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 »

Somalia clans secure peace with death sentences and hefty fines

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Two rival Somali clans have signed up to a groundbreaking peace deal which aims to end the cycle of revenge killings. Will Ross BBC Following three weeks of mediation, the rival Sa’ad Yoonis and Ba’iido clans in the disputed Sanaag region reached an agreement on harsh new rules. Now, anyone found guilty of carrying out a revenge killing or vendetta will face a death sentence. The family of the perpetrator will also have to pay fine a $100,000 (£72,000). There ... 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 »

After Kenya’s Leaders Reconcile, a Tough Path Ahead

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The meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga was an important step toward ending the protracted crisis over last year’s disputed election. To build on the progress, consensus is required on concrete steps that can help safeguard against future polarisation and violence.​ ICG I. Overview The meeting on 9 March 2018 between Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga was as unanticipated as it is significant. In their joint statement issued after the talks, they promised ... Read More »

Colombia right wing falls short of majority

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Right-wing parties opposed to a peace deal with the FARC won historic elections in Colombia on March 11 but fell short of a majority in polls that saw the former rebels enter the Congress. BOGOTA – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet The hardliners’ victory raises questions about the future of the peace agreement signed with President Juan Manuel Santos in November 2016. Santos said the polls were “the safest, most transparent elections” in the country’s recent history, with the FARC spurning jungle ... Read More »

U.S. moving to repair relations with Turkey, endangering ties with Kurdish allies

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In an effort to repair tattered relations, the Trump administration has told Turkey it will move to rein in Kurdish fighters who have been the backbone of the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, according to U.S. and… By Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim The Washington Post The first step and “the crux of the matter,” a senior Turkish official said, is to withdraw the Kurds from the Syrian town of Manbij and relocate them east of the ... Read More »

Cautious Hope Ahead of U.S.-North Korea Meeting

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President Trump’s 8 March acceptance of an invitation to meet his counterpart Kim Jong-un marks a first in U.S.-North Korea relations and a rare opening for diplomacy. ICG To maximise the chance of a successful summit, all sides will have to prepare a realistic agenda and align their expectations. Developments on the Korean peninsula have been dizzying, from talk of war, to hints of diplomacy, to symbolic gestures and now this: the acceptance by U.S. President Donald Trump of Democratic ... Read More »

Is Trump falling into Kim’s trap?

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Donald Trump is not the cause of America’s most serious problems. But could he be part of some solutions? Peter Hartcher Brisbane Times The news that he’d agreed to meet North Korea’s dictator is something new in dealing with an old problem. No US president has ever met his North Korean counterpart while in office. Till now, the US has always set preconditions too onerous for the North Koreas to accept. It’s not entirely clear, but it doesn’t seem that ... Read More »

Kim’s initiative: The breakthrough the world has been waiting for?

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North Korea has offered every precondition Seoul and Washington set for talks. But while the spectrum of opportunity has dramatically expanded, so, too, have the risks Andrew Salmon Asia Times The Korean Peninsula is arguably the world’s most dangerous geopolitical flashpoint, but rarely – if ever – in inter-Korean relations has one side offered so much so swiftly. According to South Korean officials who returned from two meetings in Pyongyang on Tuesday and delivered a press briefing in the South, ... Read More »

N. Korea says it has no need for nuclear weapons if it has security guarantee

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North Korea said it has no reason to possess nuclear weapons if it has a security guarantee, Seoul has confirmed, according to AP and Yonhap news agencies. RT North Korea also pledged to freeze its nuclear-missile activities if it holds talks with the US. Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to bilateral negotiations scheduled for next month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser said, as quoted by Yonhap news agency. The leaders of both countries are expected to attend. The ... Read More »

We need to talk about peace again

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We’re in an age when ambition is called for. And it just may come in the shape of a 32,000 tonne ocean liner Scott Ludlam * The Guardian A cruise liner is not the first place you’d go looking for conflict prevention, sustainability education, disarmament diplomacy and international collaborations on everything from disaster relief to low-carbon marine transport. From the outside, the Ocean Dream looks like any other 32,000 tonne ocean liner; a long, seafaring apartment block slung with lifeboats, ... Read More »

Congress, State Department divided on sanctions against Turkey

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As the US Congress continues to weigh potential sanctions against Turkey over its unremittingly hostile stance toward the United States, there is growing debate within the policy community about the merits of such action, with some arguing it could bow Turkey into submission and others insisting it will make the problem even worse. Amberin Zaman Al-Monitor Fury at what Washington calls the unlawful detention of US consular staff and US citizens, in particular that of North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson ... Read More »

China steps into the maelstrom of the Middle East

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The Middle East has a knack for sucking external powers into its conflicts China’s ventures into the region have shown how difficult it is to maintain its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. Dr James M Dorsey Today China’s abandonment of non-interference is manifested by its (largely ineffective) efforts to mediate conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan as well as between Israel and Palestine and even between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is even more ... Read More »

Winter Olympics 2018: Who is winning the propaganda battle?

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Two unusual guests marked the beginning of the Winter Olympics in South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister and the father of a US student who died after being jailed in North Korea. BBC Kim Yo-jong and Fred Warmbier are the faces of their respective countries’ propaganda efforts amid tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. On a day that was supposed to be about sport, their presence was one of many diplomatic subtexts. Pence skips dinner US ... Read More »

The Quiet Diplomacy to Save the Olympics in a Nuclear Standoff

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BEIJING — In late December, a group of teenagers from North Korea traveled to the Chinese city of Kunming to play in an obscure under-15 soccer tournament. By JANE PERLEZ, CHOE SANG-HUN and REBECCA R. RUIZ The New York Times On the field, under a wintry sun, they faced teams from China and South Korea. Off the field, there was an unusual spectator: Choi Moon-soon, the governor of the province in South Korea hosting the Winter Olympics. Mr. Choi had flown more than 1,000 ... Read More »

Sports Diplomacy in the Korean Peninsula

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The opening of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games represents an opportunity for diplomacy to help reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula Christopher Green ICG North Korea’s decision to dispatch Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Yo-jong to South Korea (Republic of Korea, ROK) as part of a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has opened up the possibility for the past month of sports diplomacy to garner something more substantive and… With all parties to the Korean peninsula conflict sending senior delegations ... Read More »