حان الوقت لأن تتوحد اوروبا وتهب لمساعدة شمال إفريقيا
حان الوقت لأن تتوحد اوروبا وتهب لمساعدة شمال إفريقيا
War & Peace (Season 3)
War & Peace (Season 3)

حان الوقت لأن تتوحد اوروبا وتهب لمساعدة شمال إفريقيا

بينما تتواصل حمامات الدم في ليبيا حيث لم يتردد القذافي في مواجهة شعبه بالقصف الجوي، أشعر حجم الأحداث التي يشهدها شمال إفريقيا منذ أسابيع أوروبا بالعجز. 
صحيح أن أحداً لم يتوقع الجيَشان الجيواستراتيجي الناشئ هناك. فقد قامت البلدان الغربية بإيهام نفسها بأن هذه الشعوب عاجزة عن وضع مصيرها في يدها وأن هناك ضرورة لوجود قائد قوي لضمان استمرارية التنمية ولذلك فقد قبلت بهؤلاء المستبدين المنتمين لعصر آخر وبنزوات نجل القذافي في الاستقبالات رفيعة المستوى في معظم قصور أوروبا الحكومية.

أشعل التونسيون في تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر فتيل الثورة في العالمين العربي والإسلامي اللذين تعبا من العيش في ظل استبداديات نهبت خيرات بلادهم. وضاهت مظاهراتهم إلى حد ما المظاهرات في بولونيا وألمانيا الشرقية في نهاية ثمانيات القرن المنصرم التي أثرت بشكل مباشر على جيرانهم الذين أدركوا أن حريتهم أيضا تقع على مقربة في نهاية الشارع، فخرج الليبيون والمصريون واليمنيون للمطالبة بالعدالة.
ولكن المقارنة بأواخر الثمانينات وسقوط أنظمة أوروبا الشرقية تنتهي هنا. فمع أنها مقارنة جاذبة بالفعل إلا أن هناك قيودا واضحة عليها. فقد كانت جميع الأنظمة في أوروبا الشرقية متماثلة وكانت جميعها تحت سيطرة الإتحاد السوفييتي الذي حول الحكومات في أوروبا الوسطى إلى مجرد تمثيليات لموسكو التي لم تترك لهم أي مجال للمناورة حتى في السياسة الداخلية ناهيك عن السياسة الخارجية. كان اليوم الذي أخبر به ميخائيل غرباتشوف إيريك هونكر في برلين الشرقية أنه لم يعد هناك جندي سوفييتي واحد مستعد للتضحية بحياته لإنقاذ النظام بمثابة قرع للأجراس التي أعلنت نهاية الشيوعية العلمية في أوروبا.
يختلف العالم العربي بتعقيداته عن أوروبا الشرقية كما أن الأنظمة التي تحكمه أكثر تنوعا. 

ففي حين أظهر القذافي انه ما زال مسيطرا على وزارات قوية ليجعل ليبيا تدفع ثمنا باهظاً في نهاية حكمه، تخلصت كل من مصر وتونس من حكامهما بطريقة أقل إيلاما بكثير. ومع ذلك فإن الدراما لم تصل إلى نهايتها لا في القاهرة ولا في تونس، فثقة الشعبين بهاتين الحكومتين الانتقاليتين منخفضة للغاية. أطاحت انتفاضة مصر الشعبية بمبارك ولكن دعونا لا ننسى أن ذلك كان نتيجة انقلاب عسكري ومن المرجح أن يكون مستوى الاستقرار الذي ستشهده البلاد في الأشهر المقبلة مرهونا بقدرة الجيش على تنفيذ وعوده.
كان رد فعل أوروبا على الثورات على حدودها المتوسطية مخيبة جدا للآمال وأدانها ترددها المذهل الذي بدا جليا من خلال خطاباتها السياسية. فقد تبخرت في عام 2011 الإشارات المتحمسة إلى 'رياح الحرية' التي هبت في أوروبا الوسطى في نهاية الثمانيات.

