2017: it’s been some year, eh? It was the first year of the Trump presidency. All UN members bar one were signed up to the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was open for signature and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize. North Korea carried out more missile tests and one nuclear test and moved closer to having a nuclear ICBM capable of hitting targets in the continental US. The Iran nuclear deal came under severe pressure despite Iran implementing it fully. The people of Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya continued to suffer the ravages of violent conflict. Elsewhere in the region and outside it, people faced the threat of random terrorist attacks. Arms spending and arms trading continued to rise. In SIPRI’s Peace Points series of short films, I set out some views on these events and trends as they unfolded.
Best wishes for a peaceful 2018!
Was it a response? Was it not a response? Following a missile test on 15 September, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) went two months without another one. On 20 November, President Trump formally designated the DPRK as a state that sponsors terrorism. On 28 November the DPRK carried out launched what may have been an intercontinental-range missile, reckoned by some reports to be its 20th test-firing of the year. The risk of the US-DPRK face-off leading to conflagration is still not huge but it is increasing. With such high stakes, it is urgent to find a way to cool things down. Continue reading
On Friday 7 April, a man stole a truck in central Stockholm and drove it into a crowd on Drottninggatan, a pedestrianised street and major shopping area. He killed four people. A suspect has been arrested. Meanwhile the life of Stockholm continues. Here I offer a few personal reflections. Continue reading
It has been a disturbing few days. On Tuesday 4 April, Syrian aircraft allegedly used nerve gas against civilians. On Thursday 6, the US responded by attacking Syrian forces for the first time. On Friday 7, there was a truck attack in central Stockholm, the city’s first terror incident since December 2010. On Saturday 8, a US naval task force set out for northeast Asia to strengthen US sea power near the Korean peninsula. A small bomb was discovered in Oslo. On Sunday 9, nearly 50 people died from bomb attacks at two churches in the Nile delta.
Amid the uncertainties of the time, it’s worth asking if the US is about to get engaged in armed conflict on two fronts. Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace, The Middle East, Trump,
Tagged al-Shayrat, Assad, chemical weapons, China, Japan, Khan Sheikhun, nerve gas, North Korea, Russia, Sean Spicer, South Korea, Syria, Tillerson, Trump,
This year’s Munich Security Conference was held amid an atmosphere of deep foreboding. It became a meeting that was not so much about western security as about the West itself. Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace
Tagged Angela Merkel, Brexit, John McCain, Lavrov, Mattis, Munich Security Conference, NATO, Pence, press freedom, Russia, Syria, Trump,, Zarif
And so to Beijing, as I might write in the diary I don’t keep, for the Seventh Xiangshan Forum, a big day-and-a-half conference on international security affairs. It is the third such event I have been to this year – first Munich, then Moscow and now Beijing. In some ways quite similar yet also very different, what can be gleaned from each? Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace
Tagged China, Cold War, MISC, Moscow International Security Conference, Munich Security Conference, Russia, South China Sea, terrorism, Ukraine, US, US-Russia, Xiangshan Forum
Today is the UN International Day of Peace and it comes at a time when many people seem to feel peace is taking a horrible worldwide kicking. Is it so bad? Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace, Uncategorized
Tagged Assad, Cold War, Colombia, Crimea, peace agreements, Peace Day, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, peacemaking, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, UN, US