Crisis Group

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Watch List 2024 – Spring Update. Haiti: A New Government Faces Up to the Gangs

Gang violence, which has tightened its grip on Haiti since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021, took a drastic turn for the worse at the end of February. Rather than fighting each other for turf, as they have done for years, the most powerful criminal gangs operating in Port-au-Prince and its surroundings made a non-aggression pact in order to forge a united front against the Haitian authorities. The gangs, which had been loosely organised in two rival coalitions known as the G9 and the Gpèp, proceeded to launch coordinated attacks on government buildings and critical infrastructure while the interim prime minister, Ariel Henry, was out of the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watch List 2024 – Spring Update. Helping Keep Bosnia and Herzegovina Together

Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter, Bosnia) is at its most fragile moment in years. Republika Srpska (RS), the smaller of its two ethnically divided parts, is taking cautious but steady steps to break away, due to grievances with the country’s international supervision. A dispute about who should supervise local elections due on 6 October created a confrontation pitting RS leaders against High Representative Christian Schmidt, the international overseer appointed under arrangements that have secured the country’s tenuous peace for nearly three decades. That crisis erupted just days after 21 March, when European Union member state leaders approved opening accession talks with Sarajevo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watch List 2024 – Spring Update. President's take: a pivotal moment for EU Foreign Policy

As the spring of 2024 draws to a close, the peace and security situation in and around Europe is as fraught as it has been in decades. Russia is pressing its advantage in Ukraine, moving into the Kharkiv region, which Kyiv liberated in 2022, and showing signs of increasing confidence. The western Balkans’ fragile peace is under increasing strain: in Bosnia, the Serb-majority Republika Srpska is inching closer to secession and lingering disputes between Kosovo and Serbia are a continuing source of friction. Farther afield, Israel continues its harsh campaign in Gaza in response to Hamas’s attacks of 7 October 2023 – a war that has killed upward of 35,000, pushed the strip to the brink of famine and created serious risks of escalation elsewhere in the Middle East.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watch List 2024_Containing the Gaza Conflagration

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at a defining moment, one of its bloodiest and most volatile ever. The grievous Hamas-led attack in southern Israel on 7 October 2023 saw Palestinian militants kill over 1,100 Israelis and take nearly 250 hostages, mostly civilians; reports emerged that they also engaged in acts of sexual assault, torture and mutilation. Since then, Israel has undertaken a relentless military campaign in the tiny, densely populated Gaza Strip, killing over 26,000 people – most of them women and children.

Conditions for Gaza’s 2.23 million inhabitants – already poor before the war, due to the blockade Israel had enforced for sixteen years – are now catastrophically bad, with 85 per cent of the population displaced at least once and 60 per cent of the civil infrastructure destroyed.…  Seguir leyendo »

A makeshift tent camp housing displaced Palestinians in Rafah near the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip. January 21, 2024. AFP

Even before the Gaza war sent Middle Eastern economies reeling, Egypt was facing an economic crisis that risked fuelling unrest and destabilising the region. Cairo is paying the price for over-dependency on food and fuel imports that it can scarcely afford, as well as over-reliance on expensive short-term financing. Now the shock waves generated by the conflict in Gaza have augmented those already emanating from Russia’s war in Ukraine. Among other things, Cairo has lost several months of revenue from the re-export of Israeli gas and had to curtail domestic consumption when Israel stopped extracting from Tamar gas field for a time; it has seen the cancellation of tourist visits to the Sinai Peninsula because of its proximity to war-torn Gaza; and it is losing fees paid by cargo vessels passing through the Suez Canal, with traffic slowing dramatically since Houthi insurgents sympathetic to Hamas began attacking commercial shipping in the waters around Yemen.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente de la Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela, el jefe negociador de la Oposición de Venezuela y otros funcionarios firman un acuerdo en Barbados. 17 de octubre de 2023. Randy Brooks / AFP

Si bien la elección presidencial que se llevará a cabo en 2024 ofrece una oportunidad para avanzar en la ruta de un camino negociado para salir de la prolongada crisis política de Venezuela, esa ocasión podría fácilmente esfumarse. Un posible estímulo para esas posibilidades ocurrió en Barbados el 17 de octubre de 2023, cuando representantes del presidente venezolano Nicolás Maduro y la principal coalición de oposición, la Plataforma Unitaria, se comprometieron con un conjunto mínimo de garantías para una elección justa. Si bien el gobierno estadounidense no fue parte de ese acuerdo, inmediatamente emitió un alivio de gran alcance – aunque reversible – del régimen de sanciones que había impuesto en Venezuela desde 2017, cuando el gobierno de Maduro empezó a intensificar sus restricciones al espacio democrático del país.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Venezuelan President of the National Assembly, Venezuelan Opposition Delegate and other officials sign an agreement in Barbados. October 17, 2023. Randy Brooks / AFP

