Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Arab-Israeli Wars: Gaza War Update

30 Dec

The updated page on the new 2008 Israel-Hamas Gaza War is now available at: 

An overview of the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, as a part of the longer and larger overall Israel-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts.


Wars and Conflicts Between Tibet and China

17 Apr

With the recent publicity surrounding the ongoing repression in Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, and the public protests around the world as the Olympic torch makes its way to Beijing, I have received several queries from readers about the history of conflicts between Tibet and China

There is a new web page on the site detailing some of these Sino-Tibetan Wars and Conflicts.  It is at:

While normally I take as neutral a position as possible while explaining world conflicts on the main website, and leaving my more opinionated commentary for this blog, I come down against the continued repression by the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet.  I see a distinction in identifying the brutality and evil of the occupation as sourced in the Communist ideology than in any innately Chinese cultural aspects.  When an authoritarian, dictatorial regime conquers a smaller, basically defenseless nation, it can never be justified.  I liken the Chinese occupation of Tibet with the other evil occupations of history, such as the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, or the Soviet conquest of the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia).

Those once-captive nations eventually regained their freedom, and one day too, Tibet may once again see the back-end of the Communist occupying forces, just as, after the 1911 Revolution, Tibet saw the last of the Manchu Imperial occupation army.   


The Length of American Wars: Update for Iraq and Afghanistan

23 Mar

On March 19, 2008, the world noted the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  The Iraq War is now the third longest war in American history, after the Vietnam War and the continuing war in Afghanistan.

Below is a look at America’s major wars and their length in months. Time periods are rounded up or down for ease of comparison. Current conflicts are italicized and are colored red. The longest wars are listed first in descending order by length. The start dates reflect when the United States entered the wars.

Vietnam War–August, 1964 to April, 1975= 129   months (American involvement began in the late    1950s, but major U.S. combat forces began taking part in large-unit combat in 1964.  August, 1964 is the month of the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the U.S. bombing of North Vietnamese targets.)       

American Revolution–April, 1775 to September, 1783= 100    months


Afghanistan–    October, 2001 to Present (as of March, 2008)= 78    months


Iraq WarMarch,    2003 to Present (as of March, 2008)= 60 months


U.S. Civil War–April, 1861 to April, 1865= 48    months


World War II–December, 1941 to September, 1945= 45    months


World War I–April, 1917 to November, 1918= 19    months


Korean War– June, 1950 to July, 1953= 37 months


War of 1812–June, 1812 to February, 1815= 32 months


U.S.-Mexican War– May, 1846 to February, 1848= 21    months


Spanish-American War–April, 1898 to August, 1898= 5    months


Gulf War–January, 1991 to March, 1991= 3 months




History of Wars between Serbia and Kosovo

17 Feb

For hundreds of years, the people of Serbia have considered the region of Kosovo to be the homeland of their history and culture. From the late 1300’s until 1912 however, this area was ruled by the Ottoman Turks, an Islamic people who once controlled a vast empire. Over the course of Ottoman Turkish rule, many Serbs either left Kosovo or converted from Christianity to Islam. Also, the Albanian Muslim (a Muslim is someone who believes in Islam) population of the area grew, until the majority of Kosovo inhabitants were no longer Serb Christians.

Albanians and Serbs are quite different in terms of language, religion and culture. Ever since Serbia acquired Kosovo in the First Balkan War (1912), conflict between these two groups has erupted periodically in this disputed region.

Below is a listing of these conflicts accompanied by a brief description.

NOTE: For the purposes of categorizing these conflicts, the term "Kosovo War" is used to name the wars between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians. Also, the use of the Serb term "Kosovo" rather than the Albanian version "Kosova" is not meant to imply favoritism or bias. "Kosovo" is the name that most Americans and Westerners know the region by and that is the name used here for clarity.

First Kosovo War (1912-1913)–In the brief First Balkan War (1912-1913), Serbia, along with other Balkan nations, succeeded in ending Ottoman Turkish rule in south-eastern Europe. As a consequence of this war, Albania became independent and the largely Albanian-inhabited region of Kosovo became a part of Serbia. Serbs had long claimed this area, citing its history as a part of the Serbian Kingdom which existed in the Middle Ages.

The Kosovars had already begun a rebellion against the Turks and wished to join with the new nation of Albania. Occupying Serb and Montenegrin troops and Kosovo guerrillas clashed. In the fighting and subsequent repression, approximately 20,000 Kosovars perished, while tens of thousands more fled to other countries. Many atrocities were carried out by the "kamitadjis," Serb paramilitary forces which officially operated independently of the Serb army but engaged in brutal repression of the civilian population. Note that in the Bosnian and Kosovo Wars of the 1990’s, Serb paramilitary forces in the same vein as the kamitadjis operated freely.

Second Kosovo War (1915-1918)–This conflict can be considered a part of World War One. Serbia was invaded by the armies of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria (along with Turkey they were known as "The Central Powers"). The Serb army and government fled before the armies of the Central Powers in the winter of 1915. They marched through the mountains of Kosovo and Albania toward the sea where naval ships of the British and French (known as "The Allies") rescued them to continue the war from bases in Greece. During this retreat through Albanian-populated areas, the Kosovars exacted revenge on the Serbs for their conquest a few years earlier. Albanian guerrillas ambushed small units, killed and mutilated soldiers who became cut off from the main Serb forces and generally made the retreat as difficult as possible for the Serb army. Between the attacking Central Powers, the Albanians and the weather, roughly half of the 300,000 Serb soldiers who began the retreat never made it to the sea. The Albanian rebels, or "kaçaks" as they were called, also fought against the Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian occupiers of Kosovo.

Third Kosovo War (1918-1924)–With the defeat of the Central Powers, Serbia joined with Montenegro and the formerly Austro-Hungarian areas of Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia to form the new nation of Yugoslavia. The new kingdom’s government and army were dominated by Serbs. The king of Serbia became the first king of Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav army was created with the old Serb army as its nucleus.

The Serb/Yugoslav army reoccupied Kosovo in 1918 but faced resistance from the Albanian Kosovar kaçaks, who did not want a return to Serb rule. As the army re-imposed government rule, many atrocities occurred, in part fueled by Serb desire for revenge over the harassment they suffered in the retreat of 1915. Massacres and the burning of villages were tactics employed to break the back of the rebel resistance. The Yugoslav government also banned the teaching of the Albanian language in the schools and encouraged immigration of Serbs and Montenegrins into Kosovo from other parts of Yugoslavia.

The rebels based in northern Albania formed the Committee for National Defense of Kosovo, also known as the Kosovo Committee or "KK" for short. The KK smuggled arms across the border and conducted raids against government forces. In May, 1919, the KK called for a mass uprising in Kosovo, and nearly 10,000 poorly armed rebels were driven into the mountains by a Yugoslav army equipped with modern machine guns and artillery. The KK continued the guerrilla struggle from bases in northern Albania until 1924. In that year, Yugoslavia’s military helped Ahmed Zogu, Albania’s former Prime Minister, regain power. In 1923, the KK had aided in Zogu’s overthrow from their bases in northern Albania. In return for Yugoslavia’s military aid, Zogu (who later became King Zog), closed down the KK’s guerrilla bases and effectively ejected them from Albania. This brought an end to the armed struggle in Kosovo.

Fourth Kosovo War (1941-1944)–This conflict can be considered a part of World War Two. In 1941, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria (the "Axis") invaded Yugoslavia and divided the country between them. Kosovo was occupied by the Italians, who attached it to Albania, which had been conquered by Italy in 1939. Most Kosovar Albanians welcomed the Italian occupiers, especially when Axis forces stood by and did not interfere as gangs of Kosovar Albanians attacked Serb and Montenegrin settlers. It is estimated that between 3,000 and 10,000 Serbs died and 30,000 and 100,000 fled Kosovo in this period. After Italy’s surrender to the Allies on September 8, 1943, German forces occupied Kosovo and Albania. The Germans encouraged attacks against the Serbs and used local Albanians to help them round up local Jews for their death camps.

