Demographic, Environmental
Security Issues Project


(Part 2 of 3) January 1996

Simmering, Potential Trouble Spots and Regions of Dispute

Ronald Bleier, editor

Part 2

  1. Angola -- From 1980-88, there were over 1.5 million deaths as a result of atrocities carried out by or supported by South Africa in Angola and Mozambique, according to the UN Economic Commission on Africa. Reports from the ground indicate that killing went on at possibly even a more intense level from 1992. In Cuito alone, there are supposed to have been about 25,000 killed. During the Ford administration, in the 70s, Congress ordered the CIA to halt its support for the war against the Angolan government. However, CIA efforts continued under the rubrik of information gathering.

  2. Argentina and Chile in dispute over Channel Islands

  3. Armenia - Azerbaijan -- An undeclared war which began in 1988 prompted an exodus that has reduced Armenia's population of 3.5 million by 20 to 30 percent (Steve LeVine, NYT, 24 Oct. '95). The war began when majority ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh declared a desire to unite with Armenia. A cease fire was agreed in May 1994. The war has cost Azerbaijan (mid-1993 population: 7.2 million) about a fifth of its territory. The prewar population of Nagorno-Karabakh was 200,000.

  4. Belgium -- Municipality of Voeren against Flanders. When the Belgian state was divided into a French and a Dutch speaking part, (Brussel/Bruxelles) the municipality of Voeren in the northeast was given to Flanders. Nationalist Flemish go there on weekends to engage in marching and flag waving and the issue has threatened the position of the Belgian government on several occasions.

  5. Belgium -- "Bende van Nijvel," gang with connections to rightwing politicians and police against Belgian civilians. Alleged connections to state-policemen (Rijkswacht); alleged illegal arms deals with Israel. Investigating journalists were killed; investigations were closed even though the identity of one of the killers (of at least 20 people) was known to the authorities.

  6. Canada -- Separatists in Quebec lost a narrow 51%-49% vote to split from Canada in an October 30, 1995 referendum. In the previous vote in 1980, the vote against separation was 60%-40%. In Montreal the 1995 vote was 65.5% against separation while the rest of the province voted 59% to 41% for a split. The close vote has heightened fears in the immigrant community of some tens of thousands in Montreal that separatists are xenophobic and intend to punish the city (NYT, November 27, 1995, Clyde H. Farnsworth).

    Lucien Bouchard, head of Bloc Quebecois, a group of separatist members of the House of Commons, announced that he would seek the leadership of Parti Quebecois, which would lead to making him the next Premier of Quebec. Shortly after the vote he said he would not press for another referendum for at least another 2 years.

  7. China -- Government authorities admit to thousands of casualties a year in gun battles with drug traffickers in southeastern Yunnan Province. China's population is growing by 15 million a year with the number of unemployed and underemployed expected to pass 200 million by 2000 (NYT, Patrick E. Tyler, Nov. 15, 1995).


    China must nearly double its harvest to feed the 1.6 billion Chinese who will live here by 2025 (NYT, 29 November 95, Patrick E. Tyler).

    In the Beijing area, the water table has dropped from 14 feet in 1955 to 160 feet in 1995 and is still falling while water is increasingly demanded for domestic, industrial and tourist use. A Chinese scientific report predicted that unless the present decline is reversed -- not merely arrested -- Beijing would be unhabitable by the year 2015 (Z Magazine, December 1995, Henry Rosemont, Jr.).

    "China's Inevitable Dilemma: Coal Harms the Environment but Fuels Growth," (Headline: NYT, 11.29.95, Patrick E. Tyler).

    Picture caption: "Because its economic boom is powered largely by coal, China is rising rapidly through the ranks of the world's big polluters. A coal scavenger looked out through the smog in Taiyanun, a mining center"

  8. China and Taiwan -- A deterioration of relations in 1994-95 has led to increased pressure from the military sector on China's weak and transitional leadership to discipline Taiwan and force it to reunite with the mainland.

  9. Cyprus -- De facto partition of island with 18 per cent Turkish Cypriots holding 36 per cent of the country backed by 30,000 Turkish troops who invaded in 1974. Ethnic cleansing of Greek Cypriots from the north and an "ingathering" of Turkish Cypriots from the south has resulted in separate ethnic zones. President of the Republic: Glafkos Clerides; Turkish Cypriot leader: Rauf Denktash.

