Should armed groups allied with al-Qaeda be included in Syria peace talks?

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No concessions to al-Qaeda allies at Geneva talks Al-Monitor Author: Week in Review Summary: Our answer is no; Erekat’s “main priority is not to allow IS to raise its flag in Palestine”; Turkey responds to Biden with fake news. In a potentially encouraging sign, the High Negotiations Committee, the Saudi-backed Syrian umbrella opposition group, has agreed to attend the UN-mediated Geneva peace conference. The committee is saying, however, that it will not meet with the government delegation until the Syrian military ceases ... Read More »

Syria peace talks: is there hope for the opposition?

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“The last round of talks ended in acrimony—and opposition negotiators will be feeling a sense of déjà vu.” Prospect Magazine  by Tim Eaton As the Syrian conflict edges towards entering its sixth year, the numbers are bleak. Over 250,000 Syrians are estimated to have been killed and 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 4.3 million have fled the country. As international attention intensifies on the diplomatic efforts to achieve peace this week, the tide has turned against ... Read More »

Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea: an international perspective

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The School of Social Sciences at Monash University, the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, and Swinburne University of Technology present: Date:     15 February 2016 Time:   10.00am to 5.00pm Venue:  Monash University Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale Street Melbourne RSVP:   Attendance is free but places are limited, so please pre-register for this event at the registration form. Confirmed Speakers include: Professor Don Rothwell, Professor of International Law, Head of School ANU College of Law Professor Don K. Anton, Professor of International ... Read More »

Russian FM says it would be ‘unfair’ to hold Syria peace talks without Syrian Kurds

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It is impossible to reach a peace agreement in Syria without inviting Kurds to take part in the negotiating process, as it would be “unfair” and “counter-productive,” RussianForeign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Jan. 26. Hurriyet – MOSCOW It would be “unfair” and “counter-productive” to stop Syrian Kurds from taking part in the peace talks, Lavrov said at his annual news conference, according to Reuters. “Without this participant [Syrian Kurds] the talks cannot achieve the result that we want, [which is] ... Read More »

The mess that is Lebanon

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After 18 months of deadlock, the divided country may have a new president. Which won’t heal any rifts. The Times of Israel – By Avi Issacharoff The latest goings-on in Lebanon’s presidential race have stunned quite a few experts, commentators and journalists — Lebanese and foreign alike. People who were bitter foes in the past have banded together, while alliances have fallen apart overnight. And yet it is far from certain that the entire political soap opera is going to ... Read More »

The Russian-Turkish crisis: A deficit of strategic depth

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It finally happened. November 24th, 2015 became a turning point for Russian-Turkish relations. The Journal of Turkish Weekly – Andrei Kortunov The two sides will probably never agree on who is to blame for the SU-24 tragedy nor on whether this was an unfortunate accident or a deliberately planned action. However, at least one thing should be clear to everybody: a long optimistic chapter in this bilateral relationship is over, and we are now entering a new, still very unclear and ... Read More »

Four-country talks on Taliban to begin in Pakistan

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Taliban breach key city of Kunduz, seize governor’s office China offers to mediate in stalled Afghan Taliban peace talks Reuters The Canberra Times Islamabad:  Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US will begin talks aimed at reviving the Afghan peace process and eventually ending 14 years of bloodshed in the fight against Taliban insurgents. Senior officials from the four countries will meet in Islamabad on Monday, Pakistan’s foreign office said on Sunday, in what they hope will be a first step towards resuming stalled negotiations. ... Read More »

Don’t Waste World’s Best Chance for Peace

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Over the past two months the Republic of Cyprus has hosted a parade of foreign leaders — German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Secretary of State John Kerry — each declaring support for reunification negotiations that will end the 41-year division of Cyprus. The Huffington Post – Endy Zemenides * With the Middle East in shambles, and no real prospect for Israeli-Palestinian peace in the next year, the prospect of resolving ... Read More »

North Korea hydrogen bomb test: South Korea punishes Kim Jong-un with K-pop

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North Korea hydrogen bomb test: ‘successful’ nuclear bomb a strategic move Kim Jong-un, funny until he’s not Seoul: With Kim Jong-un turning up the heat with North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, South Korea responded on Friday by pumping up the volume. Literally. At noon on the North Korean leader’s birthday, South Korea fired up loudspeakers along the heavily fortified border and resumed the propaganda blasts that brought the reclusive regime to a war footing in August – and then to the ... Read More »

Why are Turkey and Israel mending fences?

