fears that returning ISIS fighters could take the same approach. Nevertheless, these fears remain unfounded as the ethno-nationalist character of the conflict is strong enough to withstand jihadist influence.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (30 March 2018)

Philippines Muslim Leaders ‘Tired of Waiting’ for Bangsamoro Law

Leaders of the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group have warned of a growing frustration in the southern island of Mindanao over the delay in the implementation of a 2014 peace agreement it signed with the government. Ghazali Jaafar, vice chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), told a constitutional reform panel on Tuesday, that Muslim groups are “tired of waiting” to achieve real autonomy for their people. “This is precisely why some of our former comrades bolted from us, and how they are fighting with us because they are frustrated, so to speak, with the way the government is handling the negotiation,” Jaafar, who is one of the main authors of a proposed Muslim autonomy law, was quoted as saying by local news.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (13 March 2018)

Sri Lanka’s Anti-Muslim Violence

Over the past fortnight, Sri Lanka has witnessed a surge in violence targeting Muslims, their properties, and places of worship. It prompted President Maithripala Sirisena to declare an island-wide state of emergency on March 6. Curfew was imposed and the army deployed in some of the areas worst-hit by the violence. However, attacks on Muslims continue and appear to be spreading geographically too. A Muslim-owned restaurant in Putallam district was attacked, for instance, in the early hours of March 11. The current wave of violence was reportedly sparked by an incident of road rage involving a Sinhalese truck driver and a group of Muslim men in Kandy district in the central highlands on February 22. The latter assaulted the Sinhalese driver, which resulted in his death at a hospital a few days later.  The day after his death, Sinhalese mobs went on a rampage, attacking Muslims, and burning their homes, shops, and vehicles. The violence has since spread to other districts.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (13 March 2018)

Bangladesh Asks Myanmar to Pull Back Troops from Border

Bangladesh Thursday asked Myanmar to immediately “pull back” security forces and heavy weapons from the border after the troop build-up near a camp housing thousands of stranded Rohingya stirred tension on the troubled frontier. The foreign ministry “summoned” Myanmar’s envoy and conveyed the country’s “concerns” over the “military build-up” amid rising tensions following the influx of nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Bangladesh’s acting foreign secretary “conveyed to the Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka that such military build-up will create confusion within Bangladesh and escalate tensions on the border,” the ministry said. Dhaka said the troops were mobilised near a thin strip of land between the two countries where around 6,000 Rohingya have been living since fleeing Myanmar following a brutal military crackdown on the Muslim minority in late August.

Read the full article on the New Straits Times (2 March 2018)

India’s Sitharaman Warns Pakistan After Jammu attack

India has warned Pakistan that it “will pay” for its “misadventure” in Indian-administered Kashmir in the wake of a deadly attack on an army camp in Jammu city. At least six Indian soldiers were killed after fighters stormed the Sunjuwan army camp on Saturday. The three attackers were killed in the ensuing gun battle that continued for more than two days. “Pakistan is expanding the arc of terror … We will be providing evidence to prove that the handlers are back in Pakistan and they are the mastermind, influencing all this … Pakistan will pay for this misadventure,” Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s defence minister, said on Monday. Her comments came as the divided Himalayan region witnessed two deadly attacks in three days, raising tension between the South Asian neighbours.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (13 February 2018)

Maldives: President Orders State of Emergency to Investigate ‘Coup’

The President of the Maldives said Tuesday he ordered a state of emergency to investigate “this plot, this coup” involving a Supreme Court ruling last week that ordered the release of imprisoned opposition leaders, including many of his political rivals. The island country lies south-west of India and Sri Lanka. “This is not a state of war, epidemic or natural disaster, this is something more dangerous,” said President Abdulla Yameen in a televised address. “This is an obstruction of the very ability of the state to function.” Yameen, who has rolled back a series of democratic reforms during his five years in office, has said that the court overstepped its authority in ordering the politicians released, saying the order “blatantly disrupts the systems of checks and balances.”

