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10 Conflicts to Watch in 2016

From Syria to the South China Sea, the conflicts and crises the world will face in 2016 are numerous, writes Jean-Marie Guéhenno president of Crisis Group Pulling together a list of the wars most in need of international attention and support in 2016 is challenging for all the wrong reasons. For 20 years after the end of the Cold War, deadly conflict was in decline. Fewer wars were killing fewer people the world over. Five years ago, however, that positive trend went into reverse, and each year since has seen more conflict, more victims, and more people displaced. 2016 is unlikely to bring an improvement from the woes of 2015: It is war — not peace — that has momentum. That said, there are conflicts whose urgency and importance rise above. This year’s list of 10 is weighted toward wars with the worst humanitarian consequences: Syria and Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Lake

Features | NorthSouth | 3 March 2016 | Hits: 167

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Pentagon thwarts Obama’s effort to close Guantanamo

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By Charles Levinson and David Rohde In September, US State Department officials invited a foreign delegation to the Guantanamo Bay detention center to persuade the group to take detainee Tariq Ba Odah to their country. If they succeeded, the transfer would mark a small step toward realizing President Barack Obama’s goal of closing the prison before he leaves office. The foreign officials told the administration they would first need to review Ba Odah’s medical records, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the episode. The Yemeni has been on a hunger strike

Features | NorthSouth | 3 March 2016 | Hits: 102

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Thai election in 2017 even if constitution is rejected: PM

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Thailand has been under military rule since May 2014, when General Prayuth Chan-Ocha and the Royal Thai Army seized power after deposing democratically elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Current Prime Minister Prayuth has systematically postponed elections on the grounds of prioritizing order and drafting a new constitution to restore democracy. Since the coup, Thai authorities have curtailed opposition to the monarchy, while the country’s economy has languished. Now it was announced by the military junta that it will hold a general election in 2017 even if a

Features | Alan Brown | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 102

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Venezuela on the edge

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The 6 December parliamentary election in which the Venezuelan opposition won a landslide victory and a two-thirds legislative majority, combined with the ongoing economic meltdown, should have encouraged a more conciliatory stance by the government and a mutual search for a basic political agreement. But it has not, and the country is very near political and economic implosion. As the risk of an extraconstitutional response by either side or a military coup increases, the Organization of American States (OAS) should take up the matter

Features | Crisis Group | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 104

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Despite the failed revolution, Egypt’s iron-fisted ruler won’t last

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Egyptians have always been ill-served, at best, and brutalized, at worst, by their leaders, whether Ottoman, British, Nasserist or under President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, writes Stephanie Thomas Instead of asking why Egypt’s revolution of five years ago failed, let’s point a finger at the sorry parade of post-revolutionary leaders who have presumed to lead but failed just as their predecessors did. Egyptian citizens were illserved by their first democratically elected leader, President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Features | NorthSouth | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 102

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EU Global Strategy Expert Opinion

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By Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President of Crisis Group The refugee crisis is morphing into one about the very nature of the European project. This is far more critical for the Union than the euro crisis, which, ultimately, could be resolved with a show of financial solidarity and money. The refugee issue, however, strikes at the heart of the values that underpin EU members’ core political solidarity. Given the cracks opening up in the EU’s foundations, a new EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) must have the ambition to be more than just a ‘good deal’ for its member states .

Features | Crisis Group | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 106

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Zika link to birth defects could be proven within weeks-WHO

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The suspected link between the Zika virus and two neurological disorders, the birth defect microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome, could be confirmed within weeks, the World Health Organisation (WHO ) said last month. A sharp increase in microcephaly cases in Brazil has triggered a global health emergency over the mosquitoborne virus, which had previously been viewed as causing only a relatively mild illness, and spurred a race to develop a vaccine, medicines and better diagnostic tests. The WHO said US government scientists and an Indian biotechnology firm were the front-runners in the

Features | NorthSouth | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 102

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Lebanon needs to elect a president to maintain stability

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Lebanon has been without an executive head of state since President Michel Suleiman’s mandate ended in May 2014. In the past few months, however, key Lebanese political players have switched partners, undermining the two blocs that have polarised Lebanon’s government for the past decade. Furthermorte, the deplorable living conditions of Syrian refugees, their lack of any prospects for the future, the deteriorating socioeconomic dynamics faced by Lebanese themselves, made worse by years of political paralysis, are all important factors playing into the hands of jihadis.

Features | Ali Bahaijoub | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 96

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Stirring up the South China Sea: Oil in troubled waters

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The South China Sea’s hydrocarbon resources are hotly contested though its reserves are unproven. While their potential economic benefit may be considerable, their foremost significance is political, as their division has implications for sovereignty and fundamental law of the sea principles. Exploration frictions have deepened geopolitical fault lines. Competition once framed by verbal warnings and diplomatic pressure today frequently takes the form of physical confrontation. A key factor is China’s growing capability and accompanying desire to expand its own exploration while preventing other claimants’ activity.

