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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

The editorial team of commonspace.eu extends its best wishes for Christmas and the festive season to all our contributors, supporters, readers and subscribers. We wish all the best to all of you, but foremost we wish you peace. The accompanying picture has been circulating on the internet in the last days, and it shows the tragedy of war, during the festive season, in this case in Gaza. The message of Christmas is the message of peace. We hope everyone will have a peaceful and happy Christmas.
Editor's choice
News
New maritime task force to patrol Red Sea following Houthi attacks on shipping

New maritime task force to patrol Red Sea following Houthi attacks on shipping

The United States has announced the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of its Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea. A Pentagon statement said that "Operation Prosperity Guardian is bringing together multiple countries to include the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain, to jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity.” The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza has spilled over into the Red Sea as Houthi rebels in Yemen, who control parts of the country including its capital and some of its Red Sea coastline, intensify their attacks on shipping passing through the Red Sea. BP on Monday, became the latest of a number of global companies that announced the suspension of use of the vital Red Sea route which connects the Gulf region and the Indian Ocean to Europe through the Suez Canal. The United States has condemned the attacks and promised decisive action to deal with them.  The Pentagon announced on Monday the formation of a new international mission focused on countering attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Connectivity should give tangible benefit to all sides

Opinion: Connectivity should give tangible benefit to all sides

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently presented the "Crossroads of Peace" initiative at the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum held at the end of October. "Pashinyan's map depicts rehabilitated existing roads and logistical connections, adding new pathways. His message was clear: envisioning a post-conflict era for Azerbaijan and Armenia, and at the same time reaching out to Turkey. The map symbolized the potential regional landscape after the conflict, and was aimed at both the Armenian public and external actors", writes Ramazan Samadov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu "The idea itself looks attractive, however for the plan to materialize into negotiations, Pashinyan would need to offer something more substantial to Azerbaijan and Turkey – something that they genuinely need", he adds. Central is the issue of the Zangezur corridor. "The revival of discussions between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the transit regime is crucial for both tactical and regional dynamics. Currently, the corridor between Georgia and Azerbaijan operates under monopolistic conditions.   Introducing an alternative becomes strategic, offering leverage in the negotiation process. In essence, Pashinyan's "Crossroads of Peace" map presents a compelling pitch. The Azerbaijani statement about finding an alternative to Zangezur through Iran underscores the corridor's significance. Even statements of waning interest in the Zangezur corridor do not diminish its importance. If Armenia proposes a meaningful transit arrangement for Azerbaijani transits through its territory, Azerbaijan's interest in the corridor is likely to reignite", Samadov says.
Editor's choice
News
European Commission launches a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling

European Commission launches a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling

Criminal networks take advantage of people's desperation, and this abuse often leads to loss of life. Migrant smugglers squeezing hundreds of people onto unseaworthy boats, resulted in a staggering humanitarian toll of over 28 000 people having drowned or missing in the Mediterranean Sea since 2014. The main beneficiaries are the criminals, the smuggling networks in countries of origin, transit and destination. The current legislative framework is the Facilitators Package from 2002. Under the Facilitators Package, any person who intentionally assists the unauthorised entry, transit, or residence of a non-EU national into the EU, or, for financial gain, to reside there is to be sanctioned unless they are doing so for humanitarian reasons. On Tuesday (28 November), the European Commission proposed new legislation to prevent and fight migrant smuggling. The Commission has also launched a Call to Action for a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling, at an International Conference hosted this week in Brussels. The Commission will ensure that the Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling will work at bilateral and multilateral level as well as through the work of the UNODC. Regular stocktaking at political level will be ensured, with the first event taking place in Copenhagen in the spring 2024. The Conference will be the first such opportunity to take stock of the achievements of the Global Alliance. Migrant smuggling is a criminal activity that disrespects human life and the dignity of people in the pursuit of financial or other material benefits. Smuggling networks make substantial profits from their criminal activities, ranging between EUR 4.7 – 6 billion worldwide annually.  The modi operandi of smuggling networks change rapidly, adapting to circumstances and responses by national authorities. This is why the Commission is increasing its efforts to tackle this crime at a global scale.
Editor's choice
News
Turkiye and UK sign landmark security and defence agreement

Turkiye and UK sign landmark security and defence agreement

The UK and Türkiye, on Friday (25 November) agreed to work more closely together to help bring greater stability, security and prosperity to both nations. UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, signed a Statement of Intent on defence co-operation, with his Turkish counterpart, Minister of National Defense, Yaşar Güler. This will provide the framework for closer working to deliver additional activities that will benefit the security and prosperity of both countries and, in so doing, enhancing national, regional and international security. Following the signing, activity will see closer collaboration between both countries’ defence industries, the identification of possible joint training exercises in the Mediterranean, and the exploration of security support around North Africa and the Middle East. As well as discussing the need for de-escalation in the Middle East, the British Defence Secretary thanked his counterpart for utilising Türkiye’s influence as the gatekeeper to the Black Sea to enable the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain to nations who need it most. There was strong agreement on the need to keep focused on our collective support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s continuing aggression.
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News
UN Security Council finally adopts resolution on Gaza

