Even before President Trump announced the USA would withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 (see my last blog post on this), the arms control landscape did not present a happy picture. Experts from SIPRI and from the Russian Institute, IMEMO, met in October and discussed the problem. The occasion marked the 25th anniversary of the SIPRI Yearbook being published in Russian, thanks to translation effected through IMEMO, together with a Russian supplement produced by IMEMO. We captured some of the key themes in this short film in SIPRI’s Spotlight series.
On Saturday 7 April came reports that chemical weapons (CW) were used in Douma, Syria. In the very early hours of Saturday 14 April the US, France and the UK launched 105 cruise and air-to-surface missiles against a CW research centre and two CW storage facilities. US President Donald J Trump tweeted “Mission Accomplished!” But what was the mission? Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace, Uncategorized
Tagged Assad, chemical weapons, CW, CW Treaty, Douma, Macron, Mattis, OPCW, Russia, Syria, Theresa May, Trump,, UN Security Council
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,
Last week an article in the Washington Post stirred what seemed like quite a Twitter buzz, lamenting the effects of “the disastrous nonintervention in Syria“. The article is angry and vivid about the misery and destruction wrought by war in Syria. It blames the war’s continuation largely on the US deciding not to intervene in the war. It is an argument that could become influential so it’s worth examining. Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace, The Middle East, Uncategorized
Tagged Applebaum, Britain, chemical weapons, David Cameron, France, Just War, Middle East, Obama, special forces, Syria, train and equip
Or at least, who cares enough to try to start thinking anew? The region is burning. Apart from the parties to the conflicts who want to win, nobody seems to have any idea of what to do. Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace, The Middle East
Tagged Afghanistan, chemical weapons, Egypt, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Islamic State, Israel, Khalifa Haftar, Libya, Middle East, OPCW, Saudia Arabia, Syria, Yemen
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?
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
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
Posted in Conflict & peace
Tagged Ashton, Assad, Bush, Cameron, chemical weapons, Ed Miliband, Iran, Iran nuclear programme, Lavrov, McCain, Middle East, Obama, Putin, Russia, Syria, UN, Zarif
The prospect of military action against the Assad regime by western powers has become increasingly real. Soon it may be all but inevitable. But what kind of action, for what purpose, in the service of what larger strategy? All this remains obscure. Continue reading