وشددت المواقف الرسمية لنيكولا ساركوزي وأنجيلا ميركل وفرانكو فراتيني على خوفهم من موجة الهجرة نحو الشمال، ما قد يدعو المرء إلى الاعتقاد بان أوروبا تأسف لليقظة الديمقراطية في العالم العربي. عكست الفضائح الفرنسية حول العلاقات الخطيرة لعدد من وزرائها في المنطقة مرورا بالذعر الإيطالي من انهيار القذافي في ليبيا حال الهلع والتخبط التي تمر بها أوروبا والصعوبات التي تواجهها في محاولتها استعادة لهجتها المتحمسة للحرية التي كان بإمكانها التحدث بها طوال عشرين عاماً مضت. وبدل أن ترى أوروبا آفاقا ديمقراطية للمنطقة، تركت خوفها من المجهول يغلبها في نهاية المطاف. بدلا من خوض جدالٍ حول الهجرة كان حريا بكلٍ من فرنسا وايطاليا وبريطانيا وسويسرا التي ألحقت بها نزوات نجل القذافي الذل أن تحيي شجاعة الشعب الليبي.

كذلك كانت أوروبا بطيئة في تقديرها لحجم الكارثة الإنسانية على الحدود الليبية-التونسية. فقد توجب على آلاف المهاجرين الإفريقيين العاملين في ليبيا الانتظار أكثر من أسبوع قبل أن يتمكنوا من الاستفادة من عمليات الإجلاء المتاحة للغربيين والصينيين، مع أن وجهتهم لم تكن نحو أوروبا بل أرادوا بكل بساطة العودة إلى ديارهم في مصر أو بوركينا فاسو أو السودان. ما زالت هذه الدراما مستمرة ومن الضروري أن تتعاون جميع الدوال الأوروبية سواء كانت عضوا في الاتحاد الأوروبي أو لم تكن للسماح بإجلاء سريع لهؤلاء الأشخاص قبل أن تحل كارثة إنسانية لتضاف للقائمة الطويلة من التحديات التي تواجهها تونس ما بعد بن علي. أعلنت كريستالينا جورجييفا، المفوضة الأوروبية للتعاون الدولي والمساعدات مساعدات إنسانية قيمتها 3 ملايين يورو كما أرسلت فرنسا سفينة 'المسترال' إلى السواحل التونسية وبدأ عددٌ من الطائرات برحلات مكوكية إلى مصر وهي واحدة من إجراءات الطوارئ الأساسية. ستقدر شعوب شمال إفريقيا رؤية أوروبا موحدة تستجمع قواها وتستجيب لندائهم.

خلقت الاضطرابات في شمال أفريقيا حقبة جديدة وبالتأكيد أنها تحمل في طياتها الكثير من عدم اليقين، ولكنها قبل كل شيء تمثل فرصة غير مسبوقة ليس لشعوب المنطقة فحسب، وإنما أيضا لجيرانهم بما فيهم أوروبا. لقد حان الوقت ليبدأ للأوروبيين بالحلم بمنطقة ديمقراطية على الضفة الأخرى من المتوسط، وأن يضعوا كل إمكانياتهم لتحقيق هذا الهدف وهو ما فعلوه لأوروبا الوسطى. عندها سيكون العالم أكثر استقرارا مما كان عليه تحت حكم المستبدين المخلوعين.

War and Peace hosts Olya Oliker and Elissa Jobson CRISISGROUP / Julie David de Lossy

War & Peace (Season 3)

War & Peace is a podcast series from the International Crisis Group, in which Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson interview experts about all things Europe and its neighbourhood, from Russia to Türkiye and beyond. Their guests shed new light on everything that helps or hinders prospects for peace. Episodes from past series of War & Peace can be found here: Season 1 and Season 2.

Season 3

Episode 22: 6.3 Million IDPs and a Humanitarian Crisis: Ukraine’s “New Normal”

Even if the war in Ukraine ended tomorrow, the country’s humanitarian needs would be colossal. Around 6.3 million people are displaced internally, with many still living in communal shelters not suited to the coming winter. While fighting rages on mostly in Ukraine’s east and south east, the effects of war reverberate throughout the rest of the country, which has no choice but to adapt to a “new normal” amid a continuing war.

