War and Conflict Articles

Diplomatic Fallout

Lacking Security Strategy, EU Counts on Nearby Crises to Absorb Threats

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

The EU’s security may actually benefit from ongoing crises in cases such as Ukraine, Mali and even Syria. The longer these conflicts absorb the efforts of potential foes, the less likely they are to menace the EU directly. EU members have no appetite to get involved in these wars, leading critics to grumble that it refuses to fight for its interests. But it may be in its interests to let others keep fighting. more

International Law Solutions Fall Short for Israelis, Palestinians in Gaza Conflict

By Lolita Brayman
, , Briefing

As the death toll in Gaza rises, legal definitions of what is permissible in war have been bitterly contested. International law defines war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute, but in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the classifications are difficult to apply. Through the grey areas of international law, both sides have found new ways to blame each other. more

World Citizen

In Israel, Pragmatism Could Trump Ideology After the Fighting

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

The domestic political repercussions of a military conflict don’t become clear until the fighting stops. But political tremors don’t wait for a cease-fire. In Israel, the current confrontation with Hamas has fractured a major political alliance and caused one high-level personnel change. But so far there is no indication that Israel’s political landscape will be dramatically transformed by the conflict. more

As Talks Stall, South Sudan Conflict Grinds to Stalemate

By Lesley Anne Warner
, , Briefing

Seven months after fighting broke out between the government of South Sudan and anti-government forces, the civil war is at a stalemate. Unlike its early days, when cities changed hands multiple times, the status quo has largely held since May. Despite several agreements signed by both sides, negotiations in neighboring Ethiopia have not led to a resolution of the conflict or a way out of the crisis. more

Without Chad, Central African Republic Peace Talks Unlikely to Succeed

By Celeste Hicks
, , Briefing

All sides in Central African Republic’s civil war are looking to a peace conference this week in neighboring Republic of Congo to yield a cease-fire agreement. But major questions linger about what the meeting can actually achieve. It’s unclear if the main rebel group Seleka will even attend, and Chad is not playing a leading role in talks. Any lasting peace in CAR is likely only to succeed with Chad’s support. more

Strategic Posture Review: Israel

By Shai Feldman
, , Report

Israel’s threat environment has changed dramatically in recent years, especially when compared to that which Israel faced when its defense doctrine was first articulated and its force structure was first conceived. This report will discuss these changes, identify the new challenges Israel faces, characterize the domestic environment affecting defense allocations and attempt to ascertain the implications of these factors for Israeli strategy. The conclusion will elaborate on the debate now taking place within the country’s defense community about the future doctrine and force structure of the Israel Defense Forces. more

Diplomatic Fallout

West Needs New Rules to Contain Proxy Wars With Russia

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

The events of the past week in Ukraine have confirmed three painful facts about the state of international affairs. The first is that the West is trapped in a cycle of proxy wars with Russia, running from Libya through Syria to Ukraine. The second is that there is no real rulebook for managing these conflicts. The third is that these confrontations are liable to escalate with unnerving frequency. more

With Negotiations Extended, U.S. Ponders Future of Iran Sanctions

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

The extension of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries includes allowing Iran to access $2.8 billion of its restricted assets. That has many in Washington debating the effect of previous sanctions relief and whether threatening or imposing future sanctions would improve the U.S. hand in negotiations. But analysis is mixed over the extent to which this relief has boosted Iran’s economy. more

Downing of MH17 in Eastern Ukraine Underscores Risks of Arming Syrian Rebels

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

In the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, all signs point to a surface-to-air missile launched by rebels who have been armed by Russia. There are sobering lessons here for the U.S. Part of the Obama administration’s hesitation to arm Syrian rebels was the fear that they would be unaccountable. If atrocities or accidents were committed with American weapons, the fallout could be disastrous. more

The Realist Prism

Israel-Hamas Conflict Locked In by Both Sides’ Strategic Assumptions

By Steven Metz
, , Column

World attention is riveted by the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas. The desperate enemies continue to pummel each other, seemingly seeking revenge rather than discernible political objectives. Whatever happens during the next few weeks will not be the finale of the two sides’ long conflict or even the beginning of the end. The reason lies with the strategic assumptions that drive the two antagonists. more

In Iraq, Gulf Countries Must Confront ISIS Threat and Their Own Policies

By Frederick Deknatel
, , Trend Lines

In early July, Saudi Arabia moved 30,000 troops to its northern border with Iraq, apparently steeling itself against the advance of ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State. To many observers, it was a sign of Saudi Arabia reaping what it had sown. Private financial support to jihadi groups in Syria such as ISIS and others has been widely reported during Syria’s civil war, including from Saudi sources. more

