Gaza: A Religious Conflict?

Hamas named its terror attacks on 7 October ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’. Hamas believes that Jewish extremists, with the direct and indirect support of the Israeli authorities, pose a threat to, and are plotting to take over, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.

Israeli police guard a gate to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, sacred to Muslims, on December 2, 2023. Photo: Scott Peterson/Getty Images

The terror attacks led to an outbreak of the kind of religious language that has a mobilizing effect. Hamas knows very well that all Palestinians, whether Christian or Muslim, regard the Al-Aqsa mosque compound as a national symbol. The Dome of the Rock with its golden dome covering is a familiar and beloved image for Muslims all over the world.Read More

Russian Energy Industry Faces Looming Investment Crisis

The 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), currently taking place in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, is missing contributions from one major energy power — namely, Russia.

A view from the oil company Tatneft in Tatarstan, Russia in June 2023. Photo: Alexander Manzyuk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Many countries are guilty of pledging to curtail emissions then departing from their plans and falling short of the United Nations’ ambitious goals (Kommersant, November 30). Moscow sees the prospects of a “green transition” as a challenge to its international position and treats it as a security threat (The Moscow Times, November 30).Read More

The Geopolitics of Deep-Sea Mining

Deep-sea mining carries substantial environmental risks and its immediate profitability remains questionable due to several technical difficulties.

Greenpeace activists paint the word ‘RISK!’ on the side of a vessel chartered by the company Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR). Photo: Marten van Dijl / Greenpeace

Yet, amid regulatory pitfalls, a handful of states are rushing to extract raw resources from the seabed.

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Russian Influence Diminished in Remaking the Middle East

The Kremlin has welcomed the Israel-Hamas truce in Gaza that began on November 24. The pause, however, does not fit into Russia’s larger designs for the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in 2022. Photo: Getty Images

From Moscow’s perspective, further escalation would have been a much better option in disrupting the US-led world order.

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Three Factors Put Egypt in a Fix

Egypt plays a key role in the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. Now the Egyptians are nervous.

Most Egyptians harbour a deep mistrust of Israel and support the Palestinians’ cause wholeheartedly. Cairo, Egypt on October 13, 2023. Photo: Mohamed Elshahed/Anadolu via Getty Images

With its almost 100 million inhabitants and its borders with both Gaza and Israel, Egypt plays a key role in the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. Right now, the Egyptian regime finds itself in an awkward position.Read More

Hezbollah Is Holding Lebanon Hostage

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in order to drive out the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The invasion marked the start of a dangerous balance of terror between Israel and Hezbollah.

Hundreds of people gather to follow the speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, on a screen, in Beirut, Lebanon on November 3, 2023. Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu via Getty Images

Lebanon held its breath on Friday 3 November. People stood by their packed suitcases, ready to travel to the airport to leave the country.

Even Lebanon’s prime minister, Najib Mikati, sat in front of the television, waiting to find out whether the country he leads was at war. Then Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor, came to the lectern.Read More

Is the Time Ripe for Peace Diplomacy Regarding Ukraine?

In the war between Russia and Ukraine, the distance between the parties seems insurmountable. Ukraine has proposed a ‘peace formula’, and various other peace plans have also been put forward.

Now Ukraine’s supporters are starting to signal that the time is ripe for diplomatic solutions.

Early attempts at peace diplomacy between Russia and Ukraine: Turkish President Erdogan ahead of the peace talks between delegations from Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul in March 2022. Photo: Arda Kucukkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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Russia Tries and Fails to Gain a Foothold in Asia-Pacific

Few prospects worry Moscow more than a potential reduction of tensions between the United States and China.

Such a development, even if half-hearted and temporary, would threaten a curtailment of Beijing’s support for Russia in the international arena — at least from Moscow’s perspective.

A view of the venue of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week the days before the opening in San Francisco, California in November 2023. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit set to take place in San Francisco this week starting on November 15 will serve as a testing ground for the Kremlin’s fears.

The planned meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping will likely constitute the summit’s main event.Read More

Chronic Refugees: A Burden on Poor Countries

We are continually reminded of how wars result in mass human migrations: think only of Palestine, Syria, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Sudan.

In general, poor neighbouring countries shoulder most of the burden of housing these refugees, while rich countries do little to take in their share. The result has been to create ‘chronic’ refugees in fragile, unstable neighbouring countries.

A view from Burj El Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp located in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Mahmut Geldi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

This year, Israel celebrated its 75th anniversary. Accordingly, it is 75 years since 750,000 Palestinians fled. This mass forced displacement was caused by a combination of direct expulsion, widespread fear-mongering propaganda, fears of massacres and ongoing violent conflict.Read More