The presidential election due in 2024 offers a chance to advance the cause of a negotiated route out of Venezuela’s protracted political crisis, but one that could easily slip away. A potential boost to prospects of progress came in Barbados, on 17 October 2023, when representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and the main opposition coalition, the Unitary Platform, committed to a set of minimum guarantees for a fair election. While the U.S. government was not party to the accord, it immediately instituted sweeping – albeit reversible – relief from a slew of sanctions it had imposed on Venezuela since 2017, when the Maduro government began tightening its constriction of the country’s democratic space.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente de Guatemala, Bernardo Arévalo, durante una ceremonia para de reconocimiento como comandante en jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas, a las afueras del Palacio Nacional de Cultura en Ciudad de Guatemala, el 15 de enero de 2024. Johan ORDOÑEZ / AFP

La investidura de los sorpresivos ganadores de la carrera presidencial de Guatemala en 2023 ocurrió el 15 de enero, después de haber sido acosados durante meses por las autoridades judiciales que buscaban impedir que asumieran sus cargos. Probablemente será un mandato turbulento para el recién nombrado presidente Bernardo Arévalo y la vicepresidenta Karin Herrera. Arévalo es un sociólogo de tendencia izquierdista moderada y exdiplomático. También es el hijo de Juan José Arévalo, quien fue el primer presidente democráticamente electo del país. Arévalo y Herrera cuentan con un apoyo sólido y abiertamente expresado por parte del electorado guatemalteco, lo cual los llevó a una abrumadora victoria sobre la candidatura del establecimiento político, la cual estuvo encabezada por la ex primera dama Sandra Torres.…  Seguir leyendo »

Guatemala’s President Bernardo Arevalo during a ceremony to recognise him as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, outside the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala City, on January 15, 2024. Johan ORDONEZ / AFP

The upset winners of Guatemala’s 2023 presidential race were sworn into office on 15 January, after being harassed for months by prosecutorial authorities seeking to keep them from taking their posts. It is likely to be a turbulent term for newly installed President Bernardo Arévalo and Vice President Karin Herrera. Arévalo is a moderate left-leaning sociologist and former diplomat. He is also the son of Juan José Arévalo, the country’s first democratically elected president. Arévalo and Herrera enjoy robust and vocal support from the Guatemalan electorate, which powered them to a landslide victory over the establishment ticket headlined by former first lady Sandra Torres.…  Seguir leyendo »

People standing near the site of the missile strike, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on January 23, 2024. Pavlo Pakhomenko / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP

Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on with no resolution on the horizon. The high-stakes counteroffensive Ukrainian forces commenced in the summer of 2023 – which raised hopes both at home and among Western supporters – has ended with the battle lines largely unchanged. Finger-pointing in Kyiv, which had long been going on behind the scenes, is now public. Russian President Vladimir Putin seems increasingly confident that Russia has the upper hand.

But while Ukraine’s fortunes have not improved over the last twelve months, Kyiv shows no sign of bending under Russian pressure. Their bickering notwithstanding, Ukrainian politicians and ordinary citizens overwhelmingly agree on the basics: they want to fight rather than entertain Kremlin terms that would not only require surrendering territory but also, in effect, turn Ukraine into a Russian vassal state.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kosovo riot police and KFOR military police secure access to a municipal building in Zvecan. Kosovo Serbs gather outside after police helped install ethnic Albanian mayors following controversial elections. May 29, 2023. AFP

Since taking office in 2021, the government of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti has been turning up the heat on the four northern municipalities where ethnic Serbs are in the majority. Kosovo’s refusal to grant greater autonomy to its ethnic Serbian population has been one of the two primary issues that keeps it at odds with neighbouring Serbia, from which it formally declared independence in 2008. The other is Serbia’s refusal to recognise Kosovo’s status as an independent state, which is essential to unlocking membership for the latter in international organisations like the European Union and UN.

As these disputes have lingered without resolution, Serbia and Kosovo have exercised a form of overlapping sovereignty in the north – with Serbia supplying education and health care to the residents, and Kosovo in charge of law enforcement and the courts – but Kurti has clearly lost patience with that arrangement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers arrive at Mindanao State University in Marawi City, a day after a bomb attack that killed four people and wounded 12. December 4, 2023. Merlyn MANOS / AFP

The peace process in the Bangsamoro, the Muslim-majority region in Mindanao, the Philippines’ second largest island, stands at a critical juncture. Just over a year remains until parliamentary elections take place, which will conclude the political transition under way in the region after decades of war between Manila and Moro separatist rebels. In 2014, the government reached an accord with the main rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), providing for creation of an autonomous regional authority in the Bangsamoro, which was duly set up in 2019. This accord remains one of the few examples of a negotiated peace anywhere in the world over the last ten years, thanks partly to robust support from the European Union.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghan women wait to receive aid packages which include food, clothes, and sanitary materials and are distributed by a local charity foundation in Herat on January 15, 2024. Mohsen Karimi / AFP