Features | Crisis Group | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 103

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The US and India consider joint patrols in South China Sea

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Relations between the United States and India are taking on a greater significance amid a climate of heightened Chinese-American tensions. Washington and New Delhi have drawn closer together in recent months and intensified their dialogue with Japan. The United States and India have held talks about conducting joint naval patrols that a US defence official said could include the disputed South China Sea, a move that would likely anger Beijing, which claims most of the waterway. The joint naval patrols could take place within a year but no details have filtered through on the scale of the proposed operation. The patrols would likely be in the Indian Ocean where the Indian navy is a major player as well as the South China Sea, an official told Reuters in New Delhi on condition of anonymity.

Features | Alan Brown | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 105

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Russia and the separatists in Eastern Ukraine

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Despite repeated expressions of support for the Minsk process and recognition of Ukraine’s sovereignty over the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR , LNR ), Moscow’s policy in Ukraine’s east looks more likely to strengthen those entities than prepare for the dismantlement the Minsk agreement envisages. The Kremlin views Ukraine’s European choice as a major security threat and the 2014 overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych as Westernbacked and aimed at isolating Russia.

Features | Crisis Group | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 101

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100,000 migrant arrivals and 450 deaths in EU and crisis unresolved

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An estimated 100,000 migrants or refugees have crossed into Greece since the beginning of 2016. Of these 62,193 arrived in January, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). In 2015, 1,046,599 migrants, including asylum seekers are reported to have arrived to Europe by land and sea routes, of which 1,011,712 arrived by sea. While migrants are continuing to arrive in Greece, February arrivals have declined by 36 per cent from the first half of January. The highest

Features | Ali Bahaijoub | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 106

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Yemen: is peace possible?

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Nearly a year on, there is no end in sight to Yemen’s war. The conflict pits Ansar Allah (Huthi) rebels and military units allied with ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh against a diverse mix of opponents, including what remains of the government of President Abed- Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition supported by the US, the United Kingdom and France. Ending the war requires negotiations leading to an interim settlement that must include security arrangements providing for militia withdrawal from cities, a return to the political process

Features | Crisis Group | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 97

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French, US and UK forces waging ‘secret war’ in Libya: report

25/2/16- An air raid by US Special Forces last month on Sabratha killed more than 50 people including two Serbian embassy employees abducted last November, according to Serbia’s prime minister. American officials said the site in Sabratha, western Libya, was used by up to 60 militants, including Tunisian Noureddine Chouchane, blamed for two attacks on tourists in Tunisia last year in which dozens were killed. However, there are no international plans to send combat ground troops into Libya. Western governments are wary of large-scale military intervention but fear inaction may allow Islamic State fighters take hold of swathe of the vast Libyan territory. French Special Forces and intelligence commandos are engaged in covert operations against Islamic State militants

Features | Ali Bahaijoub | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 103

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What is Sharia Law?

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sharia law is not a written law. It is merely a code of conduct that Muslims may turn to for guidance to their daily life including family law, finance and business disputes, prayers, fasting and donations to the poor. It aims to help Muslims understand how they should lead every aspect of their lives according to God’s wishes. sharia law covers a lot of very mundane and banal daily issues where observant Muslims want to ensure they act within the legal framework of their faith. Like any legal system, sharia is

Cover Stories | Ali Bahaijoub | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 104

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The rise and rise of Islamophobia in Europe

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Islamophobia in Europe is a complex and multi-dimensional phenomenon. An “octopus” able to circumvent political forces, parties, associations, groups of ordinary citizens, both right and left-wing. In the current political and social climate in Europe – where a larger and more visible Muslim presence is causing a backlash – they face strong opposition and alienation and even marginalisation.

Cover Stories | Ali Bahaijoub | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 106

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Is Islam going through a crisis?

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Islam is a worldwide religion that has recently become the centre of global attention and a focus of debate, argues Ali Bahaijoub Islam has existed for 14 centuries and has about 1.5 billion followers globally not to mention being the fastest growing religion in the world.

Cover Stories | Ali Bahaijoub | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 107

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Rise of fascist groups in Europe

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Last month, the German antiimmigration group PEGIDA took its anti-Islam message to Birmingham, England, home to one of the largest Muslim populations in Britain. It was the group’s first official march in the United Kingdom (UK). The protest was one of 12 planned simultaneously across Europe especially in Germany’s city of Dresden, as well as in Amsterdam and Prague.

Cover Stories | Alan Brown | 2 March 2016 | Hits: 105

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Donald Trump needs lessons in history

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World leaders from all walks of life have been brooding over the reality of the Muslim-West divide and many no longer consider the gap bridgeable. The issue has become of global concern and urgently need to be addressed sensibly and sensitively by rational and pragmatic thinkers, decision-makers, religious scholars, academics and media representatives.

Cover Stories | Ali Bahaijoub | 1 March 2016 | Hits: 104

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Debunking Islamophobia

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When anyone country is attacked in the name of Islam, the fear of Muslims is a natural human response, writes Franklin Adesegha In Paris, the French capital, extremists struck twice in 2015. It began with a massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie hebdo on 7 January in which 12 people died and five were critically injured. the attack ended with a huge police operation and two sieges two days later.

Cover Stories | Franklin Adesegha | 1 March 2016 | Hits: 94

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