In mid-2020, Turkey and Greece put their Mediterranean fleets on high alert, dramatically raising tensions in their long-running dispute over air, water, rock and now seabed gas deposits as well. Talks have been frustrating but remain the best way to contain the risk of conflict.
Maritime Commerce, Territorial Disputes, Water, Maritime, and Conflict
Campaign season in Mexico has seen a rash of murders, as organised crime seeks to cement its influence no matter which parties win. The government needs to keep trying to break bonds between criminals and authorities, beginning with efforts tailored to the country’s hardest-hit areas.
Elections, Violence, Election Interference, and Organized Crime
The 2020 war over Nagorno-Karabakh left many issues unresolved and the front lines volatile. The parties should establish a formal communication channel to address urgent post-war problems, Russian peacekeepers need a clearer mandate and aid agencies must be granted access to the conflict zone.
Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping, Conflict, and Violence
Deadly conflict in Mozambique’s ruby- and natural gas-rich northernmost coastal province feeds on a mix of colonial-era tensions, inequality and Islamist militancy. To tame the insurrection, Maputo needs to use force, with bespoke assistance from outside partners, and to carefully address underlying grievances.
Natural Resources, Inequality, Conflict, Humanitarian Crisis, and Insurrection
In Colombia’s history of protest, the 2021 mobilisations against inequality and police brutality stand out for their breadth and intensity. Unrest has quieted for now but could soon return. The government should urgently reform the security sector while working to narrow the country’s socio-economic chasms.
Governance, Inequality, Protests, Pandemic, COVID-19, and Social Order
The huge demonstrations that rocked Iraqi cities two years ago reverberate still, with the main grievances unaddressed. Protests could arise anew at any time, risking another lethal crackdown. The government should hold those who harmed protesters accountable and work to ensure clean elections in October.
Social Movement, Conflict, Protests, and Oppression
Iran has a new president, consolidating the hardliners’ control over the centres of power. What will he do about the country’s numerous crises? One answer is clear: the 2015 nuclear deal’s fate remains the most pressing issue for Tehran and its foreign interlocutors.
Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Governance, Leadership, and Conflict
The latest escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict brought important shifts in the status quo, underscoring the necessity of a political settlement. A peace based on equal respect for both peoples’ rights will take time, however. Steps to lower the temperature are urgent in the interim.
Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Peace, and Settlements
The Gulf Arab states have perceived threats from Iran since the 1979 revolution. Frictions have lessened of late, offering an important opportunity. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi should keep engaging Tehran with an eye to initiating the broadest possible talks on regional peace and security.
After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Congress passed a use of force authorisation that successive presidents have used to expand military action ever further. As part of our series The Legacy of 9/11 and the “War on Terror”, we argue that Washington should enact a new statute that promotes transparency and narrows the war’s scope.
Terrorism, Military Strategy, War on Terror, and Civil-Military Relations
Upon South Sudan’s independence in 2011, many hoped the country’s oil wealth would help build the state and lift citizens out of poverty. Instead, politicians have shunted these revenues toward patronage and personal enrichment, feeding internal conflict. Transparency and accountability are badly needed.
Oil, Poverty, Natural Resources, Accountability, and Transparency
The fighting in Western Sahara, which broke out again in November 2020, remains of low intensity. Yet outside powers would be wrong to assume that it will not escalate. With U.S. support, the new UN envoy should pursue confidence-building measures that could facilitate negotiations.
Diplomacy, International Cooperation, United Nations, Humanitarian Intervention, Conflict, and Peace
Lebanon is suffering economic meltdown while its politicians dither. Reform – and fiscal relief – is unlikely before 2022 elections. While pushing for timely polls, international partners should send humanitarian assistance to ease the public’s pain, keep key infrastructure running and avert security breakdowns.
Security, Economics, Infrastructure, Reform, and Fiscal Policy
Colombia’s vast forest is fast receding, partly because guerrillas and criminals are clearing land for farming, ranching and other pursuits. These unregulated activities are causing both dire environmental harm and deadly conflict. Bogotá should take urgent steps to halt the damage.
After suffering grievously under ISIS, and during the battles to defeat it, Raqqa is being rebuilt. The calm is tenuous, however. The U.S. and partners should work toward long-term stability in Syria’s north east, through investment and talks about sustainable governance and security arrangements.
Economics, Governance, Recovery, Sustainability, and Strategic Stability
The disputes in the South China Sea are fundamentally about claims of sovereignty, the broadest of which are staked by Beijing. The Chinese-U.S. rivalry, meanwhile, loads the dissension with geopolitical significance. Both major powers stand to gain by accepting the constraints of international law.
Territorial Disputes, Hegemony, Maritime, Conflict, and Rivalry
China, Asia, North America, and United States of America
Colombia’s 2016 peace deal was a landmark achievement, convincing the FARC guerrillas to disarm and enter civilian life. Yet much remains to be done to show insurgents that they can redress their grievances through ordinary politics. The country’s leaders should recommit to finishing the job.
Security, Treaties and Agreements, Military Strategy, Conflict, and Peace
The maritime dispute between China and the Philippines is simmering against the backdrop of strategic competition between Beijing and Washington. To keep tensions below boiling point, Manila should push for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as well as greater regional cooperation.
Regional Cooperation, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, and Rivalry
International donors cut off all but emergency aid to Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover in August. Months later, the state is collapsing and a humanitarian disaster is looming. Donors should work with the state to restore basic public services and mitigate the population’s suffering.
Disaster Relief, Infrastructure, Governance, Humanitarian Crisis, and Public Service
Together with the Philippines, Vietnam is on the front line of maritime disputes with China. The risk of armed confrontation is low but growing. Hanoi should redouble efforts to build confidence, starting with less sensitive issues, and to establish an effective Code of Conduct.
Economics, Regional Cooperation, Maritime, Conflict, and Peace