The 2018 edition of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), a top level meeting on peace and security issues, was held on 16-18 February. Among the participants were “more than 30 heads of state and government and over 100 cabinet ministers from across the globe”. There was not much sense of actual security to be found. Continue reading
The Iran nuclear deal – formally, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA – is under pressure. In his speech to the UN General Assembly today, 19 September, President Trump called it “one of the worst and most one-sided deals” and said it is “an embarrassment to the United States.” Some commentators already see this as advance notice that the US will pull out of the agreement. But it was a good deal when it was made in 2015, it is being properly implemented, and it should be upheld. Continue reading
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
The ‘Arab Spring’ was triggered by the self-sacrifice of a Tunisian. Four years later Tunisia is the only country where the Spring’s early promise persists and, despite extreme pressures and many risks, political change is unfolding relatively peacefully. The new Nobel laureates, the National Dialogue Quartet, are an important part of the reason why. Here is some of the background. Continue reading
Russia’s military intervention in Syria brings a dramatic new dimension to a protracted, brutal conflict. The war will go on, however, and nothing so far suggests it will end any time soon with victory for one side or another. If peace is to come about other than through exhaustion, then, it can only be by agreement. And that means everybody grasping the nettle of negotiation. Continue reading
Last week when ISIS burned the Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kassasbeh, and Jordan responded by hanging two prisoners already sentenced to death for crimes committed as part of al-Qa’eda, Arise TV in London asked me to comment. Here’s the part of The World programme I was on:
The West is a couple of weeks into the latest air campaign in the Middle East, targeting the group we know among other names as ISIS. It is too early to see an outcome on the ground. The first test of its success is Kobane on northern Syria’s border with Turkey. As the fighting goes on, it seems the bombing could not halt ISIS’ continuing advance to the town though there are claims it has started to have an impact on the street-to-street fighting. Amid the uncertainties on the ground, three questions remain relevant.
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