Read the full article on The Independent (6 February 2018)

Explaining the Radicalization of Central Asian Migrants

Radicalization in Central Asia has been a long-standing concern. Yet, historically, violence from the region has been relatively rare. While the immediate post-Soviet period was marked by internal conflict, including the civil war in Tajikistan, these conflicts largely remained local. This appears to be changing. The past couple of years have been marked by a noticeable increase in instances of international terrorism linked to Central Asians. A further number have shown up as foreign terrorist fighters. The New York City truck attack, the attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, a vehicle attack in Stockholm, and the bombing of the St. Petersburg metro system were all linked to Central Asians. While the exact reasons for this pattern are still being uncovered by investigators, one feature that appears common among Central Asians who end up in Syria and Iraq, at least, is a history of working as labor migrants in Russia.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (29 January 2018)

How Aung San Suu Kyi Sees the Rohingya Crisis

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has overseen what is said to be the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. Risking death by sea or on foot, more than half a million have fled persecution in northern Rakhine state since August 2017. The government sees the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. Many of those who have fled describe troops and Rakhine Buddhist mobs burning their villages and attacking civilians. But Myanmar’s military says it is fighting Rohingya militants, and denies ever targeting civilians. Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who lived under house arrest for many years for her pro-democracy activism, is facing allegations that she has failed to speak out over violence against the Rohingyas. So, what has she said?

Read the full article on BBC News (25 January 2018)

Myanmar to Sign Ceasefire with Two Rebel Groups Amid Decades of Conflict

Two armed ethnic groups in Myanmar have agreed to sign a ceasefire with the government, state media reported on Wednesday, as leader Aung San Suu Kyi seeks to revive a stuttering peace process to end decades of conflict. Ending near-perpetual civil war has been Suu Kyi’s stated top priority, but the Buddhist-majority country has seen the worst fighting with rebels in years since she took office 22 months ago. The peace process, which has been eclipsed in world media coverage by the plight of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya refugees fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh, is key to unlocking the resource-rich country’s potential and guaranteeing development for its more than 50 million people. New Mon State Party and the Lahu Democratic Union agreed to sign the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) after a meeting with Suu Kyi and the military’s commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, in the capital, Naypyitaw, on Tuesday, state-run newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

Read the full article on the New Straits Times (24 January 2018)

Tensions Soar Along India, Pakistan Border in Kashmir

Two civilians and an Indian soldier were killed and twenty more wounded in the latest ceasefire violations in the border villages of Jammu region in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said. State police Chief Shesh Paul Vaid told Al Jazeera that the two civilians, including a 52-year-old woman, were killed in fresh shelling by Pakistani side in RS Pura sector in Jammu region on Friday morning. “One Border Security Force (BSF) trooper has also been killed in the shelling which continues since night,” Vaid said, adding that twenty civilians were also wounded. On Thursday, an Indian soldier and a 17-year-old girl were killed in RS Pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu region, officials said, taking the death toll to five in twenty-four hours from the Indian-side. Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), the military demarcation between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (19 January 2018)

The Taiwan Strait After a Second Korean War

One unexpected side effect to the nuclear crisis has been a dampening of tensions elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific. With the prospect for a nuclear catastrophe on the Korean peninsula, other crises or potential conflicts, such as the disputes over the Senkakus or the South China Sea, have receded in urgency. Ironically, this is a good indication that the end of the Kim regime and a collapse of the North Korean state would result in increased tensions between the United States and China. While there have been many studies looking at how North Korea, South Korea, and the United States could end up in war, and many studies of how such a war would play out, there has been little attention paid to the security landscape post-crisis.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (10 January 2018)

Where Is West Papua’s Struggle for Independence from Indonesia Headed?

