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Top 4 Deadly Wars in Last 25 Years

Vinit Singh is a computer science student pursuing his B.Tech degree in Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, India.

Read on to learn about the four most deadly wars in the past 25 years, including the Second Congo War and the Yemeni Civil War.

Read on to learn about the four most deadly wars in the past 25 years, including the Second Congo War and the Yemeni Civil War.

Unfortunately, wars appear be a constant throughout human history, from the time of the ancient Greek Peloponnesian War to contemporary conflicts in Ukraine and Ethiopia. However, there are some hopeful voices in the world that claim that violence is, overall, on the decline.

Take, for instance, Steven Pinker, who argued in his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature that there is a general trend away from violence in human history and that the present is actually the least violent time humans have lived in.

In light of the most deadly wars of the past 25 years, Pinker's analysis feels a bit counterintuitive (but there's something to his ideas). Let's hope Pinker is correct. For now, let's take a look at the 4 deadliest wars in the last quarter of a century.

4 Worst Wars of the Last 25 Years

  1. Second Congo War (1998–2007)
  2. Syrian Civil War (2011–Ongoing)
  3. Yemeni Civil War (2011–Ongoing)
  4. Iraq War (2003–2011)

1. Second Congo War (1998–2007)

Casualties: 380,000+ (total 5.4 million+ deaths due to diseases and starvation because of war)

Start: The Second Congo War (also known as the Great African War) is heavily connected to the events of the First Congo War (October 1996–May 1997). The First Congo War was started because of the Rwandan genocide, where 800,000 Tutsis were killed within 100 days by the Hutus. The Tutsis then formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front and overthrew the Rwandan Hutu government. More than 2 million people (mostly Hutu) took refuge in the Western part of the Congo.

The refugee Hutus terrorized the local population of the Congo, which the Congolese Mobutu government at least partly backed. Then, the opposition leader, , supported by the Rwandan and Ugandan forces, started the First Congo War in 1996 and overthrew Mobutu's government, killing many Hutus. Kabila declared himself the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1997.

In 1998, after almost a year, Kabila turned on his former allies, who helped him become the president of the DRC and allowed the Hutu rebel army to regroup, which led to the DRC's invasion by Rwandan and Ugandan forces. African countries (Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and a few more) supported Kabila, and more than 20 local rebel groups, were now participating in the Second Congo War. Laurent Kabila was killed by one of his bodyguards, and his son Joseph Kabila took his place as president during the Second Congo War.

End: Peace agreements were initiated, including the Suncity Peace Agreement and the Pretoria Accord, but breaches of peace agreements were often reported as not all rebel groups participated in the peace talks. When the Transitional Government of the DRC took power, the Rwandan forces were losing ground in the DRC. An official end to the war came in December 2002. However, local rebel group wars have continued for more than a decade.

2. Syrian Civil War (2011–Ongoing)

Casualties: 420,000+

Start: One of the triggers for this war was the killing of unarmed protesters demanding the release of a few boys who drew anti-Bashar al-Assad slogans on a wall and the release of the political prisoners who were arrested during the state of emergency (1963–2011).

Another trigger was when Assad (the President of Syria) declared the end of the state of emergency but introduced new, stricter laws against those who protested. After this, a large group of people gathered at Homs in the city's main square under its clock tower, and Assad's security forces stormed the square, killing many people—this became the main tipping point of the Syrian civil war.

Since then, many rebel groups have formed and started to wage war against the security forces. There was a time when the Islamic state gained control over many Syrian territories but because their leader al-Baghdadi was killed, they no longer retain control over major territories in Syria. There were many ally groups and countries that variously supported the rebel groups, the Syrian Arab Army and the Assad security forces for their own benefit, claiming they were trying to maintain peace.

End: Many peace initiatives have been held by the United Nations, including the Geneva peace talks in 2017, but the war is still continuing.

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3. Yemeni Civil War (2011–Ongoing)

Casualties: 110,000+ deaths and nearly 21 million in need of humanitarian aid

Start: The Yemeni Civil War was started when the Houthi community in Yemen started to revolt against the then-current government because the Houthis felt the government discriminated against them and was corrupt.

The military loyalists were divided between Saleh, the president of Yemen, and Ahmar, the army chief. Houthis took control of northern Yemen and Al-Qaeda spread to southern regions because the military was weak and divided. Now Saleh was forced to give his power to Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the vice president of Yemen, though Hadi was not able to solve the problems after becoming the president.

Saudi Arabia came into the picture, supported Hadi and bombed many Houthi-dominated regions because Saudi Arabia saw Houthis taking over northern Yemen as a threat to their country because Houthis were supported by Iran. Houthis then took control of the presidential palace and Hadi flew to Saudi Arabia.

This war has been escalating since 2015. Saudi Arabia also accused Iran of supplying the Houthi rebels with deadly weapons—Iran has, of course, declined the accusation. The Houthis then allied with Saleh, the previous president, and killed Saleh when he turned against them. So, now the Houthis are supported by Iran, and Hadi is supported by Saudi Arabia, while many countries like the United States (considering the Houthi rebels as terrorists), the UK, France, Canada and a few more give military and financial aid.

End: The United Nations has conducted many peace talks but the war has continued. It is said that 80% (nearly 21 million) of the population needs humanitarian aid. This civil war has led to the worst financial and humanitarian crisis of the 21st century.

4. Iraq War (2003–2011)

Casualties: 680,000+ directly or indirectly due to war

Start: The Iraq war is also called the Second Gulf War. The widely circulated official story is that the United States accused Iraq of developing nuclear and chemical weapons often referred to as "weapons of mass destruction," and escalating their capabilities to start a war.

Despite Saddam Hussein not having an active weapon of mass destruction program, many international leaders believed he did. Also, the United States believed strongly in Iraq's involvement in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The tipping point of this war was when the United States warned Saddam Hussain, then president of Iraq, to leave the country, which Hussein clearly refused.

So on March 20, 2003, the United States dropped several precision-guided bombs on a location where they believed that Hussein and other officials were meeting. Saddam was lucky; he survived. Later the US directed airstrikes against government and military locations. The US and the coalition forces then invaded Iraq.

Republican Guards, also known as the resistance connected to Saddam's ruling party, heavily guarded Baghdad. The US Army and Marine forces advanced northwest along the Euphrates river valley, and after a week, on April 4, after defeating the resistance, they took control over Baghdad's international airport. On April 9 the resistance collapsed and the US and British armies took control over Baghdad and Basra cities, respectively.

Hussein was finally captured on December 13, 2003, was sent to trial for his various crimes and was executed on December 30, 2003. After the end of Saddam's regime, the whole country erupted in a wave of looting of governmental organisations and killing. Terrorism was at its peak in Iraq. Maintaining law and order was one of the most important tasks for the occupying forces and guerilla war broke out across the country.

Suicide bombings also took place at UN headquarters where many officials were killed. The US and other coalition forces engaged in a war to maintain peace all over Iraq. Many incidents occurred in which thousands of civilians, rebels and numerous soldiers were killed.

End: In 2010, the Iraqi parliament approved a coalition government forged by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law party and several other factions to combat terrorism in Iraq. Finally, in 2011, the US declared the end of the war, with all the US and coalition forces returning to their respective countries.

The Capture of Saddam Hussein

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Vinit Singh

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