In this last episode of Season Three of War & Peace, Olga OIiker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Alissa de Carbonnel, Crisis Group’s Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director, and Simon Schlegel, Senior Ukraine Analyst, to learn how life goes on in wartime Kyiv and western Ukraine. Alissa and Simon – back from a recent visit to Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, as well as smaller towns outside the regional capitals – share stories of displaced people whose lives have been turned upside down by Russia’s invasion and volunteer humanitarian workers finding creative solutions to an ever-changing set of problems. They talk about their experience crossing the Polish border at Przemyśl, travelling through western regions and onto Kyiv. They recount what they saw: men and women lining up outside military recruitment offices, gyms and school halls converted into shelters for the displaced, and building windows sandbagged due to the threat of Russian airstrikes. As Ukraine adapts to this new reality, Alissa and Simon outline the enormous challenges of an emergency response for millions of people in need spread across one of the largest countries in Europe, where war is still raging.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more about the war in Ukraine, make sure to check out Crisis Group’s Ukraine country page.

Episode 21: What it Means to Demine in Ukraine and Afghanistan

Landmines remain a tool of warfare around the world. Yet both during and after fighting, they wreak havoc not just on adversaries, but also on the civilian population. In mined areas, everyday activities such as farming crops or going to school are fraught with risk. In Ukraine, after eight years of conflict, landmines have long threatened civilians in the Donbas. Now, in the wake of Russia’s February invasion, the problem affects far more of the country. In Afghanistan, meanwhile, though the fighting has largely ended, explosive devices remain in place, making schools, homes, roads and fields hazardous. Families often face the difficult choice between farming dangerous land or going hungry.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker talks to James Cowan, CEO of landmine clearance charity The HALO Trust, about the impact of unexploded ordnance and the challenges of mitigating its risks. James recounts what he saw on recent trips to Ukraine and Afghanistan, describes some of the dangers people face daily as a result of leftover explosives. They discuss the challenges of mine and ordnance clearance in Ukraine. They talk about James’ meetings with Taliban leaders and the pressing need to clear mines on agricultural land amid the country’s growing food crisis. They also discuss the gendered effects of landmines, shelling and war more generally.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more about the situations in Ukraine and Afghanistan, make sure to check out Crisis Group’s Ukraine and Afghanistan country pages.

Episode 20: Climate, Conflict and the Implications of Russia’s War on Ukraine

When world leaders convened at COP26 in November last year, climate was at the forefront of the global agenda. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has instead triggered a new “gold rush” for fossil fuels amid skyrocketing commodity prices. In the shadow of the continuing war, leaders meeting at the G7 summit later this month must find ways to reduce reliance on Russian energy without compromising the goal of “climate neutrality” – the central theme chosen for the summit by Germany, which currently holds the G7 presidency.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker talks to Crisis Group’s Director of Innovation and Deputy Director of the Future of Conflict Program, Champa Patel. They discuss how climate change is multiplying the threat of conflict throughout the world, driving resource competition, and amplifying social and economic inequalities. They also talk about the effect of conflict on attempts to address climate change, including in the context of the Ukraine war, and the risk that it will lead many European states to dramatically increase their fossil fuel consumption. Looking ahead to the G7 summit and a critical COP27 in Egypt, they talk about what needs to be done to keep the green transition on track and why addressing conflict-climate links must be on the global agenda.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more about how climate and conflict interact, make sure to check out Crisis Group’s Future of Conflict Program page.

This episode of War & Peace was produced with the support of Stiftung Mercator.

Episode 19: 100 Days of War in Ukraine: Russia’s Offensive in the East

After failing to capture Kyiv, Russian forces have regrouped, with Moscow looking to solidify control of territory it holds in the south and east and to capture more land, including all of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Artillery exchanges and positional fighting continue, even as local cities and towns suffer under bombardment and/or occupation.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson unpack some of the unique dynamics of the fighting in these eastern regions. They discuss the tactics used by the Russian army in the war so far, drawing comparisons to its other interventions – past and present – in Chechnya and Syria. They talk about what Russia is trying to achieve in Ukraine’s east and how it envisions the region’s future, as more towns come under Russian occupation. They also discuss why the prospects of successful peace talks look increasingly slim and what might need to happen for parties to decide that negotiations are more advantageous than continued fighting.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more analysis of the Ukraine war, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Ukraine country page.