UN Security Council finally adopts resolution on Gaza

The UN security council on Wednesday adopted a resolution calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and aid corridors throughout the Gaza Strip. They should remain in place for a sufficient number of days so that aid is able to reach civilians who need it, the council said, especially children, who are mentioned in almost every paragraph of the resolution. The vote marked the first time council members have managed to adopt a resolution related to the war in Gaza. The resolution also calls for the release of all hostages and for all sides to refrain from depriving Gazan civilians of the basic goods and services that are critical to their survival. It further demands the urgent implementation of recovery efforts to find those trapped under rubble of damaged and destroyed buildings. Throughout the resolution, the council also rejected the forced displacement of Palestinians. Twelve of the 15 council members voted in favor of the resolution, with US, UK and Russia abstaining. Before the vote, Russia’s representative, Vassily Nebenzia, proposed an amendment calling for “an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to the cessation of hostilities.” This was voted down by the council, with only five members voting for it, including the UAE. The US voted against it and the nine remaining members abstained. The US and Russia have both accused each other of blocking attempts to agree on action related to the conflict in Gaza. The council, the UN body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, failed to adopt four previous draft resolutions, exposing the bitter divisions between members. The US has been adamant about rejecting any language that calls for a ceasefire, does not assert what Washington describes as “Israel’s right to self-defense,” or fails to unequivocally condemn Hamas for its actions. The twelve members of the UN Security Council who voted for the resolution were: Albania, Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
Editor's choice
News
Arab and Muslim countries issue strongly worded statement calling for cease-fire in Gaza and return to Middle East peace talks

Arab and Muslim countries issue strongly worded statement calling for cease-fire in Gaza and return to Middle East peace talks

At the end of a rare joint summit, in the Saudi Capital, Riyadh, leaders of Arab and Muslim countries issued a strongly worded joint statement on Saturday (11 November) condemning Israel for its war in Gaza, calling for an immediate end to hostilities, and the launch of efforts towards a lasting peace in the region based on a two-state solution. In their statement, the Arab and Muslim leaders said: "a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, which is a strategic option, is the only way to establish security and stability for all peoples of the region and protect them from cycles of violence and wars. This, we stress, will not be achieved without ending the Israeli occupation and resolving the Palestinian cause on the basis of the two-state solution. We affirm that it is impossible to achieve regional peace while overlooking the Palestinian cause or attempting to ignore the rights of the Palestinian people. We stress that the Arab Peace Initiative, backed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, is an essential reference to this end." In their statement, the Arab and Muslim leaders said: "we hold Israel, the occupying force, responsible for the continuation and aggravation of the conflict, which is the result of its violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, and of the Islamic and Christian sanctities...... We condemn all forms of hatred and discrimination, and all acts that perpetuate hatred and extremism. We warn of the disastrous repercussions of the retaliatory aggression by Israel against the Gaza Strip, which amounts to a war crime, and the barbaric crimes committed also in the West Bank and Al-Quds Al-Sharif. " In their statement, the leaders announced  they were assigning the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as the presidency of the 32nd Arab and Islamic Summit, along with counterparts from Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Türkiye, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Palestine, and any other interested countries, and the Secretary-General of both organisations to initiate immediate international action on behalf of all member states of the OIC and the Arab League to formulate an international move to halt the war in Gaza and to pressure for a real and serious political process to achieve permanent and comprehensive peace in accordance with established international references.
Editor's choice
News
G7 foreign ministers address global issues at their meeting in Tokyo

G7 foreign ministers address global issues at their meeting in Tokyo

The G7 Foreign Ministers, representing Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the High Representative of the European Union, concluded their two-day meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday (8 November), with a statement touching on a number of ongoing global crises. Winding up their meeting at the Iikura Guest House on 7-8 November under Japan's G7 Presidency, the ministers called for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas war to allow in aid and help the release of hostages and sought a return to a "broader peace process", as Israeli forces continue to strike the Gaza Strip. In the joint statement they said that Israel had the right to defend itself, while underscoring the need to protect civilians and to comply with international humanitarian law. On Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ministers said: Our steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine’s fight for its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity will never waver. We continue to condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s ongoing aggression, and we commit to standing by Ukraine for as long as it takes, while increasing economic pressure and imposing robust sanctions and other restrictions against Russia. A just and lasting peace cannot be realized without the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Russia’s troops and military equipment from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine. The statement also made reference to the situation in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. In their concluding statement, the ministers expressed unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Central Asian nations. "We remain resolved to support the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Central Asian countries," the statement read. On the South Caucasus the statement said: "We are gravely concerned over the humanitarian consequences of the displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh after the military operation conducted by Azerbaijan. We urge Azerbaijan to fully comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and welcome international efforts to address urgent humanitarian needs for those who have been displaced. We underline our support for advancing a sustainable and lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on the principles of non-use of force, respect for sovereignty, the inviolability of borders, and territorial integrity."