Diplomatic Fallout

Despite Risk of Escalation, West and Russia Keep Ukraine Crisis Limited

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

Ukraine a model for the management of future international crises? At first glance, it looks like nothing of the sort. Kiev is in the middle of a bloody military campaign against pro-Russian rebels in the east, with more and more civilians caught in the crossfire. There is still a danger that this conflict could escalate further. Yet the most striking feature of the crisis is just how limited it remains. more

World Citizen

Emotional Bonds, Strategic Interests Link Israel and Iraqi Kurds

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

It is no secret that the survival of Iraq within its current borders is very much in doubt. The battlefield victories of ISIS have revived the debate about a partition of the country into three states: one Sunni, one Shiite and one Kurdish. As Iraqis fret and international observers debate the country’s future, Israelis across the political spectrum have declared their support for an independent Kurdish state. more

Growing Threat of European Fighters in Syria Highlights Need for EU Cooperation

By Benoît Gomis
, , Briefing

Almost all European Union member states have seen some of their citizens, often Muslims between the ages of 18-29, leave their countries to join the jihad against the Assad regime in Syria. There has been a range of national responses to stem the flow of European jihadi fighters, including prevention, management, monitoring, prosecution and reintegration measures. But the EU still has an important role to play. more

Strategic Horizons

U.S. Planners Must Start Preparing for Strategic Disaster

By Steven Metz
, , Column

The collapse of the Iraqi army as it faced an extremist onslaught shocked many Americans. In Washington, policymakers and military leaders scrambled to find an effective response and to understand how the disaster happened. In the flurry of finger-pointing, many missed the bigger issue: The slow reaction to Iraq's failure is one more manifestation of a deep flaw in the way Americans think about security. more

Special Report

Syria's Spillover, Iraq's Nightmare

By The Editors
, , Report

The ongoing civil war in Syria has spread across the Iraqi border in recent months, putting Iraq back at the center of the region’s security agenda. As the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) take control over a large part of Iraq, the Kurdish population has become increasingly assertive in the pursuit of its own autonomy, and Iraq has once again become a policy challenge for Washington. This report examines the implications of the growing conflict for Iraq, the U.S., Syria and a potentially independent Kurdistan, drawing on articles published in the past year. more

Heavily Invested, China Cannot Escape the Iraq Powder Keg

By Emanuele Scimia
, , Briefing

Like it did with the crisis in Ukraine, China is trying to keep out of the chaos in Iraq. But as Iraq’s government confronts the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, it will be hard for China to preserve a policy of noninterference. This time around, China cannot keep out of another sovereign nation’s internal affairs—until now a cornerstone of its diplomacy—given Beijing’s huge economic interests in Iraq. more

Diplomatic Fallout

Syria’s Chemical Arms Destroyed, but Aid Effort Unravels

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

Although no end to the war in Syria is in sight, remnants of international cooperation have survived. The U.S. and Russia have dismantled Syria’s chemical arms stockpile, and the U.N. is, in theory, committed to getting humanitarian aid into the country. This ugly modus vivendi is arguably a potential model for big-power cooperation in managing future conflicts. But is even this minimal consensus sustainable? more

Moldova’s EU Association Agreement Is No Panacea

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

While the crisis in eastern Ukraine continues to make headlines, far less attention has been paid to Moldova, which signed an association agreement with the European Union last week. Its breakaway region of Transnistria, sustained by Russian troops, has undermined Moldova’s efforts to integrate with Europe, and the chaos in Ukraine illustrates the potential dangers Moldova could face going forward. more

Robust Peacekeeping, Diplomacy Put Peace in Reach in Eastern DRC

By Laura Seay
, , Briefing

The eastern DRC is still plagued by armed groups operating outside of the state’s authority, but the situation is improving and observers are hopeful about the prospects for the future. The country still has a long road ahead, but engagement by international and regional actors has put peace—and much-needed economic and political development that depend on a secure and stable environment—within reach. more

As U.S. Winds Down Counterterrorism Task Force in the Philippines, Challenges Remain

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

After more than a decade in the Philippines, the United States is phasing out an elite counterterrorism task force sent there after the attacks of 9/11. But as one chapter of U.S.-Philippines security cooperation comes to a close, the relationship will remain a priority for the Obama administration as it tries to keep its rebalancing plan—the strategic “pivot” of military assets and attention to Asia—on track. more