The conflict horizon 1: Untold good news

Peace is the big, under-reported good news story of the 20-plus years since the Cold War ended. There are fewer wars than in the 1980s. There have been more peace agreements, and an increasing proportion of them endure for longer.

Good. Because the next 20 years will make the last 20 seem like a rehearsal for the real thing. Continue reading

There could be a Russian key to progress at Geneva II

Two leading scholars of Russian policy have produced a fascinating and important analysis of how and why Russia might generate progress at the Geneva conference on Syria. Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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