Articles in English

Is a crackdown on universities the latest addition to the increasingly sophisticated repertoire of right-wing populism? Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, long a pioneer in anti-liberal government in Europe and an admirer of Donald Trump, is making a wager that it is—with implications that go far beyond Hungary’s borders. At issue is a new law aimed at shutting down the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, founded and endowed by George Soros, the Hungarian-American hedge fund manager and philanthropist. But it is clearly part of a larger culture war against liberal values as well as a very concrete attempt to bring any independent institutions remaining in Hungary under Orbán’s control.…  Seguir leyendo »

Every conflict has its heroes. In Palestine they’re the taxi drivers.

After living for half a century under occupation, I can no longer endure the anxiety of what might appear on the road, whether it is angry drivers bottlenecked at the hundreds of barriers scattered through the West Bank or the pathetic boys who throw themselves at your car pretending to clean the windshield, asking for money. The plight of these boys invariably makes me hate myself, forcing me to confront the extent to which my society has failed. Then, of course, there is the indignity of having to wait on the whim of an Israeli teenage soldier to motion me to pass.…  Seguir leyendo »

What country are most of Europe’s illegal migrants coming from? You might think Syria or some other war-torn nation. You would be wrong. According to the International Organization for Migration, the top “sending” country is a democracy that claims to have made strides in human development: Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi migrants are paying between $8,000 and $9,000 just to get to Libya, and an additional $700 for an uncertain passage across the Mediterranean to Italy.

The vast majority are looking for work — and migrant work has always been risky. Thousands of Bangladeshi workers have died  working in Middle Eastern countries. More than 8,000 bodies were returned to Bangladesh from 2004 to 2009, out of roughly 3.7 million Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain  and Oman in 2009.…  Seguir leyendo »

The  UK is not having the foreign policy debate that it desperately needs in this general election campaign. EU membership helped to shape the UK’s international priorities for more than 40 years, and Brexit will require the new government to think carefully about its role on the global stage. Yet, the party manifestos published this week do not spill much ink on broader ambitions for the UK. On the contrary, they suggest that Britain’s political parties have yet to figure out what British foreign policy should look like post-Brexit.

Theresa May, the prime minister, was the first to make reference to the UK’s international role post-Brexit in her Conservative Party conference speech in October last year.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Chechen government’s brutal campaign against gays has understandably aroused a strong reaction in the West. In recent months, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, a notorious strongman closely allied with the Kremlin, has directed his police forces to round up gay men, torture them, and sometimes even kill them. In mid-April, former US vice-president Joe Biden said that he was “disgusted and appalled” by reports of the brutal crackdown and urged President Donald Trump to raise the issue directly with the Kremlin, though Trump did not respond. And on May 2, in a meeting with Russian President Putin in Sochi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed her concerns about the persecution of Chechen gays: “I…spoke about the very negative report about what is happening to homosexuals in Chechnya and asked Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this letter from International Crisis Group’s one-man outpost in Gaza to our Middle East & North Africa Program Director, our analyst there, Azmi Keshawi, describes daily difficulties, deep tensions within Palestinian ranks and the growing likelihood of a new round of war with Israel.

When Joost Hiltermann, Crisis Group’s Middle East & North Africa Program Director, invited Azmi Keshawi, our analyst in Gaza, to join the annual retreat in our Brussels headquarters, Hiltermann was not expecting that it would be easy to arrange. Indeed, Israeli and Egyptian restrictions make it almost impossible for Keshawi to leave Gaza, like all the 1.8 million people who live there in what amounts to captivity.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Donald Trump makes a 26-hour visit to Israel on 22 May to discuss the “ultimate deal” — a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians — with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. With his eyes on the big prize, Trump risks neglecting a critical element of any agreement: the Palestinian territory of Gaza, where a new bout of war is potentially brewing.

Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians are administered by a third force, Hamas, labeled a terrorist organisation by the U.S. and others, and the isolation of the territory, imposed by Israel and Egypt, is pushing the population dangerously into dire straits.…  Seguir leyendo »

Who are the leading candidates in the 19 May election and what should we know about the top two?

