Conflicto armado

Libyan military graduates loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) take part in a parade marking their graduation, a result of a military training agreement with Turkey, at the Omar Mukhtar camp on 21 November 2020. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

Foreign Actors Drive Military Build-up amid Deadlocked Political Talks

A tenuous ceasefire continues to hold in Libya between forces allied to the Tripoli-based government and their rivals in the east. Yet there is reason to worry that the five-month hiatus in the conflict could end abruptly. The 23 October ceasefire agreement silenced the guns but otherwise is a dead letter: both sides have backtracked on fulfilling its terms and instead continue to build up their military forces. Another concern is the failure to find a political way forward. The UN’s attempt to revive dialogue and appoint a new Presidency Council and prime minister to head a unity government has floundered.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Afghan War Is Over

I first read “The Iliad” in high school. The translation my teacher handed out had a single photograph on the cover: American G.I.s on D-Day storming out of a landing craft onto Omaha Beach.

The subtext of this pairing wasn’t obvious to me, as a teenager. The rage of Achilles, the death of Hector and all those Greeks in their “black-hulled ships” seemed to have little to do with the Second World War.

Many years later, after having fought in two wars of my own, that image has come to resonate in a new way. If “The Iliad” served as an ur-text for the shape the ancient Greeks assumed their wars to take (Alexander the Great, for example, is said to have slept with a copy beneath his pillow when on campaign), then World War II has served a similar function in our society, framing our expectations of war, becoming our American Iliad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia head to a refugee camp in Hamdayet, Sudan. (Byron Smith/Getty Images)

I was first in northern Ethiopia in the mid-’80s in the wake of the horrific famine that took the lives of a million people. In the 35 years since then, Ethiopia’s story has been one of remarkable progress. Children in school and jobs created. Roads, railways, factories and power stations built. Addis Ababa became one of the leading African cities; Ethiopia a bulwark of relative stability in the region.

What’s tragic about the current conflict is the danger of all that progress being lost.

As I write, the conflict in and around Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is well into its fifth week, with hundreds of people reportedly killed, tens of thousands displaced and millions enduring day after day without food, water and power.…  Seguir leyendo »

UN acting envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams speaks at the opening of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum hosted in Gammarth on the outskirts of the Tunisian capital, with the attendance of Tunisian President Kais Saied (C), on 9 November 2020. FETHI BELAID / AFP

Negotiations Run Aground, Threatening Political and Economic Stalemate

A fragile ceasefire signed in October is holding in Libya, and thus far renewed conflict has been averted. But tensions remain high, especially as the year is about to end with no substantial progress in political and economic negotiations that were supposed to pave the way for reunifying a country that has been divided in two, with rival governments and parallel financial and military institutions, since 2014. UN-mediated talks to appoint a unity government are faltering, as delegates have so far failed to agree on how to choose candidates for senior positions. A temporary deal on oil revenues in September enabled the resumption of production and exports and helped de-escalate military tensions in central Libya.…  Seguir leyendo »

A family drives a truck loaded with a small house along a highway as they leave their home village in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh on Nov. 18, before a cease-fire takes effect to halt weeks of fighting. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to cease fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory in the South Caucasus. Over a six-week period, the worst fighting in decades left thousands dead.

A Moscow-facilitated cease-fire last month has brought Russian peacekeeping forces — and increased Russian influence. Azerbaijan took back territory Armenia had held since the 1990s, leaving Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan politically vulnerable after discontent with how he handled the war and the cease-fire.

Social media played a significant role in the way that Armenians and Azerbaijanis experienced this year’s brief war. Globally, people could follow military movements, drone footage, respond to statements by authorities and discuss the events.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dadivank Monastery is one of the hundreds of Armenian churches, monuments and carved memorial stones that will come under the control of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan according to a cease-fire agreement reached this month. Credit Sergei Grits/Associated Press

Since its origins in the ninth century, Dadivank Monastery has withstood Seljuk and Mongol invasions, Persian domination, Soviet rule and, this fall, a second brutal war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Now the majestic stone complex — which includes two frescoed churches, a bell tower and numerous medieval inscriptions — faces something that could be even worse: a dangerous peace.

Perched on a rugged slope west of Nagorno-Karabakh, Dadivank is one of the hundreds of Armenian churches, monuments and carved memorial stones in a disputed region that will come under the control of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan according to a cease-fire agreement reached this month.…  Seguir leyendo »

Refugees on Monday stand on the bank of a river that separates Sudan and Ethiopia. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered troops into the northern region of Tigray on Nov. 4, accusing a powerful faction of traitorous behavior. On Saturday, the government claimed its military took control of the region’s capital city, Mekele. On Monday, the Tigray leadership accused Ethiopian troops of launching a “genocidal campaign” in the region.