  10. Egypt -- More than 900 people have been killed in the civil insurrection by the militant Islamic Group which began in 1992. After a lull, a new flurry of attacks, some on tourists, occurred in November 1995 along a 150 mile stretch of the Nile in the south (NYT, Nov. 20, 1995, Douglas Jehl).


    Selections from a Middle East International Report on 1995 Egyptian elections to the People's Assembly.

    "Election disgrace" by Steve Negus (15 December 1995),

    Observers were "shocked" at the sweeping electoral victory by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) "in the first round of voting on 29 November where not a single opposition candidate won an absolute majority ... and only 66 made it to the 6 December run-offs."

    "As expected, NDP candidates used a variety of forms of legal and illegal stratagems to ensure their victory. Police turned a blind eye, if they did not cooperate outright. In the three days before the election, security forces arrested 688 Islamist poll watchers, leaving many of the polling stations without any safeguards against government cheating.

    "A report compiled by the independent Commission for Electoral Supervision, an ad hoc committee of six human rights NGOs, lists several varieties of fraud that were repeated in nearly every district.

    " Ballot boxes arrived at the polls already stuffed with ballots. Police denied entry to opposition poll monitors at many polling stations during the first few hours of voting. Baltagiya --rented thugs -- caused disturbances in the polling stations and NDP monitors stuffed the boxes in the confusion. NDP supporters were allowed to vote multiple times. NDP supporters were allowed to vote without voting cards. Police cars transporting the boxes to the station to be counted went missing for hours at a time, and the boxes turned up stuffed to the brim with NDP votes. In four polling stations in northern Cairo, police announced that there had been a bomb threat and ejected the opposition poll monitors, allowing the NDP's representatives to remain inside."

    In connection with the elections, the Egyptian government sentenced dozens of members of the Muslim Brotherhood to prison terms and hundreds of supporters were arrested.

    Militants have apparently decided to hit Egypt's assets abroad; e.g., the November 19, 1995 suicide bombing on Egypt's Embassy in Pakistan; the assassination attempt on Mubarak in Ethiopia in June '95; a bombing in Croatia in October '95 and the assassination of an Egyptian diplomat in November '95.

    Egypt's estimated July 95 population: 62.4 million; Egypt adds about a million people every 10 months; fertility rate: 3.67 children/per woman.

  11. El Salvador -- The civil war which began in 1983 has resulted in 80,000 deaths. By the end of 1995, there were reports that death squad activity against leftists and union leaders had stepped up. There is extensive media documentation of CIA involvement with death squad killings.

  12. Ethiopia
    From New York Times story: "Even with Peace and Rain, Ethiopia Fears Famine" (1.3.95, Donatella Lorch)

    The Ethiopian government has appealed for 250,000 tons of food aid to feed about 3 million of its people. In 1995 400,000 tons of food aid was delivered. A million Ethiopians died in the famine of 1984-85. The population estimate for mid-1993 was 56.7 million. Ethiopia "faces a legacy of degraded lands, poor road networks, a high birth rate, disease and an agricultural base destroyed by years of civil war and government policies."

    Projections: Ethiopia will face more competition for food in the next few years. By the year 2000, Africa will be growing less than 3/4 of the food it needs. Aid is drying up. Global availability of food aid in 1996 will be 7.6 million tons -- one million tons less than 1994 and the lowest since the mid 70s.

    Ethiopia is the world's poorest country in the world after Mozambique. It was self-sufficient in food until the 80s when its farming was destroyed by civil war, the policies of the Marxist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam and the forced relocation of 1.5 million farmers (Donatella Lorch, 1.3.95).

  13. France -- Muslim fundamentalist bombing campaign in connection with the war in Algeria has elevated tensions. Internal EC borders are patrolled intensively, much to the chagrin of French drugs addicts in Northern France, who used to go to the Netherlands for their purchases.

  14. France: Corsica -- The Corsican National Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for many bombings. According to their statements, the attacks are intended to pressure French authorities to concede more authority to the island.

  15. Greece and Turkish dispute over territorial waters. Both fleets are on alert and facing each other. The only thing that keeps them from shooting is strong NATO pressure, and Turkey's desire to join the EC. Greece intends to enlarge their territorial waters, thereby making the Aegean Sea a Greek one.

  16. Haiti -- Mid-1993 population estimate: 6.5 million. President Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown by a right-wing military coup with connections to the CIA in 1991 and was restored to office on October 15, 1994.

    By the end of 1995, there were rising tensions between the Haitian government and the U.S. One concern was that Aristide would not step down on the scheduled date of February 7, 1996 following December 1995 elections for president. For its part, the Haitian government felt threatened by the continued operation of right-wing death squads who killed Aristide's cousin, Jean-Hubert Feuille, a close political associate, among others.