John Ondawame greatly admired the independence struggle in East Timor, especially its ability to win active support from people in Europe, the United States and Australia. But the exiled former fighter, activist and spokesman for West Papuans also longed for the world to take notice of the plight of his people and to see the shared contours of the two conflicts—two ethnically distinct regions of Indonesia longing to break free. Ondawame did not live to see his dream of West Papua’s independence fulfilled; he died in 2014. But it is more difficult than ever for the Indonesian government to keep the problems of its most restive province out of sight. Long mismanaged by successive administrations in Jakarta, West Papua is pushing harder to have its case for independence heard.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (4 January 2018)

The Assassination That Orphaned Pakistani Politics

“Where were you when Benazir was killed?” is one of the best ways to start a conversation in Pakistan. Most remember the moment when news of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s death spread and parts of the country fell into turmoil. Ten years later, Bhutto has not been forgotten. Her name and face frequently appear on billboards and election materials, as candidates continue to exploit her legacy for votes. Schools, colleges, airports and hospitals are named after her. There are social welfare schemes in her name. She even has a district named after her – Benazirabad. Bhutto was so popular that a crowd of hundreds of thousands greeted her in October 2007, when she returned from self-imposed exile, just three months before she was assassinated.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (27 December 2017)

How Al-Qaeda Came to Kashmir

On July 27, 2017, Al-Qaeda formally announced it was establishing an affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir – India’s troubled northern state, claimed also by Pakistan. For three decades of the ongoing armed separatist campaign in the state, pan-Islamist religious ideologies struggled to find a toehold. But this year Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, an al-Qaeda affiliate, set up a unit in Kashmir headed by the 23-year-old former Kashmir commander of the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen, Zakir Musa. In a press release issued both in English and Urdu, titled “Statement No 1,” Al-Qaeda said that “the jihad in Kashmir has entered a stage of awakening.”

Read the full article on The Diplomat (20 December 2017)

Myanmar Bars UN Probe as Mass Grave Found in Rakhine

The UN’s investigator into human rights in Myanmar has been barred from entering the country. Yanghee Lee had been due to visit in January to review Myanmar’s human rights, including alleged attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. The government said it had banned her because she was “not impartial and objective while conducting her work”. Ms Lee said the decision to block her suggested “something terribly awful” was happening in Rakhine. On Tuesday, Myanmar’s authorities said they found 10 bodies in a mass grave in a village there. Ms Lee last visited Myanmar in July, where she raised concerns over the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine.

Read the full article on BBC News (20 December 2017)

Will the Bangsamoro Peace Process Succeed?

The Moro insurgency is one of the longest-running conflicts in the southern Philippines. Although several peace agreements have been brokered with the help of third parties, progress on implementation has largely stalled due to intermittent ceasefire violations and a lack of political support. But there is now renewed impetus for the peace process. For months, President Rodrigo Duterte has been seen building support for the long-stalled Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), including meeting with various lawmakers to set the bill in motion. While it is still in draft stage, the vision is to create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and grant the insurgents greater economic and political powers.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (7 December 2017)

Kashmir Conflict Drives Tourists Away

A recent snowfall in the upper reaches of Indian-administered Kashmir came after months of drought. Mountaintops in the valley these days are mesmerising, covered with snow. An early snowfall would normally be a blessing for the local tourism sector, especially in famous winter resort areas, such as Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonmarg. Yet these places appear desolate, with very few tourists around. Tourism is a key sector of Kashmir’s economy. According to local tourism officials, a single visiting tourist typically spends around $775. In 2016, nearly 1.3 million tourists came to the valley, but the tourism department had expected 1.8 million. Last year alone, the industry reportedly lost more than $46m.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (4 December 2017)

Sri Lanka’s Failure to Confront Its Past and Present Casts a Shadow on Its Future

More than eight years have passed since Sri Lanka declared the end of its nearly three-decade long civil war. Since then, the small island-nation in the Indian Ocean has made significant progress. The country has remained mostly peaceful; tourists have started arriving in droves; and investors, especially from China, have started pouring billions into Sri Lanka, given its strategic location. And yet Sri Lanka’s march toward a stable, peaceful and prosperous future is threatened by two closely related problems: its hesitant approach to dealing with the events of the past, and its reluctance to tackle emerging tensions.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (30 November 2017)

Will Southern Thailand Turn to Jihad?

