Hold Your Fire! (Season 4)
Hold Your Fire! (Season 4)
Podcast / Global 1 minute

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 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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