Showing posts tagged as "News"

Showing posts tagged News

12 Sep

Crisis Group President Jean-Marie Guéhenno discusses Syria and the UN on the BBC.

Central Asia’s intensifying water dispute | Gabriel Domínguez
A new report finds political rivalries, economic competition and nationalism are hampering efforts to solve Central Asia’s growing water and energy needs; a situation that may lead to conflict says analyst Deirdre Tynan.
Water management in Central Asia has long been a controversial issue. It is a region where major rivers cross international borders and water and energy production are closely intertwined. In 2012, a dispute over water resources risked provoking military conflict among the former Soviet republics, due to plans by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to dam rivers for hydropower projects. Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous country, depends on the rivers that rise in these neighboring countries to irrigate farmland and it has long been opposed to plans to revive Soviet-era projects to build dams upstream.
In a recently released report, the International Crisis Group (ICG) says that political rivalries, nationalism and mistrust have also been increasing tensions. The paper titled Water Pressures in Central Asia, examines the impact of water issues on shared border areas in the volatile Ferghana Valley; water shortages in urban areas; and competing water and energy needs among the three riparian states.
FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)
Photo: Matluba Mukhamedova/World Bank/flickr

Central Asia’s intensifying water dispute | Gabriel Domínguez

A new report finds political rivalries, economic competition and nationalism are hampering efforts to solve Central Asia’s growing water and energy needs; a situation that may lead to conflict says analyst Deirdre Tynan.

Water management in Central Asia has long been a controversial issue. It is a region where major rivers cross international borders and water and energy production are closely intertwined. In 2012, a dispute over water resources risked provoking military conflict among the former Soviet republics, due to plans by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to dam rivers for hydropower projects. Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous country, depends on the rivers that rise in these neighboring countries to irrigate farmland and it has long been opposed to plans to revive Soviet-era projects to build dams upstream.

In a recently released report, the International Crisis Group (ICG) says that political rivalries, nationalism and mistrust have also been increasing tensions. The paper titled Water Pressures in Central Asia, examines the impact of water issues on shared border areas in the volatile Ferghana Valley; water shortages in urban areas; and competing water and energy needs among the three riparian states.

FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)

Photo: Matluba Mukhamedova/World Bank/flickr

How not to demilitarize Hamas  | Ofer Zalzberg 
In a few weeks, indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas are to take place in Cairo with the aim of consolidating a durable ceasefire. The problem is that the two sides have two quite different agendas – while Hamas chiefly seeks the removal of the siege over Gaza, the Israeli government is primarily interested in demilitarizing Gaza.
But is pushing for demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza alone really in Israel’s interests?
FULL ARTICLE (CNN)
Photo: Dale Spencer/flickr

How not to demilitarize Hamas  | Ofer Zalzberg 

In a few weeks, indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas are to take place in Cairo with the aim of consolidating a durable ceasefire. The problem is that the two sides have two quite different agendas – while Hamas chiefly seeks the removal of the siege over Gaza, the Israeli government is primarily interested in demilitarizing Gaza.

But is pushing for demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza alone really in Israel’s interests?

FULL ARTICLE (CNN)

Photo: Dale Spencer/flickr

U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the Map | BEN HUBBARD, ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI
BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.
After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
“You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,” said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is a very dirty war and you have to deal with what is on offer.”
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli/The National Guard/flickr

U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the Map | BEN HUBBARD, ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.

After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

“You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,” said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is a very dirty war and you have to deal with what is on offer.”

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli/The National Guard/flickr

11 Sep
"As Aleppo goes, so goes Syria’s rebellion. The city is crucial to the mainstream opposition’s military viability as well as its morale, thus to halting the advance of the Islamic State (IS). After an alliance of armed rebel factions seized its eastern half in July 2012, Aleppo for a time symbolised the opposition’s optimism and momentum; in the following months, it exposed the rebels’ limits, as their progress slowed, and they struggled to win over the local population. Today, locked in a two-front war against the regime and IS, their position is more precarious than at any time since the fighting began."

