Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 194, 26 November 2020

Afghanistan: Australian Defence chief apologizes for war crimes in Afghanistan
Abigail Miriam Fernandez

In the news
On 19 November, the Australian defence force chief, General Angus Campbell released a long-awaited report into alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan. The inquiry which was conducted by Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton interviewed 423 witnesses, while investigators produced over 20,000 documents and 25,000 images as part of the probe, investigating conduct between 2005 and 2016. Detailing the findings, Gen Campbell said that the inquiry "found there to be credible information to substantiate 23 incidents of alleged unlawful killing of 39 people by 25 Australian special forces personnel predominantly from the Special Air Service Regiment." Further, the report also found that weapons had been planted on some of the victims, while junior soldiers were sometimes forced to shoot prisoners for a "first kill" as part of an initiative known as "blooding."

While terming the report as "deeply disturbing," Gen Campbell offered an unreserved apology to the Afghan people for "any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers." Further, the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) called it "possibly the most disgraceful episode in Australia's military history."

Issues at large
First, the issue of "warrior culture." The Brereton Report documents how a culture of compliance, intimidation, toxic competition and silence in the field hushed up crimes and the "warrior culture" of the Special Air Service Regiment commanders. Units became consumed with preparing for and fighting the war, with cutting corners, bending and ignoring rules becoming the new norm. Not correcting this culture, as it developed, was a failure of both unit and higher command.

Second, the report is helpful to Afghan victims, but it is just a first step. For many Afghan survivors and others harmed by these abuses, the consequences have been devastating. However, in most cases, those who sought justice for these crimes were turned away or threatened. Thus, the larger issues here would be protecting these people from any risks for potential witnesses to crimes.

Third, investigating historic crimes in another country is a difficult, complex, and costly exercise. The special investigator's office should have adequate resources and staff, including relevant experts, analysts, and translators to ensure investigations are handled effectively and efficiently. Thus, following through post, the probe poses as a challenge.

Fourth, the delayed response from countries and institutions. If Australia has woken up to the issue late, the US and the UK have still not done anything yet. Both countries have investigated military personnel for war crimes in Afghanistan and found evidence of abuses, but no one has been held accountable. This shows the lack of initiative not just from countries but the lack of action and ineffectiveness from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch its own investigation into the countries' activities in Afghanistan.

In perspective
First, it shows that the military can be as imperfect as any other group in society. However, although Australia may be seen as the front-runner to address this issue, it is going to be a difficult and tedious process given that the report is not a brief of evidence. Further, it goes to show that there is must need comprehensiveness and transparent while investigating war crime to ensure justice.

Second, the findings reflect the painful legacy of a wrenching 19-year conflict. As violence continues to go unabated across Afghanistan, defying a resolution more uncertainty garners with negotiations stalled between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and the country's fate with President Trump's order to reduce American troops from the region further.

May 2024 | Conflict Alert # 631
Australia: Protests against gender violence
April 2024 | Conflict Alert # 625
Sudan: One Year of Civil War
April 2024 | Conflict Alert # 624
The Middle East: Steady Escalation 

April 2024 | Conflict Alert # 621
30 years after the Rwandan Genocide
March 2024 | Conflict Alert # 620
Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K): A profile

March 2024 | Conflict Alert # 619
Russia: ISIS terror attack in Moscow
March 2024 | Conflict Alert # 618
Gaza: Finally, a UN Security Council Resolution
March 2024 | Conflict Alert # 617
Haiti: Continuing political instability 
March 2024 | Conflict Alert # 614
Continuing Kidnappings in Nigeria
March 2024 | Conflict Alert # 613
The War in Gaza: The Elusive Search for a Ceasefire
February 2024 | Conflict Alert # 606
Ukraine: The Battle for Avdiivka
February 2024 | Conflict Alert # 605
War expands to Rafah, the border town
February 2024 | Conflict Alert # 604
Senegal: Protests amidst the postponement of elections

February 2024 | Conflict Alert # 601
UNRWA relief fund shutdown exacerbates crises
January 2024 | Conflict Alert # 600
Haiti: Continuing Violence and Kidnappings 

January 2024 | Conflict Alert # 599
The Red Sea Crisis: Attacks and Counter Attacks
January 2024 | Conflict Alert # 597
Middle East: Blinken's Fourth Visit
March 2023 | Conflict Alert # 595
Israel-Palestine: Return of violence
March 2023 | Conflict Alert # 594
Ukraine: Battle for Bakhmut
February 2023 | Conflict Alert # 591
France: Continued protests against pension reform
February 2023 | Conflict Alert # 588
US: Air Force shoots down Chinese balloon

January 2023 | Conflict Alert # 586
Israel: Protests against proposed judicial reforms
January 2023 | Conflict Alert # 585
Sweden: Anti-Islamic protests
January 2023 | Conflict Alert # 583
Peru: Fresh protests and continuing political crisis
January 2023 | Conflict Alert # 577
Ukraine: A new military push, worsening the situation
December 2022 | Conflict Alert # 576
The EU: The new gas price capping regulation

December 2022 | Conflict Alert # 573
Russia: Drone attacks escalate the Ukraine war
December 2022 | Conflict Alert # 572
Pakistan: TTP ends ceasefire with the government

November 2022 | Conflict Alert # 568
Ukraine: The Russian withdrawal from Kherson

November 2022 | Conflict Alert # 567
Pakistan: The assassination attempt on Imran Khan
October 2022 | Conflict Alert # 563
Global Hunger Index: Four Takeaways
October 2022 | Conflict Alert # 561
Haiti: Gang violence and beyond
October 2022 | Conflict Alert # 560
Reducing Inequality Index 2022: Three Takeaways

