Robert Malley

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de Marzo de 2008. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

As I write this column, the 2020 presidential elections are unfolding in the U.S. By the time you read it you may (or quite possibly may still not) know the results. Regardless of their outcome, they will have outsized implications. On the future of America’s economic and healthcare systems, its environment and immigration policies and its race relations among others. On public faith in its electoral process, the solidity of its institutions and the polarisation of its politics, as Crisis Group analysed in a recent report. But also on the rest of the world, whose denizens will be forgiven for lamenting that an event with such profound potential to affect their lives rests on a process over which they have no say, that is governed by a nearly inscrutable patchwork of rules, and that can deliver a Barack Obama one day, a Donald Trump the next.…  Seguir leyendo »

As you may have read in several press reports, for the first time in its quarter-century history, Crisis Group will be turning its attention to risks of violence in the U.S. I thought it would be good to provide some background on our thinking behind this decision:

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Crisis Group issued a statement that concluded with these words: “Since assuming office in 2017, Trump has made much of his desire to pull the U.S. back from overseas wars. He should take great pains not to act like he wants one at home”.  Since then, several things happened: first, developments in the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List updates that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January and May 2020. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Autumn Update of the Watch List 2020 includes entries on Afghanistan, Colombia, Kosovo-Serbia, Lebanon and Somalia.

COVID-19 is still with very much with us, but it is not too soon to draw some tentative conclusions as to its implications for global peace and security.

The virus has upended millions of lives, wrecked livelihoods and sharpened disputes between government and opposition in country after country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Much of Africa looks set to head to the polls in the coming months and many Africans, one suspects, have reason to fear. Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Niger, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, among others, are all scheduled to hold national elections in the remaining months of 2020 or the earlier ones of 2021. In some cases, risks of violence emanate from incumbents barred by their constitution from running, yet driven by their appetite for power to stay on. In some, they stem from highly polarised politics that winner-take-all, high-stakes elections likely will worsen. Violence can be used to ensure victory, forestall defeat, intimidate opponents.…  Seguir leyendo »

Even in prolonged, protracted conflicts, one can from time to time discern potential tipping or inflection points – opportunities that, if seized, might offer a possible exit ramp, and risks that, if taken, could trigger deadly escalation.

That seemed to be the case this past month in Libya, where the tide of war turned once more. The see-saw battle between forces aligned with the internationally-recognised government in Tripoli and General Khalifa Haftar’s Arab Libyan Armed Forces for now has swung in the former’s favour, partly a result of a heavier Turkish military role.  Casualties are mounting, the new front line has moved from the capital to the strategic town of Sirte and nearby oil fields, UN diplomacy is struggling and, most ominously, the risk of greater external involvement is growing.…  Seguir leyendo »

As I write this column, a country whose internal politics Crisis Group habitually doesn’t cover is aflame. The pattern of events will be familiar to those who follow our work: a member of a long-oppressed minority is killed on camera without any justification by security forces, the latest in a series of such events. Picked up by social media, footage of the incident goes viral. In response, protests break out, in the course of which a police station is burned to the ground. Further protests erupt in major cities, the vast majority peaceful but with some violence and looting. Police reactions vary across the country, but far too many are heavy-handed, militarised and violent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List editions that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January 2020. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Spring Edition of the Watch List 2020 includes entries on Côte d’Ivoire, Myanmar, northern Syria, Yemen and Venezuela.

Introduction

This is the first of two updates to Crisis Group’s 2020 EU Watch List. It identifies conflicts or crises where stronger European engagement could help prevent, mitigate or end violent conflict and strengthen prospects for peace.…  Seguir leyendo »

En paralelo con la batalla global contra la pandemia del coronavirus hay un tira y afloja entre dos narrativas que compiten por definir cómo se debe gobernar el mundo. Aunque solucionar la pandemia es más urgente, elegir entre estas narrativas tendrá consecuencias igualmente trascendentales.

La primera narrativa es directa: una crisis mundial puso más de relieve que el multilateralismo es necesario y expuso la falacia del nacionalismo o aislacionismo que promueve la acción independiente. La segunda narrativa ofrece una mirada opuesta: la globalización y las fronteras abiertas generan vulnerabilidades frente a los virus y otras amenazas, y las actuales dificultades para controlar las líneas de aprovisionamiento y el equipamiento para salvar vidas exigen que cada país primero se ocupe de sí mismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian firefighters disinfect streets in Tehran in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus on March 13. AFP via Getty Images

If Iran’s leaders thought things couldn’t get worse, they were wrong. The country faces three simultaneous crises: a public health emergency that is worsening by the hour, tensions with the United States that have once again grown in the past few days, and an economic picture that could go from troubled to dire in a matter of months.

