Wars of 1999


1999 was an odd year in many ways. Many people thought, incorrectly, that it was the final year of the 20th century. It came not long after the end of the Cold War, but before America and the world realized that a new form of terrorism was about to bring a new set of wars into the world. This was a year that featured the U.S. and NATO engaging in a war, while the Russians were also fighting an insurgency of their own in the region of Chechnya. And, despite the Cold War’s end, American and Russian troops nearly came into conflict in Kosovo.

For America, 1999 was a year that brought the fear of mass school shootings to the public consciousness as a new form of domestic terrorism with the Columbine killings, while the still-new fear of Islamic Jihadist attacks became appararant with the Millenium bomb plots that caused Seattle to shut down New Year’s Eve celebrations for fear of a terrorist attack.

Following the pattern of our other pages on Wars by Year, we present to you here a listing of military conflicts and wars that took place in the year 1999. This page breaks these wars and conflicts into two groups: Wars that began in 1999, and pre-existing wars that continued into and through 1999.

Wars that began in 1999


Kargil War (May-July, 1999) India vs. Pakistan in the mountainous Kargil region of Kashmir. From May to July,1999, long-simmering tensions between India and Pakistan erupted in a war over the Line of Control in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. This conflict became known as the Kargil War. The campaign in the Kargil region began when Pakistani forces, led by General Ashraf Rashid, infiltrated over the Line of Control (LOC), separating Indian and Pakistani sections of the disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistan at first claimed the anti-Indian forces were Kashmiri rebels and militants, but later confirmed that the forces that infiltrated the LOC were, indeed, Pakistani military forces.

Official Indian casualties: 527 killed and 1,363 wounded

Official Pakistani casualties: 453 killed and 665 wounded

This was only the latest in a long series of India-Pakistan wars, most of which were fought in and about the Kashmir region.


Dagestan War (August-September, 1999)-Chechen forces invaded the neighboring Russian republic of Dagestan in support of a local Jihadist insurgency. Russian and Dagestani forces defeated the Chechens and the rebels. This was a major cause of the Russian invasion of Chechnya.


Russian Apartment Terrorist Attacks (September, 1999)-A series of terrorist attacks that hit destroyed apartment blocks in the Russian cities of Buynaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk in September, 1999, killing more than 300, injuring more than 800 people These bombings, which were blamed on Jihadist Chechens, in conjunction with the the Dagestan War, were major reasons for Russia’s invasion of Chechny and the start of the the Second Chechen War. Vladimir Putin, who was then the Prime Minister of Russia used this crisis and Dagestan and Chechen wars to help him gain popularity and win the presidency of Russia a few months later.


Second Chechen War (1999-2009) Russia invaded the rebellious region of Chechnya on October 1, 1999 in order to crush the rebel government that took power following Russia’s defeat in the First Chechen War (1994-1996). The conventional part of the war lasted into 2000, with Chechen insurgents continuing a guerrilla conflict through 2009. Major fighting has ended, though Chechen terrorism (as an aspect of Jihadi terrorism) continues.


Shiite Uprising in Iraq (1999) Also known as the Second Sadr Uprising, and running from February to April, this was a short period of unrest in the southern part of Iraq inhabited largely by Shiite Muslims. This rebellion came after the killing of Shiite leader Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr by the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. Protests and anti-government violence were strongest in the heavily Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, as well as southern majority Shiite cities such as Karbala, Nasiriyah, Kufa, Najaf, and Basra. Iraqi forces crushed the Shiites. This conflict was part of a long-simmering Shiite antipathy toward the Saddam regime. A much larger and more violent uprising was crushed by Iraqi government forces in 1991, following Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf War.


NATO Intervention in Kosovo War (March 24-June 11, 1999) While the actual War in Kosovo began nearly a year earlier as a rebellion, NATO attempted to negotiate an end to the fighting, concerned about increasingly heavy civilian casualties as the Yugosavian (Serbian) military tried to crush the insurgency by the Kosovo Liberation Army (see Kosovo War below).