Tensions have been brewing with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), once a dominant force in Ethiopia’s regime, since Abiy gained power. The conflict erupted soon after Abiy claimed that the TPLF crossed a “red line” when Tigrayans attacked a federal military base in early November. Fears of mass atrocities grew after Abiy’s 72-hour ultimatum for the TPLF’s surrender expired last week.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Ethiopian refugee who fled fighting in the Tigray Region looks on from behind a fence as she waits with others at the Village 8 border reception center in Sudan's eastern Gedaref State, on 20 November 2020. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

A humanitarian catastrophe may soon unfold in Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Following the expiry of a 72-hour federal ultimatum demanding the Tigray government either surrender or face attack, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced he had authorised the Ethiopian army to begin an assault on the city. The cost of a clash between two heavily armed forces in a metropolis of about 500,000 inhabitants could be staggering. But it is not too late to avert more civilian deaths, nor to avoid a bloody confrontation that could inflict lasting damage to the country. Following the African Union’s lead, the U.S.,…  Seguir leyendo »

A Mekele, dans le Tigré, le 9 septembre 2020. Photo Eduardo Soteras. AFP

Les communications sont coupées ; quelques connexions intermittentes par des lignes satellites permettent d’avoir de rares nouvelles ; la vie suit son court, durement ; les vivres manquent, leur prix atteint des sommets, l’argent est rationné. C’est aujourd’hui que l’ultimatum de trois jours prononcé par le gouvernement avant de lancer son assaut final a pris fin. L’armée avait annoncé qu’elle serait sans pitié.

Les préoccupations exprimées par les partenaires internationaux au sujet des conséquences humanitaires de ce conflit ont suprêmement agacé le pouvoir, rejetant ces interférences étrangères, mais incitant à plus de modération dans les communiqués envers les populations civiles devant se tenir à l’écart des cibles stratégiques.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian refugees fleeing from the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region wait for food at the Um-Rakoba camp on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, in Al-Qadarif state, Sudan, on Nov. 23. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

In early November, Ethiopia’s federal government launched a military offensive in the country’s Tigray region. Why would leaders declare war on their own people? Could the violence potentially spread to other countries?

How the conflict started

The Ethiopian state is structured according to the principle of ethnic federalism, with nine regional ethnic states and two federally administered city-states. The northern Tigray region is inhabited by ethnic Tigrayans, and it is ruled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF was the dominant faction in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a multiethnic, four-party coalition that ruled the country for almost 30 years before Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in 2018.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace 25 años, en una base de la Fuerza Aérea estadounidense en Ohio, con el Acuerdo de Dayton se puso fin a la guerra más devastadora del continente europeo desde 1945. Después de tres años y medio, la guerra en Bosnia se había cobrado más de 100 000 vidas, generó una inmensa destrucción y desplazó a millones de personas de sus hogares. «No será una paz justa, pero es más justo que seguir con la guerra», observó el líder musulmán bosnio Alija Izetbegović. «Dada la situación, y dado el mundo, no era posible lograr una paz mejor».

Demasiado cierto. Junto con los negociadores estadounidense y ruso, Richard Holbrooke e Igor Ivanov, presencié directamente los altibajos de esos 21 días en Dayton como copresidente por la Unión Europea de las negociaciones de paz.…  Seguir leyendo »

À l’issue de 44 jours de guerre sanglante dans le Haut-Karabakh (Artsakh, en arménien), les Russes ont été les instigateurs d’un accord obligeant les Arméniens à céder d’importantes étendues territoriales à l’Azerbaïdjan. Dès le 10 novembre, un cessez-le-feu est observé et environ les trois quarts d’Artsakh seront graduellement vidés de leurs habitants millénaires pour laisser la place aux Azéris. C’est une situation crève-cœur qui suscite la colère et l’indignation.

Depuis le 27 septembre, les Arméniens de la diaspora ont manifesté, participé à des collectes de fonds, pris d’assaut les médias sociaux, milité auprès de divers gouvernements pour la reconnaissance du droit à l’autodétermination du peuple d’Artsakh et la fin des hostilités dans le Haut-Karabakh.…  Seguir leyendo »

Photo by: Sergei Grits Ethnic Armenians load a truck as they prepare to leave their home in the village of Maraga, in the Martakert area, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. A Russia-brokered cease-fire to halt six weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh stipulated that Armenia turn over control of some areas it holds outside the separatist territory's borders to Azerbaijan. Armenians are forced to leave their homes before the region is handed over to control by Azerbaijani forces. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

For the first time in history, a war has been won almost entirely by unmanned aircraft — by what are technically called “armed drones” or Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, guided autonomously).

On Nov. 10, Armenia surrendered to Azerbaijan, ceding control of the disputed enclave Nagorno-Karabakh located within Azeri territory. Nagorno-Karabakh borders Armenia, has a predominantly ethnic Armenian-Christian population that, together with Armenia, has fought to resist domination by predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.

The Nagorno-Karabakh War has flared on and off for some 30 years, a long stalemate little noted in the Western press.