Afghanistan sank deeper into isolation in 2023 as Western donors slashed aid budgets, partly in revulsion at the Taliban regime’s oppression of women and girls, while maintaining sanctions and other forms of economic pressure. The country’s biggest trading partner, Pakistan, put up commercial barriers as Islamabad turned against its former Taliban protégés in a dispute over anti-Pakistan militants becoming more violent in the borderlands. It also joined Iran in kicking out hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, sending them back to impoverished Afghanistan. Left with little help, the Taliban pushed ahead with self-financed infrastructure projects, took stern anti-corruption measures, stabilised the national currency and enhanced customs revenues.…  Seguir leyendo »

Girls dressed in the colours of the Somali flag participate in a demonstration supporting Somalia’s government following the port deal signed between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland. January 3, 2024. ABDISHUKRI HAYBE / AFP

The Somali government has a crucial year ahead in 2024. Its offensive against Al-Shabaab, the Islamist insurgency besetting the country since 2007, has sputtered since making important gains in the second half of 2022. The government promises to “eliminate” the group by year’s end, but the goal seems beyond reach. For one thing, Mogadishu will likely soon have less help: the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) that augments its campaign is to wind down in December, and discussions about a multilateral follow-on force are just getting started. The prospect of state-level elections has already reignited political and clan tensions. Additionally, as part of its plan to complete a provisional constitution, the government seeks wide-ranging changes to the electoral code ahead of national elections slated for 2026.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man holds a sign reading “Liberate Africa” during a gathering in Niamey when thousands of people celebrated the departure, a week before, of the last French soldiers deployed in Niger. December 29, 2023. BOUREIMA HAMA / AFP

Each of three countries of the central Sahel – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – has seen major upheaval in the years since 2021, bringing the region into a new chapter. Army officers in all three have seized power through bloodless coups, alienating France, the states’ chief foreign patron, and forging links among one another to better resist external pressure. These regimes, bent on, as they see it, restoring sovereignty over all their territory and doubling down on operations against jihadist militants that have bedevilled the Sahel in recent decades, are channelling scant resources to military campaigns at the expense of delivering basic public services.…  Seguir leyendo »

One month into 2024, it is hard to look at the global landscape without some foreboding. The headline conflicts of 2023 rage on in Ukraine, Gaza and Sudan; the Middle East is inching ever closer toward regional conflagration; and little suggests that long-running conflicts from the Sahel to Myanmar are anywhere near abating. The coming year also promises change and uncertainty, with national elections in 64 countries, some of which could have enormous geopolitical consequence. Perhaps foremost among these is the election in the United States, where former President Donald Trump – whose transactional “America First” mindset threatens NATO and other longstanding U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

China’s President Xi Jinping speaks at the “Senior Chinese Leader Event” held by the National Committee on US-China Relations and the US-China Business Council on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco, California, U.S., November 15, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Pool

Can we stop things falling apart? 2024 begins with wars burning in Gaza, Sudan and Ukraine and peacemaking in crisis. Worldwide, diplomatic efforts to end fighting are failing. More leaders are pursuing their ends militarily. More believe they can get away with it.

War has been on the rise since about 2012, after a decline in the 1990s and early 2000s. First came conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen, triggered by the 2011 Arab uprisings. Libya’s instability spilled south, helping set off a protracted crisis in the Sahel region. A fresh wave of major combat followed: the 2020 Azerbaijani-Armenian war over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, horrific fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region that began weeks later, the conflict prompted by the Myanmar army’s 2021 power grab and Russia’s 2022 assault on Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

President’s Take: Hot Spots Near and Far

The year 2023 has seen peace and security challenges both far from the EU’s borders and closer to home. The latter, especially, have heightened in recent weeks and months, which have seen fighting in the South Caucasus and Kosovo, even as a second year of war in Ukraine stretches on. While the three crises are very different in nature, all suggest a worrying inclination on the part of some governments to seek solutions to disputes through force of arms. Insofar as this jarring trend involves a proliferation of new wars, large and small, it flies in the face of the decades of energy that the EU has invested in turning the page on past conflagrations in Europe and its neighbourhood.…  Seguir leyendo »

Each year, Crisis Group publishes two updates to the EU Watch List that identify where the EU and its member states can help enhance prospects for peace. This update includes entries on the Sahel, Iran, Kosovo and Serbia, Pakistan and organised crime in Latin America.

Rarely has the agenda of the monthly European Union (EU) foreign ministers’ meetings been as packed as the one on 24 April. As EU High Representative Josep Borrell noted after the meeting: “It looks like all the crises come together, piling up”. The day’s agenda was indicative of the range of conflicts and challenges European policymakers have to grapple with.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries and regions facing deadly conflict, humanitarian emergency or other crises in 2023. In these situations, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could save lives and enhance prospects for stability.

President’s Take

By any measure, the European Union (EU) has a tough year ahead. So far, along with other Western powers, it has responded well to Russia’s assault on Ukraine, backing Kyiv while avoiding escalation with Moscow. Neither cracks in that policy nor feared gas shortages appeared over the winter. Nonetheless, many of 2022’s challenges still loom large. The EU’s room for manoeuvre, meanwhile, is narrower, with budgets strained by the pandemic, the energy crisis and assistance to Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »