A New Afghan Spring?

Afghan presidential candidates at the time, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah shaking hands after both addressed reporters at the United Nations Mission Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 12, 2014. Photo: U.S. Department of State (Wikimedia).

Sitting in Kabul today, watching the Presidential inauguration on local television, it is difficult to say whether we are seeing a new Afghan spring or the onset of a disaster.

After weeks and weeks of quarrelling, the two main presidential contenders settled on a power-sharing formula: Ashraf Ghani is the new president, while Abdullah Abdullah takes up a newly established Prime Minister post. The latter also demanded a more prominent role during the inauguration, however, which led to a hot debate over the inaugural liturgy during the last few days. In fear of Abdullah abstaining, many sighed with relief when he finally appeared on stage. But in the end, the inauguration was Ghani’s ceremony. As the newly sworn in president, he delivered a lengthy and ambitious address that poked a finger at many of those present.Read More

This Week in South Sudan – Week 39

Monday 22 September 7,500 people were displaced by floods in Warrap State. The South Sudanese army paraded war captives. The African Union urged the warring parties in South Sudan to respect the ceasefire. Nine SPLA-in-Opposition officials surrendered to the government. More than 80 people fled Rumbek Central County (Lakes State) following the violence last week…. Read more »

Refugees are a Shared Responsibility

A record number of refugees have arrived by boat in southern Europe this summer. Norway should voice its support for a common European solution to the issue of boat migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

A boat carrying asylum seekers and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
Photo: NHCR/L.Boldrini

Last year this would have been front-page news, but now each new arrival – or each refugee boat that is lost at sea – is just one more in a series. Estimates suggest that more than 100,000 refugees have arrived by boat so far this year. This is a dramatic figure. The previous record was 63,000 for the whole of 2011, which was the year the Arab Spring brought about unrest in the region.Read More

This Week in South Sudan – Week 38

Monday 15 September The South Sudan government announced that all foreign workers in the country have to depart by 15 October. Upper Nile citizens complained about contaminated drinking water. The SPLM-in-Opposition denied recruiting child soldiers. Violence broke out on the Uganda-South Sudan border. The South Sudan health ministry launched a food and drug authority. Bahr el-Ghazal… Read more »

Development Consequences of Internal Armed Conflict

The development consequences of armed conflict are profound and far-reaching.

A village health post in Darfur, destroyed by Jingaweit militia.
By United States Agency for International Development [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

While the direct victims of war understandably receive most attention, the effects of conflict extend far beyond battlefield casualties and refugee camps. Research has shown that conflict affects all aspects of development covered by the Millennium Development Goals, and that conflict has been an important impediment to achieving these goals. Read More

State Briefing: Central Equatoria State

Population: 1,103,592  State capital: Juba Internally Displaced People (IDP) sheltering in the state: 59,500 Central Equatoria State is the smallest state in South Sudan, but with the second highest population. The capital, Juba, is located in the state which has been a political and military battleground during the current conflict. The first signs of the violent… Read more »

The pause in the Ukraine war is not Putin’s victory

This picture from Ilovaisk captures the fragility of and the desperate need in the ceasefire.


The tragic battles around Donetsk and Luhansk (collectively known as the Donbas region) have taken a pause, and as civilians try to rebuild a semblance of normal life, leaders are figuring out how to now move forward. In his first 100 days, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has shown the ability to absorb hard blows, but now he needs to find both resolve to rebuild confidence in his shell-shocked country and caution to avoid a full-blown war with Russia. It is, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin who is finding himself in an impossible and entirely self-made jam. He has avoided a humiliating defeat in eastern Ukraine by sending in thousands of Russian troops and has effectively dictated the terms of the ceasefire. But now he has to balance these slim gains against heavy and mounting losses (Forbes.ru, September 10). What aggravates this negative balance is Moscow’s complete lack of achievable aims and sustainable strategy.

For more look in the Eurasia Daily Monitor, 15 September 2014.

High season for military activities in the High North

The new round of US and EU sanctions targets very specifically exploration projects in the Arctic, so both Exxon-Mobil and Statoil announce postponements and cancellations in their respective partnership plans with Rosneft. The Western majors hardly have ay regrets about it – doing business in Russia in general, and with Rosneft in particular, becomes bad for business… Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 37

Monday 8 September South Sudan’s Presidential spokesperson accused IGAD of being impartial. The South Sudan Information Minister described journalists reporting the SPLM/A-in-Opposition’s view as “rebels and agitators”. At least 40 people were killed in clashes in Warrap State. UNMISS started construction work on the Bor-Juba road to improve security. Unity State youths announced that they… Read more »

War Breeds War

As a result of civil wars, some of the world’s least developed nations are now further away from achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals than they were when the goals were first adopted. 

13 years after the civil war is over, a school dormitory in Mozambique looks like this. Photo: Adam Valvasori via Flickr

The UN General Assembly adopted the Millennium Development Goals in September 2000. Following lengthy debate, the assembly agreed on eight goals that the whole world could endorse. The eight goals centred on poverty and hunger; child mortality; maternal mortality; education; HIV/AIDS; equality; sustainable development; and global partnerships for development. The deadline for achieving the goals is the end of 2015.

Many countries have now achieved all eight goals. In particular this is true of a group of Asian countries that have experienced impressive socio-economic growth in recent years. Unfortunately, the world’s least developed countries are generally failing to achieve the goals. Some of these countries, for example the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) and Nigeria are now further from achieving the goals than they were when the goals were adopted.Read More