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Yemen ceasefire holds amid report of talks between Saudis and Houthis and despite ongoing problems in Taiz

Yemen ceasefire holds amid report of talks between Saudis and Houthis and despite ongoing problems in Taiz

Saudi Arabia and Yemen's Houthi movement (also known as Ansar Allah) have resumed direct talks to discuss security along the kingdom's border and future relations under any peace deal with Yemen, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, according to a report by Reuters news agency. The virtual talks between senior Saudi and Houthi officials were facilitated by Oman, both sources said, with one adding that there were also plans for a face-to-face meeting in Muscat if there is enough progress. Meanwhile, speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on Yemen, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg welcomed the fact that the truce between the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government has held, but called for action to open road communications with the city of Taiz.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Autonomy within Azerbaijan is not a solution for the future of Karabakh

Opinion: Autonomy within Azerbaijan is not a solution for the future of Karabakh

As Armenia and Azerbaijan seek ways in which they can normalise relations between them, the discussion on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh, and particularly of the Armenian population living there, is also gathering pace. On 8 June commonspace.eu published an op-ed by Kamal Makili-Aliyev suggesting autonomy may be one way of moving relations forward. In this counter opinion, Vahagn Avedian disagrees and says that governance problems in Azerbaijan make the prospect of an autonomy within that country unattractive for the Armenian population of Karabakh. He argues that "the only viable path forward is still what the Madrid Principles envisioned, namely granting the Karabakh population the right to determine their future."
Editor's choice
Commentary
US-Saudi Relations remain the bedrock for Gulf Security

US-Saudi Relations remain the bedrock for Gulf Security

US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia on July 15 and 16 upon the invitation of King Salman. The US president will meet with the king and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “to discuss areas of bilateral cooperation as well as joint efforts to address regional and global challenges.” A statement from the White House said that Biden will also attend a Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan while in the Kingdom. “The President appreciates King Salman’s leadership and his invitation. He looks forward to this important visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been a strategic partner of the United States for nearly eight decades,” the statement read. In this commentary the state of relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia is discussed in the light of tensions between the two sides over the last years.  “Now, it appears that the two sides are ready to make up. Biden will travel to Riyadh next month, and US officials have been in and out of the Saudi capital in recent weeks, softening the ground and preparing for the visit. Biden is right in working towards a reset. US-Saudi relations remain the bedrock for Gulf security.” It adds that “when Joe Biden visits Riyadh next month he has his work cut out for him. It will be a hugely important visit to a country where personalities still count. Both sides appear ready to put the difficult last few years in their relationship behind them. This is good for both, as well as for the rest of the world.”
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News
Brussels sources say European Commission will recommend candidate status for Ukraine, but final decision is with the EU member states

Brussels sources say European Commission will recommend candidate status for Ukraine, but final decision is with the EU member states

The European Commission will recommend granting Ukraine official status as an EU candidate country, according to several officials familiar with deliberations that took place during a debate among commissioners on Monday. This was reported by the authoritative website Politico on Tuesday (14 June) The debate in the College of Commissioners followed a surprise visit Saturday by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Kyiv, where she discussed Ukraine’s membership bid with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was von der Leyen’s second trip to the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in late February. Moldova and Georgia have also applied for candidate status, and officials said that commissioners were generally supportive of Moldova, where a staunchly pro-EU government is now in place, but that they were less confident about Georgia, which has suffered from pervasive political turmoil and notable democratic backsliding in recent years.
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Commentary
Commentary: The tangled tale of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations

Commentary: The tangled tale of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations

After the violence of the early 1990s the conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis settled down for nearly three decades of uneasy truce, tempered with low-intensity violence, and the occasional outburst of more serious fighting, and accompanied by a flawed peace process that failed to bring peace, and in the end could not prevent war. The 44-day Karabakh War in autumn 2020 changed the reality on the ground and yesterday’s winners became losers and vice versa. The Russians appeared to emerge from the 44-day war the sole arbiters to oversee the new situation, but since no one really wanted this – except the Russians themselves – an alternative has unexpectedly emerged, with the EU playing an increasingly important role as mediator and facilitator, working with the sides towards a comprehensive peace. Whilst the war decided some issues, many details remain unresolved, and as Armenia and Azerbaijan tiptoe into a peace process these issues are coming to the fore. Over the course of the last few days, commonspace.eu ran three op-eds dealing with some of these issues written by Benyamin Poghosyan who addressed the issue of peacekeeping, Kamal Makili-Aliyev who wrote about autonomy status as a way of resolving outstanding issues, and Vasif Husseynov who dealt with the geo-strategic context of the peace process. They touched very important issues at the heart of the current debates. Armenian-Azerbaijani relations are a tangled tale, burdened with the baggage of history, traumatised by the blood of thousands who died in the conflict over decades, and poisoned by toxic propaganda that keeps coming out from both sides despite the diplomatic moves towards peace. Unpacking all this will take time. Building enough trust and confidence to move forward will take longer. But the journey has started, and despite all the spoilers, even the end is now in sight.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: Give Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine EU candidate status now!

