The Oxford English Dictionary defines "war" as:
- A state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.
- A state of competition or hostility between different people or groups.
- A sustained campaign against an undesirable situation or activity.
There are several reasons for conflict and war to begin within and between nations. Among these are economic gain, territorial gain, religion, nationalism, civil war, and revolution. Often, countries' leaders are the primary motivator of conflict between and within nations when they test their limits, such as instigating a territorial dispute, trying to control another country's natural resources, or exercising authoritarian power over people.
Below are the countries currently at war as of May 2020. Those defined as "at war" are countries whose conflicts have had at least 1,000 deaths or more in the current or past calendar year. Fatality figures include both those lost in battle and civilians intentionally targeted. These countries have an armed conflict that involves the use of armed force between two or more organized groups, governmental or non-governmental.
The war in Afghanistan has been on and off since 1978. The current phase began in 2001 when the United States invaded Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban. The conflict has involved allies from all over the and has primarily been the U.S. troops and allied Afghan troops against Taliban insurgents. In 2019 alone, there were over 41,700 fatalities.
The Yemeni Civil War started in 2015 between the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement, who both claimed to control the Yemen government. Saudi Arabia intervened following the ousting of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, leading a coalition of nine countries from Asia and Western Africa in support of Hadi. The Yemen Civil War claimed over 20,000 lives in 2019.
The Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, is the second-deadliest war of the 21st century. The war is an ongoing conflict between the Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, domestic and foreign allies, and various domestic and foreign forces opposing both the Syrian government and each other varying combinations. Total fatalities are estimated to be around 586,000 people.
Starting in 2006, the Mexican Drug War is the Mexican theater for the war on drugs. It is a relatively low-intensity conflict between the Mexican government and multiple drug trafficking syndicates. The primary focus of the government is to dismantle the powerful and violent drug cartels. In battles, there are have been over 25,700 fatalities with an additional 115,000 homicides.
The third and current phase of the Kurdish-Turkish conflict began in 2015, although the conflict has been ongoing since 1984. The conflict is between the Turkish government and various Kurdish insurgent groups, who have demanded separation from Turkey to form an independent state. There have been over 45,000 cumulative fatalities in the ongoing conflict.
The Somali Civil War began in 1991. The conflict grew out of resistance to the military junta led by Siad Barre in the 1980s. By the end of the 1980s, the Somali Armed Forces began responding to armed rebel groups, but the Barre government was overthrown in 1991. The current phase of the war involves the current Federal Government of Somalia attempting to clear up remaining insurgent groups. The war has claimed about 500,000 lives total.
Maghreb Region and Sahel Region
After the Algerian Civil War, Islamist militant and terrorist groups began attacking the Maghreb and Sahel regions of North Africa. The countries in the Maghreb region are Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The Sahel region includes parts of the following countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea. The conflict has caused a total of 16,873 fatalities, including 4,000 in 2019 alone.
In 2003, the United States led a coalition to invade Iraq and overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. U.S. troops withdrew in 2011 but returned to Iraq in 2014 as insurgency and civil conflict continued. Total fatalities are estimated to be between 650,000 and 2.4 million. In 2019, over 2,000 people were killed.
The Libyan Civil War began in 2014 and is primarily between the House of Representatives and the Government of the National Accord. The war claimed anywhere from 29,000 to 42,000 lives since its start, with over 2,200 fatalities in 2019.