But now the decisive defeat of Armenia by futuristic RPVs portends a revolution in military technology akin to the invention of gunpowder or the use of manned aircraft in World Wars I and II that changed the dimensions and nature of warfare.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Ethiopian army’s assault on Tigray province marks a serious backwards step by the country’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who has been feted internationally as a moderniser and Nobel peace prize winner. Abiy calls it a “law enforcement operation” – but he risks being blamed for an expanding refugee emergency and a burgeoning region-wide crisis.

An even bigger fear is the break-up of Ethiopia itself in a Libyan or Yugoslav-type implosion. The country comprises more than 80 ethnic groups, of which Abiy’s Oromo is the largest, followed by the Amhara. Ethnic Somalis and Tigrayans represent about 6% each in a population of about 110 million.…  Seguir leyendo »

The humanitarian tragedy is already stretching across borders: 27,000 Ethiopians have crossed the frontier into Sudan in two weeks, the largest influx in 20 years.

Ethiopia’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party from the northern Tigray region that is battling the central government, has admitted to firing rockets at Asmara, the capital of neighbouring Eritrea. What we’re seeing in Ethiopia might be the last gasps of an empire – akin to the dissolution of the former Soviet Union – for some 115 million people. So, how did we get here?

On 4 November, while the world was occupied with the US elections, Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of a Nobel peace prize for his role in trying to resolve the conflict with Eritrea, declared war on the TPLF, launching a military offensive in response to what he claims was an attack on the Northern Command, the most powerful division of the Ethiopian army.…  Seguir leyendo »

The ceasefire brokered last week between Azerbaijan and Armenia has largely been cast as a means to end a decades-long territorial dispute. But, of course, reality might not be as smooth. In a region every bit as geopolitically fraught as the Balkans, the Caucasus has always been a patchwork of peoples pulled and shoved between greater powers, suffering successive waves of conquest and “ethnic cleansing”.

Zoom in more closely right now, though, and while Azerbaijanis can rightly celebrate a return to homes they were driven from 30 years ago, for the Armenian people at large, the risks could not be greater.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian migrants who fled intense fighting in their homeland region of Tigray cook a meal in the border reception center of Hamdiyet, in the eastern Sudanese state of Kasala, on Saturday. (Ebrahim Hamid/AFP/Getty Images)

In the early hours of Nov. 4, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed shut down telecommunications and deployed troops to his country’s northern Tigray region. Shortly after, a flurry of new Twitter accounts appeared and began to tweet about the situation. By the following week, new accounts were responsible for nearly a quarter of tweets about the crisis.

On the surface, this is a familiar phenomenon. Some regimes use swarms of automated accounts — known as “bots” — to sway political discourse. However, my analysis of nearly 90,000 recent tweets, along with interviews with Ethiopia’s diaspora, revealed a different phenomenon: There are real people behind most of these new accounts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian peacekeepers at the Dadivank, an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery, located in a territory that is soon to be turned over to Azerbaijan under a peace deal that followed the fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in the Kalbajar district on Sunday. (Stringer/Reuters)

The guns are finally silent in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory in the South Caucasus between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In late September, the longstanding conflict in the territory re-erupted into a six-week war that left thousands dead.

With local Armenian forces collapsing after a relentless Azerbaijani assault from the air and ground, the warring parties signed a nine-point ceasefire last week. Facilitated by Moscow, the agreement authorized the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces to the region to establish new borders within the territory.

The implications of these new borders, however, extend well beyond Nagorno-Karabakh. As both sides bury their dead, here are five significant ways the 2020 Karabakh war will change the map of the South Caucasus — and the crucial questions that remain unanswered.…  Seguir leyendo »

Militia fighters from Ethiopia’s Amhara region in Tigray, earlier this month. The country stands on the cusp of civil war. Credit Eduardo Soteras/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The announcement last week that the government was about to launch a military operation into one of the country’s regions came, to put it lightly, as a shock.

Not only was it very far from the emollient statecraft that won Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed the Nobel Peace Prize last year, it also seemed to shatter the purpose of his premiership. When he rose to power in 2018, Mr. Abiy promised to guide Ethiopia into a new era of peace, prosperity and national reconciliation.

But on Nov. 4, he dispatched the Army to Tigray, one of the country’s 10 semiautonomous regions and home to roughly 6 percent of the population, accusing its leaders — with whom he has increasingly sparred — of attacking a government defense post and attempting to steal military equipment.…  Seguir leyendo »

A service member of the Russian peacekeeping troops walks near a tank near the border with Armenia, following the signing of a deal to end the military conflict in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, 10 November 2020.

After six weeks of bloody armed conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Russia has brokered a full ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, signed by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia and Armenia’s prime minister. In contrast to three prior failed humanitarian ceasefires successively negotiated with the aid of Russia, France and the United States, this one appears to be holding. Its success reflects battlefield realities: Azerbaijan was winning militarily and Armenia faced a crushing defeat. But humiliation cannot be a strong basis for sustained peace. The parties and foreign stakeholders must ensure that the ceasefire holds; they also should take steps to ensure that the new regional order has benefits for all involved.…  Seguir leyendo »