Hold Your Fire! (Season 4)
Hold Your Fire! (Season 4)
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Podcast / Global 20+ minutes

Hold Your Fire! (Season 4)

Join Crisis Group Executive Vice President Richard Atwood as he dives deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe. He speaks with Crisis Group field analysts and special guests to get their unique, on-the-ground perspective. Episodes from past seasons of Hold Your Fire! can be found here: Season 1Season 2 and Season 3.

Episode 29: Türkiye in its Neighbourhood: “Strong in the Field, Strong at the Table”? 

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Türkiye/Cyprus project director Nigar Göksel to talk about Türkiye’s foreign policy, particularly in its neighbourhood. They discuss the fallout of the Gaza war for Türkiye’s relations with Israel and the U.S., and Ankara’s evolving relations with other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the Gulf. They assess Türkiye’s balancing act in Ukraine: as a NATO member supplying weapons to Kyiv and keen to check Russian influence in the Black Sea but keeping ties open to Moscow. They discuss Ankara’s close relations with Azerbaijan, prospects for Turkish normalisation with Armenia and Russian and Iranian influence in the South Caucasus. They also talk about Türkiye’s operations against Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria and how Iran views Ankara’s involvement in both countries. They examine whether the past few years represent a new phase in Turkish foreign policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our commentaries Türkiye’s Growing Drone Exports and The Gaza War Reverberates Across the Middle East as well as last year’s episode with Nigar Drones and Diplomacy: Will Türkiye’s Elections Change its Middle Power Activism?

Episode 28: A Big Week for Democracy: Elections in India, South Africa and Mexico

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Praveen Donthi, Pauline Bax and Falko Ernst to talk about the recent elections in India, South Africa and Mexico. Richard first talks to Praveen about the setbacks for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in India, what explains Indian voters’ discontent with the party, as well as India’s foreign policy, particularly its competition with China, and the role that played in the election. Pauline then joins Richard to discuss the ruling African National Congress’s poor performance in South Africa’s election, where the party has lost its 30-year parliamentary majority. They also look at South Africa’s hedging on the global stage and its motives in bringing a recent genocide case against Israel to the International Court of Justice. Richard and Falko then look at the elections in Mexico, where Claudia Sheinbaum from the ruling MORENA party is set to become the country’s first woman president after winning a landslide in an election marred by violence. They talk about how Sheinbaum’s security and foreign policies might differ from those of her mentor, incumbent President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out Praveen’s Foreign Affairs piece India’s Perilous Border Standoff With China, Pauline’s Q&A Rising Discontent Pushes South Africa Toward a Tight Poll and Falko’s Q&A As Mexico Votes, What Next for Crime and U.S. Ties?

Episode 27: Ruto in Washington: Kenya’s State Visit and the U.S.’s Africa Policy

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Africa director Murithi Mutiga to talk about Kenyan President William Ruto’s recent visit to the U.S., Nairobi’s involvement in Somalia, DR Congo and Haiti and Washington’s evolving role in Africa. They discuss the motives for and implications of President Ruto’s trip to the U.S., how Washington and Nairobi sought to benefit, and their closer ties. They look at the lessons from Kenya’s troop deployments to Somalia and DR Congo as Kenyan paramilitaries prepare to deploy to Haiti. They also assess U.S. policy in Africa more broadly, amid the continent’s shifting political sands and increasing Chinese, Russian and Turkish influence. They also reflect on Ruto’s foreign policy and pivot West, how he and other African leaders view the prospect of a second Trump presidency and, at a time when the International Criminal Court is in the spotlight, the court’s legacy in Kenya. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Q&A What’s at Stake in Kenyan President William Ruto’s State Visit to the U.S.? and the episode from our podcast The Horn: Kenya and the Chaos in Haiti.

Episode 26: Iranian President Raisi’s Sudden Death and the ICC Case Against Israeli and Hamas Leaders

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Ali Vaez, Mairav Zonszein and Stephen Pomper to talk about the death of Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash and the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders. Richard first speaks to Ali to discuss Raisi’s legacy and how his sudden demise might affect Iranian politics, particularly Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s succession, and its foreign relations. Richard then talks with Mairav and Steve about the announcement by ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan that he was requesting arrest warrants for top Hamas leaders as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. They unpack the reaction to the announcement in Israel and the U.S. and its possible impact on the war in Gaza. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Q&As Iran: Death of a President and All Eyes on The Hague: The ICC Prosecutor’s Move against Hamas and Israeli Leaders.

