Looking for the data about the factions involved in the Angolan civil war of 1975 to 1988? The Center for Army Analysis can probably help out. As we learned recently, the organization has built a database with detailed descriptions of 100-some irregular conflicts since World War II, designed to help defense officials understand the nature of this type of warfare.
Researchers, using data from open sources, have grouped the information about these wars in nine categories: Basic country data, conflict characteristics, force fighting patterns, force availability and force peaks, annualized data, conflict outcomes, incident and casualty totals, narratives and chronology, and list of factions.
Of course, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Israel-Hezbollah conflict of 2006, are included in the database.
"The U.S. forces were strong enough to rout the Iraqi army but could not occupy all of the territory they had liberated," reads the narrative of the Iraq war. "Armed groups quickly formed and attacked the occupiers. The U.S. leadership wrote off the early insurgents as 'dead-enders,'" it adds.
The text credits the George W. Bush administration's 2007 troop "surge" with helping to reduce violence. It also acknowledges that “aggressive negotiations" with tribal leaders and local factions helped pacify Sunni areas.
As of May 2008, when the last change was apparently made to the Iraq war data records, the conflict's outcome is listed with “No definitive winner.”
(The same applies to the Afghanistan war.)
The database identifies Hezbollah the "binary winner" of the 2006 Lebanon War, although whoever made the entry acknowledges this assumption as "arguable."
"Unlike the negotiated end of the previous major Israeli incursion in Lebanon, which resulted in Fatah evacuating Lebanon, Hezbollah is still intact and operational in Lebanon, holds seats in the Lebanese legislature and is still a viable threat to Israel. Further, Hezbollah was able to put up a credible defense against the Israeli attack and were never really threatened with destruction, as was Fatah, so achieved something of a propaganda victory as well, the Hezbollah 'David' versus the Israeli 'Goliath'. On the other hand, Israel agreed to withdraw without achieving its end."
International opinion played a big role in the conflict, according to the narrative in the database.
"The large number of civilian casualties (30% children), the use of cluster bombs and the targeting of the civilian infrastructure quickly drew international condemnation against Israel," it reads. "Although some Hezbollah attacks resulted in civilian casualties, the percent of civilian deaths caused by Hezbollah was much lower than Israel’s, drawing less criticism from abroad."
-- Sebastian Sprenger