While no extensive resistance to the Axis developed in Kosovo, most of the central portion (Bosnia-Hercegovina and Montenegro) of the old Yugoslavia was embroiled in bloody warfare against the Germans and Italians. The Communist Partisan army of Josip Broz Tito waged an effective guerrilla campaign which tied down hundreds of thousands of Axis soldiers. Most Kosovo Albanians distrusted the Partisans due to the perception that it was a largely Serbian organization and because most Muslim Albanians were anti-Communist. Some Kosovo Partisan units were formed and began striking at Axis forces in early 1943, but by and large, the Communist Partisan organization in Kosovo was quite weak.

In order to encourage more Kosovo Albanian participation in the war against the Axis, Tito announced in January, 1944, that after the war Kosovo would have the right to secede from Yugoslavia and join with Albania. Tito never intended to abide by this declaration and when Partisan units liberated Kosovo from the Germans in late 1944, a new conflict began in the Drenica valley of Kosovo.

Drenica Rebellion (or Polluzha’s Rebellion) (Late 1944-March 1945)–Shaban Polluzha was a Kosovar Albanian Partisan leader who believed Tito’s declaration that Kosovo could join with Albania. When he was ordered to take his 8,000 Kosovo Partisans north into Croatia to combat German troops, he refused, sparking an attack by the Titoist Partisan army. It is estimated that 20,000 Kosovar Albanians joined his rebellion. During the fighting and later Yugoslav Partisan reprisals, some 44 villages were reported destroyed. Tito’s forces put down the rebellion completely. After the war, Tito became the dictator of a Communist Yugoslavia. During his reign, Tito managed to suppress nationalist and ethnic tensions thoughout Yugoslavia.

Pristina Student Demonstrations (Spring, 1981)–After Tito’s death in 1980, Yugoslavia began to show signs of dissolution. On March 11, 1981, a small university student demonstration in Kosovo’s capital of Pristina turned into a general plea for democracy and Albanian nationalism. The students were somewhat influenced by the recent rise of the Solidarity movement in Communist Poland. On March 26, students and police clashed, leaving 37 injured. High school students and factory workers joined the protests demanding either Kosovo independence or union with Albania. At this point, Yugoslav special police with tanks entered Pristina. In the violence that followed, the government claims only eleven died and 57 were injured. Other reports put the death toll at hundreds. After the protests were broken up, thousands were arrested and put on trial.

It should be noted though, that administration of Kosovo was in the hands of local Albanian Communists, and this should not be interpreted as a strictly Serb-Albanian conflict. The protests were directed more at the Yugoslav government as a whole.

Sixth Kosovo War (1998-1999)–The Kosovo Liberation Army began a guerrilla war in February, 1998 against Serb Yugoslav authority. On March 24, 1999, in response to atrocities committed by the Serbs and their unwillingness to negotiate at the peace table (The Rambouillet Conference), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began a 78-day air campaign which succeeded in causing Serb leader Slobodan Milosovic to withdraw his army from Kosovo.

Kosovo Secession from Serbia (Feb. 17, 2008)–After existing as a UN-Administered part of Serbia since the 1998-1999 Kosovo War, the government of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. The Serbian government opposed this secession.



1. Judah, Tim. Kosovo: War and Revenge. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

2. Ignatieff, Michael. Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2000.

3. Stavrianos, L.S. The Balkans Since 1453. New York,New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.

History: Independent Albania–

Please cite this source when appropriate:

Lee, Roger A. "The History Guy: Warfare and Conflict Between Kosovar Albanians and Serbs Since 1912" 

Copyright © 1998-2008 Roger A. Lee and History Guy Media; Last Modified: 02.17.08


Pakistan’s Violent Political History Continues With Bhutto’s Assassination

27 Dec

Pakistan’s Violent Political History Continues
With Bhutto’s Assassination


With the political assassination of former Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, Pakistan’s bloody
tradition of political violence continues to plague an already
fractured and unstable country.