The May 2017 election is essentially a two-way race between the incumbent Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi, the custodian of Iran’s holiest shrine in Mashhad. Their shadow candidates, incumbent Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, withdrew their candidacy in support of Rouhani and Raisi, respectively. The other two contenders would play a marginal role or could drop out at the last minute.

Never before has an incumbent Iranian president faced such a serious challenge to his re-election. The closest a challenger came to unseat a first-term president was in 2009 when then-President Mahmood Ahmadinejad faced Mir Hossein Mousavi – an election that ended in a highly-disputed outcome and a subsequent popular uprising against what many viewed as rigged results.…  Seguir leyendo »

This month, headlines have been screaming that “Mexico was second-deadliest country in 2016″ and “Mexico Now World’s Deadliest Conflict Zone After Syria: Survey,” based on a report recently released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Even President Trump retweeted the story. The reports say that Syria had about 50,000 conflict deaths last year and that Mexico came in second with 23,000, followed by Afghanistan with 17,000.

But how accurate is the news that Mexico is the world’s second-deadliest country or conflict zone? Here are four questions whose answers suggest it’s not.

1. How many drug-violence deaths did Mexico really have?…  Seguir leyendo »

When Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was arrested last month and charged with treason, the world took notice. Granted, Zambia has never been a model democracy, but this degree of government repression was far out of the ordinary.

Zambia, despite its corruption and weak political institutions, is in fact known for relatively high levels of democratic stability. Elections in Zambia have been competitive. When President Rupiah Banda lost the 2011 election, for instance, he peacefully handed over power to the opposition.

In the past, the judiciary and other political institutions have displayed independence in relation to the president. The government has generally respected Zambia’s free press.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tomorrow, Iran will hold its 12th presidential election. The election is now a two-man race between incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, the centrist-reformist candidate, and Ebrahim Raisi, the candidate closest to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In the past week, polls show Rouhani over the 50 percent threshold he needs to win, but also show that almost  50 percent of voters are either undecided or don’t express their preference.

The election results are anything but a foregone conclusion. Those who call these elections window dressing will continue to miss both the intricate politics on display and the underlying issues that inform them.

Post-Rafsanjani Iran

This is the first election after the death of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in January.…  Seguir leyendo »

The last time the UN declared a famine was in 2011, in Somalia. The last time it faced more than one major famine simultaneously was more than three decades ago. Today we are on the brink of four – in Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.

The spectre of famine is primarily the result of war, not natural disaster. According to the UN, more than twenty million people, millions of them children, are at risk of starvation. This is happening in man-made crises and under the Security Council’s watch. In some places, the denial of food and other aid is a weapon of war as much as its consequence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yet another journalist has been murdered in Mexico. It was the usual pattern: Javier Valdez, fifty, wrote a drug story, revealed too much information, said something someone did not want said, and was killed at noon on a busy street near his place of work. Six other journalists, none of them quite as prominent as Javier, have been killed in drug-infested cities since the year began, but because he was a friend of mine the details matter more to me this time. On reflection, I was grateful that, unlike many of the more than one hundred reporters killed in Mexico over the last quarter century, he was not abducted, tortured for hours or days, maimed, dismembered, hung lifeless from an overpass for all to see.…  Seguir leyendo »

The current prominence of the issue of refugees around the world is understandable. Refugee influxes are highly visible, especially when they involve large numbers of people who are putting their lives at risk, crossing frontiers without authorization and congregating in squalid makeshift settlements. Their arrival raises difficult issues related to national sovereignty, state security and social cohesion.

But while these are important and pressing issues, the international community’s keen interest in the refugee problem has detracted attention from the fact that there are other groups of vulnerable people across the globe who are in equal, if not greater, need of human rights protection and humanitarian assistance – internally displaced people (IDPs).…  Seguir leyendo »

A quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, interest in nuclear weapons has revived, not reduced. But for all the debate over the tensions between the United States and North Korea, a taboo still surrounds the lingering impacts of nuclear weapons testing and fears for their future use in conflict.

Our latest research looked not only at the implications of a potential future nuclear conflict, but also the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons testing for more than seven decades. Between 1946 and 1996, more than 2,000 nuclear weapons tests were conducted by the US, UK, Soviet Union, France and China.…  Seguir leyendo »