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Conflict and Peace

Stories related to violent conflicts, diplomatic tensions, and conflict prevention, mediation and resolution.

Violence rocks the Holy Land
Violence in Jerusalem, in Israel and in the Palestinian territories over the last days  has shaken the fragile peace in the Holy Land once more, despite calls for restraint by the international community. On Saturday (28 January), an assailant shot and wounded two people in east Jerusalem, Israeli medics said, hours after a Palestinian gunman killed seven outside a synagogue in one of the deadliest such attacks in years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Israel's response to an attack by a Palestinian gunman attack that killed seven people on the outskirts of Jerusalem will be "strong, swift and precise" . The mass shooting unfolded as a 21-year-old resident of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem drove up to the synagogue in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood and opened fire during the Jewish Sabbath. The bloodshed, which unfolded on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked another dramatic escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nine people had been killed Thursday in what Israel described as a “counter-terrorism” operation in the Jenin refugee camp. It was one of the deadliest Israeli army raids in the occupied West Bank since the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, of 2000 to 2005. Israel said Islamic Jihad operatives were the target. Islamic Jihad and Hamas both vowed to retaliate, later firing several rockets at Israeli territory. Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defenses. The military responded with strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza. There were no injuries reported on either side, but Gaza’s armed groups vowed further action. After the synagogue shooting, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the attack proved “the resistance knows how to find the appropriate response” to Israeli “crimes.” At least 26 Israelis and 200 Palestinians were killed across Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2022, the majority in the West Bank, according to an AFP tally from official sources.
dennis2020 Sun, 01/29/2023 - 05:53 Deployment of the EU monitoring mission to Armenia: A view from Azerbaijan

On January 23, the Council of the European Union (EU) agreed to establish a civilian monitoring mission in Armenia’s border areas in order to “ensure an environment conducive to normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan”. The deployment of the mission has caused mixed reactions in the two countries and frustrated Russia, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu.

patrickn97 Thu, 01/26/2023 - 14:53

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Opinion: Harmonising the different formats in Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations

Opinion: Harmonising the different formats in Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations

Over the last year multiple formats have emerged in Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations, and three main external players: Russia, the EU and the US are involved in the mediation process. This may lead to some confusion, says Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. Big power rivalry may also negatively impact the process. Poghosyan argues some co-ordinating mechanism is necessary, and a format, at least involving Russia and the EU, could also help to combine their efforts.
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Editorial
Kherson: The end of the beginning

Kherson: The end of the beginning

The withdrawal of the Russian army from the city of Kherson ends the first chapter of Vladimir Putin's misadventure in Ukraine, which started on 24 February when he ordered his army to invade. Ukrainians rightly celebrated, as the Ukrainian army returned to the city which Russia illegally annexed only a few weeks ago. Kherson was the only regional centre the Russians were able to occupy following their February invasion, which, let us not forget, initially aimed to take Kyiv and all other Ukrainian cities. But as the Ukrainian president, and other Ukrainian officials warned, the war is far from over yet. But the Russian army is still in Ukraine, and now consolidating its positions on the left bank of the Dnipro river.  The river will now serve as a natural defence barrier for the Russians in the face of Ukrainian attempts to liberate the rest of the territory under Russian occupation. And the coming winter may prove challenging for Ukraine in other ways too, given the Russian attempts to destroy key infrastructure and disrupt energy supplies. But still Kherson can be seen as the end of the beginning. The journey for the liberation of Ukraine will take longer. And after all Ukrainian territory is liberated, another journey will have to start: that of rebuilding Europe's security architecture on new foundations. Where Russia will stand in this is still not clear. Despite the facade of defiance and bravado, it is already evident that soul-searching has already started amongst the Russian elite about the Ukrainian adventure, and indeed about how Russia itself is governed. That, the Russian people will have to figure out by themselves, and the process is not likely to be either short, or easy.
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"Today Kherson, tomorrow Sevastopol"

"Today Kherson, tomorrow Sevastopol"

Russia's leadership has ordered its troops to withdraw from the Ukrainian city of Kherson. It was the only regional capital Russian forces were able to capture after invading in February. The news was welcomed cautiously in Ukraine, where the government said it will proceed carefully to avoid losses. Some commentators however are saying that it is the first step to forcing a complete Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. "Today Kherson, tomorrow Sevatopol" is what many Ukrainians hope, referring to the port city on the Crimean peninsula. Russia's commander in Ukraine, Gen Sergei Surovikin, said on Wednesday (9 November) it was no longer possible to keep supplying the city. The withdrawal means Russian forces will pull out entirely from the western bank of the River Dnipro. The military's top brass announced the decision on Russian state TV, with Gen Surovikin reporting on the situation on the ground in Kherson. "In these circumstances, the most sensible option is to organise the defence along a barrier line along the river Dnipro," Gen Surovikin told the meeting. Russia's annexation of Kherson, and three other occupied regions, was announced with a lot of fanfare by president Putin at the end of September.
Hotline established between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray forces

The African Union’s chief mediator Olusegun Obasanjo said on Monday (7 November) that the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebel forces have established a telephone hotline following a truce struck last week.

This comes after the two parties agreed on 2 November to end any hostilities and call a ceasefire to a war that has already killed thousands and displaced millions.

patrickn97 Tue, 11/08/2022 - 12:11
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine allows worshippers to celebrate Christmas on 25 December

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine had already broken away from the Russian Orthodox Church, but now it is going one step further. The Church is allowing its congregations for the first time to no longer celebrate Christmas according to the Eastern calander, as in Russia, on 7 January, but on 25 December.

The decision is a historic new step away from Moscow and closer to the West. The Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches used to celebrate Christmas at the same time. Orthodox Christians thus follow the old, Julian calendar, according to which Jesus was born on 7 January.

Maximiliaan va… Mon, 11/07/2022 - 16:45
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News
EU concerned at situation in the Balkans amid tension between Kosovo and Serbia

EU concerned at situation in the Balkans amid tension between Kosovo and Serbia

EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has expressed concern at recent developments in the Balkans amid increasing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia. Borrell, who is currently on an official visit to Abu Dhabi where he is participating in the 2022 Sir Bani Yas Forum, on Saturday (5 November) spoke with Serbian president Alexander Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister, Albin Kurti. A statement issued later by the European Extern Action Service, said: "The recent developments in the relations between Kosovo and Serbia put years of hard work and achievements reached under the EU-facilitated Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina at risk and hamper the security situation in the region and beyond. The European Union calls both sides to refrain from any unilateral actions, which might lead to further tensions.