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Eurasia Security

Have Russia and Ukraine been on the Verge of Open War?

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine appears to have reached a new peak this year as President Putin has recently deployed over 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. Russia’s actions here initially appear to be ambiguous, as it can be interpreted in more than one way – has Russia been attempting to intimidate their enemies with a display of force and dominance, or are their intentions more aggressive? There is room to argue here that Russia has, at some point at least, been preparing for open war with Ukraine.

Latin America Security

Mexican Marijuana: The Effects of Legalization on the Economy and the War on Drugs

Following in the footsteps of countries including Canada and Uruguay, Mexico’s lower house passed a bill on 10th March for the purpose of legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, often referred to as AMLO, has cited undermining drug cartels as one of the key reasons behind his support for the proposal. Nevertheless, though legalization is likely to prove an economic boon, its impact on crime is likely to be less substantial.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Yemen’s Chance for Peace Weakens as the Fighting against the Houthis Intensifies

As the war in Yemen enters its seventh year the Saudi Arabian-led coalition has begun attempting peace talks with their main adversaries, the Houthi rebel forces that have occupied much of the northwest of the country for the last several years. As President Biden is now committed to withdrawing American support for the coalition, it has left them at a disadvantage which they appear to wish to rectify by negotiating with the Houthis in the hope of reaching an agreement. However, the Houthi forces have largely held a strong position in the war and, as demonstrated by their recent bombings and airstrikes, appear to have little interest in ending the conflict.

Middle East/North Africa Politics Security

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Anglo-Iranian Relations and Hostage Diplomacy

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in March 2016, marking the start of a five year ordeal which only now seems to have any prospect of ending.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Will the US Negotiations With the Taliban Leave Afghanistan Vulnerable?

Although entering negotiations with the Taliban might be seen as a sign of progression, there are still concerning signs that the fighting will continue in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of American support and influence. Without an American presence there is a danger that Afghanistan will be more exposed than ever to the threat of the Taliban’s terrorism. 

Security Sub-Saharan Africa

Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict: A Humanitarian Disaster

The ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray province threatens to become the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. War crimes, sexual violence and famine are reported to be widespread, and the Ethiopian government is restricting access for humanitarian actors and human rights inspectors. The escalating severity of the situation is eerily similar to scenes from the Tigrayan famine of 1983-85, and it is likely that it may play out in a similar, devastating way.

Security Sub-Saharan Africa

The Political Economy of Mozambique’s ‘Faceless Insurgency’

Since 2017, Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has grappled with a brutal jihadist insurgency which threatens to spiral out of control and precipitate destabilising effects across East Africa. Ansar al-Sunnah, the militant group behind the escalating insurgency, has often been described as ‘more criminal than jihadi’, highlighting the centrality of the crime-terror nexus and underlying socioeconomic grievances as structural drivers of conflict that must be fully unpacked in order to respond effectively to Mozambique’s ‘Faceless Insurgency’. 

Africa Security

Hundreds of Nigerian Students Kidnapped… Again: Is Nigeria a Failed State?

The NY Times reported another kidnapping in northern Nigeria this past Friday. Armed men abducted 317 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara state. One police officer was killed during the attack. 

This is the second mass abduction in as many weeks and part of an alarming trend going back to 2014, when the violent extremist organization (VEO) Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from a school in Chibok, Borno state. 

Middle East/North Africa Security

Iraq and Syria: Do Profits Perpetuate Violence?

Years of civil war and political instability in Iraq and Syria have seen non-state actors rise to prominence. Many take a hybrid form, in which they have been semi-institutionalised by the state, qualifying them for the state payroll. However, the majority of these militias sustain themselves in other ways, notably from the shadow economy. This begs the question: for how long will illicit and informal economic activity persist and does its profits perpetuate violence?

Europe Security

The Turkish intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh may favour EU interests

As mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russia has sought to maintain influence in Azerbaijan and Armenia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In pursuing a strategy based on balancing competing Armenian-Azerbaijani interests over the disputed territory, Moscow is able to wield leverage in the South Caucasus without antagonising either Baku or Yerevan. However, the Turkish intervention on the issue in 2020 in full support of Azerbaijan tilted the power-balance of the conflict and cemented Ankara as a new security actor in the region.