Archive for the ‘International Conflict, Terrorism & Security’ Category

29
Oct

King

 

On Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 October, 11 specially selected students from the IE Master in International Relations, IE Bachelor in International Relations and the IE Dual Bachelor Degree in International Relations and Business Administration were invited by the Club de Madrid to participate as scribes in the 2-day “MADRID +10: Policy Dialogue on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism”. Students were tasked with writing short reports on the various sessions they attended that would then be used as content by the Club de Madrid. The conference gathered over 200 leading experts, opinion shapers, former heads of state, academics, civil society and NGOs around the themes of prevention of violent extremism and radicalization. The symposium was opened by H.M. King Felipe VI of Spain and closed with a keynote address by Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations. Other noted speakers included Habib Essid, Prime Minister, Government of Tunisia and José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The exclusive participation of the IE International Relations students in the conference further consolidated a growing collaboration between the Club de Madrid and the IE School of International Relations. Just last week, on Oct. 22nd, the principal content coordinator of the event, Prof. Peter Neumann, Director, International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR), King’s College, came to IE along with other Club de Madrid members for a seminar with IE Master in International Relations students. The talk was a preview of the Madrid+10 Policy Dialogue in which Prof. Neumann answered questions on the threat of terrorism, violent extremism and ISIS in a very interesting exchange with the students.

The World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid is an independent and non-profit organization comprised of 102 former heads of democratic states and governments from 67 countries.  It is the world’s largest forum of its kind, made up of former presidents and prime ministers from democratic countries who have come together to provide a response to growing demand among leaders for support in two key areas – leadership for democratic governance and solutions for crisis and post-crisis situations.

16
Oct

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By Deniz Torcu, MIR 2014/2015 Alumnus

When I was working for a UNESCO Commission in Turkey a couple of years ago, we had started receiving dozens of phone calls from the Southern Turkish border with Syria, from refugees desperately trying to get in touch with some authority that could help them get settled in a camp or help them get to the EU. A sense of despair overtook us every time such a call came, since the only thing that we could do was to give them the contact information for UNHCR and try to explain to them that this wasn’t the right UN agency and we could not help. Many would reply by saying that they had been trying to contact the UNHCR but the lines were always busy and asked us if we had any friends there who could help. Every “please” from the other side of the phone was a rattle to the foundations of our two-storied building, every “I don’t understand” was a slap in our faces.

According to the latest data from the European Commission, more than 12 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, with nearly 5 of those 12 million stuck in besieged areas. An estimated 9 million have fled Syria since the violence began in the country in 2011 and nearly half of this number are registered in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Read more…

Published on Oct. 7th in http://www.katoikos.eu

15
Oct

ankara

Saturday’s bombing of a peace rally in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, shows the horrific extent to which Turkey’s politics and Syria’s war are merging. The rally had been organized by leftist activists to call for peace between the Turkish government and the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which for years has been agitating for greater independence for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that the Islamic State is the top suspect.

If the Islamic State is indeed responsible, they will have targeted the rally in order to exacerbate the already violent conflict between the Kurds and the state. The bombing could easily have just that effect, coming at a time when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s authoritarian leader, has been critically weakened by protests and corruption accusations, and is turning to nationalism to maintain his grip on power.

The Islamic State has already used this strategy of playing on division in the region to great success — exploiting existing fault lines to generate conflicts that empower radicals and disenfranchise moderates. Attacking minorities who are already distrusted by the majority draws the minority further into conflict, and can spark a majoritarian crackdown. This dynamic has been playing out in Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, and now it has come to Turkey: the bombers are exploiting and deepening the division between Turks and Kurds in the same way that terrorists have exploited Sunni-Shia divisions in other parts of the Middle East.

The immediate roots of this moment lie in September 2014, when Islamic State forces laid siege to the Kurdish town of Kobani, just across the Turkish border in Syria. As the Islamic State pounded the city, it became an international symbol of dogged Kurdish resistance. Meanwhile, Turkey’s tanks and artillery lay silent just across the border, even as hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the area and Turkish citizens gathered on the hills to watch the carnage.

The opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — which is largely Kurdish but has increasingly been seeking support from disaffected Turks — accused the Turkish government of allowing the Islamic State to crush Kobani in order to eliminate the Kurdish militias fighting there. Under grassroots pressure to respond to the government’s refusal to intervene, Kurdish politicians called for demonstrations, and more than 30 people died in riots across Turkey’s southeast. Read more…

Published on Oct. 12 by Nate Shttp://foreignpolicy.com

14
Oct

FOR four years, American policy toward Syria has been built on a wish and a prayer: a wish that President Bashar al-Assad would leave and a prayer that the “moderate” Syrian opposition would be more than it is. Now Russia has stepped up its game, and the response from the American government and many commentators seems to be to wish harder and pray more, while condemning Russia for intruding where it supposedly doesn’t belong.

As much as many Americans and Europeans may abhor what President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia did in Crimea and Ukraine, Moscow’s intervention in Syria may offer the first glimmer of hope for ending the quagmire there. Mr. Putin is right that only stable governance and security will allow Syrian refugees to return home.

Rather than pursue decisive victory, America must seek to end this war with a less dramatic, less satisfying settlement.

The United States should have two goals in Syria. First, bring order to those parts of the country that the Islamic State does not control. Second, strive to build a coalition of forces that can contain the Islamic State and eventually replace it. Russia’s “intrusion” could offer a chance to achieve both.

This means setting aside American prejudices and heated political rhetoric. Russia isn’t an intruder in Syria; it has been involved there for decades, just as America has been involved throughout the Middle East for more than 60 years. Mr. Assad is Russia’s protégé, and Syria is an operations base for the Russian military. The United States has its own, significantly larger set of friends and operating facilities in the region.

At present, both powers have an interest in regional stability. Violent jihadist movements pose more of a threat to Russia than to America; many Russians have already died at the hands of terrorists, and thousands of Russian-based jihadists have flocked to the Islamic State with the intent to return home eventually. Read more…

Published in nytimes.com on 13 October, 2015

Gordon Adams is a professor emeritus of international relations at American University. Stephen M. Walt is a professor of international affairs at Harvard.

5
Oct

 

Could We Have Stopped This Tragedy?

Unlike neoconservatives, who never admit error no matter how often they are wrong, I spend a fair bit of time thinking about whether my diagnoses of key world events have been off the mark. (For examples of this sort of “self-criticism,” see here, here, and here.) I’ll stand by the vast majority of what I’ve written in my scholarly work and my FP commentary, but I find it useful — indeed, necessary — to occasionally ponder whether I got something wrong and, if so, to try to figure out why.

Case in point: the increasingly awful situation in Syria. Ever since the initial protests broke out, I’ve believed this conflict was not of vital strategic interest to the United States and that overt U.S. intervention was likely to cause more harm than good. What has emerged since then is a relentless and gut-wrenching tragedy, but I’ve uncomfortably concluded that my original judgment was correct. And yet I continue to wonder.

To be sure, the Obama administration has not handled Syria well at all.

President Barack Obama erred when he jumped the gun in 2011 and insisted “Assad must go,” locking the United States into a maximalist position and foreclosing potential diplomatic solutions that might have saved thousands of lives. Second, Obama’s 2012 off-the-cuff remark about chemical weapons and “red lines” was a self-inflicted wound that didn’t help the situation and gave opponents a sound bite to use against him. The president wisely backed away from that position, however, and (with Russian help) eventually devised an arrangement that got rid of Assad’s chemical arsenal. This was no small achievement in itself, but the whole episode did not exactly inspire confidence. The administration eventually agreed to start a training program for anti-Assad forces, but did so with neither enthusiasm nor competence. Read more…

 

Published in foreignpolicy.com by Stephen Walt on Sept. 21, 2015

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