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Opinion
Opinion: Roadblock to peace: the geopolitical quagmire of the "Zangezur Corridor"

Opinion: Roadblock to peace: the geopolitical quagmire of the "Zangezur Corridor"

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the 1994 ceasefire agreement that put fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the Soviet-era mainly ethnic Armenian Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) on hold – or at least until it escalated into war in 2016 and more devastatingly in 2020. Despite the involvement of international mediators, peace remained elusive despite occasional claims to the contrary. The sides were said to have gotten close, but never enough to prevent tens of thousands dying in over three decades of conflict.
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Commentary
The work of UNRWA must be sustained

The work of UNRWA must be sustained

Israeli accusations that staff of the UN Humanitarian agency UNRWA which works in Gaza, were involved in the 7 October attacks on Israel need to be taken seriously, and the UN leadership must flash out any bad apples amongst the many, and restore the reputation of the organisation for professionalism. But the knee-jerk reaction of several Western governments in suspending funding to UNRWA is unacceptable, especially given the dire situation of millions of Palestinians, made much worse by the recent war in Gaza. Stopping the work of UNRWA will make an already significant humanitarian disaster much worse. In this regard, countries like Norway and Spain are to be commended. They kept a cool head and reiterated their commitment and support to UNRWA, whilst others were more hasty in halting or suspending support for the agency. There are two problems here: financial and political. The financial aspect is solvable. Gulf states need to step in and compensate for any shortfall in UNRWA’s budget. Other countries need also to step up. But the bigger problem is political. The support of Western countries for UNRWA gives it the necessary prestige that allows its leadership to negotiate the stormy waters of the Middle East. This should not be lost. Countries like UK, Netherlands, Germany and Italy, need to quickly reconsider their position and restore the funding to UNRWA. UNRWA was established in 1948 as a temporary measure to provide relief to the Palestinian people. That seventy-five years later it is still needed more than ever is a testimony of the failure of the international community to do justice to the Palestinians. From the tragedy and suffering of the last five months a new reality must emerge that must necessarily include the creation of a viable Palestinian state. It is time for the EU and European countries in particular, but also the US, to think strategically and act firmly.
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Opinion
Opinion: The ICJ ruling on the “South Africa v. Israel” case is a step in the right direction, but not decisive enough

Opinion: The ICJ ruling on the “South Africa v. Israel” case is a step in the right direction, but not decisive enough

On Friday (26 January) the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague ruled on whether emergency measures are required until a final decision is taken on the South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. The judges ruled that Israel must act to stop genocide in Gaza and allow the flow of humanitarian aid and basic services. Although this verdict is legally binding on the parties involved and a step in the right direction, the ICJ lacks enforcement power. The Court needs the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to enforce its decision through mechanisms such as sanctions or even military intervention, however, the UNSC is unlikely to do so given the United States’ traditional shielding of Israel through the veto power. Moreover, the Court did not demand a ceasefire that would require Israel to stop its operation in the Gaza Strip. This disappointed many who consider an immediate ceasefire by all parties as being essential in order to end the suffering on civilians.
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News
Opportunistic Russia exploits deepening rifts in West Africa

Opportunistic Russia exploits deepening rifts in West Africa

The rift in West Africa became more acute over the weekend after three Sahel countries currently ruled by military juntas announced that they were leaving ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States - the regional grouping  of whom the three countries had been founding members in 1975. Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso announced the move in a simultaneous announcement on Sunday. "After 49 years, the valiant peoples of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger regretfully and with great disappointment observe that the (ECOWAS) organization has drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism," Colonel Amadou Abdramane, Niger junta spokesman, said in a statement. The three countries were suspended from ECOWAS following the coups, and relations between them and the regional bloc have been deteriorating for months. "The organization notably failed to assist these states in their existential fight against terrorism and insecurity," Abdramane added. Meanwhile, in a separate development Burkina Faso says it has received 25,000 tonnes of free wheat from Russia. Confirming the news on Friday, one minister called the delivery a "priceless gift". Ties between Moscow and Ouagadougou have been strengthening since the military took power in two successive coups in 2022. Last month Russia re-opened its embassy in Burkina Faso which had been closed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Burkina Faso has at the same time been distancing itself from former colonial power France, and last year it ordered its troops to leave.
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News
Houthis escalate confrontation in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, firing missile at US warship

Houthis escalate confrontation in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, firing missile at US warship

In an incident that is likely to further aggravate the already tense situation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Yemen's rebel Houthi Movement on early on Saturday (27 January) fired a missile at an American naval vessel patrolling in the Gulf of Aden. The group, which has been attacking commercial shipping off the coast of Yemen in response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, fired an anti-ship missile toward the U.S. destroyer USS Carney, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. A terse statement from the US Central Command in Tampa said, On Jan. 26, at approximately 1:30 p.m. (Sanaa time), Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired one anti-ship ballistic missile from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) in the Gulf of Aden. The missile was successfully shot down by USS Carney. There were no injuries or damage reported.  On Friday, the Houthi rebels also struck an oil tanker with an anti-ship ballistic missile, according to the ships operator, Trafigura. "The crew is continuing efforts to control the fire in one of the ship’s cargo tanks with support from military vessels," the company said in a statement.