There are several reasons for conflict and war to begin within and between nations. Among these are economic gain, territorial gain, religion, nationalism, civil war, and revolution. Often, countries’ leaders are the primary motivator of conflict between and within nations when they test their limits, such as instigating a territorial dispute, trying to control another country’s natural resources, or exercising authoritarian power over people.
Below are the 5 countries that are currently at war as of February 2021. Those defined as “at war” are countries whose conflicts have had at least 1,000 deaths or more in the current or past calendar year. Fatality figures include both those lost in battle and civilians intentionally targeted. These countries have an armed conflict that involves the use of armed force between two or more organized groups, governmental or non-governmental.
The war in Afghanistan has been on and off since 1978. The current phase began in 2001 when the United States invaded Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban.
The conflict has involved allies from all over the and has primarily been the U.S. troops and allied Afghan troops against Taliban insurgents.
In 2019 alone, there were over 41,700 fatalities.
The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided civil war that began in late 2014 mainly between the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi -led Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Both claim to constitute the official government of Yemen.
The civil war began in September 2014 when Houthi forces took over the capital city Sana’a, which was followed by a rapid Houthi takeover of the government. On 21 March 2015, the Houthi-led Supreme Revolutionary Committee declared a general mobilization to overthrow Hadi and expand their control by driving into southern provinces. The Houthi offensive, allied with military forces loyal to Saleh, began fighting the next day in Lahij Governorate. By 25 March, Lahij fell to the Houthis and they reached the outskirts of Aden, the seat of power for Hadi’s government. Hadi fled the country the same day. Concurrently, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched military operations by using air strikes to restore the former Yemeni government. Although there was no direct intervention by Iran, who support the Houthis, the conflict has been widely seen as an extension of the Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict and as a means to combat Iranian influence in the region.
Houthi forces currently control the capital Sanaʽa and all of North Yemen except Maʼrib Governorate. They have clashed with Saudi-backed pro-government forces loyal to Hadi. Since the formation of the Southern Transitional Council in 2017 and the subsequent capture of Aden by the STC in 2018, the anti-Houthi coalition has been fractured, with regular clashes between pro-Hadi forces backed by Saudi Arabia and southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have also carried out attacks against both factions, with AQAP controlling swathes of territory in the hinterlands, and along stretches of the coast.
According to ACLED, over 100,000 people have been killed in Yemen, including more than 12,000 civilians, as well as estimates of more than 85,000 dead as a result of an ongoing famine due to the war. In 2018, the United Nations warned that 13 million Yemeni civilians face starvation in what it says could become “the worst famine in the world in 100 years.” The crisis has only begun to gain as much international media attention as the Syrian Civil War in 2018.
The international community has sharply condemned the Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign, which has included widespread bombing of civilian areas. According to the Yemen Data Project, the bombing campaign has killed or injured an 17,729 civilians as of March 2019.
The United States provided intelligence and logistical support for the Saudi-led campaign. In March 2019, both houses of the United States Congress voted to pass a resolution to end US support to the Saudi Arabia war effort. It was vetoed by President Donald Trump, and in May, the Senate failed to override the veto. However, in January 2021, newly elected President Joe Biden froze arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. On February 4th 2021, Biden officially cut American support for the Saudi coalition.
Syria’s civil war began during the Arab Spring in 2011 as a peaceful uprising against the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad. It has since escalated — shattering the lives of Syrians, destroying cities, straining global politics, and spurring diplomatic efforts that are constantly questioned as the world witnesses the horrors of ongoing warfare.
An estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed, according to the United Nations.
The Mexican drug war, also known as the Mexican war on drugs is the Mexican theater of the global war on drugs, as led by the U.S. federal government , that has resulted in an ongoing asymmetric low-intensity conflict between the Mexican government and various drug trafficking syndicates. When the Mexican military began to intervene in 2006, the government’s principal goal was to reduce drug-related violence. The Mexican government has asserted that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, and on preventing drug trafficking demand along with the U.S. functionaries.
Violence escalated soon after the arrest of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo in 1989; he was the leader and the founder of the first Mexican drug cartel, the Guadalajara Cartel, an alliance of the current existing cartels (which included the Sinaloa Cartel , the Juarez Cartel , the Tijuana Cartel , and the Sonora Cartel ). Due to his arrest, the alliance broke and certain high-ranking members formed their own cartels and each of them fought for control of territory and trafficking routes.
Although Mexican drug trafficking organizations have existed for several decades, their influence increased after the demise of the Colombian Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market and in 2007 controlled 90% of the cocaine entering the United States. Arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, have led to increasing drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States.
Federal law enforcement has been reorganized at least five times since 1982 in various attempts to control corruption and reduce cartel violence. During that same period, there have been at least four elite special forces created as new, corruption-free soldiers who could do battle with Mexico’s endemic bribery system. Analysts estimate that wholesale earnings from illicit drug sales range from $13.6 to $49.4 billion annually. The U.S. Congress passed legislation in late June 2008 to provide Mexico with US$1.6 billion for the Mérida Initiative as well as technical advice to strengthen the national justice systems. By the end of President Felipe Calderón ‘s administration, December 1, 2006 – November 30, 2012, the official death toll of the Mexican drug war was at least 60,000. Estimates set the death toll above 120,000 killed by 2013, not including 27,000 missing. Since taking office in 2018, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared that the war was over; however, his comment was met with criticism as the homicide rate remains high.
The Libyan Civil War began in 2014 and is primarily between the House of Representatives and the Government of the National Accord.
The war claimed anywhere from 29,000 to 42,000 lives since its start, with over 2,200 fatalities in 2019.