Thursday, November 22, 2007

Conflict in the Islamic World

You may think that the media focus on bad news, but actually the American mainstream media generally does precisely the opposite - it ignores most of the bad news. So here's a visual reminder of the conflicts currently under way in the Islamic world and additional conflicts that threaten to explode in our faces at any moment.


1. Complex civil war in Ethiopia between weak pro-U.S. regime supported by Ethiopian army and Islamic party.

2. Potential new outbreak of border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

3. Palestinian conflict to end Israeli occupation now complicated by internal Palestinian violence between Hamas and al-Fatah.

4. Potential renewal of generation-long Lebanese civil war.

5. Iraqi violence composed of war vs. U.S. occupation plus civil war plus Islamic extremist exploitation of the domestic Iraqi situation.

6. Conflict between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds that now reportedly includes both Kurdish guerrilla attacks from Iraq into Turkey and Turkish helicopter attacks on Iraqi Kurdish villages.

7. Potential Israeli and/or U.S. attack on Iran.

8. Civil war by Baluchi minority against Pakistani government.

9. Civil war in Afghanistan.

10. Taliban offensive against the Pakistani government.

11. Potential civil war in Bangladesh.

Even this list is not complete, for it omits the Kashmir conflict, Darfur, and the Pakistani military dictatorship's crackdown on middle class demands for democracy. This list also omits the revolt against Manila by Moslems in the southern Philippines that has more or less been going on since the Spanish invasion 500 years ago and which may be on the verge of solution through compromise! However, the above list provides a picture, if incomplete, of the number of distinct issues that either currently involve violence or may soon do so within the Islamic world...issues about which one might reasonably expect to read updated information in the media on a regular basis. If you don't see such updates, that does not mean nothing is happening: the tens of thousands of soldiers positioned to fight and hundreds of thousands of refugees will not have vanished. With so many long-lasting issues to report on, perhaps the media need some new tools - e.g., a daily conflict graph showing at a glance the trend for levels of troops in offensive positions, violence, use of particularly vicious weapons (e.g., white phosphorus, cluster bombs, attacks on civilians), numbers of refugees. Hmmm, might that be a role for bloggers?

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