Hold Your Fire!
Hold Your Fire!
Om Hold Your Fire!
Join Crisis Group's Executive Vice President Richard Atwood as he dives deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe with Crisis Group analysts and special guests. These experts bring a unique, on-the-ground perspective to understanding both why those conflicts persist — and what could bring them to an end. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Last week, Libya’s parliament fired one of the country’s two prime ministers, Fathi Bashaga. Libya for years has been split between two rival governments. An internationally recognised prime minister, Abdelhamid Dabaiba, sits in the capital Tripoli and a rival government, until recently headed by Bashaga, is based mostly in the east. Last summer, Bashaga, who was backed by Khalifa Haftar, a powerful commander from eastern Libya, tried several times to seize Tripoli by force. Those efforts failed, costing Bashaga a lot of support in the east. Over recent months, Haftar’s camp and Dabaiba have been holding quiet talks. Violence has mostly subsided and the country has experienced something of an economic upturn thanks to increasing oil revenues. Still, the political gridlock remains. The newly appointed UN envoy for Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, has laid out a roadmap to elections, but his plan does not seem to enjoy much support from either camp. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Libya expert Claudia Gazzini, recently in Tripoli, to talk about Libya’s gridlock. They take stock of the dynamics between the rivalling political factions in the country, prospects for the Haftar-Dabaiba talks and also for elections. They discuss changing geopolitical winds in the region, particularly how better ties between Türkiye, which has long backed the internationally recognised government in Tripoli, and Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which back Haftar, have made foreign involvement in Libya less fraught. They also talk about Libyan factions’ potential links to the fighting in Sudan and the danger of spillover. For more analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, be sure to check out our Libya country page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Saudi Arabia’s diplomacy is flourishing after a decade in which Riyadh has been entangled in regional conflicts and rivalries. Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has turned the page on the Gulf Cooperation Council dispute, opened talks with Huthi rebels in Yemen, agreed to re-open diplomatic relations with Iran and welcomed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad back to the Arab League. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Abdulaziz Sager, Founder and Chairman of the Gulf Research Center and Crisis Group trustee, to talk about Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. They talk about Syria at the Arab League, last March’s China-brokered Saudi-Iran deal, how Iran’s rapidly advancing nuclear program might impact Saudi-Iran relations, and Riyadh’s talks with the Huthis. They also discuss the rapprochement within the Gulf Cooperation Council and Saudi Arabia’s hosting, with the U.S., of talks between Sudan’s warring factions. They examine how Riyadh is positioning itself in an era of friction between its traditional security partner, the U.S., and China, its most important market, and how it has navigated the collapse in Russia-West relations over Ukraine. They ask whether Saudi Arabia’s recent diplomacy represents a recalibration and if so, why the change and what is its significance. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and a rival paramilitary outfit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has torn apart Sudan for nearly a month. The capital Khartoum and its residents have borne the brunt of the violence, with millions caught in the city and supplies of drinking water, food and medicine running low. Hundreds of thousands have left their homes. This past week, the warring parties’ representatives have met in the Saudi city Jeddah for talks brokered by Saudi Arabia and the U.S., though observers remain sceptical that they will reach an agreement on a ceasefire, let alone an end to the war and transition to civilian rule. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined again by Crisis Group’s Senior Sudan Analyst Shewit Woldemichael and Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project Director Alan Boswell to discuss how the fighting is evolving and prospects for the Jeddah talks. They discuss the clashes in Khartoum and in Sudan’s western Darfur region, the humanitarian fallout and the latest from Jeddah. They talk about the implications of including only the warring parties, rather than also civilians or other armed groups, in the talks, and of the Saudi-U.S. lead. They also talk about the risks of others getting involved, whether Sudanese rebels or outside powers, the longer the war drags on. For more analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, be sure to check out our Sudan country page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
As fighting rages in Ukraine, with high casualties but little ground gained or lost on either side, Kyiv seems poised to launch its much anticipated counteroffensive. New Western equipment, including tanks, has arrived and Ukraine appears to have struck Russian supply lines, including in Crimea. Russia, meanwhile, has dug in along key stretches of the front and upped attacks on Ukrainian towns and cities, mostly hitting civilian infrastructure. This past week also saw an alleged attempted drone attack on the Kremlin, with Moscow blaming Kyiv and Washington, both of which denied the accusation. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard speaks with Olga Oliker, Crisis Group’s Program Director for Europe and Central Asia. They look at what the counteroffensive might entail and what success would look like for Ukraine and its Western backers. They examine Russia’s calculations, the alleged drone attacks on the Kremlin and what it would take to lessen Moscow’s seeming determination to keep fighting. They also discuss debates in Western capitals about supplying Kyiv with advanced fighter jets, how the Ukraine war is playing out in U.S. politics ahead of the 2024 elections and what it all means for Western unity in backing Ukraine. For more analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, be sure to check out our Ukraine country page and our commentary Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud: Russia’s New Vision for Taking on the West. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Sudan has entered its second week of fighting between rival military factions. Battles between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have torn apart cities and towns, especially the capital Khartoum, where millions of civilians are facing shortages of basic necessities. A 72-hour ceasefire between the rival forces has offered some respite, allowing many Sudanese to flee the country and diplomats’ and other foreign nationals’ evacuation. But clashes still continue and mediators have struggled to convince the two sides to get back to talks. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard speaks with Murithi Mutiga, Crisis Group’s Africa Program director. They discuss what’s behind the power struggle between the Sudanese armed forces and the RSF, and between the men – General Abel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo – in command of each. They discuss the devastation a full-scale civil war would cause, efforts by the U.S., Gulf power and African leaders to mediate, and the conflict’s geopolitics and risk of outside involvement. They look back at how Sudan’s transition unravelled and the challenges facing talks and getting to civilian rule if the parties do get back to the table. For more in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our Sudan country page and our latest statement; Stopping Sudan’s Descent into Full-Blown Civil War. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Two rival armies are driving Sudan toward full-blown civil war. Fighting between the Sudanese armed forces, led by Abdelfattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary force led by Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo, is tearing apart cities and towns across the country, including the capital Khartoum. The battles have already killed hundreds of civilians and left millions more facing shortages of basic necessities. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Senior Sudan Analyst Shewit Woldemichael and Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project Director Alan Boswell to look at the background to the crisis and what can be done to halt the fighting. They look at evolving tensions between the army and the RSF since Sudan’s 2019 popular uprising, especially since the 2021 coup, when Burhan and Hemedti seized full control of the state from civilians with whom they had been sharing power. They explain the trigger for the fighting: a dispute over how to integrate the RSF into regular army ranks. They discuss how Hemedti, a figure from outside Sudan’s traditional Nile elites, emerged as an influential power broker and what he wants in the confrontation with Burhan. They also talk about the two military leaders’ foreign ties, the danger that outside powers will get sucked into Sudan’s conflict and prospects for mediation. Finally, they ask what went wrong with Sudan’s transition after the 2019 uprising and whether external actors, particularly Western governments, could have done more to prevent its collapse. For more in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our Sudan country page and our latest statement; Stopping Sudan’s Descent into Full-Blown Civil War. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in power for two decades, faces a stiff challenge in Türkiye’s forthcoming election, which will take place only a few months after devastating earthquakes killed some 50,000 people. The vote comes at a time of evolving Turkish foreign affairs. Some years ago, Ankara was boxed in, its relations with its neighbours, the Gulf and some of its Western NATO allies fraught. Today, things look different. Ankara has gone some way to repair ties in the region. Its support has been pivotal to partners in the South Caucasus and Libya. It has developed an indigenous drone industry, with weapons sales heightening Türkiye’s influence abroad. While the Ukraine war has tested Ankara's balancing act between NATO membership and ties to Moscow, Erdoğan has notched up diplomatic successes, notably helping the UN broker a Ukraine-Russia deal that gets Ukrainian grain onto global markets via the Black Sea. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Nigar Göksel, Crisis Group’s project director for Türkiye, to discuss Ankara’s foreign policy and whether a change in government would bring a change in policy. They look at Türkiye’s delicate balancing act in Ukraine, supporting Kyiv while keeping lines of communication open to the Kremlin. They discuss several hotspots where Türkiye is involved: the country’s struggles against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq, its troops deployed to enforce a ceasefire in north west Syria, and its role in the standoff between Azerbaijan and Armenia. They talk about the dramatic expansion in Turkiye’s drone production and what influence weapons sales to many countries give Ankara. They also talk about Erdoğan’s pivot away from “precious loneliness” toward mending relations with neighbours and Gulf capitals. They talk about what Turkiye’s more assertive foreign policy says about how non-Western middle powers can defend their interests in a changing global order. For more in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our Türkiye country page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Over recent months, the Somali army, backed by clan militias, has recaptured areas in central Somalia from Al-Shabaab militants. Profiting from local anger at Al-Shabaab’s predation, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government has deployed Somali forces to Hirshabelle and Galmudug states, just north of the capital, Mogadishu, to fight militants. The campaign has reversed some of Al-Shabaab’s gains of the past few years, forcing the militants out of several areas, including some important towns. Yet big challenges remain. Al-Shabaab continues to mount resistance in parts of central Somalia. In recaptured areas, the government must ensure disputes among clans do not flare up again and show locals its value – in the short term by delivering aid and over time by reestablishing services like health and education. Fighting Al-Shabaab in its southern strongholds – the government’s planned next phase of operations – will likely be a tougher slog. The al-Qaeda linked insurgency has weathered previous offensives only to bounce back. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group's senior analyst for East Africa, about this latest fight against Al-Shabaab and the challenges that lie ahead. They discuss the clan politics in central Somalia that have enabled the government’s offensive. They look at the challenges in stabilising recaptured areas and curbing Al-Shabaab's formidable revenue generation, including its parallel tax system. They look at the drought blighting parts of the country and how Al-Shabaab’s predation, in combination with water shortages, has forced a wave of displacement. They also discuss fighting – separate to the war with Al-Shabaab – on the edge of Somaliland, a northern region that declared independence in 1991. They ask whether the latest offensive against Al-Shabaab stands any hope of dealing the Islamists a decisive blow, or whether it is better seen as a way to weaken the group and force it to negotiate. For more in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our recent briefing, Sustaining Gains in Somalia’s Offensive against Al-Shabaab and our Somalia country page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Last week, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by China. The two countries had broken off ties in 2016, after Saudi authorities executed a prominent Shiite cleric and dissident, prompting protesters in Tehran to sack the Saudi embassy. Last week’s deal follows several rounds of talks, hosted by Iraq and Oman over recent years, between Iranian and Saudi officials. It comes at a time of deepening Iranian ties to Russia, with Iran sending weapons to help Moscow’s war efforts in Ukraine. In contrast, Tehran’s relations with Europe and the U.S. are at a new low, due partly to anger in Western capitals at the Islamic Republic’s brutal repression of the protests, often led by young women, that have engulfed the country over recent months. Western leaders are incensed, too, by Iran’s support for Russia in Ukraine. Talks over Iran’s nuclear program are on hold, even as it has advanced dramatically. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Ali Vaez, Crisis Group’s Iran project director and senior adviser to the president, to shed light on the Saudi-Iranian deal, Tehran’s evolving foreign relations and the looming crisis over its nuclear program. They discuss the recent agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia and what both sides, and China, get from the deal. They look at efforts to end Yemen’s war and Iran’s influence over Huthi rebels. They talk about what is driving the change in Iran's relations with Russia. They also discuss Iran's worsening relations with Europe and the U.S. and prospects for diplomacy to head off a confrontation over its rapidly advancing nuclear capability. For more on the situation, check out our latest Q&A How Beijing Helped Riyadh and Tehran Reach a Detente and Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Iran country page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
The past few weeks have seen U.S.-China tensions ratchet up. In early February, a U.S. fighter jet shot down what Washington concluded was a Chinese spy balloon off the east coast of the U.S., prompting loud condemnations from Beijing. Later that month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after meeting with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference, warned that China was considering giving lethal aid to Russia for its war efforts in Ukraine. He warned of serious consequences for Beijing if that happened. U.S.-China relations had seemed to be looking up after a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jingping in November last year. These past few weeks, however, mark further deterioration, with some particularly harsh rhetoric from Beijing over the past few days. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Amanda Hsiao, Crisis Group's China expert, and Stephen Pomper, Crisis Group’s chief of policy, to talk about what to make of China's potential involvement in the Ukraine war, U.S.-China relations and tensions over Taiwan. They explore how Beijing sees its relations with Moscow, its stance on the Ukraine conflict and whether it is likely to send weapons, given it also appears reluctant to alienate Europeans. They discuss the spy balloon incident and heightened tensions between the US and China. They then talk about Chinese and U.S. policy toward Taiwan, particularly since the controversial August 2022 visit by then Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to the island, what to expect in the forthcoming Taiwanese presidential elections and how the Ukraine war is shaping calculations over the island. For more on the situation, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our China and Taiwan country page, and for more analysis on global issues, see our Multilateral Diplomacy page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
One year into Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, prospects for a settlement remain bleak. On 21 February, President Vladimir Putin announced in a belligerent yearly address that he would suspend Russia’s participation in New START, its last remaining nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S. The speech followed U.S. President Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv, during which he reaffirmed Washington’s determination to support Ukraine. Top U.S. officials also warned that China was considering sending “lethal support” to Russia’s war efforts, which thus far it has avoided doing. Fierce fighting continues along front lines in Ukraine’s south and east, with Russian forces making small gains but seemingly incurring massive losses. Whether they can break Ukrainian lines before the tanks that several Western nations have promised Ukraine arrive, and what difference those tanks will make on the battlefield, remain to be seen. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Olga Oliker, Crisis Group's program director for Europe and Central Asia, joins Richard Atwood to assess where things stand. They discuss Putin’s yearly address and the significance of Russia suspending its participation in New START. They talk about the front lines in Ukraine and both sides’ ability to sustain their war effort. Olga talks about her recent visit to areas Ukrainian forces have recaptured from Russia and the challenges of reconstruction. They assess the mood in Kyiv, Moscow and Western capitals, and the potential impact of Chinese weapons and ammunition on the war. They also discuss both sides’ war goals, the difficulties of trying to hold the Kremlin accountable and what to watch in the months ahead. For more on the situation in Ukraine, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Ukraine country page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Nigerians will go to the polls on 25 February to elect a new president. The election is shaping up as a three-way contest between Bola Tinubu, a veteran Nigerian politician from the ruling All Progressives Congress party, Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, and Peter Obi, who appears to have won over many young Nigerians. A cash crisis, caused by a bungled government policy to replace old banknotes, plus fuel shortages look set to complicate the vote. The country also grapples with an array of security threats – jihadist insurgencies in the north east, kidnapping and banditry especially in the north west, herder-farmer violence, and, in the south west, separatist violence, including against election staff. Despite a pact among the presidential candidates to avoid hate speech, their supporters often resort to divisive rhetoric. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Ayo Obe, Crisis Group’s Trustee and a Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, and Nnamdi Obasi, Crisis Group’s senior Nigeria adviser, about the forthcoming vote. They look at the three main contenders, their campaigns and their prospects. They also discuss the impact of rampant insecurity on the vote and why identity politics look set to shape this election more than previous ones. They talk about the potential fallout from the cash crunch, concerns about vote-buying and risks of post-election disputes. Finally, they reflect on incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari’s legacy and the challenges facing his successor. For more on the situation in Nigeria, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Nigeria country page, and our recent report Mitigating Risks of Violence in Nigeria’s 2023 Elections. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Mark Malloch-Brown, president of Open Society Foundations (OSF), Crisis Group trustee, and former UN Deputy Secretary-General and UN Development Programme administrator, about challenges facing open societies today. They talk about the erosion of democracy around the world, including in the West, authoritarians’ increasing global influence and the challenge some of the more competent autocrats’ governance poses. They discuss the war in Ukraine, Western support to Kyiv, risks of escalation as new weaponry pours in, and whether trying to hold the Kremlin accountable for the crime of aggression could close avenues to a settlement. They also talk about what Western powers and international financial institutions can do to help poor countries suffering from rising inflation, debt burdens and, often, stress related to climate change. They also discuss how organisations like OSF and Crisis Group, which in some ways reflect the heady assumptions of the post-Cold War years, should adapt to a world very different to the one many people back then expected to emerge. For more on the situation in Ukraine, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Ukraine country page, and for more analysis on global issues, see our Multilateral Diplomacy page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
On Friday last week, a Palestinian gunman killed seven civilians in occupied East Jerusalem, the deadliest such attack for years. The shooting came the day after a raid by Israeli forces in a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin, also the deadliest such operation for years. The week’s violence follows months in which more Palestinians died, according to human rights groups, than in the past almost two decades. More frequent Israeli raids, which Israel says aim to root out Palestinian militants behind an increasing number of attacks on Israelis, often provoke gun battles in West Bank cities. Militants have died, but also civilians, including many young Palestinians. In West Bank cities, new militias have formed, attracting young Palestinians angry not only at Israel but also at their own political leadership. Meanwhile, the new Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which is the most right-wing in Israeli history and comprises openly Jewish nationalist and anti-Palestinian ministers, promises an even tougher line on Palestinians. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Mairav Zonszein and Tahani Mustafa, Crisis Group’s Israel/Palestine experts, about the latest spike in violence. They talk about Israel’s new government, its efforts to curb judicial power and what it might mean for policy toward the Palestinians. They also talk about Palestinian politics, many Palestinians’ disillusionment at their leadership, the emergence of new militias in West Bank cities and what might happen when ageing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas passes from the political scene. They ask whether there is any hope of change in policy from Washington and other Western capitals following U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to the region this past week. They also talk about flashpoints in the months ahead. For more on the situation, check out our latest report Managing Palestine’s Looming Leadership Transition and Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Israel/Palestine page Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
On 24 January, Rwanda's defence forces fired a missile at a DR Congo army jet for allegedly violating Rwandan airspace. Congolese officials called the incident an “act of war”. The shooting has ratcheted up already high tensions between Rwandan and Congolese authorities, with the two governments at loggerheads since the resurgence of the M23 rebel group in late 2021. The M23 was defeated in 2013 but has re-emerged in the past year, taking control of significant areas in the eastern DR Congo’s North Kivu region. Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting the M23. Rwanda denies the allegations, though repeated UN reports offer strong evidence that the rebels are, indeed, supported by Rwanda. The fighting has triggered a humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands displaced, many in the last few months. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Richard Moncrieff, Crisis Group’s interim Great Lakes project director, about the resurgence of the M23 in the DRC and how the conflict could affect the stability of the wider Great Lakes region. They talk about the origins of the M23, what its leaders want and its ties to Rwanda. They discuss how the conflict has worsened already fragile Rwandan-Congolese relations. They also delve into the efforts of the East African Community to defuse tensions in the DRC, particularly Kenya’s military and diplomatic involvement in the region, and examine the risks that the crisis in the DRC could trigger a wider conflagration. For more on the situation, check out Crisis Group’s latest Q&A “A Dangerous Escalation in the Great Lakes” and our extensive analysis on our Great Lakes regional page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Today we're bringing you a bonus episode on Ethiopia and Eritrea from Crisis Group's The Horn podcast. The contemporary rivalry between Eritrea and Tigray goes back several decades. After an almost-17-year-long civil war starting in the mid-1970s, the Eritrean EPLF and Tigrayan TPLF jointly defeated Ethiopia’s Derg regime in 1991, resulting in Eritrea’s independence and the TPLF taking power in Ethiopia. Despite their joint achievement, their already-complicated relations soon started to sour. A growing power struggle, as well as unresolved territorial disputes between the two sides, led to a deadly border war lasting from 1998 to 2000. Meanwhile, an increasingly repressive Eritrean regime found itself regionally and globally isolated. A new administration in Ethiopia under Abiy Ahmed signed a peace agreement with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in 2018, formally ending the border war. However, this rapprochement between Addis Ababa and Asmara also appeared to pave the way for Ethiopia’s civil war, with Eritrea allying with Ethiopia’s federal government in the war against Tigrayan forces in northern Ethiopia that started in 2020. In this episode of The Horn, Alan is joined by Michael Woldemariam, associate professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, to take a deep dive into the long and tumultuous relationship between Eritrea and Tigray to understand Eritrea’s motives and objectives in the Ethiopian conflict. They talk about the origins of the relations between the EPLF and the TPLF and their shared struggle against Ethiopia’s Derg regime from the 1970s to 1991. They unpack how relations between the two sides soured in a struggle for power and authority, culminating in the deadly border clashes starting in 1998. They also discuss how Eritrean President Afwerki’s motivations in the conflict in northern Ethiopia have shifted over time. Finally, they talk about how to navigate Eritrea’s role while trying to end the conflict in Tigray. Please note that this episode was recorded before the 2 November truce agreement between Ethiopia’s federal government and Tigray’s leaders. For more in-depth analysis on Ethiopia and Eritrea, make sure to check out our Horn of Africa regional page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
On this week’s Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood is joined by Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s president and CEO, and Stephen Pomper, chief of policy, to reflect on 2022 and look ahead to 2023. They talk through “10 Conflicts to Watch”, Crisis Group’s yearly flagship commentary co-published with Foreign Policy magazine. They discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine, its global ramifications and what it says about global affairs today. They also take a look at other flashpoints on the list, which this year includes Ukraine, Armenia-Azerbaijan, Iran, Yemen, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sahel, Haiti, Pakistan and Taiwan. Lastly, they talk about how we put the list together and, despite a generally gloomy and unsettling year, where we can look for signs of hope. For more information, check out our flagship commentary, by Comfort Ero and Richard Atwood, with Foreign Policy magazine: “10 Conflicts to Watch in 2023” you can also check out Crisis Group’s Twitter thread 10 Reasons For Hope in 2023. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Haiti has long suffered political crises, gang violence and natural disasters, but the past two years have been especially cruel. In July 2021, gunmen murdered then President Jovenel Moïse in his home in the capital Port-Au-Prince. Ariel Henry took over as prime minister, supposed to shepard the country to elections. But rampant violence renders a credible vote impossible, and Henry’s dismissal of the election commission has hardly helped. Gang violence has spiralled, as rival gangs battle for control of parts of Port-au-Prince. Some estimates suggest gangs control some 60 per cent of the capital, as well as all main roads leading to the city and, for almost two months, the country’s main port. Protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets, angered at the gang violence and at hikes in fuel prices, triggered by Henry’s removal of subsidies. With shortages of drinking water, cholera is spreading and difficult to curb in gang-controlled areas. In early October, Henry requested that foreign troops deploy to help Haitian police take on gangs. Many Haitians, including Henry’s political opponents, oppose another intervention after repeated failures of foreign involvement in the past, though some Haitians, particularly in areas most affected by gang violence, are more supportive, seemingly out of sheer desperation. This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Renata