Major Wars of the 20th Century
The Six Day War (1967)
Israel vs. Egypt
Israel decided on a pre-emptive strike following Egypt's request for the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping force from Sinai on 16 May, the closure of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping on 22 May, and the signature of an Egyptian-Jordanian defence pact on 30 May. On 5 June 1967 Israel launched devastating air attacks on Egyptian air bases. Israeli forces then invaded Sinai and reached the Suez Canal on 7 June. By nightfall on 7 June Jordan had been defeated and Jerusalem and the West Bank were in Israeli hands. On 9 June Israel troops attacked Syria and occupied the Golan Heights. A ceasefire was agreed on 10 June 1967.
Yom Kippur War (1973)
Israel vs. coalition of Arab States led by Egypt and Syria
On 6 October 1973, the day of a Jewish religious holiday, Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal, overwhelming Israel's BarLev defence line in a well-planned surprise attack. Syrian forces attacked the Golan Heights, but initial gains were surrendered by 12 October. In a daring counter-stroke on 15 October 1973, Israeli forces crossed to the west bank of the Suez Canal and encircled the Egyptian Third Army. A ceasefire became effective on 24 October 1973.
Iran-Iraq War (1980-88)
Iran vs. Iraq
Hoping to exploit the instability of Iran after the fall of the Shah, Iraq abrogated the Algiers pact of 1975, by which it had been forced to accept joint control of the Shatt ai-Arab waterway, and invaded Iran on 12 September 1980. Khorramshahr fell on 13 October, 1980, but the Iranian government did not collapse and its armed forces began to counterattack successfully. Each side bombed the other's oil installations and attacked international shipping in the Gulf. Iran rejected Iraq's ceasefire overtures as the military stalemate depened. On 9 January 1987 Iran launched a major offensive - codenamed Karabala-5 - with the aim of capturing Basra. The Iranians advanced some distance towards their objective, while suffering heavy casualties. In 1987 and 1988 Iraq made major advances and a ceasefire was organized in August 1988. The war is estimated to have cost almost a million casualties, with some of the heaviest land-fighting since the Second World War.
Falklands War (1982)
Argentina vs. Great Britain
On 2 April 1982 the Argentine dictatorship, under General Galtieri, launched a successful invasion of the islands, forcing its garrison of 18 Royal Marines to surrender. Argentine forces also seized the island of South Georgia. On 5 April a British Task Force set sail to recapture the islands and on 7 April an exclusion zone of 200 miles was declared around the island. On 25 April South Georgia was recaptured and on 1 May air attacks began on the Argentine garrison on the Falk1ands. The next day the Argentine cruiser Belgrana was sunk by a British submarine and on 4 May HMS Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile.
On 21 May British troops went ashore at San Carlos. Two British frigates, the Ardent and Antelope, were sunk and others damaged by air attack, but British troops took Darwin and Goose Green by the end of May and on 11-14 June an attack on Port Stanley led to the surrender of the Argentine forces.
Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005)
Northern Sudan vs. Southern Sudan
The 21-year war waged by the Arab regime in the north against the largely black, oil-rich south was the most devastating in a long series of ethnic conflicts in Sudan. Nearly two million people - one out of every five southern Sudanese - died as a direct result of the fighting or from the famine and disease it caused. Four million more were made refugees, while tens of thousands were taken into slavery. In 2002 the U.S. government accused the regime of genocide.
Gulf War (1990)
Iraq vs. Coalition led by the United States
On 2 August Iraq invaded Kuwait. UN Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal, was passed the same day. The USA ordered naval forces to the Gulf on 3 August and sent troops to Saudi Arabia on 7 August (Operation Desert Shield). UN Resolution 661, imposing economic sanction on Iraq, was passed on 6 August. On 8 August Iraq announced the annexation of Kuwait. On 29 November UN Resolution 678 sanctioned the use of force if Iraq had not withdrawn by 15 January 1991. Britain joined the Allied armies (led by the USA), contributing land, sea and air forces.
The Allied offensive against Iraq (Operation Desert Storm) began shortly before midnight on 16 January. The Allied ground offensive began on 24 February. Kuwait City was entered by the Allies on 26 February. With Kuwait liberated and the Iraqi army defeated, US President Bush ordered a ceasefire, which came into effect on 28 February. During the conflict, Allied forces lost 166 killed, 207 wounded and 106 missing or captured. Iraqi losses were estimated by some to be 200,000.
Yugoslavian Civil War (Serbo-Croat War) (1991-95)
Croat forces vs. Serb-controlled Yugoslav People's Army
Declarations of independence by the former Yugoslav Republics of Slovenia and Croatia led to clashes on Slovenia's borders from July 1991, followed by heavy fighting on Croatian territory between Croatian militia and Serbian irregulars (chetniks) backed by the Yugoslav Federal Army. The main centres of fighting were eastern and central Croatia and the Adriatic coast around Dubrovnik.
Yugoslavia officially ceased to exist in January 1992 and Slovenia and Croatia were recognized as independent states. On 29 February 1992 Muslim leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina declared independence. Bosnian Serbs and the Serbian leadership in Belgrade rejected this, and war began on 6 April with the opening of the siege of the capital Sarajevo.
Serbs were accused of "ethnic cleansing" to secure territorial domination, and a UN trade embargo was imposed on Serbia on 31 May. Peace talks in Geneva, mediated by Lord Owen and Cyrus Vance, began on 26 August. On 16 November a UN naval blockade was mounted against Serbia and Montenegro. Fighting continued as a further peace conference was held in Geneva on 22-23 January 1993. Serbs attacked Muslim enclaves at Srebenica and Goradze. Numerous peace talks collapsed. In 1995 Croatia launched major offensives and an uneasy peace accord was signed at Dayton, Ohio. An estimated 200,000 people died in the Yugoslavian Civil War.
The Congo Wars (1996-2003)
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia vs. Rwanda, Uganda, and numerous rebel factions
This most devastating conflict since World War II began when Hutu-Tutsi violence in Rwanda spilled over the border into Zaire (soon renamed to Democratic Republic of the Congo), which brought on a revolution and the First Congo War (1996-97). A second rebellion sparked the even more devastating Second Congo War (1998-2003), sometimes called the Great War of Africa because it swept up eight neighboring nations as well. Upwards of five million people died/mostly as a result of starvation and disease, while millions more became refugees.
Present War in Afghanistan -2001
United States and NATO VS. The Taliban and al Qaeda
Beginning in 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded it, Afghanistan has been the scene of nearly ceaseless conflict. Though the Soviets were expelled ten years later - at the cost of perhaps a half million Afghan lives - the civil wars that followed resulted in the victory of the Taliban, a conservative Islamic regime, censured worldwide for its oppression of women and its protection of the terrorist group al Qaeda. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. and British forces invaded and restored a fragile, troubled democracy. The subsequent decade saw a resurgent Taliban fighting NATO troops for control of the country. Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed.
The Iraq War 2003-2011
United States, Great Britain, and allies vs. Iraq, the Iraqi insurgency, and al Qaeda
The controversial 2003 invasion of Iraq by multinational fore led by the United States and Britain was justified by fears that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi military was defeated, but no such weapons were discovered. Instead the country collapsed into anarchy, insurgency, and bloody sectarian strife. Altogether some 5,000 coalition troops, and perhaps 100,0000 Iraqi civilians, were killed. Order was largely restored by 2008, and the last U.S. troops were due to leave in 2011.
Major Wars of 20th Century Part 1
Major Wars of 20th Century Part 1