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Turkey and Israel are making peace not because they like each other but because regional balances require it. Why did Turkey and Israel start taking steps to overcome the crisis? What were the motivations? Let me try to explain. Hurriyet TOLGA TANIŞ Geostrategic shifts: We need to go back to March 1, 2013. That day, when four officials of the U.S. administration landed on Amman instructed by President Barack Obama to conduct secret talks with Iran, history had already put ... Read More »

Israel warns Brazil in row over settler ambassador

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Israel has warned Brazil it will downgrade relations unless it accepts a former head of the Jewish settlement movement as its ambassador in Brasilia. BBC Argentina-born Dani Dayan was appointed four months ago but his nomination has not yet been approved by Brazil. On Sunday, Israel’s deputy foreign minister said Israel would leave diplomatic relations “at the secondary level” if Mr Dayan was not confirmed. Brazil has not yet responded to the deputy foreign minister’s remarks. Mr Dayan was the ... Read More »

Turkey wants unrestricted access to Gaza from Israel

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It’s been nearly a week since news broke about secret talks between Turkish and Israeli officials in a bid to accomplish the normalization process by sealing a long-negotiated deal. Hurriyet – Serkan Demirtaş Having already secured a formal apology, Turkey has long been waiting for Israelto fulfill the remaining two conditions: paying compensation to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims and removing the blockade on Gaza. However, a leaked document on Israeli media has suggested that the talks also included ... Read More »

‘Turkey-Israel must reconcile in 4 weeks’

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“Turkey-Israel relations need to normalize in the upcoming three to four weeks, otherwise the process might collapse again.” Hurriyet VERDA ÖZER – These words were uttered by Alon Liel, Israel’s former ambassador to Turkey, who I talked to on the phone yesterday. Liel also served as the undersecretary of the Israeli foreign ministry and is still actively following Turkey-Israel relations. But what makes these four weeks so critical? The background of Liel’s argument is as follows: Recently, Israel discovered vast ... Read More »

Statement on the AU Authorisation of a Peace Mission to Burundi

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Crisis Group welcomes yesterday’s bold decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) authorising the deployment of an African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU) to halt the slide toward civil war and mass atrocities. ICG – Addis Ababa/Nairobi/Brussels The humanitarian situation in the country is increasingly dire. More than 200,000 refugees have fled across its borders, and each dawn reveals fresh corpses in the streets of the capital, Bujumbura. UN officials warn that without immediate action ... Read More »

A Sisyphean Task? Resuming Turkey-PKK Peace Talks

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OVERVIEW Locked in their deadliest violence in two decades, the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) should urgently resume peace talks. ICG – Istanbul/Brussels – Europe Briefing N°77 The return to a military-based approach to the conflict and domestic political polarisation, fuelled by a spillover of the Syrian conflict, have dismantled the achievements of peace talks undertaken during the 2.5-year ceasefire which collapsed in July 2015. Bloody urban battles in the south east have since then given the conflict a ... Read More »

Libya’s rival parliaments sign unity government deal

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Members of Libya’s rival parliaments have signed Dec. 17 a U.N.-sponsored deal on forming a unity government, aiming to bring peace to the war-ravaged country. Hurriyet – SKHIRAT – The Associated Press Supporters of the agreement hope that rival political factions and militias will embrace the deal and agree on a cease-fire, so that they can fend off the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISL) extremist group, which is expanding its gains in the country. U.N. envoy Martin Kobler ... Read More »