Friday, June 02, 2006

The Conflicts of Europe

In the mail yesterday was this year's edition of IISS's respected Military Balance.

For decades, it has been the standared international reference work on these issues.

Since some years back, it also includes a Chart of Conflicts giving details on the ongoing as well as recent violent conflicts around the world.

I looked with particular interest on the estimates made of the number of fatalities in the different conflicts.

It is interesting to note the estimates for the Balkan conflicts of the 1990's.

For the Bosnian war between 1992 and 1995 the number of faralities is estimated at 95 000. That's considerable lower than the figure of 200 000 often referred to public discussions and even somewhat lower than other equally serious attempts to get to the true scale of that conflict.

It will not be until there is a new census in Bosnia that we will start to get a more exact view of this. The last one was in 1991. But I'm fairly certain that the figure then will turn out to be in the vicinity of the IISS estimate.

As for the Kosovo war between 1998 and 1999, the figure IISS uses is 4 000, which is less than half of the figure of 10 000 one often hears.

The Bosnian war is still the by a wide margin worst conflict in Europe since World War II.

For the Chechen war since 1999, IISS has the estimate of 16 000 fatalities, for Nagorno Karabach between 1992 and 1994 22 000 fatalities and for the conflict over Abchazia during the same years 6 000 dead. Further back in history, it notes 4 000 fatalities on Cyprus in 1974.

The Balkans and the Caucasus region are obviously the places to watch.

It's here that there is a risk that the ethnic mosaic left by a rich past will ignite tensions that escalates into conflicts.