In a world where the news media focuses on the failed states of the Muslim world, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, Thailand often escapes attention. Though a Buddhist-majority country, Thailand suffers from one of the longest-running Muslim insurgencies in Asia. Malay irredentists and secessionists describing themselves as Islamists have hit southern Thailand with beheadings and car bombs, nightmarish tactics rarely seen outside the Middle East. Even so, analysts and journalists must appreciate Thailand as an outlier in the history of jihadism.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (20 November 2017)

Myanmar Forces Committed ‘Widespread Rape’ of Rohingya

Myanmar’s security forces committed “widespread rape” against Rohingya women and girls as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the country’s Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a report. A 15-year-old Rohingya girl told HRW that soldiers stripped her naked and dragged her from her home to a nearby tree where about 10 men raped her. “They left me where I was. When my brother and sister came to get me, I was lying there on the ground, they thought I was dead,” said the girl from Hathi Para village in Maungdaw district.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera (16 November 2017)

How a North Korean Soldier Defected Across the DMZ

A North Korean soldier defected to the South by crossing the heavily protected Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the two sides. This is the fourth defection by a North Korean soldier via the DMZ in the past three years. But how do you get over one of the world’s most heavily guarded strips of land without being spotted? The soldier was shot and injured by his own military as he crossed to the South Korean side of the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the village of Panmunjom. North Korean troops shot at him 40 times, and he was hit five times – but he made it across and was found under a pile of leaves.

Read the full article on BBC News (14 November 2017)

After Sharif’s Ouster, How Strained Are Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan?

Since Nawaz Sharif’s ouster as prime minister in August, Pakistan has been abuzz with talk of strained civil-military relations. The situation materially worsened when Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the army’s chief of staff, publicly lectured the government last month on expanding tax collection to improve the economy. A very public war of words between the government and military ensued, with the interior minister even suggesting on Facebook that Pakistan was on the cusp of another coup d’état, before walking back his comments. While ties between the elected civilian government and the armed forces have frayed recently, Sharif’s removal itself did not tilt the balance any further toward the army. That’s because the army was already in its strongest position since the military-backed rule of President Pervez Musharraf. Rather than a shift, recent events illustrate the extent of the military’s dominant role

Read the full article on World Politics Review (7 November 2017)

Philippine Conflict: President Duterte Says Marawi is Militant-free

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the city of Marawi “liberated” from militants, even as fighting continues. The army said it was battling up to 30 militants left in the city, who were holding about 20 hostages. Marawi has been partly held by fighters linked to so-called Islamic State (IS) since an attack in May. Troops have been trying to root them out in a conflict that has killed more than 1,000 people – mostly militants. Mr Duterte made his announcement while addressing troops in Marawi on Tuesday, saying: ‘‘Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi liberated from the terrorists.’’

Read the full article on BBC News (17 October 2017)

What Is the Tatmadaw’s Plan for the Rohingya?

Despite taking years to plan, history’s worst crimes against humanity appeared to the world as clumsy, hasty, and reactive. The Ottoman Empire organized the Armenian Genocide amid fears of Russian spies during World War I. Nazi Germany raced to implement the Final Solution, the bloodiest phase of the Holocaust, as the Soviet Union and the Western Allies punched through its defenses during World War II. Newcomers to genocide studies might see historic recurrence in Myanmar, whose military, the Tatmadaw, claims that it only started battling the Rohingya, a Muslim minority, after insurgents fighting under the banner of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) conducted operations against security forces in October 2016 and August 2017. However, the Tatmadaw has spent decades engineering the genocide of the Rohingya, a conspiracy that is now coming to fruition and that, in the face of the Western world’s growing complacence and Islamophobia, will likely succeed.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (14 October 2017)

Kurdistan’s Referendum Gamble

Three areas of Iraqi Kurdistan have gone to the polls for a referendum that is intended to add meat to the bone of any future negotiations for secession. The desk minders in Baghdad are fuming; regional power brokers are minding their military inventories. The Reuters news agency noted the words of a man queuing to vote in Irbil. “We have been waiting 100 years for this day. We want to have a state, with God’s help. Today is a celebration for all Kurds.” President of the Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani was unflappably confident on Sunday: “From now on, Kurdistan will be a neighbour of Iraq, but not a part of it.” Iraq remains a construction, an artificial confection of miscellaneous, often murderous groups. It is being held together – barely – and the Iraqi leaders wish to keep it this way.