    According to a report in The Nation, recently discovered evidence "indicates that starting in mid-1993, FRAPH [a right-wing paramilitary group] was launched on its reign of terror with secret shipments of U.S. arms, and that still active FRAPH members have been used recently in U.S. occupation operations, sprung from jail with Washington's help, freshly recruited by the CIA and, as a matter of high-level U.S. policy, allowed to keep their arms." (Allan Nairn, January 8/15, 1996)

    President Aristide has estimated that during the period that he was ousted, 5,000 of his supporters were killed by right-wing death squads such as FRAPH and the attaches.

    Haitian boat people. Fewer than 300 boat people were picked up by U.S. authorities in the 13 months ending November 15, 1995. But by the end of 1995 the pace dramatically increased. In November 1995 more than 1,100 Haitian boat people were picked up aboard two large freighters and 47 were drowned when a smaller ship sank in the same month (NYT, November 30, 1995, Larry Rohter).

  17. India and Pakistan --

  18. India -- the Naxalite (People's War Group of the CP-I(M/L)) struggle in Andra Pradesh; the Sikh campaign for a homeland (Khalistan) has recently begun claiming lives again.

  19. Israel and Palestine -- An indication of the looming crisis between the Arabs and Jews is the employment situation in Gaza where the work force has grown from 136,290 in 1994 to 150,000 in 1995 while those finding work in Israel dropped from a high of 60,000 to 80,000 (both legal and illegal) in pre-intifada 1987 to a low of 16,500 receiving work permits in September 1995 (Workers Hotline Organization). Other issues: Israeli control of water resources; land confiscation for settlements and for road building, etc.; about 5,000 Palestinian prisoners remain in Israeli jails. Travel to Jerusalem is severely restricted as is travel between localities on the West Bank and Gaza.

    The campaign for Palestinian elections slated for January 20, 1996 have been marred by reports of censorship and jailings of opposition leaders and journalists by Yasir Arafat's forces. In addition, according to the Society of St Ives, a Catholic human rights group based in Jerusalem, Israeli authorities arrested 100 Palestinian intellectuals, activists, and community leaders associated with the political opposition days before the Israelis withdrew from Palestinian cities. Also, the Society found that over 50 administrative detainees had their detention extended until the end of the Palestinian elections.

    Many Palestinians have complained of Yasir Arafat's authoritarian rule. The first prisoner died in Palestinian custody in July 94 and since then 6 men have died in Palestinian jails. 3 Palestinian newspapers have been closed for long periods and journalists refuse interviews for fear of detention (NYT, op-ed by Palestinian journalist, Bassem Eid, 1.19.96).

    The situation is particularly tense in Hebron where 450 Jewish settlers are strategically placed to intimidate and harass the local population. Hamas has ordered its followers to abstain from the January elections in order to embarrass Arafat.

  20. Israel and Syria -- The impasse is over Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights which began in 1967 when 130,000 Syrians were expelled and the governing Israeli Labor Party began to establish settlements there. Syrians insist on complete Israeli withdrawal while the Israeli negotiating position is to demand some kind of military presence. Many see the water issue as critical since Israel obtains about 20% of its water from sources in the Golan. In December 1995, newly designated Prime Minister Shimon Peres said: "The Golan Heights is the only mountain we have. I am not prepared to give it away for skim milk" (NYT, 12.13.95).

  21. Italy -- South Tirol was taken from the Austro-Hungarian Empire after WWI. The language was traditionally German and there are those who still want to separate 'Lombardy' from the south and rejoin Austria.

  22. Iran -- GOP/AIPAC Force U.S. Confrontation With Iran

    According to an IPS report, the Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich are pushing the Clinton Administration into a confrontation with Iran. European and Japanese allies are upset with a Senate bill passed in 1995 imposing financial sanctions against foreign companies eager to capture contracts worth an estimated $6.5 billion to help Iran develop its oil and natural gas fields. The law would sanction foreign companies investing in Iran.

    Also, Republicans forced the Clinton administration to go along with a covert program to "moderate" Iranian behavior and recruit disillusioned Iranians into a broader opposition. The powerful, pro-Israeli lobbying group, AIPAC, has been urging Gingrich to make Iran a crusade. When the Houston based Conoco oil company won a billion dollar oil exploration deal in early 1995, Republicans and pro-Israeli democratic legislators succeeded in getting Clinton to block the deal and ban all U.S. Iranian ties and stepped up lobbying efforts to persuade Iran's creditors to deny it finance (IPS, Jim Lobe, 12.25.95).

