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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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Interview
Stepan Grigoryan: "The current Armenian government really wants peace"

Stepan Grigoryan: "The current Armenian government really wants peace"

Dr Stepan Grigoryan, the Chairman of the Board of the Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, is a respected analyst and opinion-shaper in Yerevan who has over many years been a moderate voice in what has often been a toxic inter-Armenian debate on the prospects for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the wider region. He spoke to commonspace.eu in Tbilisi on 22 October 2022 about the current state of the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, recent events surrounding it, and prospects for the future. Speaking about the current political situation in Armenia Stepan Grigoryan said "We have a strong civil society, active NGOs and active experts, and they act like pillars of independence in Armenia. And this civil society also criticises Nikol Pashinyan, but they are trying to help him. Yes, I myself am sometimes not happy with what Nikol Pashinyan is doing, but I try to help him with my advice, with my publications, with my speeches. So in Armenia one should not only look at the political field - which is polarised - but civil society too. We shouldn’t think that we have an ideal government, they have made many mistakes, but they really want peace."
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Opinion
Opinion: Russia's muted comeback to the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process

Opinion: Russia's muted comeback to the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process

"After a long pause, on October 31, Russia brought together the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in a meeting mediated by President Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort town of Sochi. Over the past year, ever since the November 26, 2021 summit in Sochi, Russia’s initiatives  in support of a peace process between the two South Caucasus republics did not  give results, while the major mediating role in the process was taken over by the European Union", writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. The document shared following the trilateral meeting did not contain any provisions concerning critical issues such as the future of Nagorno-Karabakh or the Russian peacekeeping force in the region. "How will the the peace talks unfold in the immediate future, especially considering that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan are supposed to meet in Brussels this month in accordance with the results of August 31 summit", asks Vasif Huseynov.
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News
In Sochi, leaders affirm committment to Prague principles but leave space for a role for Russia

In Sochi, leaders affirm committment to Prague principles but leave space for a role for Russia

The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, on Monday (31 October) hosted in Sochi the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and president Ilham Aliyev. Putin met separately with the two leaders, before hosting a two-hour trilateral meeting to discuss the current state of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. The highly choreographed meetings in the grand settings of the Kremlin's summer residence in Sochi did not, it seems, result in the expectations that the Russian leader had of the sessions. After concluding the discussions only Putin made press comments, saying that they could not agree on many issues, but that he still felt that the meeting was "useful". The Russian president said that many elements that had been included in the draft of the statement prepared by the experts had to be deleted. In the joint written statement eventually issued at the end of the meeting, the three leaders touched upon the current state of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, and the role of Russia. The statement appeared to endorse most of what was included in the Prague statement of 6 October 2022 between the president of the European Council, the president of France and the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The statement appeared to give a nod to a continuing Russian military force in Nagorno-Karabakh, and spoke about dialogue between representatives of societies.
Terrorist attacks ravage the Somali capital killing at least 100 civilians

Huge terrorist attacks have hit Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, killing at least 100 civilians and wounding 300. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Sunday (30 October) that among the victims of the twin bombings that took place the day before at a busy intersection in the Somali capital Mogadishu were women, children, and the elderly.

patrickn97 Mon, 10/31/2022 - 10:34
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News
Ukraine strengthens military forces on border with Belarus

Ukraine strengthens military forces on border with Belarus

The Ukrainian army has reinforced its military strength in the north of Ukraine, along the border with Belarus. Ukrainian Deputy head of the General Staff's Main Operations Directorate Oleksii Hromov reported this at a press conference on Thursday morning (27 October). How strong Ukrainian the new units in the north are now and whether those reinforcements will come at the expense of military deployments in the south Hromov did not tell. "Right now we do not see a build-up of an attacking force, but that threat is there and will remain there," Hromov said. "We are responding to it and have reinforced our forces in the north." The Ukrainians have been preparing for another possible attack from Belarus for several weeks. At the beginning of the invasion, Russia tried to capture the capital Kyiv from that direction, and although the Ukrainians chased them away, military activity in the neighbouring country has recently been increasing again.
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Commentary
Moscow surprised "Excitable Caucasians" have become rational

Moscow surprised "Excitable Caucasians" have become rational

For many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of the newly independent successor states, Russian diplomats counselled their western colleagues on the business of dealing with the people of the Caucasus, and their politics. They often described the Caucasians as the "excitable people of the South", who needed a special kind of handling, and only Russians knew how to do it. It was a Soviet version of "orientalism" that still lingers among the current Russian elite. Putin’s handling of the 2nd Karabakh War - and the subsequent steps he took to establish the post-war order in the region - was very much in this vein. Russia rushed troops to Karabakh to keep the peace, and Russia was to be involved at every stage and in every corner of building a post-war order. There was no space left for others to contribute to this process, except for some general reference to a UN role in providing humanitarian aid. Well content that the excitable people of the South had been calmed down, President Putin turned his attention to other matters – namely what for him were the less excitable, but no less irritable people on the western frontier, the Ukrainians.
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Opinion
Opinion: Balancing the mediators - Armenia and Azerbaijan should avoid offending Russia

Opinion: Balancing the mediators - Armenia and Azerbaijan should avoid offending Russia

Russia has become increasingly critical of western involvement in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict settlement process, writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. "Armenia and Azerbaijan should take all necessary steps to avoid being trapped in Russia – West or US – Iran confrontation. The ongoing war in Ukraine proved that this scenario might have catastrophic implications for both states. It does not mean that negotiations should be stopped. However, the hectic moves to sign a US or EU-prepared agreement, which Russia may view as an attempt to kick it out from South Caucasus, may destabilize the situation and bring new war instead of peace. In this context, the possible option to not lose the momentum could be a signature of a document that will envisage the principles of the future peace agreement while providing more time to carefully draft a peace treaty based on the balance of interests of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other actors."