The confluence of a coronavirus pandemic, security threats, and financial troubles has deepened the political system’s legitimacy crisis in the wake of last month’s parliamentary elections that saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. Washington might view this as a validation of its so-called maximum pressure strategy against Tehran, but if it fails to capitalize on this moment to de-escalate tensions and lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial diplomatic settlement, the leadership in Tehran is likely to become more aggressive in the region, increasing the risk of a conflict that neither side appears to want.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranians in Tehran protest against the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. air strike in Iraq. 3 January 2020. AFP/Fatemeh Bahrami

The killing by the U.S. of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, marks a dramatic turning point. Soleimani had been in Washington’s crosshairs for many years, and successive U.S. presidents could likely have ordered his assassination in the past. That they chose not to do so suggests that they worried the costs would outweigh the benefits. With his decision, President Donald Trump is making clear that he abides by a different calculus: that, given the vast power imbalance, Iran has far more to fear from war than does the U.S. The strike that killed the Iranian general along with others – notably Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior commander of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militia – was, in accordance with this view, meant as a deterrent to further Iranian attacks.…  Seguir leyendo »

A fighter loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord fires a machine gun as a photographer take pictures of the scene during clashes against forces loyal to the Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar south of Tripoli on May 25. MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images

Local conflicts serve as mirrors for global trends. The ways they ignite, unfold, persist, and are resolved reflect shifts in great powers’ relations, the intensity of their competition, and the breadth of regional actors’ ambitions. They highlight issues with which the international system is obsessed and those toward which it is indifferent. Today these wars tell the story of a global system caught in the early swell of sweeping change, of regional leaders both emboldened and frightened by the opportunities such a transition presents.

Only time will tell how much of the U.S.’s transactional unilateralism, contempt for traditional allies, and dalliance with traditional rivals will endure – and how much will vanish with Donald Trump’s presidency.…  Seguir leyendo »

Michael Kovrig, an adviser with the International Crisis Group, is interviewed in Hong Kong on March 28, 2018. (AP Photo)

Just under one year ago, on Dec. 10, China arrested our colleague Michael Kovrig in Beijing. Since that time, Michael — who is the International Crisis Group’s North East Asia adviser — has remained in detention without being allowed to see a lawyer or family member.

Although China has never spelled out the reasons for Michael’s imprisonment, it is clear that he is merely a pawn in a larger geopolitical game. A Canadian citizen and former diplomat, he was detained — along with another Canadian, Michael Spavor — nine days after Ottawa, acting upon a U.S. request under an extradition treaty, arrested Meng Wangzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hezbollah supporters in Beirut, September 2018 Aziz Taher / Reuters

The war that now looms largest is a war nobody apparently wants. During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump railed against the United States’ entanglement in Middle Eastern wars, and since assuming office, he has not changed his tune. Iran has no interest in a wide-ranging conflict that it knows it could not win. Israel is satisfied with calibrated operations in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza but fears a larger confrontation that could expose it to thousands of rockets. Saudi Arabia is determined to push back against Iran, but without confronting it militarily. Yet the conditions for an all-out war in the Middle East are riper than at any time in recent memory.…  Seguir leyendo »

A supporter of Houthi rebels during a gathering to mobilize more fighters into battlefronts against Saudi-backed government forces, in Sana, Yemen.CreditCreditYahya Arhab/EPA, via Shutterstock

In the fifth year of a pitiless war between Ansar Allah, the Iranian-supported movement known as the Houthis, and the Saudi Arabia-led and United States-backed coalition, Sana, the capital of Yemen, doesn’t see many American visitors. For good reason.

