European Council on Foreign Relations

What the Gaza deal (really) means for Hamas and Israel

This article was first published by Your Middle East.

After 49 days of fighting it appears that Israel and Hamas have finally agreed on a ceasefire that will put an end to what has become the bloodiest round of violence yet between them. But despite talk of avoiding a return to the status quo, this is exactly what has seemingly happened. Far from solving the underlying causes behind recent flare-ups, the current ceasefire risks sacrificing long term stability for short term calm, guaranteeing only a limited period of quiet while sowing the seeds for yet another round of violence.

This comes despite recent rounds of negotiations having steadily forced a serious discussion amongst policy makers on meaningful ways of alleviating the siege on Gaza while guaranteeing permanent calm along Israel’s border. Over the last weeks such discussions have focussed on providing Palestinians with

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Ukraine and Russia – the use of history in political dispute

FOREWORD

To understand what’s going on in Ukraine, you need to understand the Donbas. Though written almost 20 years ago, this paper tells you everything you need to know about the historical background to the current conflict and the reasons why both Ukraine and Russia claim the territory is “theirs”; Moscow justifies its seizure of Crimea as the protection of Russian speaking minorities as the ongoing war in Ukraine highlights ethnic and nationalist tensions that have existed there for generations.

In this paper written shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Andrew Wilson focused on the Donbas region, historically poised between Ukraine and Russia, which had been part of the newly independent Ukraine since 1991 but was still the subject of bitter argument between the two states. He sets out the contradictory historiographical narratives used by both sides and explains

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An alternative to intifada

This article was originally published by Cairo Review.

Whenever the Occupied Palestinian Territories flare up, predictions of a new Palestinian intifada generally follow. But with memories of the second intifada from 2000-2005 still raw, Palestinians have demonstrated no appetite for large-scale social upheaval. Even when Israel triggers serious confrontations, the status quo has prevailed. Each conflict has remained isolated and ultimately short-lived. Despite three conflicts with Hamas in Gaza, recent years have witnessed relatively low levels of Palestinian violence.

The current state of affairs will not last indefinitely. It would be wrong to think that a new generation of Palestinians will continue to tolerate Israel’s policy of dispossession and humiliation. The use of indiscriminate force once again against Gaza’s civilians has already caused an uptick in violence in East

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Russia’s convoy to East Ukraine and the International Committee of the Red Cross

Considerable confusion has arisen over the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the much-delayed humanitarian convoy from Russia to East Ukraine. The reasons that Russia has sent the convoy have also invited significant speculation.

The ICRC is being used as an intermediary because it has been working in Russia for over 20 years in sensitive places such as the North Caucasus. The ICRC will have made assessments and drawn up beneficiary lists, and it will have the capacity to operate through an established network of people on the ground, not least the Ukrainian Red Cross.

Any humanitarian operation of this size and sensitivity must have the agreement of all sides involved. Contrary to popular opinion, the ICRC cannot force any party to do anything it does not want to do. All it can do is remind all sides of their obligation under international law to

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Fighting the Islamic State in Iraq

US President Barack Obama announces he has authorised military strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), 7 August 2014. © DPA Picture Alliance/ Alamy

It is clear that military action will ultimately be needed to defeat IS, but if this is to have any chance of success it will have to be accompanied by concerted action against IS by local Sunni actors. IS is not operating within a vacuum – it has forged critical alliances with Sunni groups on the ground aggrieved at the marginalising policies of the Maliki government – and these actors must turn against it if there is to be any prospect of defeating it. This shift can only come about on the back of a new governing pact offering aggrieved Sunnis a meaningful stake in the system.

For the moment, however, the prospect of significant political reform in Baghdad remain slim at best, despite the concerted pressure

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