Episode 25: South China Sea: The World’s Most Treacherous Waters? 

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s China and Philippines experts Amanda Hsiao and Georgi Engelbrecht to talk about friction between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. They discuss recent incidents involving Chinese coast guard vessels ramming and firing water cannons at Philippine supply boats near the contested Second Thomas Shoal and the risk of further escalation. They unpack the competing claims in the South China Sea and the strategic value of the maritime features for China and the Philippines. They talk about Manila’s policy towards China and its deepening defence ties to the U.S. under current President Ferdinand Marcos. They also discuss U.S. involvement in the South China Sea and Asia more broadly, China’s reaction to Washington reinforcing its Asian alliances and how to manage risks of incidents between the Chinese and U.S. militaries in the region. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Philippines and China country pages.

Episode 24: War and Hunger in Gaza and Darfur

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Alan Boswell, Shewit Woldemichael, Rami Dajani and Rob Blecher about the latest from Sudan’s western Darfur region and from Gaza. Richard first talks to Alan and Shewit about the worsening violence in North Darfur. As the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces encircle the city of al-Fashar, the last Darfuri capital held by the Sudanese army, and both sides build up forces, they talk about the implications of an all-out battle for the city. They also discuss the legacy of the 2020 Juba peace agreement and why some Darfuri former rebels have now chosen to fight alongside the Sudanese army against the RSF. Richard then talks to Rami and Rob about Israel’s incursion this past week into Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah. They discuss prospects for talks over a ceasefire-hostage release deal in Cairo, the views of both Hamas and the Israeli government on what such a deal should entail and Israeli politics around the Rafah offensive. They also talk about the difficulties of aid delivery and famine risks in both Sudan and Gaza. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our statement Sudan: A Year of War and our report Stopping Famine in Gaza.

Episode 23: Egypt and Gaza: Cairo Talks, Sinai Fears

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s North Africa director Riccardo Fabiani, U.S. director Michael Hanna and Dareen Khalifa, Crisis Group’s senior dialogue adviser, to talk about the Gaza war’s impact on Egypt. They assess the latest round of ceasefire talks in Cairo and Egypt’s role as a mediator. They talk about Cairo’s fear, since 7 October, of Palestinians’ forced displacement from Gaza into Egypt’s Sinai region and the implications of an Israeli ground operation in Rafah. They look at how the war in Gaza has exacerbated Egypt’s economic woes, particularly given the Egyptian military’s outsized economic footprint and the country’s closed politics. They assess the significance of protests in solidarity with Palestinians and whether those might channel discontent at the government of President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi. They also explore Egypt’s position on Gaza’s future and interim governance arrangements.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Egypt and Israel-Palestine pages.

Episode 22: Could a Competitive Vote Offer a Way out of Venezuela’s Crisis?

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Venezuela expert Phil Gunson to discuss Venezuelan presidential elections, whether they offer a chance for the country to escape its protracted political crisis and Venezuela’s claim to Essequibo, an oil-rich region of neighbouring Guyana. They talk about Edmundo Gonzalez, an outsider whom the opposition appears to have rallied behind as its candidate to take on President Nicolas Maduro. They look back to the October 2023 Barbados agreement between the government and opposition that set out conditions for the vote, the opposition primary just afterwards, and the government’s efforts since to curb the opposition’s prospects. They explore how the country has been faring, as economic collapse triggers a humanitarian crisis and a wave of migration. They also talk about Venezuela’s dispute with neighbouring Guyana over Essequibo and what role other neighbours, Brazil and Colombia, could play in resolving the crisis. Finally, they assess whether a more competitive vote could offer a path to some form of transition or cohabitation between the government and opposition. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our latest commentary Seeking the Best from a Skewed Poll: Hard Choices for Venezuela.

Episode 21: Out of the Shadows: Exchanges of Fire Between Iran and Israel

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Ali Vaez, Mairav Zonszein, Michael Hanna, Lahib Higel and Robert Blecher to discuss the exchange of fire between Iran and Israel, risks of a wider regional war and what the escalation means for the war in Gaza. Richard first speaks with Ali, Mairav and Michael about Iran’s calculations in launching an attack on 13 April that saw hundreds of missiles and drones target Israeli military infrastructure, debates in Israel on how to respond and views within both countries’ societies. They also talk about U.S. efforts to stop regional tensions spiralling out of control. Richard then talks with Lahib and Rob about the latest developments in Gaza, particularly warnings of famine and prospects for a ceasefire. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our latest statement The Israel-Iran Crisis: A Chance to Step Back from the Brink, our report Stopping Famine in Gaza and our Middle East & North Africa page.

