To Reunite Ukraine, Kyiv Must Overcome Its Own Prejudices

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Four years after Russia’s invasion, psychological barriers are compounding the physical divisions of Ukraine. While many Ukrainians have turned to the West, millions of conflict-affected citizens are being excluded, creating new obstacles to any eventual reintegration of the country. Katharine Quinn-Judge ICG It is common for Ukrainian officials and their international backers to say that Russia’s 2014 invasion, which was partly motivated by Moscow’s anger at Ukraine pivoting toward Europe and the U.S., has unified the country and turned it ... Read More »

Saudi nukes on Chinese rockets?

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declared in a ’60 Minutes’ interview that Saudi Arabia would quickly acquire a nuclear bomb if Iran develops a nuclear weapon first Uwe Parpat Asia Times When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS for short) meets US President Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday (March 20), nuclear weapons will be high on the agenda. MBS made sure of that when he said in a CBS “60 minutes” interview aired on Sunday, but in part released three days ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia’s Leader Could Tell a Better Story if He’d End His Vicious, No-win War

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who arrives in Washington this week, is a man on a mission with a story to tell. Originally published in The Washington Post ICG It’s an appealing if slightly embellished narrative: about his economic vision, desire to promote a more moderate form of Islam, recognition of women’s rights and empowerment of a younger generation. But it’s a narrative that should not silence the other, far less rosy story of Saudi Arabia’s military ... Read More »

24 March: Global Action Day for Afrin

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The international campaign in defense of Afrin declared 24 March as Global Action Day for Afrin and urged all supporters to protest Turkish invasion. AFN The signatories of the campaign released a statement entitled “Supporting the resistance is an historical imperative” and called all to join the first Global Action Day for Afrin on 24 March 2018. The statement read as follows: “The criminal assault on Afrin constitutes a new phase in the Turkish state’s war on the Kurdish people. ... Read More »

What Putin’s Reelection Means for Russia and the World

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Putin is staying—but he is likely to take the initiative to shape both Russia’s domestic politics and its international position to his liking. Nikolas K. Gvosdev The National Interest No one should have been surprised by the results of Sunday’s presidential election in Russia. Official figures maintain that nearly 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, with incumbent Vladimir Putin cruising to an easy victory with more than three-quarters of the votes. Even assuming that the figures were massaged—note the ... Read More »

China throws sinking Brunei a lifeline

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Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah looks to Beijing for succor as his nation’s oil and gas reserves run dry Nile Bowie Asia Times Brunei’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, is in a race against time as his nation’s once deep stores of oil and gas rapidly run dry. While other foreign investors up stakes, China is giving the Southeast Asian sultanate a new lease on economic life. International banks such as HSBC and Citibank have recently ceased operations in Brunei in sight of ... Read More »

Why Pompeo may not be good news for Ankara

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The diplomatic reshuffle in Washington may be the harbinger of a new era of further confrontation with Ankara. Yavuz Baydar The Arab Weekly Regardless of the rosy expectations of some, US-Turkey relations may enter a critical phase if CIA Director Mike Pompeo takes over the US State Department from Rex Tillerson. Pompeo and Tillerson have very little in common. Tillerson represented a “softer” American approach to issues and the notion that Washington needs to take its allies into account. Pompeo ... Read More »

UN backs ‘free, fair, credible’ July elections in Zimbabwe

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Vote will be the first big test for Emmerson Mnangagwa who became Zimbabwe’s president in November. Al Jazeera The United Nations has voiced its support for a plan to hold elections in Zimbabwe  in July. The elections, which have not yet received a specific date, will be the first big test of President Emmerson Mnangagwa who became Zimbabwe’s president in November after the military ousted Robert Mugabe, 93, who ruled for 37 years. A statement by UN Development Programme administrator Achim Steiner… UN backs ‘free… Read More »

Turkey Slams Europe Over Calls to End Syria Offensive

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ISTANBUL — Turkey has reacted furiously to the European Parliament’s motion calling for an end to Ankara’s military offensive in Syria’s Afrin enclave against a Kurdish militia. Dorian Jones VoA The motion cited concerns for the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in Afrin city under siege by Turkish forces for almost two months. But beyond the diplomatic haranguing, both the European Union and Ankara appear anxious to continue to work to rebuild relations. Speaking at his presidential palace, Turkish President ... Read More »

Lebanon-Israel maritime dispute: Rules of (diplomatic) engagement

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Thus far attempts to resolve the dispute have been unsuccessful, but while the challenge is clearly a difficult one, the situation is far from irretrievable if the parties practice restraint and resolve to settle their differences via diplomacy and dialogue. Roudi Barouti Annahar BEIRUT: Tensions between Lebanon and Israel are flaring once again, this time over the demarcation of their maritime border and, therefore, the rightful ownership of offshore oil and gas deposits. Thus far attempts to resolve the dispute ... Read More »

Syria war: Thousands flee twin offensives in Afrin and Ghouta

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As many as 50,000 people have fled separate offensives against rebel forces in northern and southern Syria in recent days, activists say. BBC About 30,000 have left the northern town of Afrin as Turkish forces and their allies stepped up a siege. In the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, some 20,000 have left areas targeted by Syrian government forces. The mass movements come seven years into a war which has driven nearly 12 million people from their homes. At least ... Read More »

Jeremy Corbyn defies critics and calls for calm over Russia

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Labour leader warns against ‘McCarthyite intolerance of dissent’ after nerve agent attack Heather Stewart and Larry Elliott The Guardian Jeremy Corbyn has defied critics in his own party and warned the prime minister against “rushing way ahead of the evidence” over the Salisbury poisoning, in what he called the “fevered” atmosphere of Westminster. The Labour leader used an article in the Guardian to urge the government to take a “calm, measured” approach – and warn against the drift towards a “new cold war” with… Corbyn ... Read More »

After the Rohingya crisis, Aung San Suu Kyi will come to the ASEAN summit with her reputation tarnished

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Two years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy (NLD) into government in Myanmar amid a global outpouring of support and goodwill. Authors.. The Conversation When she arrives in Australia for this weekend’s ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, the welcome will be cooler, tempered by her government’s limited progress on a range of political and economic issues. In particular, concerns will be raised over the Myanmar military’s appalling treatment of the Muslim Rohingya, and Suu Kyi’s refusal to ... Read More »

Saudi Crown Prince Likens Iran’s Supreme Leader to Hitler

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince has compared the supreme leader of Iran to Adolf Hitler, and said that his country would acquire a nuclear bomb “as soon as possible” if Iran developed nuclear weapons. Ben Hubbard The New York Times The comments by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ratcheted up the rhetoric in the increasingly volatile rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has fueled sectarianism and war across the Middle East. His statements were in an ... Read More »

The Fatal Flaw in China’s Plan for Dominating the World Economy

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Dependence is baked into China’s industrial plans—and will likely fail. Chinese premier Li Keqiang recently delivered a remarkably revealing speech. Milton Ezrati The National Interest Addressing the National People’s Congress for two full hours early in March, he stressed the county’s determination to rely on broad industrial policies as a means to development. The objective, to use Li’s words, is to “speed up work to build China into a leader in manufacturing.” Li doubtless wanted his audience and the world ... Read More »

End the Weaponisation of Water in Central Asia

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Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At times these disputes have seemed to threaten war. The forthcoming presidential summit in Astana can help banish that spectre. Alina Dalbaeva ICG On 15-16 March there is a landmark opportunity to promote peace and prosperity in Central Asia when the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan meet in the Kazakh capital of Astana. It ... Read More »