I admit it: I was one of those who thought Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was overconfident when he insisted on putting Federica Mogherini forward for the post of High Representative.
In July, 11 member states from Eastern Europe blocked the Italian foreign minister’s bid, arguing that she was too close to Russia. Many of us thought that that was the end of Mogherini’s hopes. Renzi had been too precipitous in proposing her – or rather, demanding her – and he exposed the young Italian minister to sharp criticism. People said she was too young, too inexperienced, too little known, and lacked the leadership required to deal with the immense challenges of today’s world.
But, as I argued after the European elections, Renzi had a card to play: he received 41 percent of the vote in the European Parliament elections in Italy. While we all know that Renzi is a skilful player, many
Plumes of black smoke is seen after clashes between the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, as they attempt to seize control of the airport from the council in Benghazi August 23, 2014. © REUTERS / Esam Omran Al-Fetori
Libya, just a few hundred kilometres from Europe, is now the site of the most violent crisis in North Africa. Like the conflicts in Syria or Iraq, the human suffering and displacement, the destruction and state failure involved are of great concern to Europe. The Libyan crisis, though, has an added immediacy for European states because it is from Libya’s shores that many of the migrants and refugees, but also human traffickers and foreign jihadists, set off. Like its southern border security, Europe’s energy security is also tied to Libya.
The security situation in Libya has been steadily deteriorating in the past
With the latest Gaza conflict now over, the total death toll after 50 days of fighting stands at 2,104 Palestinians, 69 Israelis and 1 Thai national, clearly, a dramatic tally. Yet some have criticised what they see as a disproportionate international focus on Gaza given the scale of suffering witnessed in Syria over the last three years. The conflict in Syria has claimed 191,369 lives (these numbers, the most reliable we have, only cover the period between March 2011 and April 2014), with an average of 165 killed each day (compared to 44/day in Gaza). It may have been this contrast in scale that led Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel to say that President Obama should leave Israel alone and “go focus on Syria”. Ariel was not alone in voicing such sentiments.
Yet as the infographic that ECFR put together demonstrates, international preoccupation with the situation in Gaza seems to
The current crisis in Iraq, like so many other crises before it, has demonstrated European governments’ lack of strategic foresight. As Julien Barnes-Dacey noted earlier this month, the EU’s members ignored the growing power of ISIS in Syria and Iraq for too long, even though “the warning signs were flashing brightly.” They were not alone: the U.S. also downplayed the rising threat. But it is worth asking if European governments could have been better prepared for the Iraqi horror show.
Only a few politicians dared suggest that the EU had any long-term interest in Iraq.
Iraq has been a low priority for most European officials and security analysts for some years. Memories of the EU’s divisions over the 2003 invasion cast a very long shadow (most foreign policy pundits said something more or less foolish about the war that they’d rather forget) and events elsewhere in the Arab
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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