A short list of significant acts of political
violence in Pakistan. Note that Pakistan has been an independent
nation only since 1947.

–1947-Independence from the British and the
violent separation from India (several million killed in Pakistan and

–First Kashmir War
(1947-1948) with India

annexation of Baluchistan, military suppression of Baluch

–1951–Assassination of
Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan

–Pakistan’s first President, Iskandar Mirza,
throws out the constitution and declares martial law on October 7,

–General Ayub Khan overthrows Iskander Mirza in a
bloodless coup d’etat on October 7, 1958.

–1958-1960–Pakistani military suppression of
Baluch nationalists

–Second Kashmir War (1965)
with India

–Bangladesh War of
Independence (1971) from Pakistan (Bangladesh had, from 1947 to 1971,
been part of Pakistan, best known as East Pakistan). India intervened
in the war to aid Bangladesh against Pakistan

–1973-1976-Rebellion in
Baluchistan, a province in southwestern Pakistan

–1977–Military coup
overthrows Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was replaced by
General Zia al-Huq.

–1979–Former Prime
Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed after a controversial

War (Kashmir Border Conflict)
war with India

–October, 1999–General Pervez
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless military coup


(2004-Present)-against tribal rebels and al-Qaida fighters in the
Northwest border region

–2003–Two unsuccessful
assassination attempts against President

–July, 2003–Siege and Battle at the Red Mosque–over 100 killed.

–October 18,
2007–Assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
upon her return from exile

–December 27,
2007–Assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in




Turkish Attacks on Kurds Raises Questions

17 Dec

Turkish forces bombed Kurdish PKK rebels based in northern Iraq in aerial attacks on December 1st and on December 16th, with both attacks aided by intelligence supplied by the United States. Earlier in the Autumn, Turkey hinted at an invasion of northern Iraq to get at the rebels, a move opposed by both the U.S. and the Iraqi government.

While the Turks are within their rights to strike at an enemy combatant force with whom they have been at war with since the 1980s, the U.S. is not the sovereign power in Iraq; officially, sovereign power rests with the Iraqi government in Baghdad, and reports indicate that the government, especially the Kurdish members of the government are quite angry at this attack and at U.S. complicity.

While the U.S. can claim that it is aiding a fellow NATO member defend itself, and that the PKK is considered a terrorist group, allowing the Turks to strike inside Iraq does open up the question of what the Bush Administration would do if Iran launched a similar cross-border strike against their own Kurdish rebels who also use northern Iraq as a base.

U.S. Helps Turkey Hit Rebel Kurds In Iraq: Intelligence Role Could Complicate Diplomacy–Washington Post, December 18, 2007

Turkey’s U.S.-Backed Strike in Iraq–Time, Dec. 17, 2007


Casualties in the Somali War

02 Dec

Some war casualty figures were released by a human-rights group in Somalia. The figures are unverified, but, in the History Guy’s opinion, are not outside the realm of possibility. Mogadishu has seen heavy combat between the insurgent Islamic forces and the heavily-equipped Ethiopian military. Also, the insurgents are using Iraq-style bombing techniques and tactics, which tend to inflict large numbers of casualties among civilians.

According to Somalia’s Elman Human Rights group, 5,960 civilian fatalities occurred in the capital of Mogadishu in 2007. Also, the group claims that 7,980 civilians were wounded and over 700,000 displaced from their homes due to the continuing war between the Somali government and the Islamic insurgency. Ethiopia is aiding the Somali government; providing troops and air power to fight the insurgents. In December of 2006, Ethiopian forces, with American aid, invaded Islamic forces-held Somali territory and overthrew the extremist Islamic regime and helped install a pro-Western government in its place.


