Tony Blair, conflict and religion: a case of Huntington redux

Last weekend’s Observer carried an article by Tony Blair headlined, ‘Religious difference, not ideology, will fuel this century’s epic battles.’ Hmm, really? Continue reading

The sabotage of Geneva II

If you want to achieve a negotiated end to violent conflict, all the parties have to first agree to talk. Seen in that light, rescinding the invitation to Iran to attend the Geneva II conference on Syria is very bad news. Continue reading

The Geneva II conference on Syria: prospects

A cynic would say this should be my shortest ever blog post: the prospects for success at Geneva II, starting Wednesday 22nd, are virtually zero. It’s only the eternal optimist in me that insists on that sentence including the word “virtually”. Is it really so bad?

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Syria’s death toll

The Syrian death toll creeps ever higher. A new report records that by the end of August, 113,735 civilians and combatants had lost their lives in the war. This figure includes 11,420 children aged 17 years and younger. Continue reading

Syria: CW disarmament enters critical phase as hell breaks loose

In Syria in the coming weeks, 600 tons of the ‘precursor chemicals’ from which chemical weapons (CW) are made will be convoyed over land so they can be shipped out. The route goes through areas now being fought over. To remove CW from a war zone will be an unprecedented feat if successful – and equally without parallel if it goes wrong. Continue reading

A dream of peace in Stockwell

Can you dream of a peaceful future for an inner London neighbourhood that, frankly, has its problems – and more than a few? But also has a big heart? Some people can and International Alert, the organisation that I head, has been working with them. The result is a peace mosaic on our outside wall. This film tells you about it and why it’s there.

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The US-Iranian-Syrian diplomatic dance

The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons (CW) has started. In a breakthrough moment in Iran-US relations, the two Presidents talked on the phone and the foreign ministers sat down to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme. Though the connection has received little comment in the western news media, these two welcome developments are deeply linked and close to inter-dependent. Continue reading