Conflict News

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

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.

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)