July 2006 was the grimmest month for conflict prevention around the world in three years. In 36 months of publishing CrisisWatch, the International Crisis Group has not recorded such severe deteriorations in so many conflict situations as in the past month, and several have significant regional and global implications.
The Middle East erupted with full-scale conflict between Israel and Hizbollah in south Lebanon, and there was a major escalation in Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza – both fronts threatening further regional destabilisation. Insecurity and sectarian violence surged in Iraq, claiming over 100 civilian lives daily, as the U.S. military reported a 40% increase in major attacks in Baghdad.
The Horn of Africa also showed ominous signs of breakdown. Somalia sits on the brink of all-out civil war, which is drawing in the wider region: Ethiopian troops entered Somalia to support the transitional federal government, and Eritrea is arming the opposing Union of Islamic Courts. In Sudan, implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement was at a standstill, with rebels split, and fighting, over the agreement.
In South Asia, the 11 July Mumbai bombings that killed over 200 had wider implications for the normalisation process between India and Pakistan, with New Delhi accusing Islamabad of being soft on terrorism. Sri Lankan government troops launched a ground assault on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after four days of air strikes, considered by the LTTE to be an “act of war”.
Tensions rose dramatically on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang fired seven test missiles, which received unanimous condemnation from the global community. The situation also deteriorated in Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.