Episode 20: What’s Left of Sudan After a Year At War?

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined again by Crisis Group’s Sudan expert Shewit Woldemichael and Horn of Africa director Alan Boswell to discuss Sudan’s war on the eve of its first anniversary. They talk about what’s happening on the battlefield, particularly recent gains by the Sudanese Armed Forces against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which had appeared to have the upper hand. They unpack the humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced and aid access restricted by the warring parties as famine looms. They also discuss internal dynamics within Sudan’s Armed Forces, which increasingly rely on Islamist brigades and other armed groups, and the RSF. They examine outside powers’ roles, with Egypt supporting and Iran reportedly selling drones to the army, the United Arab Emirates widely thought to be arming the RSF, and how foreign involvement has evolved. They also discuss the difficulties of getting the warring parties’ leaders to talk even about a ceasefire, let alone a more sustainable end to the fighting, and the difficulties of returning Sudan to a civilian-led post-war transition.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our latest statement Sudan: A Year of War and our Sudan country page. 
 

Episode 19: The Moscow Attack, Afghanistan’s Islamic State branch and the Ukraine War

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard talks with Crisis Group experts Jerome Drevon, Ibraheem Bahiss and Olga Oliker about the attack on Crocus City Hall in a Moscow suburb claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS), how the group and its affiliates have evolved in recent years and the potential implications of the strike for Russian politics and the war in Ukraine. Richard first talks with Jerome and Ibraheem about what we know about the attack and the involvement of ISIS and the group’s affiliate in Afghanistan, Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP). They discuss how ISIS’s structure has evolved after losing its territory in Iraq and Syria and how much of a global threat it and its affiliates now pose. They also discuss the Taliban’s fight against IS-KP and its relations with outside powers worried about threats emanating from Afghanistan. Richard then talks with Olga about the attacks’ implications for Russia, Moscow’s attempts to link responsibility to Kyiv and what that might mean for the war in Ukraine.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more in-depth analysis of topics discussed in this episode, check out our recent Q&A ISIS Strikes Moscow, our 2016 report Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and our Jihad in Modern Conflict page. For more reading on the topic, check out The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark.

Episode 18: Conferences in Germany, India and Türkiye and the Demise of Peace Deals 

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s President and CEO, and Stephen Pomper, Chief of Policy, to talk about a string of recent conferences – in Germany, India and Türkiye – and obstacles to diplomacy aimed at securing peace deals among warring parties. First, they share takeaways from the Munich Security Conference, the Raisina Dialogue in India and Türkiye’s Antalya Diplomacy Forum, the differences in mood in each of the three meetings and what they tell us about global affairs today. Then, they discuss why so few recent conflicts have ended in negotiated settlements, what’s behind the seeming demise of comprehensive peace agreements and what a changing global environment for diplomacy means for efforts to end wars today.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more of Crisis Group’s in-depth analysis of conflicts around the world check out our website.

Episode 17: Haiti in Freefall

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group Haiti expert Diego Da Rin and deputy Latin America and Caribbean director Renata Segura to discuss the latest wave of gang violence engulfing Haiti. They look at the recent attempt by gangs, who already controlled perhaps 80 per cent of the capital Port-au-Prince, to overrun the airport, ports, government buildings and other critical infrastructure and their attacks on jails that freed thousands of inmates. They look at a new pact between previously warring gangs, seemingly motivated by their determination to deter foreign forces arriving, and the aspirations of gang leaders, notably Jimmy “Barbeque” Cherizier. They talk about the worsening humanitarian crisis, as water, food and fuel become harder to access. They discuss whether Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation, a new presidential council and efforts by the Caribbean’s regional bloc CARICOM to mediate among Haiti’s politicians can turn a page on years of tumult. They also assess how a Kenya-led multinational force can help loosen gangs’ grip on the capital and what role diplomacy with gang leaders can play in reducing violence. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

For more in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, check out our briefing Haiti’s Gangs: Can a Foreign Mission Break Their Stranglehold? and our Haiti country page. 

