Conflicto armado

It’s a “scandal,” according to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres. Many more say it’s a mess. It’s also a critical battlefield for the future of the Arab world, according to engaged capitals.

It’s Libya.

The 2011 international military intervention in Libya was about being on the right side of history, just as the Arab Spring was supposed to bring a new and bright democratic future to the entire region. The Paris of Nicolas Sarkozy, followed by the London of David Cameron, was enthusiastically charging full speed ahead, while the Washington of Barack Obama was relunctantly “leading from behind.” And after half a year of bombing, the bizarre 42-year rule of Col.…  Seguir leyendo »

El conflicto de larga data en Yemen está más maduro que nunca para lograr una solución. Los distintos bandos yemeníes han quedado exhaustos por la lucha y aceptaron rápidamente el llamado en marzo de António Guterres, secretario general de las Naciones Unidas, a un alto el fuego mundial por la pandemia de la COVID-19. El mes siguiente, la coalición en Yemen liderada por los sauditas anunció un alto el fuego unilateral de dos semanas, que luego extendió.

Los bandos enfrentados ya lograron avances significativos hacia un acuerdo de alto el fuego en negociaciones coordinadas por el enviado especial para Yemen de la ONU, Martin Griffiths.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Syrian soldier films the damage to the Syrian Scientific Research Center in Barzeh, near Damascus, Syria, on April 14, 2018. The site was attacked by U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar al-Assad for suspected chemical attacks against civilians. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

A chemical weapons confrontation is escalating in Syria, after an international watchdog agency concluded this month that Damascus used chemical weapons, lied to investigators and violated its commitment to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal. Syria has 90 days to respond — or face a referral to the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment.

Since 2013, the independent Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), often in coordination with experts from the United Nations, has led efforts to collect evidence on the use of toxic gas on civilian targets in Syria. Most recently, the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team concluded that the Syrian government was responsible for the use of chemical weapons in March 2017, and thus lied about dismantling its entire stockpile.…  Seguir leyendo »

In face-to-face surveys carried out by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) and Levada Marketing Research (Moscow), we asked 2,750 respondents in southeast Ukraine and in Crimea in December 2014 and another 3,037 respondents throughout Ukraine and in Crimea in December 2019/January 2020 the question: “Have you heard about the catastrophe of the Malaysian aircraft in July 2014 in eastern Ukraine? And if so, in your view, what caused it?” Large regional differences in blame attribution are evident across Ukraine’s regions. More respondents gave “don’t know” answers in 2019 than 2014, though respondents in Crimea widely blamed Ukraine for the downed flight. Figure by authors.

Six years ago this week, a Russian-made missile shot Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), a civilian passenger plane with 298 people on board, from the sky over war-torn Ukraine. Last week, the Dutch government, acting on behalf of the 193 Dutch nationals on the flight, announced it was taking Russia to the European Court of Human Rights. A criminal trial against four suspects involved in transporting the missile system that downed MH17 began in Amsterdam in March.

The destruction of MH17 on July 17, 2014, sparked outrage and accusations. Russia — and Russian separatists in Ukraine — continue to deny any responsibility.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man shows a piece of shrapnel after attacks carried out by the Armenian army at Dondar Kuscu village near Tovuz, Azerbaijan. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Although the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is focused on the Line of Contact around Nagorny Karabakh, a new – and significant – outbreak of violence has happened some 300 kilometres away on high ground along the de jure Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

Although not a first, violence in this area has generally been contained by the proximity of major transport and infrastructure arteries, and of civilian populations on both sides of the border. Plus, unlike in Nagorny Karabakh, the extended deterrents conferred by Armenia’s membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and bilateral agreements with Russia are also – theoretically at least – in force.…  Seguir leyendo »

La doble tragedia de Libia

La situación de Libia, un país rico en petróleo y segmentado tribalmente, se asemeja a la de otros países devastados por la guerra en el Gran Oriente Medio, entre ellos Afganistán, Siria y Yemen. En cada caso, una combinación de luchas internas y de intervención externa desacertada ha sostenido un conflicto que viene de largo.

Al recordar las invasiones lideradas por Estados Unidos de Afganistán (2001) e Irak (2003) en su memoria de 2014 Duty, el ex secretario de Defensa Robert Gates sostenía que Estados Unidos era bueno a la hora de derrocar un régimen, pero que no tenía ni idea de lo que debería ocupar su lugar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace hoy 25 años, en la ciudad bosnia de Srebrenica, se cometió la mayor masacre ocurrida en Europa desde el fin de la Segunda Guerra mundial. También el mayor encubrimiento orquestado por la Secretaría General de las Naciones Unidas, con la colaboración de los principales países miembros de su Consejo de Seguridad.

