See also: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

1) Afghanistan- Continuing civil war between Northern Alliance and Taliban, Operation Enduring Freedom, world's leading source for opium trafficking.

2) Algeria- Internal strife and terror attacks, caused by Islamic extremists (such as the Armed Islamic Group and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) and Berber secessionists in the Kabylie region.

3) Angola- Rebellion by UNITA.

4) Bangladesh- Violence surrounding the election.

5) Bolivia- Clash between government troops and coca farmers, charges of government using paramilitary forces.

6) Burundi- Rebellion by FNL (Hutus) against Tutsi-dominated government.

7) Cameroon- Secessionist protests turned violent, army called out. Also, a border dispute with Central African Republic flared up.

8) Central African Republic- Failed coup against President Felix Patasse, rebels under former army chief General Francois Bozize fighting the government forces, which are backed by Libyan forces.

9) Chad- Rebel group in north (MDJT) fighting government forces, want President Deby to resign.

10) China- Uighur muslim separatists in Xinjiang province, violent suppression of Falun Gong movement.

11) Colombia- Drug war, FARC and ELN rebel groups against government forces and paramilitaries.

12) Comoros- Violent coup on island of Anjouan, which declared independence four years ago. (Three months earlier there was a non-violent there)

13) Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)- Assassination of President Laurent Kabila, civil war featuring government forces (joined by forces from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe) against MLC rebel forces (backed by Uganda and Rwanda, who believe Congo was a breeding ground for rebels in their own countries).

14) East Timor- Militia violence, election violence, religious violence (Muslims vs. Christians.)

15) Gambia- violence preceding the re-election of President Yayah Jammeh, Senegalese separatists in Casamance may also be operating in Gambia, which is between Casamance and the rest of Senegal.

16) Georgia- Chechen separatists in Abkhazia.

17) Ghana- Ethnic and political fighting between the Mamprusi and Kusasi in northeast (sparked by petty spat), excessive violent crime due to arms proliferation.

18) Guinea- Cross-border attacks by RUF rebels from Sierra Leone backed by Liberia, refugee crisis.

19) Guinea-Bissau- Government forces fight with Senegalese Casamance rebels that crossed the border.

20) Haiti- Attempted coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and government raids in response, political violence, labor unrest.

21) India- Dispute over Kashmir (with Pakistan), separatists in east province of Assam/

22) Indonesia- Separatists in Aceh, ethnic violence on Borneo between Madurese and Dayak, political violence in East Java, religious violence on Sulawesi island blamed on Laskar Jihad.

23) Iran- People's Mujahideen continue violence, drug trafficking and related violence, political unrest due to war in Afghanistan.

24) Iraq- Air-strikes by US and Allied aircraft enforcing no-fly zones.

25) Israel- The new Intifada and the Israeli response to it, crackdown on terrorist organizations.

26) Ivory Coast- Attempted coup against President Laurent Gbagbo, attempted counter-coup, mutiny within the army, and a violent election followed by political and ethnic violence.

27) Jamaica- Political related gang warfare in Kingston, army accused of instigating further violence when called out.

28) Kenya- Ethnic violence in Nairobi slums between Nubian landlords and Luo tenants.

29) Kosovo- Continued inter-ethnic violence, drug trafficking, organized crime.

30) Kyrgystan- kidnapping and murder by Uighur militants from Xinjiang province of China.

31) Lebanon- Israel strikes a radar station, shoots down a light-plane, strikes Hezbollah operating in Lebanon.

32) Liberia- Dissidents of the United Liberation Movement fighting the government in north.

33) Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia- Ethnic fighting between Macedonians and Albanian National Liberation Army, organized crime.

34) Malawi- Political violence preceding election, at a protest later.

35) Malaysia- Ethnic violence between Malays and Indians (sparked by petty spat), compounded by drug and gang violence.

36) Myanmar (Burma)- fighting between government forces and the Shan State Army, a guerrilla group seeking independence for the Shan ethnic minority.

37) Nepal- Maoist insurgency. (In an unrelated event, the royal family was killed in a murder/suicide by the Crown Prince, which has complicated efforts to suppress the insurgency.)