Episode 16: Starving Gaza

 In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Azmi Keshawi, Robert Blecher and Mairav Zonszein to discuss Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, Israeli politics around the war, stalled ceasefire talks and how much Washington’s stance is changing. Richard first talks to Azmi in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah about deteriorating living conditions in the strip. He then talks with Mairav and Robert about the main obstacles to ceasefire talks and the difficulties in getting aid into the strip and distributing it. They assess how much Israel's military operation is succeeding in degrading Hamas's military infrastructure. They also talk about splits in the Israeli war cabinet and how much pressure Washington is prepared to exert to get more aid in.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis of the conflict in Israel-Palestine, check out our Israel/Palestine page.

Episode 15: Military Rule and Russian Mercenaries in the Sahel

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Sahel director, Jean-Hervé Jezequel, to discuss the decision of military leaders in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to withdraw from the regional bloc ECOWAS, their campaigns against jihadist insurgencies, backed by Russian mercenaries and what might lie ahead for the region. They unpack the strained relationship between the three countries and West African and Western capitals and their seemingly closer relations to Moscow. They look at how military leaders’ rhetoric emphasising their sovereignty has won support among parts of the population but also its limits in terms of enabling them to deliver the basic services that citizens need. They discuss whether the Sahel’s new authorities might at some point talk to jihadist militants. They also assess the risks of further coups in the region.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our latest report “Northern Mali: Return to Dialogue” and our Sahel country page.

Episode 14: Great Lakes Politics and the Fight for the Eastern DR Congo

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Great Lakes director, Richard Moncrieff, to discuss the spike in violence in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province, where clashes between M23 rebels and government forces have intensified. They talk about the fight for Sake, a town just west of provincial capital Goma, the risk of the M23 marching on Goma and the worsening humanitarian crisis. They look at what’s behind Kinshasa’s pivot to southern Africa for support, escalating friction between the DR Congo and Rwanda over Kigali’s alleged support for the M23 and increasing polarisation in the region over the war. They look at the prospects of talks with the M23, a regional track involving Rwanda and other neighbours of the DR Congo and the role of Western governments that traditionally have close ties to Rwanda.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, visit our DRC country page.

Episode 13: “Axis of Resistance” versus U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Senior Iraq Analyst, Lahib Higel, to discuss the latest escalation between Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq and Syria and U.S. forces stationed in the region. They talk about the 29 January drone strike that killed three U.S. soldiers in a military base in Jordan and the U.S. retaliation against Iran-backed groups in Iraq, including a strike in Baghdad on 7 February that killed a senior commander from Kata’ib Hizbollah, which orchestrated the Jordan attack. They unpack the history of Kata’ib Hizbollah and other members of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, their relations with other Iraqi Shia paramilitaries, including those in the Hashd al Shaabi, or popular mobilisation forces, and Islamic Resistance strikes on U.S. forces since Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel and Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza. They talk about how much control Tehran has over the Iraqi groups. They also discuss what the escalation means for the role and presence of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, visit our Iraq country page.

Episode 12: The Red Sea and the Horn

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Africa Director Murithi Mutiga to discuss Horn of Africa politics, including Ethiopia's push for sea access, Sudan’s war, Kenya’s regional role and Gulf rivalries playing out in the region. They talk about a recently announced deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland, the breakaway northern region of Somalia, that would see Ethiopia lease part of the Somaliland coast reportedly in exchange for Ethiopia’s recognition of Somaliland’s statehood. They discuss the reaction in Somalia, which rejects Somaliland independence, and whether anti-Ethiopian sentiment could strengthen Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab. They also talk about growing hostility between Ethiopia and Eritrea. They discuss increasing foreign involvement in Sudan’s war and the former paramilitary Rapid Support Forces’ advances. They touch on the regional role that Kenyan President William Ruto appears to aspire to and the evolving influence of Western powers, especially the U.S., in the Horn. 

 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, visit our Horn of Africa regional page.

