European Council on Foreign Relations

Children and civilian casualties in Gaza and Syria

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

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ECFR on Iraq: warnings from the past

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

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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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Who will stop Libya’s implosion?

Libya has two governments and two parliaments, one in Tobruk and the other in Tripoli, the capital. But both are governments in name only, and the resulting power vacuum both reflects, and deepens, Libya’s status as another battlefield for regional powers. Despite Libya’s neighbors declaring in Cairo on Monday, that they refuse to intervene in the troubled country, hours later The New York Times reported that U.S. officials revealed that the mysterious air force that last week bombed militias from Misrata in the remains of Tripoli’s international airport was from the United Arab Emirates, flying from bases in Egypt.

If confirmed, the Times report would underscore the connection between Libya’s increasingly deadly internal unraveling — Libya Body Count reports there were more violent deaths in July than in the previous six months combined — and the regional power struggle that pits

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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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