The Houthis control Sana and about a fifth of the country’s landmass in all; a majority of Yemen’s 30.5 million people live in Houthi-controlled areas. Misery extends far beyond. Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is ranked the world’s worst by the United Nations: Two-thirds of its population need some form of assistance, 10 million suffer malnutrition. Almost a quarter of a million are starving to death.…  Seguir leyendo »

A destroyed building in the Tawahi district of Aden, 26 March 2019. CRISISGROUP/Peter Salisbury

For an American who had a hand in shaping U.S. Mideast policy during the Barack Obama years, coming to Yemen has the unpleasant feel of visiting the scene of a tragedy one helped co-write.

It is a scene whose most heartrending aspects are not easily accessible to a visitor. It is still possible to travel north, to the war-battered capital, Sanaa, now controlled by the Houthi insurgent group, or up the Red Sea coast, where a catastrophic struggle for control over the port city of Hodeida still looms, but it’s a challenge. So when one of us recently ventured into the country, the journey went no farther than Aden, the southern port city over which the internationally recognised government regained control early in the conflict with the help of a Saudi-led coalition.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last October, Ethiopia appointed its first woman president, the only female leader of an African state today. In many national parliaments, from Mexico to Rwanda, women now match or outnumber men. One of the most powerful transitional justice forums in recent memory, held in Tunisia, is overseen by a woman. That’s the good news. Yet alongside these visible gains for women in the realm of high-powered leadership, women also continue to fill the ranks of conflict victims and targets of sexual violence. They also more visibly join insurgent movements, helping fuel violent conflicts that are traditionally seen as the preserve of male fighters.…  Seguir leyendo »

Venezuela Elections December 2015. CRISISGROUP/Sofia Martinez

Es muy difícil para ambas partes del conflicto político venezolano llegar a acuerdos en prácticamente cualquier cosa, especialmente con presidentes encontrados, instituciones en competencia y visiones diametralmente opuestas. Pero en una corta visita a Caracas esta semana, hayamos un amplio consenso en un punto: todo depende de Donald Trump.

La crisis venezolana no es nueva. El presidente Nicolás Maduro y aquellos en su círculo cercano cargan la responsabilidad principal: han mal administrado el país, pisoteado sus instituciones democráticas, han celebrado elecciones fraudulentas, se han beneficiado de la corrupción masiva y han reprimido brutalmente a los manifestantes. Las consecuencias son evidentes, aunque casi imposibles de comprender.…  Seguir leyendo »

Africa Union Chairperson Paul Kagame (7thL) and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki (6thL) stand with heads of states and governments after a session of the Assembly of the African Union on 17 November 2018. Monirul BHUIYAN / AFP

With this commentary, coming in the wake of our annual Ten Conflicts to Watch and EU Watch List, Crisis Group turns to what 2019 will mean for the African continent and the African Union (AU) ahead of its February summit. The broad trends identified in those two preceding publications are mirrored here as well, to wit: a transition wrapped in a transition, wrapped in a transition.

The first transition is occurring at the local level, where entrenched governments face a perilous mix of social unrest and political contestation. 2019 is still young, but it already bears ugly scars of violent repression, in Sudan, Zimbabwe and Cameroon, as well as older wounds from persistent crises in places like the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia or South Sudan.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Europa building is the main seat of the European Council and the Council of the EU. Image and graphic: CRISIS GROUP/Kjell Olsson

Crisis Group’s early-warning Watch List identifies up to ten countries and regions at risk of conflict or escalation of violence. In these situations, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could generate stronger prospects for peace. It includes a global overview, regional summaries, and detailed analysis on select countries and conflicts.

The Watch List 2019 includes Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Yemen.

Global Overview

The world order, or what remains of it, is undergoing a changing of the guard amid another changing of the guard, and Europe is caught in the middle of both.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Yemeni man gestures at the site of an air strike in the capital Sanaa, on November 5, 2017. Yemen's rebel-held capital was struck by overnight air raids that continued well into the next day, targeting the defence ministry and a popular public square. MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP

In a world with fewer rules, the only truly effective one is knowing what you can get away with. The answer today, it turns out, is: quite a lot.

As the era of uncontested U.S. primacy fades, the international order has been thrown into turmoil. More leaders are tempted more often to test limits, jostle for power, and seek to bolster their influence – or diminish that of their rivals – by meddling in foreign conflicts. Multilateralism and its constraints are under siege, challenged by more transactional, zero-sum politics.

Instruments of collective action, such as the UN Security Council, are paralysed; those of collective accountability, including the International Criminal Court, are ignored and disparaged.…  Seguir leyendo »