38) Nigeria- Religious fighting between Christians and Muslims (largely due to the imposition of Islamic law), ethnic fighting between Egon and Tiv groups.

39) Pakistan- Dispute over Kashmir (with India), terror attacks/bombings.

40) Papua New Guinea- Mutiny by soldiers over army downsizing, violent protests over economic reforms.

41) Philippines- Muslim separatists (MNLF), election violence.

42) Russian Federation- Chechnya conflict.

43) Senegal- Secessionist rebels (MFDC) continuing 18-year struggle in Casamance province.

44) Sierra Leone- RUF rebels and pro-government CDF militias fight the in north of the country, Guinea conducting anti-RUF air-strikes.

45) Somalia- Warlords undermining transitional government, possible terrorist haven.

46) Spain- Continuing terror attacks by Basque separatists (ETA).

47) Sri Lanka- Tamil Tiger separatist rebels, election violence.

48) Sudan- Christians and animists (SPLA) fighting Muslim-dominated government.

49) Tajikistan- Russian border guards (serving in Tajikistan) skirmish with Aghans.

50) Tanzania- Political violence surrounding disputed election. Separatist violence by Civic United Front in Zanzibar.

51) Thailand- Fighting in Myanmar has spilled over, also terror bombings (possibly the work of Muslim separatists.)

52) Turkey- Underground militant groups, such as Turkish Worker's and Peasant's Liberation Army, rocket ambush of soldiers, prison riots and related demonstrations, terror bombings, Kurdish rebels resume fight with army.

53) Uganda- Election violence, rural crime.

54) United Kingdom- Renewed violence in Northern Ireland.

55) United States of America- Terrorist attacks on September 11th.

56) Uzbekistan- Repeated terrorist incidents, ambushes, narcotics trafficking. Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is associated with al Qaeda.

57) Yemen- Violence surrounding constitutional referendum, small arms proliferation, hotbed of Islamic militant extremism .

58) Yugoslavia- Ethnic Albanian secessionists (LAPMB) in Presevo (near Kosovo), narcotics trafficking, organized crime.

59) Zimbabwe- Violent land reform, election violence, violence against journalists, political fighting between MDC and ZANU-PF.

Watch List - These countries did not meet the threshold of conflict zones, but should bear mentioning due to limited violence or the potential for it: - Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, Turkmenistan, Ukraine.

This Year's Changes

New Countries on the 2001 List

1)   Central African Republic 7)   Malawi
2)   Gambia 8)   Malaysia
3)   Ghana  9)  Papua New Guinea
4)   Jamaica 10) Thailand
5)   Kenya 11) United States of America
6)   Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  

Countries from 2000 Removed for the 2001 List

1)   Albania 11)  Laos
2)   Azerbaijan 12) Libya
3)   Brazil 13) Mexico
4)   Cambodia 14) Namibia
5)   Ecuador 15) Panama
6)   El Salvador 16) Paraguay
7)   Eritrea 17) Peru
8)   Ethiopia 18) Rwanda
 9)  Fiji 19) Solomon Islands
10) Kazakstan 20) Zambia

About this Study
     The United States Army's Leadership Guide has a three step problem solving process - 1) Recognize the problem, 2) Make an estimate of the situation, and 3) Take action. This World Conflict Report is intended to address the first, most basic step in this process - determining the level and causes of conflict. This report is a threat assessment, which we hope that policy makers will use to take action.

     The criteria for inclusion on the conflict list is the level of political, social, economic and military disruption caused by the relevant conflict. This is inherently a subjective measure, thus, standardized criteria such as 1,000 deaths per conflict are not applied. Simply put, 1,000 deaths signify a lot more conflict in Nepal than in China. Understanding that political, social, economic and military problems interact and feed off of each other is critical to addressing conflict. For example, in 1992 the Center for Defense Information issued a report entitled "World at War 1992 - Fewer Wars, No Danger to the United States." In it, CDI claimed that wars were on the decline around the world, and that as a result U.S. defense spending was "tragically high." This short-sighted prediction was based on a uni-dimensional reading of the situation. The National Defense Council Foundation (NDCF) World Conflict Report is intended to do better.

     It is essential to understand the difference between counting wars and measuring conflict. For instance, the Correlates of War (COW) project at the University of Michigan is widely respected in the political science community, but addresses only inter-state war (with strict definitions.) Consequently, the destabilizing fighting between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban and other terrorist activity in Afghanistan before September 11th would not even have shown up on COW's radar screen. But it did on ours. Last year NDCF named Afghanistan as the most dangerous conflict for 2000. A number of the conflicts listed here may not be big enough to be called "wars," but many of them have the potential to burgeon into wars.

Patterns of Conflict and Analysis
     Despite the United States now being involved in war, there was a remarkable decrease in conflict in 2001, from 68 to 59. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is a clearer American foreign policy presented by the Bush administration than the Clinton administration.

     This is still well above the Cold War average of approximately 35. The stability of the bi-polar Cold War system has been replaced by a series of warm wars being fought at the low-intensity level by non-state actors. With the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia successfully concluded at the end of last year, there were no high-intensity state vs. state conflicts this year. The majority of conflicts were low-medium intensity and were normally fought between the state and one or more sub-state actors (such as a rebel force or a terrorist organization.) Unfortunately, the American military is still equipped to fight major interstate wars. Our sophisticated fighter-bombers and heavy tanks and artillery are less conducive to the smaller, low-intensity conflicts raging around the globe.

     One recurrent theme this year was separatist movements, often along religious lines. Islamic groups want to form their own state in such countries as Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, and China. This hardly constitutes the "clash of civilizations" that Harvard's Samuel Huntington predicts, but it does seem to indicate that there are a lot of disgruntled Muslim groups in the world, frequently using Islam as an excuse for violence.

     Another pattern observed in 2001 was a great deal of political violence surrounding elections. As fledging democracies continue to develop their institutions following the Cold War election violence is an inevitable growing pain. However, it is often a simple problem that can and should be limited through impartial international election observers. NDCF has served as an election observer in Guatemala and urges other non-profit organizations to get involved in ensuring democracy, as well.

     Traditionally, NDCF names a "stupidest conflict" and a "most dangerous" conflict. This year's winner of the first dubious distinction is Ghana, where what should have been a quarrel between two young men over and act of vandalism escalated into a renewed fight between two ethnic groups.

     The most dangerous conflict for 2001 is the possibility of further terrorist attacks against the United States. There are multiple terrorist groups out there beyond Osama bin Laden. There are also vulnerabilities in the United States, which terrorists will take advantage of. For example, the possibility of a catastrophic attack against one of our nation's ports is conceivable, despite the US Coast Guard's stepped up protection. The best ways to prevent further terrorist attacks are to increase resources for the long-under-funded Coast Guard, rebuild our human intelligence networks, and strengthen our Special Forces to prepare them to eliminate other terrorist cells.

Instability Indices
     The instability indicators below reflect NDCF's analysis of which countries will be conflict areas in 2002. Using data such as the infant mortality rate, level of military influence on the government, and exposure to international trade, we generated a formula that gives each country a 0 to 100 rating

     The NDCF compiles this list annually after reviewing potential conflicts in approximately 193 countries. NDCF is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) non-partisan think tank that studies defense and foreign affairs. NDCF was established in 1978 and is located in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to academic analysis, NDCF runs relief operations in conjunction with fact-finding missions in conflict areas. To date, NDCF has delivered over 197 tons of medicine and food worldwide. The NDCF intern program has graduated over 125 interns educated in patterns in conflict.

     The research for this report was compiled over the course of 2001. Primary research was done by NDCF interns; the report was drafted by Senior Research Assistant Graham Lanz. Final editing and revisions were done by Major F. Andy Messing, Jr USAR (Ret.), Special Forces, executive director of NDCF. Major Messing has been to 27 conflicts world-wide and is considered a leading expert on Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. This material is ©2001 National Defense Council Foundation.

For Further Information, contact:

Major F. Andy Messing or Graham Lanz
The National Defense Council Foundation
1220 King Street Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314

Tel: (703) 836-3443
Fax: (703) 836-5402