Episode 18: The Ukraine War: a Watershed Moment for EU Foreign Policy?

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been a watershed moment for EU foreign policy. Since then, the EU has mobilised €2 billion of military aid and levied some of the harshest sanctions ever imposed. At the same time, there is concern about how the effects of the Ukraine war will be felt in conflicts elsewhere, as geopolitical tensions threaten to derail fragile peace processes and undermine international cooperation.

This week on War & Peace, Elissa Jobson is joined by Crisis Group’s Senior EU Analyst Lisa Musiol and Head of EU Affairs Giuseppe Famà to run through the recommendations from our Spring Update to the 2022 Watch List. They discuss the EU’s response to the Ukraine war and how it can capitalise on an emboldened foreign policy to promote peace in some of the world’s other conflicts. Highlighting the threats to peace in Libya, Mali, Nagorno-Karabakh and Pakistan, they argue the EU must step up its engagement to prevent escalation and help save lives around the globe, not just in Ukraine.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Check out Crisis Group’s 2022 EU Watch List – Spring Update in full to learn more about the crises and conflicts where the EU and its member states can act for peace. 

This episode of War & Peace was produced with the support of Stiftung Mercator.

Episode 17: Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans

The Western Balkans, a region defined in part by not being in the European Union, also contains several countries that were devastated by war in the 1990s. Now it faces new troubles, driven in part by the legacies of the old. Bosnia and Herzegovina is confronted with calls for secession in the autonomous Serb-dominated region, Republika Srpska, as well as the ongoing electoral grievances of its Croat minority. Meanwhile, efforts to resolve Kosovo’s dispute with Serbia over its independence have come to a standstill, leaving minority communities on both sides of the border vulnerable.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker talks to Marko Prelec, Crisis Group’s Consulting Senior Analyst for the Balkans, about why ethnic tensions persist in the region and whether there is any risk of a return to conflict. They discuss the prospects for European integration, asking whether the promise of EU membership remains an effective incentive for resolving these longstanding disputes. They also consider what impact Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had for stability in the Western Balkans, a region where painful memories of war are still very salient today.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more of Crisis Group’s analysis, make sure to check out our Balkans regional page and keep an eye out for our upcoming report on the risk of instability in the Western Balkans.

Episode 16: Internal Displacement and Humanitarian Response in Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine has created a huge displacement crisis, with nearly eight million people internally displaced and over five million fleeing abroad. As the fighting enters its third month, the war's immense humanitarian cost looks set to mount even higher – potentially leading even more to flee.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson talk to Simon Schlegel, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Ukraine, about this humanitarian emergency and how Ukraine and its Western partners have responded to it. They discuss the different causes and types of displacement, how these have evolved throughout the war and the obstacles faced by vulnerable groups attempting to flee. They also take stock of the humanitarian response so far, asking how Ukraine and its partners can best ensure a sustainable strategy that addresses a wide variety of needs. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more of Crisis Group’s analysis, make sure to check out our Ukraine page and keep an eye out for upcoming reports on the country's humanitarian crisis and the war’s impact on global commodity prices.

Episode 15: Can the OSCE Survive the Ukraine War?

The future of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is in doubt. Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine in clear violation of the OSCE’s commitments to territorial integrity, sovereignty and human rights, has put unprecedented strain on the world's largest regional security organisation, raising questions about its viability as a forum for engagement between Russia and the West.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Dr. Cornelius Friesendorf, Head of the Centre for OSCE Research, to talk about the OSCE’s future in the wake of the war. They discuss the OSCE’s origins, the role it plays today and the longstanding challenges it has faced as it tried to uphold its lofty ambitions. They also ask what role it could play in Ukraine, from facilitating dialogue to monitoring a possible ceasefire, and what steps its members can take to prevent its collapse.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more of Crisis Group’s analysis, make sure to check out our Ukraine page and our recent commentary, ‘Preserving the OSCE at a Time of War’.