—From Crisis Group’s report Rigged Cars and Barrel Bombs: Aleppo and the State of the Syrian War

Obama promises a long and limited war on Islamic State | Tony Karon
President Barack Obama used the broadest of brushstrokes on Wednesday night to describe his “comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State insurgency, providing few details and skirting discussion of key dilemmas facing any such plan.
The United States will lead a “broad coalition,” Obama said, but its war plan “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Instead, the campaign would rely on U.S. air power and support for “partner forces on the ground” to put the Islamic State (IS) to flight. The U.S. would supply intelligence, weapons and logistics and training. But it would be up to those forces to drive out the IS.
It was telling that the example he cited as the model for confronting the IS was the approach “we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” That comparison underscores the message that “ultimately” is the operative word in Obama’s promise to “ultimately destroy” the IS. In both Yemen and Somalia, America’s enemy remains very much intact and active, and the U.S. approach has thus far succeeded in managing and containing the threat, but not in destroying it.
FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera America)
Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA via NASA HQ Photo/flickr

Obama promises a long and limited war on Islamic State | Tony Karon

President Barack Obama used the broadest of brushstrokes on Wednesday night to describe his “comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State insurgency, providing few details and skirting discussion of key dilemmas facing any such plan.

The United States will lead a “broad coalition,” Obama said, but its war plan “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Instead, the campaign would rely on U.S. air power and support for “partner forces on the ground” to put the Islamic State (IS) to flight. The U.S. would supply intelligence, weapons and logistics and training. But it would be up to those forces to drive out the IS.

It was telling that the example he cited as the model for confronting the IS was the approach “we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” That comparison underscores the message that “ultimately” is the operative word in Obama’s promise to “ultimately destroy” the IS. In both Yemen and Somalia, America’s enemy remains very much intact and active, and the U.S. approach has thus far succeeded in managing and containing the threat, but not in destroying it.

FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera America)

Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA via NASA HQ Photo/flickr

10 Sep
Northern Nigerians live in fear of Boko Haram | Hilke Fischer
At night he lies awake and hears gun shots from a distance. “Nobody can sleep anymore,” explained a DW listener from Maiduguri, who wanted to remain anonymous. Over one million people live in the city of the northern Nigerian state of Borno and Boko Haram fighters are moving ever closer.
Gwoza, Bama, Gulak, Michika, Duhu, Shuwa, Kirshinga – the Islamists have been capturing new cities on an almost daily basis. They arrive in hijacked army vehicles, fight off the Nigerian troops and terrorize the residents. “Boko Haram are committing all kinds of atrocities killing and raping. At the same time they are taking young girls in batches and the city is littered with dead bodies,” says Ahmed Zanna, a member of the Nigerian Senate for the town of Bama says. Bama is just 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from Maiduguri and fell to the Islamists four days ago. Zanna recounts how the soldiers who were supposed to defend Bama, refused to advance any further. “They were ill equipped and they just stayed in Kondudga.”
FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)
Photo: OxfamNovib via European Commission DG ECHO/flickr

Northern Nigerians live in fear of Boko Haram | Hilke Fischer

At night he lies awake and hears gun shots from a distance. “Nobody can sleep anymore,” explained a DW listener from Maiduguri, who wanted to remain anonymous. Over one million people live in the city of the northern Nigerian state of Borno and Boko Haram fighters are moving ever closer.

Gwoza, Bama, Gulak, Michika, Duhu, Shuwa, Kirshinga – the Islamists have been capturing new cities on an almost daily basis. They arrive in hijacked army vehicles, fight off the Nigerian troops and terrorize the residents. “Boko Haram are committing all kinds of atrocities killing and raping. At the same time they are taking young girls in batches and the city is littered with dead bodies,” says Ahmed Zanna, a member of the Nigerian Senate for the town of Bama says. Bama is just 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from Maiduguri and fell to the Islamists four days ago. Zanna recounts how the soldiers who were supposed to defend Bama, refused to advance any further. “They were ill equipped and they just stayed in Kondudga.”

FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)

Photo: OxfamNovib via European Commission DG ECHO/flickr

Rigged Cars and Barrel Bombs: Aleppo and the State of the Syrian War
Beirut/Brussels  |   9 Sep 2014
Syria is sliding toward unending war between an autocratic, sectarian regime and the even more autocratic, more sectarian jihadi group that has made dramatic gains in both Syria and Iraq. Without either a ceasefire in Aleppo or greater support from its state backers, the mainstream opposition is likely to suffer a defeat that will dash chances of a political resolution for the foreseeable future.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the battle for greater Aleppo: continued gains there by the regime and Islamic State (IS) threaten the viability of the mainstream opposition as a whole, the defeat of which would be an unprecedented boon to IS and would render a negotiated resolution of the conflict all but impossible. In its latest report, Rigged Cars and Barrel Bombs: Aleppo and the State of the Syrian War, International Crisis Group focuses on Aleppo’s importance, analyses regime and IS strategies and examines the decision-making and political evolution of rebel forces.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
There are two means of averting Aleppo’s fall. The first – immediately negotiating and implementing a ceasefire there between the regime and anti-IS rebels, including a regime withdrawal from recently captured territory – is unlikely because it would require a fundamental shift in Damascus’ objectives and strategy. The second – improving and increasing support by the opposition’s Western and regional state backers to local, non-jihadi rebels in Aleppo – is risky.
Risks notwithstanding, augmenting support to mainstream rebels would offer potential benefits such as shifting the intra-rebel balance of power toward non-ideological groups and encouraging greater pragmatism among other factions. Their backers must jointly apply carrots and sticks to promote pragmatic political engagement with the regime and respect for local civil society, while penalising criminal behaviour, indiscriminate tactics and sectarian rhetoric.
Calls for Western partnership with the Assad regime against jihadis are ill-conceived, unless Damascus and its allies fundamentally revise their postures. As long as the regime’s strategy strengthens the ji-hadis it claims to combat, a rapprochement would redound to IS’s advantage.
At least in the absence of a coherent strategy to empower credible Sunni alternatives to IS, proposals for expanding U.S. airstrikes into Syria are similarly problematic; the resulting boost to IS recruitment might outweigh the group’s tactical losses.
“At stake in Aleppo is not regime victory but opposition defeat” says Noah Bonsey, Syria Senior Analyst. “If that occurs, the war would continue, pitting regime and allied forces lacking capacity to reconquer north and east Syria against an emboldened IS strengthened by recruits from rebel remnants”.
“If the regime and its Iranian and Russian backers truly wish to diminish jihadi power in Syria, they must change their strategy from pursuing the military defeat of the mainstream opposition to identifying jihadis as the primary threat”, says Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Crisis Group’s President. “Otherwise, they are leaving it to the opposition’s backers to determine whether and how to fight IS”.
FULL REPORT

Rigged Cars and Barrel Bombs: Aleppo and the State of the Syrian War

Beirut/Brussels  |   9 Sep 2014

Syria is sliding toward unending war between an autocratic, sectarian regime and the even more autocratic, more sectarian jihadi group that has made dramatic gains in both Syria and Iraq. Without either a ceasefire in Aleppo or greater support from its state backers, the mainstream opposition is likely to suffer a defeat that will dash chances of a political resolution for the foreseeable future.

It is hard to overstate the importance of the battle for greater Aleppo: continued gains there by the regime and Islamic State (IS) threaten the viability of the mainstream opposition as a whole, the defeat of which would be an unprecedented boon to IS and would render a negotiated resolution of the conflict all but impossible. In its latest report, Rigged Cars and Barrel Bombs: Aleppo and the State of the Syrian War, International Crisis Group focuses on Aleppo’s importance, analyses regime and IS strategies and examines the decision-making and political evolution of rebel forces.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • There are two means of averting Aleppo’s fall. The first – immediately negotiating and implementing a ceasefire there between the regime and anti-IS rebels, including a regime withdrawal from recently captured territory – is unlikely because it would require a fundamental shift in Damascus’ objectives and strategy. The second – improving and increasing support by the opposition’s Western and regional state backers to local, non-jihadi rebels in Aleppo – is risky.
  • Risks notwithstanding, augmenting support to mainstream rebels would offer potential benefits such as shifting the intra-rebel balance of power toward non-ideological groups and encouraging greater pragmatism among other factions. Their backers must jointly apply carrots and sticks to promote pragmatic political engagement with the regime and respect for local civil society, while penalising criminal behaviour, indiscriminate tactics and sectarian rhetoric.
  • Calls for Western partnership with the Assad regime against jihadis are ill-conceived, unless Damascus and its allies fundamentally revise their postures. As long as the regime’s strategy strengthens the ji-hadis it claims to combat, a rapprochement would redound to IS’s advantage.
  • At least in the absence of a coherent strategy to empower credible Sunni alternatives to IS, proposals for expanding U.S. airstrikes into Syria are similarly problematic; the resulting boost to IS recruitment might outweigh the group’s tactical losses.

