Monthly Archives: December 2013

Statistical Analysis of Killings in Syria’s Civil War

I recently became aware of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, an organization that does important work related to scientific analysis of human rights violations around the world. I’ve skimmed through some of their book Counting Civilian Casualties  which covers a lot of ground related to measuring the civilian toll of violent conflict.

One report initially published last January and updated this summer compares different databases of conflict-related violent deaths in Syria’s ongoing conflict. The documentation of killings is a difficult subject. No one wants to ignore the human toll of war by reducing horrific levels of violence to mere numbers. But quantifying the killing is an important supplement to the personal stories, pictures, videos that are compiled into narratives of conflict, helping us to better understand conflict processes and how to prevent them or mitigate their effects.

The report is embedded below.

HRDAG Stat Analysis of Syria Killings

Jordans Daraa problem – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

The transnational side of the Syrian civil war continues to grow out in numerous directions. As the flow of arms, money, fighters, and refugees continues to cross borders, the conflict increasingly impacts “the neighborhood.” Much has been written on the various cross-border dimensions of the war, and it is further complicating an already complex picture.  The risks associated with the spillover may begin to change the relationships between antagonist parties and induce some levels of cooperation, particularly on basic security matters. The following on recent developments related to Jordan’s considerations of its northern border next to Daraa via al-monitor.

Jordans Daraa problem – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

The southern Syrian governorate of Daraa has become a security issue for Jordan as much as it is an existential challenge to the Damascus regime. In recent weeks, anti-Syrian regime rebels have tightened their grip over most of its territory. Recently, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a visiting Jordanian delegation, “Daraa has become a Jordanian problem.”
In response, Jordan government spokesman Mohammad Moumani told a local newspaper that Amman viewed Assad’s comments positively and, “Daraa was a Jordanian–Syrian problem.”


‘Tribal loyalties behind majority of campus violence incidents’ | The Jordan Times

A few figures from a recent study on the university violence in Jordan by Mahmoud Jundi. via ‘Tribal loyalties behind majority of campus violence incidents’ | The Jordan Times.

Almost 62 per cent of violent incidents at the Kingdom’s universities are tribal related, while 60 per cent are related to sexual harassment against girls, according to a study.

Conducted by researcher Mahmoud Jundi, the study showed that 51 per cent of violence on campus is related to “injustice” in implementing laws, while only 2.2 per cent is related to a lack of adaptation to the university environment. The survey sample included 600 students from six of the country’s universities, three public and three private.

Jundi, who holds an MA in peace and conflict studies from the Hashemite University, said the study was conducted in response to campus violence, which has recently become a phenomenon in the country’s higher education institutions.

The study, a copy of which was sent to The Jordan Times, showed that 2.14 per cent of the violent incidents on campus involved the use of weapons, while university property was damaged in 3.13 per cent. In his research, Jundi said the recurrent violence will negatively affect the international ranking of Jordanian universities.

According to statistics released by the National Campaign for Defending Students’ Rights (Thabahtoona), 50 fights were recorded at the Kingdom’s universities in the period between January and April 2012, while 30 fights were reported in the March-April period this year. Some of the brawls led to the death of students, while others resulted in their imprisonment.


Rami Khouri: Syria is an aberration of the Arab Spring – Syria Direct

I went to an excellent talk by Rami Khouri on Syria at CUMERC this past Monday evening. I was intending to write up some thoughts, but didn’t have time after the event. Syria Direct has some excerpts from the talk, though, and can be found here.

It’s worth a quick read, but its brevity doesn’t do justice to the depth of knowledge and insight Khouri delivered on what is happening in Syria, what it means for the region, and how things may unfold going forward. It was being recorded, so perhaps CUMERC will post it soon.


Visualizing Leader Succession in Non-Democracies, 1946-2004

In the process working on time series data for my dissertation, I recently came across an excellent utility for data visualization called CartoDB. Besides being an excellent mapping tool, it is particularly helpful for people less familiar with GIS technologies but nonetheless want to see their data spatially.

As my dissertation relates to leadership change in non-democratic regimes, succession events are a good candidate for taking this visualization tool for a spin. So I pared down the dataset I’m working on to a few key variables to create a dynamic view of leadership change across the world and over time. I should also note that I did have to import geocodings for the countries in my data (specifically their capitals) as this was not a piece of information I had previously. This was a pretty simple task thanks to an excellent geocoding database called “Countries of the World” The map I created is below and depicts all leadership changes (via Goemans, Gleditsch, & Chiozza’s ARCHIGOS dataset) in non-democratic regimes since 1946 (from Milan Svolik’s data from his excellent book on authoritarianism).

You can go HERE for the direct link to the visualization.

I have other variables in the table that differentiate between types of succession (regular, irregular, natural death of the incumbent), but for now this visualization gives a good sense of the density of leadership change in authoritarian regimes across the globe. It would be nice to distinguish between these different types of succession the map, but as Jay Ulfelder notes in his visualization of coups d’etat, it doesn’t seem possible yet on CartoDB’s Torque (time series) option.

There are a bunch of other visualizations I’d like to do using CartoDB given the efficiency of using this cloud mapping utility and its high-quality products. John Beieler has mapped protests from GDELT data which received a lot of media attention, and there’s a lot more to visualize with that data at the country-level going forward.


Animated Map of Coup Attempts Worldwide, 1946-2013 | Dart-Throwing Chimp

Reposted from Jay Ulfelder who used CartoDB with data on coups d’etat around the world to provide an excellent visualization over time.

via EVEN BETTER Animated Map of Coup Attempts Worldwide, 1946-2013 | Dart-Throwing Chimp.

A week ago, I posted an animated map of coup attempts worldwide since 1946 (here). Unfortunately, those maps were built from a country-year data set, so we couldn’t see multiple attempts within a single country over the course of a year. As it happens, though, the lists of coup attempts on which that animation was based does specify the dates of those events. So why toss out all that information?

To get a sharper picture of the distribution of coup attempts across space and time, I rebuilt my mashed-up list of coup attempts from the original sources (Powell & Thyne and Marshall), but now with the dates included. Where only a month was given, I pegged the event to the first day of that month. To avoid double-counting, I then deleted events that appeared to be duplicates (same outcome in the same country within a single week). Finally, to get the animation in CartoDB to give a proper sense of elapsed time, I embedded the results in a larger data frame of all dates over the 68-year period observed. You can find the daily data on my Google Drive (here).