Here is my current list of Wars in Progress (Feb. 10, 2013). They might better be labeled “Armed Conflicts” since most hardly rise to the level of a serious “war.” Blog post on most recent update is here.
To get onto my list, two or more armed groups have to be engaged in ongoing lethal violence over political objectives. Terrorism counts but organized crime doesn’t, nor does government violence against unarmed demonstrators. The Uppsala Conflict Data Project has a more extensive list (with more smaller conflicts) with more exact criteria.
Some of these wars could be counted as several wars (which is one reason I don’t like counting numbers of wars as a measure of how extensive war is). In this list I have grouped them as “a war” even if a number of armed conflicts overlap with different groups and objectives.
Here is some narrative about the state of these conflicts:
Afghanistan/Pakistan – The big one. The international community is there, the U.S. military in force, Taliban, al Qaeda, nukes. Unclear how it’s going recently, but international troops on target to leave by 2014.
Iraq/Turkey – Winding down, unless it blows up again. In mid-2011 the armed conflict between Turkey and Kurdish militants based in northern Iraq heated up, with several lethal skirmishes, and has continued since.
Sudan/Chad/CAR – The genocide in Darfur was mainly in 2004, and the north-south war ended five years ago. The south voted for independence, which was achieved in July 2011. Except they’re still at odds over Abyei, and fighting has been happening in South Kordofan, allied to the south but included in the north when Sudan split. Border clashes took place in spring 2012. Add in several intermittent armed conflicts in Chad and (in 2012) Central African Republic that tend to cross borders when they flare up. The peaceful independence of South Sudan after so many years of war is a big deal, despite all the challenges remaining and the setback of border skirmishes in 2012.
Yemen – Several conflicts are ongoing amidst the political chaos. The post-Saleh government with many competing factions has had some success against Islamic militants who had seized some towns in the south; fighting flares up intermittently in the north.
Somalia – The war is not over. African Union troops (mostly from nearby countries such as Uganda) restored government control of the Somali capital, pushing back the hard-line Islamist militants, and then extended their control to all the major towns, leaving the militants in the countryside to plot bombings. Famine is no longer threatening millions but there are still many hungry people.
Mali – The al Qaeda types moved west from Somalia across the Sahara and got a big infusion of weapons in the process of Libya’s revolution. They took over the north half of Mali, and in early 2013 French forces intervened after the rebels began an advance toward the capital. The French routed the rebels from cities but remaining rebels may stage an insurgency. African Union troops are to take over.
D.R. Congo – Sporadic but really nasty fighting continues in certain eastern locations. In 2012 a Rwandan-backed militia that split from the government staged a rebellion, held territory, and even occupied the eastern hub of Goma briefly. Peace talks have not produced an agreement though fighting has died down somewhat.
India – Nasty little Maoist insurgencies of long standing, one now in a cease-fire. Several recent skirmishes with Pakistan across the lines in disputed Kashmir, but these appear not to have escalated.
Nigeria – In the north, a violent Islamist group has instigated repeated violence such as bombings, and government attacks in response. Sad day when the Islamist terrorists blew up the UN building in 2011. Now they are killing women polio vaccine workers. In the south, an amnesty and cease-fire in the Niger Delta is occasionally interrupted by fighting.