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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
Les élections parlementaires américaines de mi-mandat ont livré leur verdict, mais pas encore toutes leurs implications concernant la politique étrangère des Etats-Unis. Conquise par les démocrates, la Chambre des représentants n’a qu’une influence partielle en ce domaine. Elle pèse sur les questions budgétaires, et donc sur les dépenses militaires.
Elle peut créer des commissions d’enquête et examinera sans nul doute les accointements particuliers de la famille Trump avec certaines puissances étrangères – la Russie en premier lieu, mais aussi l’Arabie saoudite et d’autres pays du Golfe ; les complaisances qui semblent en avoir découlé ; les possibles connivences électorales avec Moscou ; et le meurtre de Jamal Khashoggi, pour n’en mentionner qu’une poignée.… Seguir leyendo »
The Gulf crisis that began last year appears to be living by reverse Las Vegas rules: What happens in the Gulf doesn’t stay in (or even have much impact on) the Gulf. Last June, a Saudi-led coalition cut off relations with and imposed a blockade on Qatar, invoking various and shifting rationales—Qatar was, allegedly, supporting terrorist groups, interfering in Saudi internal affairs, and displaying excessive closeness to Iran. Little progress been made in resolving the dispute, and all parties seem ready to withstand it for the foreseeable future. Qatar of course would much prefer to see its foes lift their blockade.… Seguir leyendo »
En quittant la Maison Blanche au soir du 19 janvier 2017, j’étais, autant le confesser, parmi ceux qui nourrissaient quelque hésitation et même quelques naïfs espoirs quant à la trajectoire de la présidence Trump. Un homme d’affaires sans convictions, opportuniste et sans idéologie, aux commandes : on pouvait certes bien mieux faire mais également faire bien pire. Mal m’en a pris. Sa décision infondée et aventureuse de se retirer de l’accord nucléaire avec l’Iran aura confirmé les pires soupçons.
On devait s’y attendre. Les destitutions consécutives de Rex Tillerson et de H. R. McMaster (le premier, piètre gestionnaire du département d’Etat, mais tout au moins personnage raisonnable dans la galaxie Trump ; le second, qui aurait fait figure de faucon au sein de n’importe quelle autre équipe mais qui faisait office d’adulte au sein de celle-ci), étaient autant de signes préoccupants.… Seguir leyendo »
Had I been writing this monthly column since 2011, Syria could well have figured every month since. Many bear responsibility for what’s become a war without end for a people without hope – myself included, in my former official capacity in the U.S. White House. It begins with the brutality of a regime intent on maintaining power at all costs, and ranges from the projection of regional and international power struggles, to outside actors’ inability or unwillingness to separate humanitarian (civilian protection) from political (regime change) ends, to the mingling of rebels and jihadists.
This past month, the tragedy took two more bloody turns: on the one hand, the siege and pummeling of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Eastern Ghouta; on the other, the pivot to a now open confrontation among outside actors fighting not for Syria, but over it – Israel against Iran and Hizbollah; Turkey against the Kurds; the U.S.… Seguir leyendo »