Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Somalia v. Kenya: 3 Maps Explaining the Maritime Dispute & Court Ruling

Thumbnail image combining the three maps of the Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute, showing the two countries' overlapping territorial sea, EEZ, and continental shelf claims as well as the judgement reached in the ruling of the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ). The full-size maps are each included separately, with full alternate text, farther down on this page.
Scroll down for the full-size maps

The UN's main court for disputes between countries, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruled yesterday on a contentious case many years in the making: Kenya and Somalia's dispute over the rights to a large slice of the Indian Ocean off their coasts.

While other news outlets analyze the politics and economics of the dispute, it's PolGeoNow's job to give you a clearer, more detailed explanation of its geography. And as shown in the three all-new map infographics below, that geography is a bit more complex than most news articles let on.

Scroll down to see each map at full size, along with concise explanations expanding on the information within the graphics...


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Yemen Control Map & Report: Houthis Expand in South - September 2021 (Subscription)


There are newer versions of this map available. To see them, view all Yemen articles on PolGeoNow.

Timeline by Djordje Djukic. Map by Evan Centanni, Djordje Djukic, and

Map of what's happening in Yemen as of September 2021, including territorial control for the unrecognized Houthi government, president-in-exile Hadi and his allies in the Saudi-led coalition, and the UAE-backed southern separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), plus major areas of operations of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Includes recent locations of fighting and other events, including Marib, Rahabah, Harib, Bayhan, and many more.
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Forces aligned with internationally-recognized President Hadi have successfully defended the central Yemeni city of Marib from the Houthis. But Houthi forces have continued their forward march elsewhere, securing full control of Bayda province and growing their territory in Marib and Shabwa provinces.

See all this and more on the newest update to PolGeoNow's Yemen territorial control map, which includes a timeline of changes and important events since our previous Yemen map report in February.

This map and report are premium content available to paid subscribers of the PolGeoNow Conflict Mapping Service.

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Exclusive report includes:
  • Up-to-date map of current territorial control in Yemen, color-coded for the pro-Hadi coalition, the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), Houthi forces, and major presence of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Detailed indication of town-by-town control, including provincial boundaries, all major cities, and many smaller ones
  • Markers for recent areas of fighting, including Marib, Rahabah, Harib, Abdiyah, Bayhan, and many more
  • Timeline of changes to the situation since May 6, 2021, with links to sources 


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This map and report are not available for automated purchase to non-subscribers. If you need access or republication rights for only this map report, contact for options.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Have Afghanistan's Flag and Official Name Changed?

Flag of the Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, featuring the Islamic Shahada text in black calligraphy over a plain white backdrop
Taliban flag of Afghanistan*

Flag of the (non-Taliban) Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, featuring a white-outlined seal over black, red, and green bars
Non-Taliban flag of Afghanistan

*Alternative versions of the Taliban flag include "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" or "Long Live the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" in Pashto as a smaller line of text at the bottom.

Taliban Takeover

As you probably heard, Afghanistan's Taliban rebel group successfully took over most of the country last month, with the previous national government and military collapsing as the rebels seized the national capital. 

Though the Taliban run what's now, for all practical purposes, the country's actual government, they haven't been officially accepted yet by any of the world's other countries. 

And the issue isn't politically settled so far, both Afghanistan's flag and its full official country name are a matter of dispute, with the Taliban promoting one version and the remnants of the pre-Taliban government promoting another.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Are Mozambique's insurgents really part of "ISIS"?

This is one of two newly-published supplements to PolGeoNow's Mozambique insurgency control map report series. The other revisits the question of the what the insurgents are actually called, still relevant one year after we first reported on their history and emergence onto the world stage.

Mozambique: Cabo Delgado conflict map - August 2021: Detailed, close-up control map showing areas occupied by so-called ISIS-linked rebels in northern Mozambique (also known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa Jama, ASWJ, Ansar al-Sunnah, or Al Shabaab), plus towns and villages raided by the insurgents over the past eight months. Situation after Rwandan military intervention that took back Mocímboa da Praia and other towns from the rebels. Shows roads, rivers, and terrain, and includes key locations of the insurgency such as Palma, Awasse, Nchinga, Ntotwe, the Total LNG site and natural gas fields, and many more towns and villages. Updated to August 31, 2021. Colorblind accessible.
Mozambique's insurgents have been pushed out of their most prized territories, but are still fighting on in other areas.

PolGeoNow's coverage of the insurgency in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province has, as usual, been largely focused on who controls what territory in the conflict - and though insurgents have recently lost their most prominent territorial holdings, they're still a force to be reckoned with. 

But there's one big question that still hangs over the story, relevant both to how the outside world should view the insurgency and to what the rebels are even called:

Are Mozambique's insurgents part of "ISIS"?

A year after they made international headlines by capturing and holding onto the major town of Mocímboa da Praia, the short answer is still "probably sort of".

The so-called "Islamic State" (IS; formerly ISIS or ISIL), though it started in Iraq and Syria and still is based there, has also established branches and franchises - with varying degrees of connection to IS headquarters - in far-flung countries around Africa and Asia. So the more specific question is: Are the Cabo Delgado insurgents genuinely connected to IS, and if so, how connected?

What are Mozambique's insurgents called?

This is one of two newly-published supplements to PolGeoNow's Mozambique insurgency control map series. The other provides an update on the question of what links really exist between the insurgents and the so-called "Islamic State" organization (IS; formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Where is ISIS in Mozambique? Full-country map of insurgent control in northern Mozambique, with territorial control, roads, rivers, and terrain. Includes key locations of the insurgency such as Mocímboa da Praia, Palma, Macomia, Mucojo, Quissanga, Meluco, Muidumbe, Mueda, Quiterajo, and Nangade, as well as other important cities such as Pemba, Nampula, and Maputo. Neighboring countries shown, including Comoros, Madagascar, and French territories of Juan de Nova Island, Bassas da India, and Europa Island. Updated to July 29, 2021. Colorblind accessible.
At the height of their control earlier this year, secretive insurgents dominated a small but important corner of Mozambique. (Map from our July 2021 Cabo Delgado update.)
A Nearly-Nameless Insurgency

In our August 2020 Mozambique conflict map article, we discussed confusion over the name of the insurgent group operating in Cabo Delgado province. Now, a year later, we've decided it's time to briefly revisit that question. 

Though the fighters have now been pushed out of their most prized territories, they're still present in the region in large numbers, so questions about their identity remain highly relevant.

Al Shabaab in Mozambique?

At this point there's no longer much question that the group's most commonly-used name in Cabo Delgado - by both its opponents and the insurgents themselves - is "Al-Shabab". This unofficial name, which means "the youth" in Arabic (the international language of the Islamic religion, but not of everyday communication in Mozambique), appears to be a reference to the Al Shabaab insurgent group in Somalia. Though the word is usually spelled "Shabaab" in the Somali context, and international commentary often uses this spelling for the Cabo Delgado insurgents too, local spelling conventions in Mozambique tend to prefer "Shabab" without the double A.