Nationalism under Pressure: Islamic State, Iraq and Kurdistan

Has the Iraqi Kurds’ sense of national identity been strengthened by the emergence of the so-called Islamic State? Not necessarily. If anything, mounting socio-economic and political tensions inside northern Iraq have been tearing at Kurdish nationalism for the last decade.

Still Life with Kurdistan Flag. Germiyan Province , courtesy of Global Photo Archive . CC BY Adam Jones via Flickr.

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This Week in South Sudan – Week 43, Part 2

Friday 24 October The Tanzanian CCM defended invitation of South Sudan’s warring factions to Arusha, claiming it does not sabotage the IGAD peace process. The South Sudanese government accused of threatening international aid agencies. Nuer community in Uganda declared their support to Riek Machar. The SPLM dismissed the SPLM-in-Opposition’s claims on President Salva Kiir’s legitimacy…. Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 43, Part 1

Monday 20 October The head of the SPLM-G10 faction, Pagan Amum Okich, accused Kampala and Khartoum for interfering in South Sudanese politics to serve their own interests. IGAD-led South Sudan peace talks postponed until 27 October. Tuesday 21 October The three main factions agreed on a intra-SPLM dialogue framework and communique in Arusha to support… Read more »

Putin steals the Asia-Europe show – and brings big disappointment

  The most recent Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit attracted a sizeable crowd of world leaders to Milan last week (October 16–17), but the formal agenda was overtaken by the efforts to manage the violent conflict between Russia and Ukraine and facilitate dialogue between presidents Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko. The European Union sought to deploy… Read more »

Norway’s Tightrope Walk in Myanmar

Are the people of Myanmar able to distinguish between Norway’s role in promoting peace and the commercial interests of Norwegian businesses? Now that several state-owned Norwegian companies have entered into large and risky ventures in Myanmar, Norway is walking a tightrope between peace and commerce. The maintenance of support for the peace process is critical.

Telenor in Myanmar.
Photo: Wayan Vota via Flickr

Peace and commercial interests

Norway has gained an international reputation as a peace builder, a role enabled by, among other factors, the Nobel Peace Prize and Norway’s status as a small country on the edge of Europe, without superpower pretensions.

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When will the South Sudan Peace Process move beyond delays and deadlocks?

The sixth session of Phase II of the IGAD-led multi-stakeholder peace negotiations officially opened on 22 September and adjourned on 5 October 2014. Participants included representatives of the Government of South Sudan, the SPLM in Opposition, the SPLM Leaders (former detainees), civil society organizations and faith-based organizations. Progress has been made in this round of… Read more »

Norway’s Outdated Citizenship Legislation

The war in Syria, the threat of Islamic radicalisation, and fears that terrorists may recruit Norwegian citizens have sparked renewed debate about Norway’s citizenship legislation.

Meanwhile, another debate continues to be forgotten: We call for a reopening of the debate on dual citizenship, as Norway’s antiquated legislation is out of step with that of its Nordic neighbours. Both debates are important, and both should be addressed now. But these are two separate debates. Read More

New NATO Cyber Defense Policy: Unclear on Key Issues

Against the background of increasing dependence on technology and on the internet, NATO is advancing its efforts to confront the wide range of cyber threats. Presented at the organization’s 2014 summit in Wales, on 4 September 2014, a new defense policy states that there is no distinction between cyber attack and physical attack. 


NATO Foreign Ministers’ dinner September 2014
CC BY 2.0 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The update from the 2011 policy, to keep pace with technology developments, includes changing NATO’s mission of collective defence with respect to cyber attacks. 

Since the late 1990s, military, political and commercial actors have worked to frame cyber-attacks as forms of warfare. NATO’s new cyber defense policy (presented at the NATO 2014 summit) provides that cyber-attacks may activate the collective defense clause under Article 5 of the NATO charter. This formal shift marks a new milestone in the militarization of cyberspace. 

As expected, the new policy is unclear on key issues. For example, the threshold for triggering the application for Article 5 will be determined on a case-by-case basis. As noted by Oana Lungescu, spokeswoman for NATO, “we will not say in exactly which circumstances or what the threshold of the attack has to be to trigger a collective NATO response.”

Read more at the UI Blog.

This Week in South Sudan – Week 42

Monday 13 October South Sudan’s former justice minister, John Luk Jok, warned of “disregard of the constitution.” Interparty dialogue in Tanzania between South Sudan’s political factions. UN envoy reported horrific levels of sexual violence in South Sudan, a Joint Communique with the SPLM has been sign to tackle the situation. The SPLM-in-Opposition claimed Ugandan military… Read more »