Tag Archives: Syria

Syria: grasping the nettle of negotiation

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

Refugees: links in the chain of disaster and response

Refugees’ humanitarian needs have generated toxic politics in the EU, with yesterday’s uncertain summit the most recent evidence of that, and a response that is widely deemed inadequate. But the critics have not been able to offer a better alternative. Continue reading

Bombing ISIS won’t stop it

Britain has had a national minute of silence today to remember the victims – including 30 Britons killed – of the beachside massacre in Sousse, Tunisia, last week. Then it will be back to politics as usual, which means discussing when to bomb in Syria. God help us. Continue reading

Gender, peace, security, slavery and cigarettes

One year on from the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, the senior UN official on the issue, Zainab Bangura, has said in an interview with AFP that Yazidi and other young women abducted by ISIS in Syria and Iraq are being traded “for as little as a pack of cigarettes.” Continue reading

Bombing in the Middle East again: three easy questions

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.

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The Middle East – who cares?

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

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?

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