Episode 14: Ukraine's Global Shockwaves

War continues to rage in Ukraine, over a month after Russia launched its large-scale invasion. Alongside its staggering humanitarian consequences, the war’s fallout has been felt widely around the globe – impacting everything from commodity prices to negotiations to finalise the Iran nuclear deal. Meanwhile, countries’ responses to the invasion have run the gamut from outrage to ambivalence to sympathy.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker introduces new co-host Elissa Jobson, as they unpack these far-reaching shockwaves and discuss how the conflict is being viewed around the world. They talk about why Ukrainian and Russian narratives do, and don’t, reverberate in the Global South and whether disillusionment with perceived Western hypocrisy has given Russia an edge in the information war. They also discuss the impact of President Biden’s “this man must go” comment about his Russian counterpart and take stock of the prospects for a negotiated resolution to the war. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more of Crisis Group’s analysis, make sure to check out our Ukraine page.

This episode of War & Peace was produced with the support of Stiftung Mercator.

Episode 13: Turkey and Russia’s Complicated Relationship 

Russia and Turkey’s complex relationship sometimes baffles outside observers. In many respects, Turkey and Russia are fierce competitors: Moscow and Ankara back opposing camps in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, and Turkey is a member of NATO – the alliance Russia views as both adversary and threat. Nevertheless, this has not prevented collaboration between the two powers, who share profound economic and cultural ties and have made concerted efforts to deepen diplomatic relations, often to the frustration of Turkey's Western allies. 

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti, a research fellow at ISPI, about Russo-Turkish relations. Eleonora helps unpack the two countries’ complex relationship and sketch out the deep economic and cultural ties connecting them, as well as the numerous sources of tension pitting Ankara against Moscow. She discusses Turkey’s juggling act in balancing relations with the EU and the Kremlin, and how Russo-Turkish relations and soft power shape geopolitics in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Africa. Mainly recorded prior to the massive invasion of Ukraine by Russia in late February, this episode also includes a brief addendum to reflect those events.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

N.B. Please note that this episode was recorded in late January 2022. 

For more on Turkish foreign policy, check out our Turkey regional page. For analysis on the Ukraine crisis and its global implications, make sure to explore our Ukraine page and read our latest Q&A: “The Ukraine War: A Global Crisis”.

Episode 12: Where Can Europe Best Act for Peace?

The year 2022 looks set to be challenging for Europe. The EU must reckon with growing risks of conflict close to home: from a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine to rising ethnic tensions in the Western Balkans, the EU must brace itself for new wars on its doorstep. Elsewhere, deadly fighting and humanitarian disasters continue to rage across the globe – from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Venezuela – and threaten to claim many more lives.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker is joined by Crisis Group’s Senior EU Analyst Lisa Musiol and Head of EU Affairs Giuseppe Famà to run through Crisis Group’s 2022 EU Watch List. They discuss eleven conflicts across the globe in which EU action or support could help prevent violence from escalating and humanitarian emergencies from worsening. They assess the successes and failures of the EU’s existing foreign policy toolkit and ask how it can adapt its strategy to contend with a world of mounting great power competition.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

Make sure to check out Crisis Group’s 2022 EU Watch List in full to learn more about the ten countries to consider in 2022 for early action and relief by the EU and its member states.

This episode of War & Peace was produced with the support of Stiftung Mercator.

Episode 11: How Does the EU Help Prevent Conflicts?

The president of the European Commision, Ursula Von Der Leyen, has vowed to create a more “geopolitical commission”, ramping up Europe’s external involvement and staking out an increasingly prominent place on the world stage. Though it has at times struggled to forge a united policy, the EU should not be underestimated: as the world's third largest economy, the bloc has numerous tools at its disposal with which to exert its influence. Indeed, the EU already plays a key role in preventing conflicts around the world and improving prospects for peace. 

This week on War & Peace, Olya Oliker and Hugh Pope are joined by Hilde Hardeman, the director general for EU Publications and former head of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments. They take stock of the challenges and opportunities facing Europe as geopolitical tensions at its borders reach boiling point and discuss how the EU’s foreign policy toolkit has evolved over time. They also talk about the EU’s conflict prevention strategies, its drive to put “green diplomacy” at the centre of its foreign policy, and Hilde’s commitment to combatting disinformation around the world. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

Make sure to check out Crisis Group’s 2022 EU Watch List on the ten countries to consider in 2022 for early action and relief by the EU and its member states.

