Growing unease in relations between the major powers and extreme volatility in conflict-torn regions mark out two of the main global trends identified the Clingendael Strategic Monitor 2014 (in Dutch), which was presented in June to Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans.
In this online article, Senior Research Fellow Ivan Briscoe updates his contribution to the Strategic Monitor's chapter on "Peace operations in a changing world". He addresses recent developments relating to the jihadist militant group the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIS) in Iraq, and focuses attention on armed violence and emerging threats more broadly. Drawing on global conflict patterns as well as detailed studies of current and recent warzones in Syria, Iraq, Mali, Libya, South Sudan and elsewhere, the analysis explores the armed rivalry for power and resources between different, mainly ethnic or religious factions, whose intense feelings of exclusion drives their grievances.
At the same time, the article stresses that the trends towards extreme fragmentation amongst armed groups, as well as the growing transnational linkages to conflict, pose new and as yet unresolved challenges for the international community. Recent developments surrounding the militant jihadist organization ISIS, as well as resurgent tensions in Libya and Mali, call for serious consideration of new approaches.