The changing ‘battlefield environment’

Approximately 40% of all conflicts involve “jihadi groups.”
Sunday 24/06/2018
A file picture shows a militia fighter aiming his weapon during clashes near the Wetia military air base in Libya. (AFP)
A file picture shows a militia fighter aiming his weapon during clashes near the Wetia military air base in Libya. (AFP)

A report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) explains why regional conflicts seem so impervious to solutions.

In only one-third of conflicts, says the report, are two belligerents involved. “Nearly half of all conflicts (44%) have between three and nine opposing forces, while a quarter of states in conflict have more than ten parties fighting on their territory.”

Libya is a case in point, says the ICRC. A multiplicity of armed groups came to the fore after the fall of the Qaddafi regime in October 2011. No less than 236 armed militias operate in the city of Misrata alone.

As for Syria, more than 1,000 armed groups have been fighting on various sides since 2014.

The ICRC points out that approximately 40% of all conflicts involve “jihadi groups.”

The Red Cross argues for talking to all sides involved in a war “to secure access for humanitarian assistance and to ensure respect for the rules of war.”

The intent is laudable but ensuring that brutal terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda demonstrate “respect for the rules of war” is, to say the least, unrealistic. The behaviour of these and similar groups shows nothing so much as an utter disdain for basic humanity and certainly no recognition that any “rules of war” exist.

Indeed, the battlefield environment has changed enormously with the proliferation of proxies and greater interference by regional and global powers. One of the most significant regional players is Iran. Only when it reins in its expansionist agenda can there be a chance for peace and stability in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere in the region.

6