Me explico. Por aquellos días, mientras las Naciones Unidas celebraba con legítimo orgullo el desmantelamiento del abominable régimen del apartheid en Suráfrica, Lord Peter Carrington y el canciller portugués José Cutileiro, en representación de la Comunidad Europea, proponía un plan de paz para Bosnia y Herzegovina, cuyo punto central era la partición del país en tres distritos autónomos delimitados exclusivamente por razones étnicas y religiosas.…  Seguir leyendo »

After weeks of ratcheting up tensions on the Korean peninsula, including lodging near-daily threats against South Korea in reaction to some of its citizens sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border, North Korea has decided to pause. On 24 June, North Korean state media reported that Kim Jong-un opted to defer plans to take certain military actions, after considering an unspecified “prevailing situation” during a virtual preliminary meeting of the Worker’s Party Central Military Commission over which he presided.

For now, one can only guess at the reasons for the sudden pause. Did reported U.S. B-52 bomber flyovers near Japan on 24 June, coupled with three U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

La perra de Sarajevo

Todavía ignoro el porqué llegué a los Balcanes en 1993, en pleno fregado yugoslavo. Nunca he ido de héroe ni de salvamundos. Sin embargo, ahí estaba tras un vuelo en un Hércules C-130 del Ejército del Aire español que aterrizaba en Divulje, cerca de Split. Cuando me informaron de mi zona de trabajo en un mapa sobre el que se había superpuesto un plástico donde se trazaban con rotulador las diferentes líneas de movimiento de tropas, la roja del frente de combate la veía muy cerca de la que iba ser mi casa. Demasiado. Estaba en una retaguardia a donde llegaban los helicópteros medicalizados y furgones frigoríficos con cadáveres de soldados provenientes de esa delgada línea roja.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le président du Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (G), donne l'accolade à Mahamadou Djery Maiga (D), vice-président et porte-parole du Conseil de transition de l'Etat de l'Azawad, le 20 juin 2015 à Bamako. AFP/Habibou Kouyate

Cinq ans après sa signature en juin 2015, où en est la mise en œuvre de l’Accord pour la paix et la réconciliation au Mali ?

En juin 2015, le gouvernement malien et deux coalitions de groupes armés issus du Nord du pays, la Plateforme, alliée au gouvernement, et la Coalition des mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA), fédération de mouvements entrés en rébellion contre l’Etat, signaient à Bamako un accord pour restaurer la paix et la réconciliation au Mali. Après moins d’un an de négociations souvent indirectes, le texte définitif a été largement imposé aux acteurs, sous la pression d’une équipe de médiation internationale dont l’Algérie était chef de file et qui comprenait, entre autres, la Mission des Nations unies pour la stabilisation du Mali (Minusma), la Communauté économique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (Cedeao), l’Union africaine, l’Union européenne, ainsi que les Etats-Unis et la France, initialement inclus comme « amis de la médiation ».…  Seguir leyendo »

World War II veteran Ivan Timchenko, 103, with his granddaughter in Baku, Azerbaijan during the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Eighteen months on from a reported agreement by Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers to prepare their populations for peace, both states have in reality remained largely preoccupied with consolidating domestic power due to enduring socio-economic frustration and populations radicalized by the ‘four-day war’ back in 2016.

A rapidly evolving international context since then has been dominated by regional tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East, and between the United States and Iran. And the COVID-19 pandemic now presents both Yerevan and Baku with new threats and problems.

Armenia’s measures to contain the virus were roundly criticised as ‘too little, too late’, while the de facto authorities in Nagorny Karabakh were rebuked by many in civil society for pressing ahead with elections despite risks to public health.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian and Turkey servicemen are on a joint patrol along the M4 highway at Idlib de-escalation zone, Syria on 5 May 2020. Sputnik via AFP

The UN call for a global ceasefire in response to COVID-19 has lost momentum, but I would begin by saying that Secretary-General António Guterres deserves credit for coming up with a genuinely compelling appeal, and I think the resonance of his original proposal took a lot of us by surprise.

When we first heard he was calling for a ceasefire, cynical diplomacy watchers, such as myself, thought it might be a bit of a gimmick, and not have any concrete impact. What was interesting was that in the first week to ten days after he made the appeal, in late March, we saw quite a lot of armed groups and governments acknowledging the call and promising to consider it.…  Seguir leyendo »

By easing access to basic services, schools and farms, and allowing civilians to travel once again between villages and towns, the South Sudan peace deal signed in September 2018 was a much-needed boon for the country’s population, whose lives had been decimated by years of brutal fighting and a man-made humanitarian crisis that claimed up to 400,000 lives.

Almost two years down the line, South Sudan’s leaders have formed a unity government — with critical support from South Africa — and should be commended for achieving progress towards peace. But the new government, formed in February of this year, remains shaky.…  Seguir leyendo »

Forces loyal to Libya's U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord parade a Pantsir air defense system truck in Tripoli on Wednesday after capturing it at from forces loyal to Libya's eastern-based strongman Khalifa Hifter. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, Field Marshall Khalifa Hifter, commander of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), surprised Libyans on the eve of Ramadan with an address calling on them to reject “all the institutions” established by the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).