Read the full article on International Policy Digest (25 September 2017)

Shelling Across Pakistan-India Border Kills Six Civilians, Wounds 30

Shelling along the disputed border between Pakistan and India killed six civilians, and wounded an additional 30 people, officials from the two sides said on Friday, in the latest confrontation between the two nuclear-armed countries. The firing took place across the frontier separating Pakistan’s Punjab province from Indian-administered Kashmir’s Jammu region, and most of the casualties were reported on the Pakistani side. Pakistan’s military said six civilians were killed and 26 wounded. Both countries claim Kashmir, and have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region, which they have disputed since partition and independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Read the full article on New Straits Times (22 September 2017)

Half a Century of India’s Maoist Insurgency

With the largest Communist guerrilla army in the world — the FARC of Colombia — handing over its guns to the United Nations on June 27 this year and preparing to contest elections in the coming month, a curtain has been drawn on the once ubiquitous phenomenon of “Marxist insurgencies.” Once present all across the globe, Communist guerrillas and their armed offensives against governments had shaped much of the 20th century. From small bands of deadly fighters to full-fledged armies with combatants numbering in the thousands, such groups once held significant firepower and control of land across Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. But as things stand today most of these groups have either been crushed, chosen the ballot over the bullet, or have withered into political irrelevance. Bucking that trend, a protracted people’s war has been running for the past 50 years between Maoist guerrillas and the Indian government with no end in sight.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (21 September 2017)

Is it Too Late to Pull Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis Back from the Brink?

Violence has again engulfed Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state, killing scores of people and stoking fears that the long-running crisis there has grown more intractable and more likely to foster radicalization. Many had hoped that Myanmar’s democratically elected government, which took over 18 months ago amid a transition from military rule, could take steps to alleviate the conflict and end the underlying human rights abuses of the Rohingya minority. But the rapidly deteriorating security situation has emerged as a key stumbling bloc for Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration, overshadowing recently proposed measures to address grievances.

Read the full article on World Politics Review (31 August 2017) 

Sectarian War Is Looming Over Afghanistan

A nightmare is coming true: Afghanistan is falling into sectarian war. On July 22, 2016 twin suicide bombers attacked a rally of the Shiite Hazara community, taking the lives of more than 80 people. More than 250 were injured. In November 2016, a suicide attacker targeted a Shiite mosque in Kabul, killing 27 members of the Shiite Hazara community. On June 6, 2017 in an attack on Herat Jamma Masjid, seven Shiite Hazaras were killed by a suicide bomber. On August 2, in the same city, a suicide attack blew up a Shiite mosque, claiming the lives of 29 worshipers. Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (the group’s outfit in South Asia) claimed responsibility for each of these attacks.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (9 August 2017) 

The Political Geography of the India-China Crisis at Doklam

Starting in June, a tiny piece of strategically important and until-now obscure Himalayan territory sitting at the intersection of India, China, and Bhutan became the site of the one of the most serious border standoffs between New Delhi and Beijing in three decades. As of July 12, 2017, the standoff continues, with no end in sight. Scores — potentially hundreds — of Indian Army and Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops remain at an impasse near the Doka La pass in Doklam. Nearly one month after the standoff began, details about the geography of the area and the motivations of all three governments involved remain murky.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (13 July 2017)

Taliban territory: Life in Afghanistan under the militants

Sixteen years after they were ousted in the US-led invasion, the Taliban have fought their way back to control swathes of Afghanistan. The country remains mired in conflict, and recent months have seen a series of bloody attacks. In the south, key towns are now Taliban territory. The BBC’s Auliya Atrafi was invited by the militants to spend four days behind the front line in Helmand province witnessing life under their control.

Read the full article on BBC News (8 June 2017)

Duterte Places Philippine Island of Mindanao Under Martial Law. What Next?

On Tuesday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the southern Philippines after violence broke out in Marawi City between Islamic State-linked militants, local police, and the Philippine military. On Tuesday afternoon in Marawi City, the capital of the Philippine province of Lanao Del Sur on the island of Mindanao, armed militants with the Maute Group carried out multiple explosions around the city, with authorities warning all civilians to remain indoors. Fighting in Marawi continued into the night.

Read the full article on The Diplomat (24 May 2017)