    The 1989 Khomeini fatwa against author Salmon Rushdie is still in effect.

  23. Kenya -- mid-1993 population: 27.7 million. President: Daniel Arap Moi. There are hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees living in camps in Kenya.

    NYT article on Kenya: "As Population Swells, Nairobi Plunges Into Poverty" (12.12.95, Donatella Lorch)
    Picture caption: "A man reached to retrieve his child from a pile of garbage in downtown Nairobi. Once a model for east Africa, the Kenyan capital has neither the money nor the resources to cope with its bounding population growth."

    NYT Report on Kenya's Turkana people: (10.16.95, Donatella Lorch)
    Headline: "Fiercest of Warriors, Crushed by a Savage Land,"

    Picture caption: "The future looks bleak for the Turkana people of Kenya, nomads and fierce warriors who inhabit one of Africa's harshest regions."

    The Turkana population has tripled in the last 40 years, reaching an estimated 350,000. It has outstripped the increase of the herds and the capacity of the land, said Nigel Pavitt, a historian and author of "Turkana," a book to be published this year. Mr. Pavitt, who came to Turkana in 1957 as a British Army officer, has studied the tribe for years....

    "The future is bleak," Mr. Pavitt said. "Twenty or 30 percent of the Turkana will become miserably poor. There are only three solutions. People die but that will not happen because food aid keeps them alive. People migrate. But to where? Or there has to be conflict."

  24. Liberia -- War began in 1989 when forces led by Charles Taylor overthrew the regime of Sgt. Doe. By the time of the shaky cease-fire of August 1995, 150,000 Liberians were killed by 5 warring factions. 3/4 of Liberia's population are refugees -- one-half in capital Monrovia, and one-third in neighboring countries: (mid-1993 population estimate: 2.8 million).

    Fighting erupted by the end of 1995 between the forces of Charles Taylor and Mr. Kroma, the leader of another faction.

    As 1996 began, dozens of people were killed in the worst fighting since the August cease-fire. The clashes have sent 80,000 people fleeing into Tubmanborg. Liberia's diamond-rich northwestern region is controlled by rebels of the ethnic Krahn branch of the United Liberation Movement called Ulimo-J, led by General Roosevelt Johnson. Members of the 7,000 troop peacekeepers of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecomog) have been taken hostage by rebel forces. They were spread out across Liberia to prepare for the disarmament of 60,000 combatants, a key component of the cease-fire (AP, in NYT, 1.4.96).

  25. Mauritania -- Mid-1993 population estimate: 2.2 million). Since Mauritania achieved its independence from France in 1960, it has been dominated by light-skinned, Arabic speaking Moors. Mauritania expelled 70,000 of its black citizens ( who make up as much as 40% of its population) to neighboring Senegal in several episodes.

    The conflict originally began over grazing rights and subsequently exploded into a full-blown crisis between the two countries with hundreds of people killed in weeks of rioting and reprisals (in 1995?). Mauritania has long been under attack by human rights groups as one of the last bastions of slavery (NYT, 1.11.96, Howard W. French)

  26. Mexico -- In the Chiapas rebellion by the indigenous Indian people led by Subcommander Marcos, 196 people were killed in 12 days in January 1994. On January 12, 1994, a cease fire was agreed. Peace talks have been ongoing since April 1994 and are expected to continue until January 1997. Mexico's Indian peoples number 10 million of Mexico's 90 million people (mid-93 estimate).

    The Chiapas rebellion put the spotlight on the thorny issue of Indian rights. 80% of Mexico's Indian community suffer high levels of poverty. They hold no major office in Mexico's government and only a few of Mexico's 600 federal congressional seats (NYT, 1.13.96, Anthony DePalma).

  27. Nicaragua -- 3/4 of all Nicaraguan families live in extreme poverty. 35% of children between 6-9 don't go to school (20% of children this age are working); 24% of Nicaraguan children suffer from malnutrition (La Tribuna, October 9, 1995, as quoted in The Nation, 12.25.95, Alexander Cockburn).

  28. North Korea -- Ruler: Kim Song Il. Mid-1993 population: 22.7 million. Famine may be widespread after the worst floods in 100 years devastated the August 1995 harvest when 1.5 million tons of grain were lost and half a million people were left homeless. The World Food Program's appeal for $8.8 million has thus far yielded only $200,000 (AP, reported in NYT, 12.14.95). In early January, National Public Radio reported that the shortfall in donations was $1.5 million of a total of $4.5 million.