Episode 11: War of Attrition in Ukraine 

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Europe & Central Asia Director Olga Oliker to talk about recent developments in Ukraine and where things might be headed after almost two years of war. They discuss why Ukraine’s counteroffensive failed to break through Russian defences, whether a war of attrition now plays to Russia’s benefit and how it might shape Ukrainian and Russian politics. They also discuss signs that Ukraine’s Western backers could be wavering in their support, which has been critical to war efforts, and what a Trump presidency might mean for Kyiv. They also look at prospects for diplomacy in the year ahead. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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

Episode 10: Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2024 

On this week’s Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s president and CEO, and Stephen Pomper, Chief of Policy, to reflect on 2023 and look ahead to 2024. They talk through Crisis Group’s “10 Conflicts to Watch in 2024”, this year’s edition of Crisis Group’s annual flagship commentary by Comfort and Richard, co-published with Foreign Policy magazine. The list this year includes Gaza, the wider Middle East, Sudan, Ukraine, Myanmar, Ethiopia, the Sahel, Haiti, Armenia-Azerbaijan and the U.S.-China rivalry. Comfort, Richard and Steve also talk through wider trends underpinning the uptick in conflict over recent years and what U.S. elections this year mean for world affairs and the U.S.’s global role. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, check out our flagship commentary, by Comfort Ero and Richard Atwood, with Foreign Policy magazine: “10 Conflicts to Watch in 2024”, Crisis Group’s Twitter thread 8 Reasons For Hope in 2024 and the Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2024 Event with Comfort, hosted by Chatham House. 

Episode 9: A New Phase in the War in Gaza

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Mairav Zonszein, Robert Blecher, Tahani Mustafa and Heiko Wimmen to talk again about the war in Gaza, the mood in Israel, what the promised third phase of Israeli operations in the strip look like and the danger of clashes between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah escalating. Richard first talks to Mairav and Robert about what is happening in Israel and Gaza. He then discusses with Tahani efforts by Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, to form a united front. He and Heiko assess the significance of the killing of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut and the risk of the continuing clashes between Hizbollah and Israel at the northern border triggering a wider confrontation.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis of the conflict in Israel-Palestine, check out our Israel/Palestine page.

Episode 8: Iran: Gaza, “Axis of Resistance” and Nuclear Calculations

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Iran Project Director Ali Vaez to talk about Iran’s position on the war in Gaza and its advantages and drawbacks for Tehran. They look at Iran’s links with what it calls the “Axis of Resistance” – Hizbollah in Lebanon, militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen, as well as Palestinian militants including Hamas – and its strategy of using such groups to extend its influence in the region and as deterrence against attacks on Iran by its rivals. They also assess how the war has affected Iran’s nuclear ambitions, with its nuclear program ever more advanced and a potential nuclear crisis looming. They talk about Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states and the prospects that diplomacy in the region can reduce risks of a wider war, either related to Gaza or Iran’s nuclear program.  

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis on the risks of U.S.-Iran escalation, check out our Q&A Understanding the Risks of U.S.-Iran Escalation amid the Gaza Conflict, as well as our Iran and Israel/Palestine pages.

Episode 7: What Threat Does the Rebel Offensive in Myanmar Pose to the Junta?

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Myanmar expert Richard Horsey to talk about the offensive launched by the Three Brotherhood Alliance, comprising three ethnic armed groups, that has made rapid advances against Myanmar’s military in northern Shan State. They talk about the offensive and what the various ethnic armed groups hope to gain. They look at the illicit economy along the northern border areas, China’s border management approach, Beijing’s policy and its worries about online scam centres in Myanmar’s east. They also talk about the resistance forces across Myanmar that emerged when the junta cracked down on post-coup protests, relations between those forces and the ethnic armed groups, and how they view the latest surge in fighting. They discuss Myanmar’s growing humanitarian needs and massive displacement over the past few years.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis on the recent fighting in Myanmar, check out our Q&A A New Escalation of Armed Conflict in Myanmar and our Myanmar page.

Episode 6: Will There Be A Day After For Gaza?

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard talks to Crisis Group experts Tahani Mustafa and Heiko Wimmen, as well as to Daniel Levy, president of the U.S./Middle East Project, about the surge in settler attacks in the West Bank, the escalating tensions at the Israel-Lebanon border and hopes for a ceasefire in Gaza. Richard first talks to Tahani about the spike in violence in the West Bank, including Israeli settler attacks, how the Palestinian Authority has responded and what role it might play in Gaza. He then talks with Heiko about the intensifying clashes at the Israel-Lebanon border and risks of further escalation. In a longer conversation, Richard and Daniel assess the odds of an Israel-Hamas hostage deal, the U.S.’s role in halting the fighting in Gaza, what a day after in Gaza might look like and prospects for restarting political talks between Israelis and Palestinians. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis on the war in Gaza, check out our Israel/Palestine page.