Episode 10: What Just Happened in Kazakhstan?

In early January 2022, an unexpected wave of protests swept across Kazakhstan. Initially provoked by a doubling of the price of liquified petroleum gas (LPG), the protests rapidly grew more political as they spread throughout the country, encompassing a wide range of interests and demands. President Qasym Joomart Tokaev responded by shutting down the internet as his police detained over 12,000 people. Over 200 people died in the ensuing violence, and Tokaev called for help from his allies in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), even as he reshuffled his government. As the dust settles, Kazakhs hope for reform, fear more crackdowns, and seek clarity about what was behind the violence and what the future holds for their country. 

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope are joined directly from Almaty by Nurseit Niyazbekov, assistant professor of international relations at Almaty’s KIMEP University and an on-the-ground witness of the protests (see below for a link to footage he shot the night of 5-6 January). They discuss the unrest’s initial triggers, the protests’ rapid spread, the government’s crackdown and rumours of a power struggle between the country’s ruling elites. They also talk about parallels with other post-Soviet states, Tokaev’s successful request for foreign military support from the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the possibility of a geopolitical realignment in the region. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify 

For more information, make sure to explore Crisis Group’s Kazakhstan page and read our latest Q&A ‘Behind the Unrest in Kazakhstan’. You can also check out Nurseit’s incredible footage of events in Almaty here.

Episode 9: Could Citizens’ Assemblies Save Democracy?

A wave of democratic experimentation is defying conventional wisdom about electoral politics and good governance. Randomly selected citizens’ assemblies are becoming a popular tool for tackling complex policy issues. Ireland, France and Belgium, among others, have turned to citizens’ assemblies in recent years, often with considerable success. Proponents of this kind of random selection, also known as sortition, argue that it could usher in a new era of inclusive governance, an attractive prospect in an age of mounting inequity and public disillusionment with politicians. Still, doubts remain. For one, citizens’ assemblies have almost exclusively been trialled in wealthy Western countries. 

This week on War & Peace, Olya Oliker and Hugh Pope are joined by Brett Hennig, president of the Sortition Foundation and author of The End of Politicians: Time for a Real Democracy. They discuss the basic precepts of sortition, the mechanics of setting up a representative citizens’ assembly, and their potential relationship with established political institutions. They talk about whether random selection could rebuild faith in democracy and how to ensure consensual and informed deliberation. They ask whether citizens’ assemblies are singularly suited for Western democracies and what role they could play in healing societal divisions in conflict-stricken states.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

To find out more about Brett’s work make sure to check out his book The End of Politicians: Time for a Real Democracy and the Sortition Foundation’s website.

Episode 8: What Does Belarus's President Lukashenka Want? 

In 2020, Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenka cracked down on protesters challenging the results of an election in which he had claimed resounding victory, and on the opposition in general. The European Union (EU) refused to recognise Lukashenka’s regime and imposed far-reaching sanctions. Relations between Belarus and its Western neighbours have since continued to spiral downward. In the summer of 2021, thousands of people, mainly from the Middle East, began gathering at the country’s border with Poland and the Baltic states, hoping to enter the EU. Incensed governments accused Lukashenka of ‘weaponising’ migrants by facilitating access to the border, and responded with a fifth round of sanctions. Lukashenka has so far refused to back down, turning ever more to Moscow for support, even as Russia’s relations with the West continue their own rapid decline and Russian troops mass near Ukraine. 

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope are joined by Yauheni Preiherman, the Founder and Director of the Minsk Dialogue Council on International Relations. They discuss the realities of the border crisis and Lukashenka’s motives in fomenting it, asking whether his gamble has backfired. They also review Belarus’ foreign policy trajectory, its past overtures toward the West and its complicated relationship with Moscow. They talk about regional implications of the standoff with Europe and assess what Belarus tells us about how small states can and cannot navigate increasingly belligerent great power competition. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify 

For more of Crisis Group’s analysis make sure to explore our Belarus page and check out our latest ‘Behind the Frictions at the Belarus-Poland Border’.