Four days later he claimed a mandate for military rule. But this has yet to transpire, with Hifter forced into negotiations with civilian counterparts. As his military fortunes have also taken a significant setback, Hifter is now on the defensive on all fronts. The coming weeks may be decisive for his ambitions.

Libya’s government dysfunction continues

The LPA, signed under the auspices of the United Nations in 2015, paved the way for the formation of a unity “Government of National Accord” (GNA) and sought to accommodate rival factions by maintaining the eastern-based House of Representatives as the parliament and the Tripoli-based remnants of the previous parliament as a consultative body.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Sudan President Salva Kiir poses for a news photographer in Juba. (Photo by Peter Bauza for The Washington Post)

In February, South Sudan President Salva Kiir swore in the country’s new vice president — rebel leader Riek Machar, his longtime rival. The ceremony marked a renewed hope for peace in South Sudan. As they had done in the past, Machar and Kiir smiled for the cameras and referred to each other as partners, urging forgiveness and pledging commitment to the still unfinished peace settlement. This time, they insisted, they would work together to end the country’s ethnic civil war and bring stability to the region.

Such ceremonies can signal unified commitment to a peaceful future. But seeing a leader who has targeted one’s ethnic group for violence then switch gears and endorse a peace deal might raise suspicions — does the leader really support the deal, or will there be more violence in the future?…  Seguir leyendo »

Covid-19 has brought into sharp focus the bravery and selflessness of health-care workers who — at great risk to their own health — are on the front lines of this once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic, celebrated with nightly cheers ringing from Manhattan to Milan.

It has also laid bare the contrast with decimated health systems in places like Syria, where doctors have, for far too long, been targeted with violence and where hospitals have been bombed.

The truth of this pandemic is that it cannot be defeated anywhere unless it is defeated everywhere. This is why an attack on health care anywhere is an attack on health care everywhere — and why the targeting of health workers and their facilities globally must be brought to an end and the perpetrators held accountable.…  Seguir leyendo »

A reinforcement convoy of Yemen's Security Belt Force dominated by members of the the Southern Transitional Council (STC) heading to Abyan province, Yemen. AFP/Saleh Al-OBEIDI

On 25 April, the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared self-rule in areas of Yemen’s south that were part of an independent state prior to unification with the north in 1990. The declaration came on the heels of escalating tensions between the STC and the Yemeni government, nominal allies in the fight against Huthi rebels based in the northern highlands. It also came as the UN struggled to engineer a nationwide ceasefire and COVID-19 response plan. STC forces quickly took control of ministries, local government offices and the Central Bank building in Aden, the government’s temporary headquarters since the Huthis pushed it out of the capital Sanaa in 2015. …  Seguir leyendo »

Campagne de fumigation contre la diffusion du coronavirus. Sanaa, Yémen, avril 2020.

Le monde paralysé par le Covid-19 pourrait bien se réveiller, une fois la tempête apaisée, et réaliser qu’il a ignoré les régions les plus vulnérables de la planète: celles où, avant la pandémie, la guerre, les combats et les difficultés de contrôle des territoires avaient déjà fragilisé les systèmes de santé. Régions où les conditions semblent réunies pour que se recréent de nouveaux foyers d’épidémie. Le maillage de la couverture sanitaire mondiale est ainsi déchiré par ces nombreuses zones sur lesquelles les ministères de la Santé n’ont aucune influence, quand ils ne sont pas vus comme l’ennemi. Elles sont souvent hors d’atteinte également des agences internationales chargées de la santé globale.…  Seguir leyendo »

Marking the Day of The National Flag of Ukraine, a day before celebrations of the anniversary of state independence. Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images.

The recognition by Ukraine of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider grave crimes allegedly perpetrated in its territory has led to the ICC Prosecutor’s preliminary examination identifying a wave of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There are claims of persecution, forced conscription, deportation, sham trials, enforced disappearances, and property seizure – in Crimea. As well as killings, torture, inhuman treatment, sexual violence, and indiscriminate shelling – in Donbas. The court now needs to decide whether to open a full investigation which could lead to charges against specific individuals, as in the trial currently taking place in the Netherlands over MH-17.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres made an unprecedented appeal on March 23 for “an immediate global cease-fire” to facilitate humanitarian access to the populations most vulnerable to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. This was the first global cease-fire request in the 75-year history of the United Nations.

The response has been swift and wide-reaching — conflict parties across 12 countries have already declared some form of cease-fire. Some 70 countries have backed the appeal, along with prominent figures like the Pope, and nearly 200 organizations.

Across the globe, this simultaneous series of commitments to suspend hostilities for a common purpose is altogether new.…  Seguir leyendo »