Human diversity in race, tribe, class and religion has caused division which has often resulted in war. Over the last five hundred years, people have witnessed more wars than there have been in any other period. While small kingdoms sought to control regions, the bigger, kingdoms and established countries sought to control the world. Among the greatest wars in history are World War 1 and 2, the cold war, the Gulf War, and recently, the Anti-terror wars in the Middle East.
Civil wars have affected all countries in the world, from America to the East ends of the world. Some nations in Africa and in the Middle East still struggle with governance and peace. The biggest tragedy that occurred as a result of civil war is the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when the Hutus and Tutsis struggled to eliminate each other; tribal cleansing.
A civil war is a type of war whose participants are organized groups, each fighting to control resources within a state or country (Lounsbery, Pearson and Pearson). War and violence are different, in that random violence occurs sporadically out of minor upsets, but wars always have agendas that are politically motivated. Civil wars mostly happen when an ethnic group resists against government control for the reason that the head of state comes from another ethnic group. This tribe seeks to control the country to the extent that they are always willing to overthrow the government if it will give them ultimate power. According to Small and Singer, civil war is a conflict that is sustained with combat, involving the national government versus resistant armies and groups (Melvin Small).
Causes of Civil Wars
Prejudice is a major cause of civil war. In the history of mankind, our differences make us afraid of each other, and in some instances, trigger a feeling of patronage in case one seems inferior. Whenever a community or tribe has a unanimous feeling that they are being shortchanged by another community, they are bound to take action into their hands, if they are incited to do so. The trigger level of the shortchanged communities is so low to the extent that if a community leader declares war against the other community, the community members support his/ her course without much thought of the consequences. They will attack a community that they feel has shortchanged them, who will definitely retaliate. The action and reaction between the two communities heightens from a community wars to massive killings in civil wars. The civil war could have the motive of ethnic cleansing in order to maintain absolute control over power and vast resources. The Civil wars such as those in Rwanda, Somalia and the one that took place in the United States of America are examples.
The struggle for limited resources: Natural resources have no demarcation as to whom they belong. Minerals, water points such as oases, and land, among other things might be limited. When everyone wants a pie that will suffice their need, a war erupts in which only the strong survive. It might be a war on water and pasture, as was the case in the Sahara desert, rush for diamonds like in Sierra Leone, or land. The struggle could go on for very long periods, as with the case of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The resistance of external powers could also trigger civil wars. Afghanistan is one of the Asian countries whose people suffered extremism and despotic rule for ages. The leadership was very strict in the bad sense to the extent that it denied its citizens basic rights to education, association, and choice, among other fundamental rights. The Taliban consisted of the Pashtun, an Islamic fundamentalist group which ruled the Afghan people as from 1996 through to 2001 when the US led an invasion that toppled the government. A group of mujahideen came together in the early 1990s to form the Taliban. The Mujahideen had resisted Soviet Union Occupation between 1979 and 1989 with the help of the U.S CIA and Pakistani ISI directorate. The Pashto form the majority of the ethnic population in Afghanistan (Gall, 2013). The Taliban inspired a fanatical following for their promise to restore the rule of law, and hence stability. They seized many states and took over Kabul, the Capital City in 1996, from President Burhanuddin Rabbani. While the government then respected the international community and fought terrorism, the Taliban government that replaced the legitimate government harbored terrorisms and was willing to kill or torture people who sided with the Western countries such as the USA. Even after the US invasion after the September 11 attack, the country restored democracy but has remained largely affected by civil war.
Assassinations of prominent leaders who hail from certain tribes could trigger huge wars. The Rwanda genocide of 1994, just like the World War II had been caused by assassination of a prominent figure. If a head of state comes from a specific community, they are bound to feel proud of their son or daughter. If this person happens to die in mysterious circumstances, and evidence suggests that a rival community may have a hand in the assassination, then war is most likely to occur. The situation is worsened if the two warring communities are the largest by population in that country. In Rwanda’s case, the President, Cyprien ntaryamira, a Hutu who led the government was assassinated on 6th April 1994. The Tutsi had planned for a government overthrow since they had risen to the most influential army ranks. However, the Hutu, with the love for the assassinated member of their community sought revenge by killing innocent Tutsis. The Tutsi population only constituted 14% of the nation, while Hutu and Twa constituted 85% and 1% respectively (UNHRC). About one million Tutsis were killed in that war.
Religious intolerance could also lead to civil war. A country has laws that allow diversity. However, some countries with strong polarization towards certain religions could develop a notion that the country be converted into a one-religion state. In this spirit, the people might form gangs which grow into massive movements whose aim is to either drive away or perform a religious cleansing. These gangs attack people of other religions, leaving their religious fellow members. The people being attacked might retaliate depending on the population ratios. The action and reaction suddenly fall out of control and civil war begins. The ISIS in the Middle East wants to drive out all Christians so that the whole region is Muslim (Wood). They have overthrown governments and the gangs operating under a de facto leader who automatically becomes a head of state.