Episode 7: New Ways to Think About Nuclear Weapons

The threat posed by nuclear weapons is changing and policy-makers are struggling to keep up. As the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference approaches, it is clear that the nuclear security field needs a new way of thinking. Nuclear-weapon states are expanding their arsenals and non-proliferation efforts have faltered: it is estimated that Tehran’s nuclear breakout time is now less than a month away, following Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran deal in 2018 that had extended that timeline to 12 months.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Special guest-host Ali Vaez, Crisis Group’s Iran Project Director, are joined by Dr Emma Belcher, President of Ploughshares Fund, to ask whether and how bold innovation can solve some of these intractable challenges. They discuss the ways in which policy debates have, or have not, evolved, the continued dominance of deterrence theory and the wave of new, diverse and creative thinkers challenging stale ideas. They also discuss the resumption of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, prospects for other non-proliferation efforts and hopes for a nuclear-weapon-free future.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify 

Make sure to learn more about Dr Belcher’s work at Ploughshares Fund by visiting ploughsares.org and listening to Ploughshares podcast Press the Button.

This episode is part of our continuing War & Peace sub-series on nuclear weapons and strategy. Click on our special coverage page here to listen to more episodes and benefit from a range of perspectives about everything from deterrence to civil defense to nuclear-weapons-free zones.

Episode 6: One Year On from the Ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

On 10 November 2020, a Russian-brokered ceasefire put an end to a devastating war in Nagorno-Karabakh that killed some 7,000 people. But it did not bring peace. The year since has seen the situation grow increasingly uneasy. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have fortified their military positions along the state border and continue to exchange deadly fire: mid-November saw the worst escalation of fighting since the war’s end. Meanwhile, as Russian peacekeepers patrol in Nagorno-Karabakh, the region’s political status remains contested and talks are intermittent.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope are joined by Olesya Vartanyan, Crisis Group’s senior analyst for the South Caucasus. They discuss the recent violent flare-ups along the line of contact, the roles – planned and unplanned – played by Russian peacekeepers, Turkey’s role and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also discuss prospects for negotiation and ask what can be done to put an end to post-Soviet Eurasia’s longest-lasting conflict. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

For more information, make sure to explore Crisis Group’s Nagorno-Karabakh page and to check out Olesya’s recent op-ed for the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) ‘A Risky Role for Russian Peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh'.

Episode 5: German Foreign Policy After Merkel 

After sixteen years at Europe’s helm, Angela Merkel is stepping down from power. The federal election in September also marked an end to the long-term hold her political party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), had had over German politics. Merkel’s likely successor, Olaf Scholz, is now looking to forge a “traffic light coalition” between his Social Democratic Party (the SPD, whose trademark color is red), the Greens and the Liberals (yellow). While Scholz and his allies have made ambitious commitments to modernise Germany, it remains unclear what, if anything, this portends for foreign policy. Foreign affairs have so far taken the back seat during coalition negotiations, eclipsed by domestic concerns. Still, Germany’s new chancellor will be forced, however reluctantly, to contend with tremendous geopolitical shifts on the continent and further away. 

This week on War & Peace, Hugh and Olga are joined by Jana Puglierin, Head of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Berlin Office, to make sense of Germany’s future under a new chancellor. They discuss the deprioritisation of foreign policy, possible sticking points between coalition members, the future of the transatlantic alliance with the United States, and increasingly bitter relations with Russia, Turkey and China. They ask whether Scholz’s chancellorship will chart a new course for Europe, and how Germany and the continent are poised to contend with a world of great-power competition. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Crisis Group’s work on Europe and its neighbours by checking out the regional pages on the left hand side of our website. You can follow Jana’s work on the ECFR website

If you want to hear more about Merkel’s legacy, make sure to check out EuroPod's latest podcast, available in four languages. 

