5 Of The Deadliest 21st Century Wars You Should Know About
Post the Cold War, it was predicted that humanity would be a more globalized society moving towards peace and prosperity.
True to that belief, there have been very few instances of open warfare between armies of nations in the 21st century, with the exception of these 5 major armed conflicts.
Lasting years, these wars have destroyed tens of thousands of innocent lives, and continue to do so.
1. Second Congo War (1998 – 2003)
After the First Congo War, Congo was invaded by the Rwandan and Ugandan armies who overthrew Mobutu’s government and put into power Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who took over as president in September 1997.
But when Kabila turned on his former backers, it resulted in a Rwandan/Ugandan joint invasion in 1998, necessitating Congo’s neighbouring countries to interfere.
The country once again became an unstable war zone where rapes, brigandage and plunder were rife.
An estimated three million people, mostly civilians, were killed in the fighting or died of disease or malnutrition as a result of the five-year conflict.
2. Afghanistan War (2001 – 2014)
Triggered by the September 11 attacks, the 13-year Afghanistan War that began in 2001 is the longest war ever fought by the United States.
The first phase involved overthrowing the Taliban who provided sanctuary for al-Qaeda was brief, lasting just two months. The second phase, from 2002 until 2008, involved defeating the Taliban militarily and rebuilding Afghanistan’s core institutions.
In the third phase that followed, the US turned to classic counterinsurgency doctrine, but the new approach largely failed to achieve its aims.
Many of the Afghan military and police units taking over security duties appeared to be ill-prepared to hold off the Taliban, and insurgent attacks and civilian casualties remained high.
By the time the U.S. and NATO combat mission formally ended in December 2014, an estimated 30,000 Afghan troops and police and 31,000 Afghan civilians were killed. More than 3,500 troops from the NATO-led coalition were killed during that time, and 29 countries were represented among the dead.
3. Iraq War (2003 – 2011)
During the mid-1990s, UN inspections uncovered a variety of proscribed weapons and prohibited technology throughout Iraq. Also called Second Persian Gulf War, this conflict in Iraq that consisted of two phases.
Following the September 11 attacks of 2001, President George Bush argued that Iraq’s alleged continued possession and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction and its support for terrorist groups that orchestrated the attack — al-Qaeda, —made disarming Iraq a renewed priority.
In early 2003 President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that Iraq was once again failing to comply the UN Security Council Resolution 1441.
On March 17, deeming further diplomatic efforts by the Security Council futile, Bush issued an ultimatum to Ṣaddām, giving the Iraqi president 48 hours to leave Iraq. When Ṣaddām refused, the U.S. and its allied forces launched an attack on the morning of March 20 that lasted until April that year.
After rapidly defeating Iraqi military and paramilitary forces, however, the U.S. led occupation of Iraq was opposed by an insurgency.
The US only began gradually reducing its military presence in Iraq after the violence began to decline in 2007, and formally completed its withdrawal in December 2011.
By that time, more than 4,700 coalition troops and at least 85,000 Iraqi civilians were killed, but some estimates place that total much higher. Between 2013 and the end of 2016, over 50,000 additional civilians were murdered by ISIL or killed in clashes between ISIL and Iraqi government forces.
4. Syrian Civil War (2011 – Present)
On March 15th, the Syrian civil war will enter its 8th year.
In March 2011, after 15 boys were detained and tortured for writing graffiti in support of the Arab Spring, peaceful protests erupted in Syria. The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded by killing and imprisoning the Syrian pro-democracy activists.
The Free Syrian Army, a rebel group made up of defectors from the military was formed in July of that year. With their announcing of their aim to overthrow the government, Syria began its descent into civil war.
Foreign backing and open intervention have played a large role in Syria’s civil war.
Russia entered the conflict in 2015 and has been the Assad government’s main ally, whereas the US has repeatedly stated its opposition to it. Many new rebel groups have joined the fighting in Syria and have frequently fought one another, including ISIL.
Now having gone on longer than World War II, the war’s impact has spread beyond the country’s borders.
More than 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, over a million injured, and over 12 million – half the country’s prewar population – have been displaced from their homes.
With much of Syria in ruins, one thing is certain: rebuilding the country after the war will be a lengthy, difficult process.
5. Yemeni Civil War (2015 – Present)
In 2011, Yemen’s longtime authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to hand over power to his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi following an Arab Spring uprising.
The political transition that was supposed to bring stability to the country, however, was a failure.
Ḥūthī rebels in the country’s north and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in the south were quick to exploit the new president’s weakness.
Disillusioned with the transition, many ordinary Yemenis, supported the Ḥūthī rebels who in September 2014 entered Sanaa, and by January 2015, had occupied the presidential palace.
Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at restoring Mr Hadi’s government, aided by the US, UK and France. Coalition ground troops landed in Aden in August 2015 and helped drive the Houthis and their allies out of much of the south over the next few months.
The situation has been made more complex because Saudi Arabia reportedly backs Mr Hadi, while the United Arab Emirates is closely aligned with the separatists.
According to the UN, more than 9,245 people have been killed since March 2015, out of which at least 5,558 were civilians. 52,800 people have been injured, and more than three million Yemenis had been displaced by the war.
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