October 2022 | Conflict Alert # 559
China: UNHRC proceeding on Xinjiang
September 2022 | Conflict Alert # 556
Iran: Protests spark against hijab rules

September 2022 | Conflict Alert # 555
EU's food waste 2022: Three takeaways
September 2022 | Conflict Alert # 553
Global Estimates of Modern Slavery 2021: Six takeaways
September 2022 | Conflict Alert # 551
Ukraine: Counteroffensive in Kharkiv and Kherson
September 2022 | Conflict Alert # 550
The UN report on Xinjiang: Four Takeaways
September 2022 | Conflict Alert # 549
Drought in Europe, August 2022: Four Takeaways
September 2022 | Conflict Alert # 547
Iraq: Al-Sadr Withdraws, Protests Intensify
August 2022 | Conflict Alert # 546
Europe: Heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts
August 2022 | Conflict Alert # 539
Iraq: The escalating political crisis
July 2022 | Conflict Alert # 536
The US: Wildfires in California, again

July 2022 | Conflict Alert # 531
Sudan: Military steps down, following protests
July 2022 | Conflict Alert # 530
Sri Lanka: Continuing economic crisis
July 2022 | Conflict Alert # 527
Libya: The continuing political stalemate
May 2022 | Conflict Alert # 516
The US: Another school attack kills 19 children

May 2022 | Conflict Alert # 512
Ukraine: 75 days of the war

May 2022 | Conflict Alert # 511
Ethiopia: Rising communal tensions
May 2022 | Conflict Alert # 510
Sri Lanka: Political crisis intensifies
April 2022 | Conflict Alert # 507
Afghanistan: The rise of sectarian violence
April 2022 | Conflict Alert # 506
Mexico: Protests over continuing femicides
April 2022 | Conflict Alert # 501
Israel: Al-Aqsa Mosque raids
April 2022 | Conflict Alert # 500
Ukraine: The battle for Donbas

April 2022 | Conflict Alert # 499
Russia: The strategic shift from Kyiv to the Donbas
April 2022 | Conflict Alert # 498
Nigeria: Over 100 killed in another gunmen attack
April 2022 | Conflict Alert # 497
Ukraine: Russia's battle for Mariupol
April 2022 | Conflict Alert # 496
Yemen: Finally, a ceasefire

March 2022 | Conflict Alert # 491
The worsening economic crisis in Sri Lanka
March 2022 | Conflict Alert # 488
Russia’s Ukraine Invasion: One Week Later

February 2022 | Conflict Alert # 486
Russia’s Ukraine salami slicing
February 2022 | Conflict Alert # 485
Libya: With two Prime Ministers, a new political crisis
February 2022 | Conflict Alert # 481
Canada: Freedom convoys and a new wave of protests
February 2022 | Conflict Alert # 478
Myanmar: One year after the coup
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 477
Syria: The ISIS attack on a prison
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 476
Yemen: The warzone expands in the Houthi-UAE face-off

January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 475
Burkina Faso: Another coup in Africa
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 474
France: New round of protests over COVID-19 passes
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 472
Ukraine: Threat of Russian invasion

January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 470
Iran: Two years after Qasem Soleimani
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 468
Kazakhstan: Bloody unrest and a brutal crackdown

December 2021 | Conflict Alert # 466
COVID-19: Omicron rapidly spreads across countries
December 2021 | Conflict Alert # 464
Ukraine: The West warns Russia over Ukrainian aggression

December 2021 | Conflict Alert # 463
China: 12 million missing children
November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 459
Europe: Restrictions lead to Widespread Protests
November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 457
Cuba: Between bouts of demonstrations
November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 454
Pakistan: A month-long ceasefire with the TTP
October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 447
The US: Protests against the Texas anti-abortion law

October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 444
Brazil: Anti-Bolsonaro protests across the country
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 441
Yemen: Houthis continue to capture territories
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 439
Europe: Pride Marches in Serbia and Ukraine

September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 437
Brazil: Protestors call for the impeachment of Bolsonaro
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 435
Guinea: Another coup in Africa

September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 431
Climate Change: Hurricane Ida destructs the US Gulf Coast

August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 422
Europe: Measures to curb pandemic trigger protests
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 418
Peru: Protests a sign of challenges facing Castillo
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 411
Wildfires: Siberia to the US

July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 409
Bosnia: 26 years after the Srebrenica Massacre
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 405
Colombia: Two months of protests
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 399
Myanmar: New UNGA resolution

June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 397
Myanmar: The Aung San Suu Kyi trial begins
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 390
Burkina Faso: Another massacre in Africa
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 386
Nigeria: Another mass abduction grips Niger state
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 385
Colombia: The protests continue
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 382
Israel-Hamas ceasefire: The long road to peace
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 380
Colombia: Three weeks of protests
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 378
Israel-Palestine: Who wants what?
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 374
Yemen: The Battle for Marib rages on
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 371
Pakistan: Meetings with Afghan leaders

April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 369
Israel-Syria: Continuing Missile Strikes
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 358
India: Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 356
Global Gender Gap Report 2021: Main Takeaways
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 353
Niger: 137 massacred in the latest attack by gunmen
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 351
Yemen: Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 347
Australia: Women fight against sexual violence 
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 345
The US: The George Floyd trial begins
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 340
Syria: UN report calls for a complete ceasefire

February 2021 | Conflict Alert # 333
South Korea: The 'Comfort Women' issue returns to haunt
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 222
Russia: Pro-Navalny protests turn anti-government 
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 220
COVID-19: The Vaccine Wars

December 2020 | Conflict Alert # 200
India: Farmers' protests intensify as deadlock persists

November 2020 | Conflict Alert # 191
Pakistan: Anti-French protests called off

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases

September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 

July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence

June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 

May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal
January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings
December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019
November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar