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Opinion: The future of the China-US-Russia triangle after Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

Opinion: The future of the China-US-Russia triangle after Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

Since February 24, 2022, the international community's focus was concentrated entirely on the war in Ukraine and the growing Russia – West confrontation. It seemed that nothing could change the situation until the end of hostilities in Ukraine. However, on August 2 and 3, almost everyone’s attention shifted from Ukraine to Taiwan. As the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, stated her intention to visit Taiwan, up to half a million people were watching the trajectory of her plane on air flight tracking sites. The negative reaction of China, including the warning of President Xi during his conversation with President Biden that those who played with fire would be perished by it, created hype around this visit. Many were discussing the possibility of Chinese military jets closing the airspace over Taiwan and preventing Pelosi’s plane from landing in Taiwan, while some enthusiasts were even contemplating the possibility of a US-China direct military clash. As Pelosi landed in Taiwan and met with the Taiwanese President, the global social media was full of amateur assessments about the strategic victory of the US and the confirmation of the US global hegemony. However, as the dust settles down, and information noise and manipulation eventually decreases, a more serious assessment is needed to understand the real consequences of this visit.
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Taking forward the work on landmine action advocacy in the South Caucasus - report issued after consultation process

Taking forward the work on landmine action advocacy in the South Caucasus - report issued after consultation process

LINKS Europe has just published a report on the future of landmine action advocacy in the South Caucasus based on a consultation process with stakeholders between June 2023 and February 2024. The report focuses on the regional campaign "Landmine Free South Caucasus", which was implemented from October 2018 to December 2023. A formal consultation process was held from 15 January to 15 February 2024, through an open call to which anyone could reply. In the course of the consultation process LINKS Europe held 22 in-person meetings, 12 online meetings. and received written submissions from several partners. The report makes 12 recommendations on how the work can be organised in the future.
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Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers meet in Berlin as German diplomacy emerges out of the shadows to save the day for Europe

Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers meet in Berlin as German diplomacy emerges out of the shadows to save the day for Europe

German diplomacy has been in the South Caucasus from the day after the three countries declared their independence in 1991. Germany was the first country to set up embassies in the region, but generally German diplomacy has been low-key – preferring to let others, namely France, and later the EU, to do the heavy lifting when it came to issues like supporting the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process. This has changed recently. After the untimely intervention of French president Emanuel Macron in the process that was led by EU Council president Charles Michel in 2022, and given Azerbaijan’s refusal to negotiate in this framework because of what it claims is French bias towards Armenia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in 2022 reluctantly persuaded to engage with the process directly, and join the Macron-Michel tandem. Nothing at first seemed to have come out of that, and German diplomacy got overshadowed by some missteps in Paris and Brussels, not to mention some awkward phrases of its own foreign minister when she visited the region last year. But it seems that behind the scenes, German diplomacy persisted. Earlier in February Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, travelled to Munich to attend the annual security conference, and on the margins had a long-awaited meeting, bilaterally and later with Chancellor Scholz. At the meeting concrete decisions were taken on follow-up, and thanks to the usual German efficiency the foreign ministers of the two countries were in Berlin on Wednesday (28 February) for detailed talks about the peace treaty. Most of the discussions were in the bilateral format, but there was also a meeting of the Ministers with their German counterpart. The talks continue today. It is the latest episode in a long saga, but not an insignificant one. Germany is a political and economic heavyweight, and its direct involvement may just be what is needed to get the ongoing negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan across the line. At a time when other elements of European diplomacy appear not to be so effective the German intervention is also seen as saving the day for Europe, that needs to remain present and visible in the region.
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The prospect of  more Israeli atrocities in Gaza during Ramadan unsettles moderate Arab and Muslim states

The prospect of more Israeli atrocities in Gaza during Ramadan unsettles moderate Arab and Muslim states

With Ramadan fast approaching – likely to start on 10 March –  and with Israeli prime minister Benyamin Natanyahu  repeatedly threatening to launch a direct assault on Rafah, a last haven where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are now taking shelter in the most difficult situations imaginable, moderate Arab governments, especially those who have established relations with Israel, and others who were considering doing so, find themselves under huge pressure from their domestic public opinion. Having just vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease fire in Gaza, the United States, acutely aware of the fragility of the situation, is now desperately pushing for a cease fire during Ramadan. Already, nearly 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October, many of them women and children. A direct assault on Rafah is likely to result in many more fatalities. The prospect of a Palestinian bloodbath during Ramadan is considerably unsettling Arab governments, who whilst not often  directly influenced by the views of their populations, cannot ignore them either when feelings are running high. Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims, but it is also an occasion for social gatherings. Families and friends come together, and in the long nights when the fast is broken they share views on those things that matter to them. Gaza will no doubt this year be a leading topic, as people remember that whilst they break the fast with big meals and delicacies, in Gaza, the Palestinians are starving. Western countries, whose reputations in the Arab and Muslim worlds have been greatly damaged by their position on Gaza, are now frantically trying to avoid this by pushing for a ceasefire during Ramadan.
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Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

The Somali cabinet formally approved a defence and economic cooperation agreement with Turkey on Wednesday, authorising Ankara to build, train and equip the Somali navy and reportedly defend its territorial waters amid tensions with Ethiopia. The agreement strengthens Turkish political and military position in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region amid increasing concerns about security in the strategic waterway. Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre described the agreement at the cabinet meeting as a “historic” one that would become a “legacy” for the Somali nation in the long run.  “This agreement will put an end to the fear of terrorism, pirates, illegal fishing, poisoning, abuse and threats from abroad,” he said, according to the local reports. A Turkish defence official declined to comment, saying that the contents of the agreement would be public simultaneously as it is ratified by the Turkish parliament and the president. “We cannot reveal the details as it has a long way to be ratified,” the official added.  The Turkish Navy already operates off the shore of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden under a UN mission to combat piracy and armed robbery since 2009. 
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Anger across the Muslim world and the Global South as US vetoes Gaza cease fire resolution for the 4th time

Anger across the Muslim world and the Global South as US vetoes Gaza cease fire resolution for the 4th time

Commentators and opinion shapers across the Muslim world and the global south on Wednesday (21 February) were unanimous in their condemnation of the American veto of an Algerian resolution in the UN Security Council which called for an immediate cease fire in Gaza. Many commentators in Western countries were similarly appalled after for the fourth time since the start of the war in Gaza, the US on Tuesday vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the embattled territory. It said such a resolution would interfere with ongoing, “sensitive” negotiations, led by Washington, that are attempting to broker an end to the hostilities. Thirteen of the 15 council members voted in favor of the resolution, which was drafted by Algeria. The UK abstained. In addition to the call for an immediate ceasefire, the Arab-backed draft resolution did also demand the immediate release of all hostages. It also rejected the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, called for the unrestricted flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, and reiterated council demands that both Israel and Hamas “scrupulously comply” with the rules of international law, especially in relation to the protection of civilians. It also condemned “all acts of terrorism,” without explicitly naming either side.