Segura, Crisis Group’s deputy Latin America and Caribbean director, and Diego Da Rin, consulting Haiti expert, about the crisis. They talk about what life is like under gang control, the fight between the two main gang coalitions, G9 and G-PEP, as well as their leaders’ backgrounds and links to Haiti’s politics. They discuss Haiti’s political crisis and Ariel Henry’s rule since Moïse’s killing. They also talk about the prospect of foreign forces deploying to Haiti, the challenges any mission would face, and whether it could help loosen the grip of Haiti’s gangs over much of the country and bring a measure of stability for long-suffering Haitians. For more on the situation in Haiti, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Haiti country page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Winter is setting in as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine approaches. Recent months have seen Ukrainian forces advance, but whether front lines will continue to shift as the weather changes remains unclear. Russia, which has mobilised some 300,000 new soldiers in recent months, has reportedly sent them to the front lines with little preparation. It claims to have annexed large parts of its neighbour, brandishes nuclear threats and has embarked on a weeks-long bombardment of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, causing blackouts across much of the country. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking from a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest, accused Russia of “weaponising winter” to break the Ukrainian people’s will and the unity of Kyiv's Western backers. For now, however, Western capitals appear in no mood to reduce their support to Ukraine. In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Olga Oliker, Crisis Group’s Europe and Central Asia program director, about where Russia’s war in Ukraine might be headed next. They talk about how the winter might affect battlefield dynamics and the impact of Russia’s bombardment of Ukrainian energy infrastructure. They discuss whether Russia might yet gamble on using a nuclear weapon and what Western and other governments can do to deter that. They ask whether opinion around the world toward the war is changing. They look at NATO policy and what an acceptable settlement for Ukraine and Western capitals might look like. Finally, as U.S. President Joe Biden says he would be prepared to meet his Russian counterpart to talk about Ukraine, they ask whether any space exists for diplomacy to find a way to end the war. For more on the situation in Ukraine, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Ukraine country page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off this week in the Qatari capital Doha. The tournament comes at a time of fast-evolving politics in the region. Just a few years ago, a spat within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) saw Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) break diplomatic ties with and blockade Qatar, frustrated in part by Doha’s support for Islamists across the Middle East and North Africa. The crisis was mostly resolved in early 2021, and diplomacy ahead of the World Cup has further calmed intra-GCC relations, though differences remain, particularly between Qatar and the UAE. The World Cup also comes amid other changes nearby: Iran is convulsed by mass protests; talks involving Tehran and world powers over Iran’s nuclear program have fizzled out; and Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to return to power in Israel at the helm of the most right wing government in the country’s history – all at a time when Gulf monarchies have taken some steps to calm tensions with Iran and, in some cases, improve relations with Israel. It also comes amid Saudi-U.S. friction. Riyadh’s decision, together with other oil producers, to cut oil production against Washington’s wishes has further tested relations that were already strained over the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, for which U.S. intelligence blames powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Joost Hiltermann and Dina Esfandiary, Crisis Group’s Middle East & North Africa director and senior adviser, respectively, to talk about the World Cup and Gulf Arab states’ external relations. They discuss how ties between countries in the region have evolved since the GCC spat and their different interests in the region. They examine how Gulf Arab countries view developments in Yemen and Iran and the changing relationship between some Gulf capitals and Israel. Finally, they look at the ups and downs of U.S.-Saudi ties during U.S. President Joe Biden’s tenure in office thus far. They talk about how Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region are navigating Washington’s changing role in the region, big-power tensions and multipolarity. They discuss Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plans for Saudi Arabia and ask what the future holds for relations between Riyadh and Washington. For more on the situation in the Gulf region, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Gulf and Arabian Peninsula regional page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
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