The NATO bombing campaign ran from March 24 to June 11, 1999. During this campaign, over 1,000 aircraft flying primarily from bases in Italy and off of aircraft carriers stationed in the Adriatic Sea pounded Serbia and Montenegro (the two remaining regions of Yugoslavia following the earlier Yugslav Civil Wars). All member states of NATO, except for Greece, took part in the Kosovo War. During the ten week air campaign, NATO aircraft flew over 38,000 combat missions. An interesting fact about this war was that with the participation of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) in this conflict, it was only the second time since World War Two that German war planes had participated in a military conflict. The first post-World War Two German war being the Bosnian War a few years earlier, which also pitted NATO against Serbian forces.

The list of NATO nations actively participating in this war are: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey. Albania, a neighbor to Serbia and Kosovo, and a supporter of the Albanian-speaking Kosovars, served as a base for NATO ground troops and also as a sanctuary to the many Kosovar refugees.


Pristina Airport Incident (June 12, 1999)-The day after the cease-fire that ended the Kosovo War, NATO and Russia nearly went to war over who would occupy the airport in Pristina, Kosovo. In the aftermath of the Kosovo War, the Kosovo region would be occupied jointly by Russian and NATO forces. Russia, a supporter of Serbia, had helped broker the cease-fire. Russian ground forces, who had been part of the international peace-keeping force in Bosnia, travelled by land through Serbia into Kosovo, and arrived at the Pristina Airport ahead of NATO troops. Tensions grew as U.S. General Wesley Clark, in overall command of NATO forces in Europe, tried to block further Russian reinforcements from arriving, and advocated the use of force to gain complete control of the airport from the Russians. Several NATO partners, especially the French and British refused to go along with Clark’s plans and eventually a peaceful solution was arrived at and acceptable to all parties.


Niger Military Coup (1999) On April 9, 1999 the military rebelled and seized the government. The incumbent, President Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, who himself had seized power in a coup in 1996, was killed. Elections were held a few months later and a democratically-elected government took power.


Korean Naval Border Battle (June 1999) --Six North Korean patrol boats repeatedly cross the Yellow Sea maritime border with South Korea over the course of nine days, prompting an exchange of fire between the North and South Koreans. South Korea says 20 to 30 North Korean sailors were killed, while seven South Korean sailors were wounded. This battle took place off of Yeonpyeong Island and is now referred to as the First Battle of Yeonpyeong Island, with the second battle occurring in 2010 with an artillery battle between North and South Korea. This was only the latest in a long string of Korean Border Conflicts.


East Timor Crisis (1999)-This was the concluding part of the long conflict that began with Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in 1975. A new Indonesian government, under international pressure, allowed a referendum on independence in East Timor. By large margins, the East Timorese people voted for independence. Following the August 30 vote, pro-Indonesian militias carried out attacks that destroyed large parts of the capital city of Dili, killing hundreds, and forcing thousands of people to flee the city. Indonesia agreed to recognize the vote, and an Australian peace-keeping force landed to occupy East Timor in preparation for the full independence of East Timor.


Ivory Coast Military Coup (1999) On December 24, 1999. Military coup toppled President Henri Konan Bédié and established a military government. The underlying tensions in Ivory Coast would later break out in a civil war in 2002.


Pre-Existing wars that continued through 1999


Many wars and conflicts began prior to 1999, but were a part of the wars of that year. This list shows the pre-exisiting wars of 1999


Angolan Civil War (1975-2002)-Long civil war that began right after Angola won independence from Portugal after the long Angolan War of Independence (1961-1975). This civil war pitted the Marxist MPLA group (which formed the post-independence government) against the non-communist FNLA group. The MPLA was supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba, while the FNLA was supported by South Africa and the United States. The early part of this war can be considered part of the Cold War.


East Timor Resistance to Indonesian Occupation (1975-1999)-Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, and the East Timorese conducted a guerrilla war against Indonesian occupation until independence in 1999.


Aceh Insurgency (1976-2005) -Rebellion in the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the Aceh region.


Shining Path Insurgency in Peru (1980-2000)-Long communist guerrilla war in Peru was winding down by 1999, as constant pressure on the rebels (who called the Shining Path) by the Peruvian military and the recent capture of the rebel leadership caused a decline in the level of fighting.


Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009)- Long conflict in which the Tamil minority sought independence from the Sri Lankan government. The Tamils were defeated in 2009.


Afghan Civil War (Fourth phase of this war was from 1996-2001). The long Afghan War began actually began in 1978, but the phase of the conflict that occurred in 1999 is the fourth phase, which began when the Jihadist group called the Taliban seized power and acted as the Afghan government. The resistance group at that time was known as the Northern Alliance. This phase of the war ended with the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States and the overthrow of the Taliban by the United States and the Northern Alliance. The overall Afghan war continues as the Taliban fights an insurgent war against the current Afghan government and its American and Western supporters.


The "No-Fly Zone War" (1991-2003)-Pitted the air and naval forces of the United States and the United Kingdom (also referred to as "Great Britain"), against the air defenses of Iraq. This conflict proved to be largely ignored by the media and the public in both the U.S. and in the U.K., though it impacted the military and the citizens of Iraq on an almost weekly basis, especially after the intense "Desert Fox" bombing campaign of 1998. The roots of this conflict are quite simple to trace: the inconclusive and vague cease-fire agreement ending the Gulf War of 1990-1991. This agreement called on the Iraqi government to allow United Nations weapons inspectors to search for prohibited weapons in Iraq, and, perhaps more importantly, allowed the Coalition Allies (originally the U.S., the U.K. and France), to enforce what came to be called "No-Fly Zones" over northern and southern Iraq.

Following the allied bombing of Iraq in December, 1998 called Operation Desert Fox, Iraq declared they would no longer recognize the no-fly zone, and actively combated the allied aircraft in their air space. From that point on, Iraqi forces fired on allied aircraft nearly every day, prompting frequent retaliation by American and British warplanes.

Over time, the U.S. and U.K. engaged targets of opportunity on the ground in Iraq, in an effort to weaken the Iraqi military and Saddam Hussein’s hold on power. As the Western allies prepared to launch the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the months prior to that invasion featured an intensive bombing campaign to soften up Iraqi defenses. The No-Fly Zone War ended with the March, 2003 Invasion of Iraq.


Republic of the Congo Civil War (1997-1999)-Follow-up conflict from the unresolved issues that caused the First Republic of the Congo Civil War (1993-1994) between two political groups based on different Congolese ethnic groups. Angola intervened militarily to support the existing government and that led to the end of this stage of the war.


The Kosovo War (1998-1999) One of the major international wars of 1999 started as an armed rebellion by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the mostly Muslim province of Kosovo, that was then part of a truncated Yugoslavia. The rebellion began in late February 1998 and only ended on June 11, 1999, following a heavy military intervention by the United States and NATO in support of the Kosovar rebels. It was fought by the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (i.e. Serbia and Montenegro), which controlled Kosovo before the war, and the Kosovo Albanian rebel group known as the , with air support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) from 24 March 1999, and ground support from the Albanian army.


The Second Congo War (1998-2003)- Civil war in The Democratic Republic of Congo that also drew in many neighboring nations, including Angola, Chad, Namibia, and Zimbabwe supporting the Congo government, while Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi supported insurgent forces. This war was directly related to the earlier First Congo War (1996-1997). Despite the Second Congo War officially concluding in 2003, major insurgencies and fighting have continued in many parts of Congo.


Eritrean–Ethiopian War (1998-2000) A very bloody border war between two nations that have a long history together. Eritrea was a province of Ethiopia for a long time, and fought a successful war of independence against Ethiopia from 1961-1991, when the Eritreans, along with other Ethiopian rebel groups, overthrew the communist government of Ethiopia. The fighting in this border war ended in 2000, but only in 2019 did the two nations sign a formal peace agreement, ending the border tensions.


Nepal Civil War (1996-2006)-A Maoist (communist) insurgency against the royalist government of Nepal. The war ended in 2006 with a negotiated Maoist victory.


This war and conflict web page is part of the Wars By Year series. Read our analysis on the impact the Wars of 1999 have on the world today.



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