  29. Papua New Guinea (PNG) -- mid-1993 population: 3.9 million. The nearby island of Bougainville is the main island in the Solomon Islands and was "given" to PNG by the British as an independence day present after WWII. It used to have the world's largest copper mine (CRA), but this was shut down by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army because, like the situation at Ok Tedi, the tailings from the mine were dumped straight into the river destroying the livelihood of the people living on it - it flooded out to a toxic delta five miles wide. Australia has been supplying PNG with helicopter gun ships and patrol boats, and a blockade has been set up to stop medicines and supplies and arms getting into Bougainville - which has resulted in the death of approximately one quarter of the population.

  30. Peru -- 23 million people. Half the population live below the poverty line and almost 1/5 live in extreme poverty. Only 1/3 of workforce has proper employment. Hundreds of military attacks were carried out in 1995 by the Communist Party of Peru (PCP).

  31. Peru and Ecuador: Their border dispute broke out into hostilities in late January 1995. The Aguaruna and Huambisa peoples of Peru and the Shuai and Achuar peoples of Ecuador have suffered the brunt of the combat.

  32. Saudi Arabia -- Population: mid-1993 estimate:17.5 million; one quarter are foreign workers; 20% of university graduates are unemployed.

    The car bomb blast in Riyadh, on November 13, 1995 which killed five people may have been the responsibility of militant Islamic groups originally trained by the CIA in connection with the covert 80s war in Afghanistan.

  33. South Africa -- mid-1993 population: 39 million. President Nelson Mandela. Tensions are high over the October '95 arrests of 10 former high ranking military officers associated with the (white) National Party. One of those arrested, General Magnus Malan, is implicated in a 1987 raid in which 13 people holding a prayer meeting were shot. General Malan was head of South Africa's armed forces when it came to light that Mr. de Klerk's Government was secretly financing a violent rival to Mr. Mandela's African National Congress.

    * Clashes have erupted between rival African National Congress and Inkata forces in Kwazulu Natal with a number of deaths reported.

    * NYT article on South Africa by Suzanne Daley, December 12, '95: "As Crime Soars, South African Whites Leave"
    Picture caption: "The fear of violence is leading Heidi Moller's family, and other white South Africans, to leave their fortified homes for distant lands."

  34. South China Sea -- A highly volatile flashpoint for serious interstate war springing from the dispute over the Sprately and Paracell Islands oil reserves by the contending countries of China, the Philipines, Vietnam and others.

  35. Suriname -- (pop. 400,000) Rainforests under attack by foreign investors. Hostilities broke out in 1989 between indigenous Indian peoples and Maroons broken by an unsteady peace in 1992. Ongoing skirmishes between settlers and native peoples.

  36. United States
    • Prison issues

    • Nuclear waste

    • Loss of farmland

      "Every day more than 2,700 acres of farmland are bulldozed, developed and paved over...forever." (American Farmland Trust, 1995)

    • Military Spending
      • Cost of U.S. Nuclear Arsenal -- $4 trillion = 1/4 of all defense outlays
      • 70,000 warheads: $375 billion
      • 67,000 missiles: $371 billion
      • 4,000 bombers: $200 billion
      • 59 strategic missile silos; 1041 test explosions; 3,160 ICBMS, 2,975 strategic sea launched missiles
      • Command control and communication: $182 billion
      • Strategic defense and anti-missile systems: $400 billion
      • Spy satellites: 270 billion
      • Intelligence gathering: 230 billion
      (NYT, 12.14.95, Paul Passell)

  37. Western Sahara -- Fighting began in 1975 when Spain pulled out of the region which it had colonized in 1904. Morocco had long claimed Western Sahara, while the Saharans' Polisario Front, which was formed in 1973, wanted independence. Fighting all but died away after a 1991 cease fire. However, Morocco has long hindered a referendum which would allow the Sahrawi to determine their future, while Algeria supports it and war could resume if no progress is made on the diplomatic front (NYT, December 8, 1995, Barbara Crossette). There are 165,000 Western Saharan refugees in Algeria (MEI).

  38. Zimbabwe -- mid-1993 population: 10.7 million. One million black farmers with small holdings are restricted to about half the total arable area while the rest belongs to about 4,500 large scale farmers, mostly white.


Comments, information, contributions, requests, welcome.
Write to: Ronald Bleier (rbleier@igc.org).