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Conflict and Peace

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

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G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

The G7 will explore ways to use future revenues from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the G7 and its allies froze around $300 billion in Russian assets. "We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine," the draft statement said. G7 negotiators have been discussing for weeks how best to use these assets, which include major currencies and government bonds held mainly in European vaults. The United States (US) has been urging its G7 partners - Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada - to support a loan that could provide Kyiv with up to $50 billion in the near term. The cautious language of the statement, lacking figures or specifics, underlines the many legal and technical issues that would need to be resolved before such a loan could be issued. A G7 source indicated that there would be no significant changes to the statement before the final version is released later on Saturday (25 May).

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Editor's choice
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UN Security Council adopts strongly-worded resolution condemning Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping

UN Security Council adopts strongly-worded resolution condemning Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday evening (10 January) adopted a resolution condemning Houthi attacks against international maritime shipping in the Red Sea. The resolution condemns “in the strongest terms” multiple Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea over the past two months, which have raised concerns over disruptions in global trade and regional security.  The council demanded that the group immediately cease such behavior and release the Galaxy Leader, a Japan-operated cargo ship with links to an Israeli businessman, and its 25 crew members.   Authored by the US and Japan, the resolution stated that there should be respect for international law that upholds the exercise of navigational rights and freedoms by operators of merchant and commercial vessels. It also noted that member states have the right to defend their vessels from attacks.  Since mid-November 2023, the Houthi rebels have repeatedly attacked commercial vessels in the Red Sea, at last count 24 times, and threatened to continue to do so until Israel ends its war on Gaza.   The capture of the Galaxy Leader was followed by an attempt to seize another commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden on Nov. 26. There have now been almost daily, and indiscriminate, attacks in the Red Sea.  Prior to voting on the draft resolution, Council members voted on three amendments to the text that Russia had proposed, none of which were adopted. In all three votes, four members voted in favor (Algeria, China, Russia, and Sierra Leone), two members voted against (the UK and the US), and nine members abstained. The Council then voted on the Japan-US draft text, without any of the Russian amendments, which received 11 votes in favor and four abstentions (Algeria, China, Mozambique, and Russia). The draft text was adopted as resolution 2722.
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Maersk and Hapag Lloyd re-route shipping away from Red Sea

Maersk and Hapag Lloyd re-route shipping away from Red Sea

Denmark's Maersk and German rival Hapag-Lloyd said their container ships would continue to avoid the Red Sea route that gives access to the Suez Canal following a weekend attack on one of Maersk's vessels. Both shipping giants have been rerouting some sailings via Africa's southern Cape of Good Hope as Yemen-based Houthi militants attack cargo vessels in the Red Sea. The disruption threatens to drive up delivery costs for goods, raising fears it could trigger a fresh bout of global inflation. Maersk had on Sunday paused all Red Sea sailings for 48 hours following attempts by Houthi militants to board the Maersk Hangzhou. U.S. military helicopters repelled the assault and killed 10 of the attackers. "An investigation into the incident is ongoing, and we will continue to pause all cargo movement through the area while we further assess the constantly evolving situation," Maersk said in a statement. "In cases where it makes most sense for our customers, vessels will be rerouted and continue their journey around the Cape of Good Hope." Maersk had more than 30 container vessels set to sail through Suez via the Red Sea, an advisory on Monday showed, while 17 other voyages were put on hold. Hapag-Lloyd said its vessels would continue to divert away from the Red Sea — sailing instead via Africa's southern tip — until at least January 9, when it will decide whether to continue rerouting its ships. The Suez Canal is used by roughly one-third of global container ship cargo. Redirecting ships around the southern tip of Africa is expected to cost up to $1 million extra in fuel for every round trip between Asia and northern Europe.
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Who is trying to set the Middle East on fire?

Who is trying to set the Middle East on fire?

It seems someone is trying to add fuel to fire in an already tense Middle East. A terrorist attack in Iran's southern city of Kerman on Wednesday (3 January) left nearly one hundred people dead, and many more injured. The victims were in a massive crowd participating in an event commemorating Revolutionary Guards general Qasem Soleimani four years after his death in a US strike. The two explosions came amid high Middle East tensions over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and the killing of a Hamas senior leader in Lebanon on Tuesday. The unclaimed attacks, which sparked fears of a widening conflict in the region, and sparked global condemnation.  The United Nations, European Union, and several countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey. Russia, Jordan, Germany and Iraq denounced the blasts. UN chief Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns” the blasts, his office said, and the EU said: “This act of terror has exacted a shocking toll of civilian deaths and injuries.” The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said that he spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to “convey condolences” and “condemned this terrorist attack in the strongest terms and expressed solidarity with the Iranian people.”
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New flashpoint in the Horn of Africa after self-declared Somaliland grants sea access to Ethiopia

New flashpoint in the Horn of Africa after self-declared Somaliland grants sea access to Ethiopia