Episode 4: Europe’s Balancing Act in Western Sahara

Exactly a year ago, in November 2020, an old conflict on the south-western edge of Europe burst back into flames. After almost 30 years of ceasefire, the pro-independence Polisario Front and Morocco went back to battle stations in Western Sahara. European states have so far taken a timid stance in response, preferring not to involve themselves in another intractable conflict. Nonetheless, the new focus on Western Sahara is unsettling many relationships, particularly with Morocco. For its part, the Kingdom has taken a hardline response to even the most limited of criticisms: Rabat’s ambassador to Germany was even recalled after a public spat in May. A recent verdict from the European Court of Justice excluding Sahrawi goods and fish from a trade deal risks further ratcheting up tensions. So, how will conflict in Western Sahara affect Europe’s relations with Morocco? 

This week on War & Peace, Hugh Pope is joined by Intissar Fakir, Director of the Middle East Institute’s North Africa and Sahel Program, and Riccardo Fabiani, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for North Africa. They discuss Morocco’s successful hardball strategy, the Polisario’s desperate gambit, Rabat’s troubled alliance with Spain and France, and the ramifications of the Trump administration’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty. They ask whether Europe’s arms-length stance is another example of regional powers flexing ever-growing influence at the expense of  the “big players” in the Old Continent’s capitals.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify 

For more information explore Crisis Group’s work on Europe, Morocco, and Western Sahara, by checking out the regional pages on the left hand side of our website. Make sure to take a look at our recent report ‘Relaunching Negotiations’. 

Episode 3: The Migration Lessons of Afghanistan and Syria

In 2015, over a million people fleeing conflict arrived at Europe’s borders. The continent showed itself to be woefully underprepared, struggling to address the unfolding catastrophe at its doorstep: as decision makers wrangled over asylum quotas, a humanitarian crisis escalated to dramatic proportions. Six years later observers fear that “another 2015” could be imminent after Kabul’s fall to the Taliban. 

In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope welcome Liz Collett, Senior Adviser to the Director of the International Organization for Migration to ask how seriously we should take contemporary parallels with 2015. They also talk about the continued impact of the pandemic on global mobility, how climate change is transforming the future of migration, and ask how states can better protect both vulnerable migrants and internally displaced people.  



Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify 

For more information explore Crisis Group’s work on Europe, Afghanistan and its neighbours, check out the regional pages on the left hand side of our website. 

Episode 2: What's at Stake for Russia in a Taliban-led Afghanistan

The Taliban’s dramatic toppling of the Afghan government prompted much soul-searching in the West. But for those closer to Kabul, anxieties about how the Taliban’s takeover will shape the region’s future are even more acute. Where some see risk, however, others see considerable opportunity. Russia’s position, for one, remains ambiguous: while Moscow seems unlikely to formally recognise the new government, it has cultivated a cordial relationship with the Taliban. For their part, Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors seek to balance possible economic and political collaboration and looming security threats.

So, as the dust settles in Afghanistan, what’s driving policymakers in Russia and Central Asia?  In this new episode of War & Peace, Olga Oilker and Hugh Pope are joined by Ivan Safranchuk, Senior Fellow at Moscow’s Institute of International Studies, to discuss the role they will play in shaping Afghanistan’s future and to ask whether the country can avoid becoming the arena for yet more great-power competition. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information explore Crisis Group’s Afghanistan, Russia and Central Asia regional pages and make sure to read Ivan’s latest article here.

Episode 1: Big Data and Global Security

As rapidly developing data technology outpaces governance structures and their ability to adapt, the long-term impact of increasingly data-driven economies on security and society remains uncertain. What happens when personal data ends up in the hands of those in power?

In the first episode of the third season of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope are joined by Jim Balsillie, co-founder of Research in Motion, now known as BlackBerry, and founder of the Balsillie School of International Affairs, the Centre for Digital Rights and the Arctic Research Foundation, to discuss the intersection of technology and governance. They talk about the new global rule of law framework that was created to regulate technology and the dangers still presented by exploitative tech firms and anti-democratic governments looking for asymmetrical leverage. Jim also explores how data autonomy should be balanced with the ideals of democracy and how future generations will look back with concern on this era of lax personal data security.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Crisis Group’s Technology and War global issue page.

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