“At stake in Aleppo is not regime victory but opposition defeat” says Noah Bonsey, Syria Senior Analyst. “If that occurs, the war would continue, pitting regime and allied forces lacking capacity to reconquer north and east Syria against an emboldened IS strengthened by recruits from rebel remnants”.

“If the regime and its Iranian and Russian backers truly wish to diminish jihadi power in Syria, they must change their strategy from pursuing the military defeat of the mainstream opposition to identifying jihadis as the primary threat”, says Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Crisis Group’s President. “Otherwise, they are leaving it to the opposition’s backers to determine whether and how to fight IS”.

FULL REPORT

9 Sep
Grace Mugabe poised for political power in Zimbabwe | David Smith
Even as he received red carpet treatment in Beijing last month, lauded by China as an “old friend” and “renowned leader”, Robert Mugabe was in danger of being upstaged by a colourful, charismatic presence at his side. His first lady, Grace Mugabe, sporting a series of vivid outfits during the official visit to China, was once a lowly member of the presidential typing pool. Then she caught Mugabe’s eye. Now the woman better known to headline writers as “DisGrace” or “First Shopper” is making a surprise entrance on to the political stage and, it is speculated, might be central to her autocratic husband’s plan to build a dynasty.
The 49-year-old was recently nominated as leader of the ruling Zanu-PF’s women’s league, as well as having a place on its central committee. She insists she is ready. “The time has come to show people what I am made of,” she told a crowd in Mazowe, the Zimbabwe Standard reported. “People should learn to wait for their time… I had never dreamed of entering politics, but you have approached me and I am ready to go.”
FULL ARTICLE (The Observer)
Photo: GovernmentZA/GCIS/flickr

Grace Mugabe poised for political power in Zimbabwe | David Smith

Even as he received red carpet treatment in Beijing last month, lauded by China as an “old friend” and “renowned leader”, Robert Mugabe was in danger of being upstaged by a colourful, charismatic presence at his side. His first lady, Grace Mugabe, sporting a series of vivid outfits during the official visit to China, was once a lowly member of the presidential typing pool. Then she caught Mugabe’s eye. Now the woman better known to headline writers as “DisGrace” or “First Shopper” is making a surprise entrance on to the political stage and, it is speculated, might be central to her autocratic husband’s plan to build a dynasty.

The 49-year-old was recently nominated as leader of the ruling Zanu-PF’s women’s league, as well as having a place on its central committee. She insists she is ready. “The time has come to show people what I am made of,” she told a crowd in Mazowe, the Zimbabwe Standard reported. “People should learn to wait for their time… I had never dreamed of entering politics, but you have approached me and I am ready to go.”

FULL ARTICLE (The Observer)

Photo: GovernmentZA/GCIS/flickr

Conflict Alert: Unrest in Sanaa
Sanaa/Brussels  |   8 Sep 2014
Yemen’s troubled transition is at a crossroads more dangerous than any since 2011. The Huthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement also known as Ansar Allah, are mobilising in the capital, organising demonstrations calling for the government’s demise and reinstating the fuel subsidies that were lifted in July. More worrying, their tribal supporters, many of whom have ties to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ousted in the 2011 uprising, are setting up protest camps on the outskirts of the city, implicitly threatening a siege or military invasion. The situation is tense and the possibility of violence real. Overcoming the impasse requires returning to the basic principles agreed upon in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) that concluded in January 2014: rejecting political exclusion and resolving differences through peaceful negotiation.
FULL CONFLICT ALERT

Conflict Alert: Unrest in Sanaa

Sanaa/Brussels  |   8 Sep 2014

Yemen’s troubled transition is at a crossroads more dangerous than any since 2011. The Huthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement also known as Ansar Allah, are mobilising in the capital, organising demonstrations calling for the government’s demise and reinstating the fuel subsidies that were lifted in July. More worrying, their tribal supporters, many of whom have ties to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ousted in the 2011 uprising, are setting up protest camps on the outskirts of the city, implicitly threatening a siege or military invasion. The situation is tense and the possibility of violence real. Overcoming the impasse requires returning to the basic principles agreed upon in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) that concluded in January 2014: rejecting political exclusion and resolving differences through peaceful negotiation.

FULL CONFLICT ALERT