For most people in the West, even the name ‘Nagorno-Karabakh’ sounds stereotypically foreign and remote. For the people of the Caucasus, however, it’s another leftover conflict from the Soviet era that is still taking lives today. Over the weekend 30 people have been killed in fighting between the Azerbaijani army and ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh forces. While in recent hours the Azerbaijani president has announced a ‘unilateral ceasefire’, this is a conflict that is not going away. So what is it all about? And why are the consequences of a potential war as bad as ever?
Less than an hour ago the Saudi Arabian government announced that Operation Decisive Storm, the boldly named bombing campaign against the Yemeni Houthi forces, has ended. According to the Saudis, the operation has achieved its military goals, and will be followed up by an effort to facilitate political dialogue in Yemen. This is true, but only if by “achieving military goals” they mean “failing to achieve anything”. Continue reading
Sometimes a conflict just doesn’t fit in to our idea of how life works. In Libya NATO intervened to protect heroic rebels, the capital fell and the mad dictator Gaddafi was overthrown. End of story, happy ending. The aftermath of what has happened isn’t so nice and clean, and doesn’t make for as good a story. This week though our attention went back, after the brutal murder of 21 Egyptian Christians by Libyan Islamists. Egypt’s response was to launch airstrikes on the militants, who also happen to be allied to Islamic State. With Egypt now looking for a UN resolution to support intervention, it’s a good time to look at what on earth happened in Libya, and how could it have been different.
Yesterday the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, at peace for months now, was ripped back into the war. Separatist rebels launched rockets directly at the city, taking its residents by complete surprise and killing 30 people. The attacks follow a month of intensified fighting, with the ruins of Donetsk Airport finally falling to the rebels, and dozens of civilians dying due to artillery. So why is what happened in Mariupol so important, and what does this say about the separatists? Where to from here? And on a more personal note, why do I care so much about Donetsk? Continue reading
Way down the page on Western news sites like BBC, CNN or NOS you may have spotted something about the Houthis and Yemen. It doesn’t sound like a particularly interesting headline, but once you go deeper you realise that without the world’s media really noticing, a Middle Eastern capital has fallen to rebels. After months of a fragile ceasefire, the Houthi rebels have taken over the presidential palace and numerous other buildings in the capital Sana’a. All transport in and out of the country has been suspended. So who are the Houthi rebels? What exactly is going on now? And just how many parties are fighting for control of Yemen? Continue reading
On Friday a ceasefire was announced between the separatists and the Ukrainian government, meant to pave the way to talks between the two parties. While both sides indicated they would hold their fire, at the time of writing there had still been shelling near Mariupol and Donetsk Airport. However, more is going on behind the scenes, and this ceasefire shows just how much influence Vladimir Putin has over the war in the east. It also comes just as NATO announced serious changes in its relationship with Russia. So why has a ceasefire been reached now, and what was Putin’s role? Will it last? And how will relations change between Europe and its neighbour to the east? Continue reading
This week Russia stepped up its involvement in Ukraine, apparently sending in Russian troops to open a new front in the war. The town of Novoazovsk, close to the Russian border, was smashed by Russian troops and the Ukrainian army sent fleeing towards Mariupol. The new and more open involvement in the conflict was accompanied today by President Putin calling for “talks on statehood for Eastern Ukraine”, a sign that he is not backing down. So is it certain that Russian forces are operating in Ukraine? What’s so new about this latest turn in the conflict? And why now?
Ukrainian paratroopers before the pro-Russian counter offensive