Somali group: 5,960 killed this year–Associated Press, December 2, 2007


Anglo-Iraqi Wars

17 Nov

This page lists and explains the five wars fought between the United Kingdom and Iraq. The word "Anglo" refers to England, once known as "Angle Land," which is part of the island of Great Britain, which is the primary part of the United Kingdom.

1st Anglo-Iraq War: May 1920 to Feb. 1921

The Great Iraqi Revolution (known in Iraq as Ath Thawra al Iraqiyya al Kubra and by the British as the Arab Revolt of 1920-Rebellion by Iraqi Arabs against the rule of the British Mandate. The rebellion was suppressed by the British military. This can be considered the First Anglo-Iraqi War.

The immediate causes of this conflict arose out of the results of the British conquest of the Mesopotamian region from the Ottoman Turks during World War I. Following that war, the British established, with League of Nations approval, a colonial-style Mandate over the region now named “Iraq.” Many Iraqi nationalists, who believed independence would result from the ejection of the Turks, were severely disappointed with the establishment of the British Mandate. Other, related events and issues also inflamed Iraqi Arab opinion against the British. The Mandate government almost completely excluded Iraqis, as the British imported experienced civil servants from India (also ruled by Britain) to help administer the country. In northern Iraq, the British allowed thousands of Christian refugees escaping persecution in Turkey, to settle in mostly Muslim Iraq.

2nd Anglo-Iraq War: April 18, 1941 to May 30, 1941

The Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941, also known as the Rashid Ali Coup, was a relatively small, but very significant part of the Second World War. Since the ending of the British Mandate and the advent of full Iraqi independence in 1932, Britain retained a great deal of military influence in Iraq, despite lingering opposition from many Arab nationalists. One of these nationalists, Rashid Ali, seized power in Baghdad and refused British requests to allow British military forces to enter Iraq. Britain at this time was fighting German and Italian forces in North Africa and were preparing to invade Vichy French-held Syria. (The Vichy French were working with the Germans and British and Free French forces needed to secure the region). Believing promises of German support, Rashid Ali ordered his forces to attack British bases in western Iraq and to oppose the landing of British forces at the southern city of Basra. German support appeared in the form of a small number of Luftwaffe fighter planes, and the British forces quickly defeated the Iraqi military.

3rd Anglo-Iraq War: Aug. 2, 1990 to Feb. 1991

The Second Persian Gulf War (Also known as “Operation Desert Storm”)— On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and quickly conquered the small, oil-rich emirate of Kuwait. Almost immediately, an international coalition of nations gathered a powerful military force under the authority of the United Nations and the leadership of the United States, first to defend the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and secondly, to force Iraq to withdraw from occupied Kuwait. From the beginning of the crisis, the United Kingdom, led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, worked very closely with the U.S. in assuming a determined posture against Saddam Hussein’s territorial ambition. Click on the blue link above for more detail on the war.

4th Anglo-Iraq War: 1991 to March 19, 2003

The "No-Fly Zone War" pitted the air and naval forces of the United States and the United Kingdom against the air defenses of Iraq. This conflict was a direct result of the agreements which ended the fighting in the Second Persian Gulf War (Also known as “Operation Desert Storm”). Click on the blue "No-Fly Zone War" link above for more detail on the war.

5th Anglo-Iraq War: March 19, 2003 to Present

The Third Persian Gulf War , known as "Operation Telic" by the British, and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" by the U.S., ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power and led to the occupation of Iraq by British and American forces. Click on the blue link above for more detail on the war.

Please cite this source when appropriate:

Lee, R. "The History Guy: Anglo-Iraq Wars

Pages on Middle Eastern History

Iraq War

Gulf War

Arab-Israeli Conflict

Wars of Egypt

The Barbary Wars

Wars of Iraq

Anglo-Iraqi Wars

Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941

Saudi-Yemen Conflict

Iranian HostageCrisis 

"No-Fly Zone" War

Attack on the USS Cole

Yemeni Tribal Uprising (1998)


Waziristan War (2004-Present)

17 Nov

Waziristan War—(2004- Present): In the rugged and remote region of Waziristan on Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan, Islamic rebels allied to the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida are fighting to establish an Islamic Republic.

