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Europe is increasingly divided between those in favour of arming Syrian rebels and those against it. However, notwithstanding the broader uncertainty over the merits or not of providing military support (I am against), it could be argued that, for European actors, this is an entirely false debate.
Put simply, even if Europe decides to end the embargo in May and provide lethal aid, its assistance will remain so limited that it will be irrelevant to shifting the balance of power on the ground or Assad’s mindset. Europe’s inherent caution and risk aversion on the issue means that weapons supplied will inevitably be extremely limited in capability, aimed at avoiding the dangers associated with them falling into the wrong hands or being turned on regional allies. However, given the regime’s considerable ongoing military strength, any meaningful support for an armed approach
Is Algeria on the verge of a ‘youthquake’? Reports have been trickling out of Algeria over the past month of social protests, largely in the south of the country but spreading, slowly but surely towards the north. Seasoned Algeria watchers are noting a definite increase in the level of organisation and leadership of these protests by youth movements in the country, and although the demands of the protesters are largely social, there is some debate over the extent to which, ahead of the 2014 Presidential elections, the protests could become political.
As our policy brief “A reset with Algeria: the Russia to the EU’s South” at the end of 2011 indicated, Algeria has had some rumblings of disquiet since the Arab Awakening but so far the government has been able to buy off nascent protests with targeted increases in public spending. As a result, ECFR Scorecard 2013, found that the EU
Breaking with a decades-long tradition of having Morocco as the first destination for a French President’s first official visit to North Africa, Francois Hollande’s two-day (April 3-4) stop in Morocco came three months after his historic trip to its rival Algeria in December.
The French President’s trip to Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco, which was carefully planned by French and Moroccan business circles, and during which he was accompanied by nine ministers and more than fifty business leaders, signaled that France is aiming to consolidate relations with its main ally in the Maghreb. Hollande seeks to reclaim the Republic’s status as Morocco’s first commercial partner after losing that title to Spain last year.
Despite the fact that his trip took place amid a political storm in France around the indictment of the former Minister, Jerome Cahuzac, Hollande’s agenda
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The Libyan war is not over for Germany. That was my main conclusion after speaking at two events on Europe and the United Nations in Berlin this week.The discussions, organized by the Green Party in the Bundestag and ECFR’s Berlin office, ranged from Syria to Mali. But they kept returning to Germany’s decision to abstain on the UN resolution authorizing the military intervention in Libya in March 2011.
At UN headquarters in New York, the Libya vote now feels like a rather distant memory. At the time, it appeared like a turning-point in the history of the Security Council. The fact that China and Russia chose not to veto a humanitarian intervention seemed to be a victory for the Responsibility to Protect. The German abstention was certainly perplexing, but it ultimately looked more like a curiosity than a crisis. It soon became clear that the Libyan episode was not as
It’s Nowruz, an age-old Persian holiday marking the start of spring and of a new year. Celebrated from Central Asia to the Balkans, Nowruz (or Nevruz as it is spelled in Turkish) has long become a symbol of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination. Hardly a year passes without mass gatherings, demonstrations, rallies in cities across Turkey, Istanbul to Diyarbakir, where thousands fly the flags of Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a guerilla force outlawed as terrorist, and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) seen as its legal offshoot. Clashes with the police, tear gas are are the usual scenes on that day.
But this year it is different. Abdullah Öcalan, whom nationalist Kurds view as their undisputed leader, issued a call from his prison cell for the PKK to disarm. His appeal was read aloud by BDP deputies to a crowd of 250.000 gathered in central Diyarbakir (or
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