Editorial: Give Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine EU candidate status now!

In the next few days the European Commission will announce its opinion on the request of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine for European Union candidate status. A decision will then be taken by the 27 member states in the European Council at the end of this month. “Candidate Status” is the beginning of a journey for any country that wants to join the European Union. In the case of many successful candidates in the past, the process has often taken a decade or more. In the case of others, such as Turkey, the process does not appear to have an end in sight. In short candidate status is not an automatic ticket to EU membership, simply a political expression of the will of the applicant and of the EU to embark on the journey. This notwithstanding the EU has been increasingly hesitant to give a membership perspective to the trio. This is partly due to the so called “enlargement fatigue”, partly because there are those within the member states and the institutions who do not think Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine should be in the EU, period! These sceptics have been caught on the wrong foot by the war in Ukraine, the heroism of the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, and the decision of the trio to bring forward their request for candidate status and to ask that it be dealt with urgently. Clearly, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are not ready for EU membership today, but that is not what is on the agenda now. The many challenges facing the three countries should not be hidden under the carpet, and the political elites in Tbilisi, Chisinau and Kyiv must assume their responsibility to ensure political, economic and judicial reforms are implemented more comprehensively and more speedily. But for now, candidate status, especially in the present context, is primarily a political decision and a political statement, and it should be extended to the three countries now!
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News
Tajikistan and Iran signal start of new era of co-operation

Tajikistan and Iran signal start of new era of co-operation

Iran and Tajikistan, in a change of course, appear to have opened a new chapter of friendly relations. After years of accusations from the Tajik government that Iran was supporting militant activity, the two countries, over the past month, have signed several agreements increasing co-operation in various areas. Tajik President, Emomali Rahmon, travelled to Tehran on an official visit at the end of last month to sign the documents. While no agreements were signed on security, there is a feeling among analysts that one may come soon. The accords illustrate the weakening of the Kremlin’s influence in Central Asia and the downstream effects of their invasion of Ukraine. They also reflect a widespread desire, noticed across the whole Central Asia region, to lessen dependence on Moscow and develop a more diversified relationship with other countries and blocs, including the US, the EU and Japan.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: The Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process should be pursued "through compatible mediation between the EU and Russia"

Opinion: The Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process should be pursued "through compatible mediation between the EU and Russia"

Baku perceives certain recent actions by the Russian media and by prominent Russian politicians as a provocation, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. and this may be happening as a result of an increased EU engagement with resolving the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. One option is "to pursue the peace process in a mode of compatible mediation of the EU and Russia. The fact that the second meeting of the border delimitation and demarcation took place in Moscow before the upcoming one in Brussels indicates such an effort by the sides. This can make the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process a unique case where the West and Russia stand on the same page and encourage the two sides to find a common language in the conflicts elsewhere."
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Autonomy is one way in which some of the problems in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations can be resolved

Opinion: Autonomy is one way in which some of the problems in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations can be resolved

"As Armenians and Azerbaijanis are finally trying to build a lasting peace, autonomy can be a powerful tool that brings people together instead of dividing them. It is important to give it a chance", argues Kamal Makili-Aliyev in this op-ed.  "Autonomy is a viable compromise that can lead to a lasting peace when it is implemented carefully and properly, with the aim of bringing the two nations together." "One good example is the Aland Islands, a Swedish-speaking autonomous region within Finland. That arrangement celebrated its 101st birthday this year as a successful means of bringing Swedes and Finns together politically, culturally, in education and interpersonal relations. Its secret? Carefully thought-out structures for separating powers between the autonomy and the central government, respect for minority rights, and security guarantees in the form of demilitarization (including, no local conscription or military bases) and neutralization (the autonomy cannot participate in wars neither passively, nor actively) of the region.".