Will the Ukrainian revolution help or harm the Syrian rebellion? The two uprisings currently appear to be on very different trajectories. It is three years since Syrian citizens began protests against President Bashar Assad, precipitating the cycle of violence that would lead to civil war. By contrast, Assad’s Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych, was forced from the capital, Kiev, last week after just three months of demonstrations. Assad may view Yanukovych’s humiliation as proof of the need for utter ruthlessness against his opponents. But the two men’s fates remain intertwined.
For three bloody years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has proved time and time again that his relationship with Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad is more important to him than winning the world's approval.
The morning after an aid convoy came under fire when it tried to reach a besieged Syrian city, a meeting here on a draft resolution that would force all parties in the bloody conflict to allow access for humanitarian organizations fell apart when representatives from Russia and China failed to show up, United Nations Security Council diplomats said.
Foreign affairs specialists snickered last week as an unknown source released a recording of Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs at the U.S. State Department, saying, “F**k the EU.” Nuland used the expletive during a phone discussion of potential arrangements for overseeing a political transition in Ukraine, which has been in turmoil since its government rejected an economic deal with Brussels under Russian pressure last year.
Il s'en est fallu de peu pour que la conférence internationale sur la Syrie n'échoue avant même d'avoir commencé. Le plus surprenant est que cet obstacle de dernière minute est venu de Ban Ki-moon, le secrétaire général des Nations unies, qui doit présider au lancement de ce processus de négociations, baptisé « Genève 2 », mercredi 22 janvier à Montreux, en Suisse, en présence d'une quarantaine de pays.
Can Estonian soldiers defend their country by fighting in the middle of Africa? Last week, the European Union approved plans to send up to 1,000 troops to the Central African Republic (CAR). Perhaps surprisingly, Estonia was the first EU member to make a firm pledge of ground forces to the mission, which will reinforce existing French and African contingents. Other eastern EU members, including Poland and the Czech Republic, are also reportedly considering participating, while Britain and Germany have hung back.
At an international peace conference for Syria in June 2012, participants agreed to what has become known as the Geneva Communiqué. It laid out a six-point plan intended to stop the violence and move the two sides towards a political settlement. The United Nations is trying to implement that framework at peace talks going on now in Switzerland where the two parties have finally agreed to meet.
Given the dramatic loss of life, the fallout in terms of refugees and other serious problems, and the attacks that deadly conflict inflicts on our fundamental values, preventing such conflict and the disorder it sows should be a much higher priority for the United States, other governments, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).