Episode 5: Sudan’s Collapse and the Demise of Peacemaking

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Alan Boswell and Shewit Woldemichael to talk about the latest developments in Sudan’s civil war, where fighting between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) has been raging for almost seven months. They talk about the recent advances by the RSF in Darfur, where the Sudanese army has been largely routed, and what the recent gains mean for the war’s trajectory. They talk about the RSF’s motives in fighting and what its leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, or Hemedti, hopes to gain from the war. They discuss the army’s weakness and increasing reliance on Islamist forces formerly associated with long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir. They also examine the dearth of serious diplomacy aimed at ending the war. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis on the war in Sudan, check out our Sudan page.

Episode 4: What Hope for a Ceasefire in Gaza

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Mairav Zonszein, Robert Blecher and Azmi Keshawi to discuss Israel’s assault on Gaza, the mood in Israel nearly a month after Hamas’s 7 October attacks and whether Israeli concerns about Hamas can be addressed without such devastation and civilian harm in Gaza. Richard first talks to Mairav and Robert about Israel’s operations thus far, whether its goals in Gaza are evolving and the nature of U.S. support. They discuss prospects for a ceasefire or at least a pause in fighting, perhaps in exchange for Hamas releasing ome hostages, and whether that could buy some space for diplomacy. Richard then talks to Azmi about life in Gaza under Israeli bombardment and short of basic necessities. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis on the war in Gaza, check out our Israel/Palestine page.

Episode 3: Gaza, Ukraine and An Inflection Point in World Politics?

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Europe & Central Asia Director Olga Oliker and U.S. Director Michael Hanna to discuss the war in Gaza, its implications for Ukraine and U.S. President Joe Biden’s efforts to navigate the crisis in the Middle East while supporting Ukraine’s defence against Russia. They first look at Ukraine’s fears that a prolonged conflict in the Middle East could divert Western resources away from its fight against Russia’s invasion. They talk about U.S. attempts to get aid to both Israel and Ukraine despite a divided Congress. They look at how Russia views what is happening in the Middle East, whether a wider regional war may be in Moscow’s interest and how much sway it has in the region. They also talk about the impact of the Gaza war on the regional diplomacy underway before Hamas’s attacks, notably between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and efforts by the U.S. to encourage Saudi Arabia to normalise relations with Israel. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis of the conflict in Israel-Palestine, you can check out our latest statement A Ceasefire in Gaza and our Israel/Palestine page.

Episode 2: War in Gaza: To What End and At What Cost?

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Mairav Zonszein, Robert Blecher, Tahani Mustafa and Heiko Wimmen to discuss what has happened over the past week in Gaza and where the war might be headed. Richard first talks to Mairav and Robert about Biden’s visit to Israel this week, Israel’s looming ground invasion of Gaza and whether the devastating blast at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, for which responsibility remains unclear, might change calculations in Israel or Washington. He then talks with Tahani about escalating violence in the West Bank and risks of further worsening bloodshed. He and Heiko discuss the continuing exchange of fire between the Israeli army and Lebanese militant group Hizbollah at the Israel-Lebanon border and what might trigger a further escalation there and further afield. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis of the conflict in Israel-Palestine, you can check out our latest statement A Ceasefire in Gaza and our Israel/Palestine page.

Episode 1: No Going Back? Hamas’s Atrocities and Another Catastrophe in Gaza

For the first episode of a new season of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Joost Hiltermann, Mairav Zonszein and Azmi Keshawi to discuss Hamas’s shock attack on Israel over the weekend and its potential consequences. The attack saw Palestinian gunmen rampage through southern Israel killing some 1,200 Israelis, many of whom were civilians, including women, children, the elderly and entire families. In response, Israel has bombed and blockaded Gaza, and is gearing up for a ground offensive. Richard first talks to Azmi in Gaza about life for Gazans under the Israeli bombardment and their views of Hamas. He then talks with Mairav about Israelis’ shock at the horrific attacks, the intelligence failures that Hamas exploited and the mood among Israelis. He and Joost discuss what Hamas hoped to gain, outside actors’ involvement, how the war affects Arab politics and Israeli-Saudi normalisation talks, and the dangers of escalation, particularly involving the Lebanese militant group Hizbollah. At the end of the episode, Richard speaks to Azmi again after his displacement from Gaza City.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis of the conflict in Israel-Palestine, you can check out our latest commentary A Second October War in Israel-Palestine and our Israel/Palestine page.

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