The fighting began in 2004, when Pakistan’s army entered the region inhabited by the Waziri tribe in search al-Qaida and Taliban fighters who were using Waziristan as a base for attacks against American and Allied forces in Afghanistan.

Since the fighting began, Pakistani forces suffer almost daily casualties due to roadside bombs and ambushes. The authority of the central government is almost nonexistent in the rebellious tribal borderlands.

The United States aids the Pakistani forces with intelligence information and with tactical air strikes on suspected rebel bases and safe houses. The best known U.S. airstrike occurred at the village of Damadola, on January 13, 2006. The attack occurred in the Bajaur tribal area, about 4.5 miles) from the Afghan border. This Predator-drone attack killed at least 18 people, including several non-Waziri foreign al-Qaida fighters.

In July, 2007, following nearly ten months of an uneasy peace, the Islamic militants of Waziristan once again began fighting the Pakistani government in response to the siege and army assault on the Red Mosque in Islamabad. The Red Mosque had been held by Islamic militants and the Pakistani Army ousted the militants in a bloody battle.

The U.S. had been quietly critical of Musharaff’s government for letting the militants in the Waziristan border region regroup during the ten-month truce. After the border region violence renewed, Washington offered assistance to Pakistan in terms of arms and other aid. Rumors of possible American intervention against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Waziristan sparked a rebuke from the Pakistani government that any such cross-border action would be opposed.

Reports: Pak Army strikes in Waziristan–July 25, 2007

US points out 9 terror camps in Waziristan–July 25, 2007

60 dead in Pakistan border fighting  –April 4, 2007

Copyright © 1998-2007 Roger A. Lee and History Guy Media; Last Modified: 10.07.07

"The History Guy" is a Registered Trademark.


Musharraf’s Martial Law Endangers the War on Terror

04 Nov

When General/President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan, ended freedom of speech, freedom of the press, overturned the authority of the Supreme Court, and postponed elections by at least a year, he not only reminded everyone that he is, indeed, a military dictator, but he also seriously endangered America’s War on Terror.

The War on Terror, or the Long War, as some have come to call the current world war the U.S. is waging on Islamic extremists, has relied on Pakistan’s relative stability as a bulwark against the Taliban and al-Qaida.  The War in Afghanistan, which has entered its sixth year, has put a great deal of pressure on neighboring Pakistan.  The Taliban and al-Qaida use the mountainous border region for bases and for recruitment of new fighters.  Keeping Pakistan in the fight against the terrorists is vital for American strategy, yet Musharraf has made American support for his regime all the more difficult with his heavy-handed repression of political dissent.

This state of emergency will only embolden the Islamic militants in Pakistan, giving them more legitimacy as "freedom fighters" against an American-supported military dictatorship.  Meanwhile, by suppressing the free press and the legitimate non-violent political opposition, he weakens the democratic institutions that form the natural bulwark to the extremists. 

The Bush Administration is caught between a rock and a hard place in deciding how to respond to this unwelcome development.  Too much pressure on Musharraf to reverse course could drive Pakistan out of the anti-Taliban alliance.  Too little pressure will expose the cynicism and hypocrisy of America’s claim to support democracy in Iraq and elsewhere while tolerating or supporting dictatorships when convenient.  And of course, if Pakistan devolves into a spiral of violence, the militants win and at the best Pakistan is unable to control its own borders, while at the worst, an anti-Western, pro-Taliban, pro-bin Laden government takes over.  And let us not forget that Pakistan is a nuclear power.  If chaos reigns, who watches the nuclear arsenal?  Thinking people in Washington, London, Tehran, New Delhi, Kabul and elsewhere should be very worried on that point.