Tension is high in the Horn of Africa after the self-declared state of Somaliland made a deal with Ethiopia granting it sea access. Ethiopia has been a landlocked country since granting independence to Eritrea in the 1990s following a prolonged struggle. Somalia has described the agreement as an act of "aggression". Somaliland seceded from Somalia more than 30 years ago, but is not recognised internationally. It said that Ethiopia agreed to recognise its independence at some point in the future in exchange for military access to the coast. Ethiopia has not confirmed this aspect of Monday's contentious deal. The office of Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed the country had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) "to secure access to the sea and diversify its access to seaports". Mr Abiy had previously described sea access as an "existential issue" for his country. His national security adviser, Redwan Hussein, said the arrangement could enable Ethiopia to access a "leased military base" on the Red Sea, but gave no further details. In a related development, Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has pledged support for Somalia in its row with Ethiopia. Egypt already has strained relations with Ethiopia over issues related to the flow of the Nile River, which passes through Ethiopia before it continues on to Sudan and Egypt. In a phone call with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Mr Sisi pledged "Egypt’s firm position to stand by Somalia and support its security and stability". In a statement on Tuesday (2 January), the European Union reminded of the importance of respecting the unity, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia pursuant of its constitution, the Charters of the African Union and the United Nations. "This is key for the peace and stability of the entire Horn of Africa region", the statement added. The signing of the MOU between Ethiopia and Somaliland came on the same day that Ethiopia became a full member of BRICS. Apart from its five founding members: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the Group now also includes Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
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Pope prays for peace in the Holy Land and Ukraine

Pope prays for peace in the Holy Land and Ukraine

At the end of his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis prays for those suffering from violence in Palestine, Israel and Ukraine, and asks for prayers for an end to all war. Speaking at the end of his General Audience on Wednesday (27 December), Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace in the Holy Land and Ukraine. “Please, do not forget to pray for those suffering the terrible consequences of violence and war,” he said. “Let us pray especially for martyred Ukraine and for the populations of Palestine and Israel. War is an evil. Let us pray for an end to war.” Pope Francis has been calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza since 29 October. In his traditional Urbi et Orbi message on Christmas Day, the Pope pleaded for "an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims" and called for "an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid" in Gaza. He also said that his "heart grieves for the victims of the abominable attack of 7 October," and he repeated his "urgent appeal for the liberation of those still being held hostage.” The Pope expressed his hope that sincere dialogue with strong political will and international support might lead to a resolution of the "Palestinian question." In his Urbi et Orbi address, Pope Francis also prayed for an end to the war in Ukraine. “Contemplating the Baby Jesus,” the Pope said, “I implore peace for Ukraine.” “Let us renew our spiritual and human closeness to its embattled people,” he urged, “so that through the support of each of us, they may feel the concrete reality of God’s love."
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Russia confirms damage to one of its Black Sea fleet ships

Russia confirms damage to one of its Black Sea fleet ships

Russia has confirmed one of its warships has been damaged in a Ukrainian attack on a Black Sea port. The airstrike took place at Feodosiya in Russian-occupied Crimea early on Tuesday morning. Russia's Ministry of Defence said the large landing ship Novocherkassk was struck by Ukrainian aircraft carrying guided missiles. The head of the Ukrainian Air Force said earlier its warplanes had destroyed the ship. One person was killed in the attack, according to the Russian-installed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov. Several others were reportedly hurt. Six buildings were damaged and a small number of people had to be taken to temporary accommodation centres, Mr Aksyonov added. The port's transport operations are said to be functioning as normal after the area was cordoned off, while a fire caused by the attack was contained. Footage purportedly showing a huge explosion in the port was shared by Ukrainian air force commander Lt Gen Mykola Oleshchuk. The images have not been independently verified. However, satellite imagery from 24 December shows a ship at port in Feodosiya that appears to be the same length as the Novocherkassk - a landing ship designed to transport troops, weapons and cargo to shore. Any significant damage to the ship will be a welcome bit of good news for Ukraine, with waning Western support now affecting its front-line operations. Given that the Novocherkassk was in dock, it is highly likely it was being loaded with soldiers, equipment or both. There was speculation that the ship was carrying Iranian-made Shahed drones, which Russia has been using in its attacks on Ukrainian targets.
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More than twenty thousand Palestinians killed in Gaza in ten weeks

More than twenty thousand Palestinians killed in Gaza in ten weeks

Health officials in Gaza say more than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas. The figure, amounting to nearly one percent of the territory’s prewar population, is a new reflection of the staggering cost of the war, which in just over 10 weeks has displaced more than 80 percent of Gaza’s people and devastated wide swaths of the tiny coastal enclave. Gaza’s health ministry said Friday that it has documented 20,057 deaths in the fighting. It does not differentiate between combatant and civilian deaths. It has previously said that roughly two-thirds of the dead were women or children.
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Opinion
Opinion: Azerbaijan seeks guarantees

Opinion: Azerbaijan seeks guarantees

"While optimism surrounds the impending peace agreement, the cautionary inclusion of guarantees becomes crucial to forestall resurgent territorial claims", writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu citing a comment by president Aliyev on 6 December. "As the region braces for a historic peace agreement, the challenge lies in designing a comprehensive treaty that not only concludes hostilities but fosters enduring reconciliation between Azerbaijan and Armenia."