The City of Afrin, in 2009 | Photo: Bertramz | CC BY 3.0

Turkey’s Invasion of Afrin must be Halted

Turkey’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ is a marked escalation of its campaign against the Kurdish autonomous regions in Syria. The battle for Afrin, a mountainous, well defended region protected by a battle hardened Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forces will likely be protracted and lead to significant civilian casualties, due to Afrin’s large community of internally displaced Syrians. It will further compound the ongoing conflict against Kurds in Turkey and lead to, as of yet, unclear regional ramifications.

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A man carrying a flag on his way to a pro government protest in Cairo on 25 January 2014 | Photo: Sebastian Horndasch | CC BY 2.0

We Need to Understand Why States Object to the Presence of Foreign-funded NGOs

More and more countries restrict how NGOs operate, often by limiting their funding. The response is frequently to argue that these restrictions flout international law or amount to crackdowns on the opposition. Annika Elena Poppe and Jonas Wolff argue that the objections to NGO activity need to be taken seriously. In Egypt, for example, they are rooted in concerns about sovereignty and foreign interference.

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Meral Akşener at IYI Party's first congress in October 2017
Meral Akşener at IYI Party's first congress in October 2017 | Photo: Yıldız Yazıcıoğlu (VOA) | Public Domain

What’s in a Name? IYI Party – Good for Turkey?

A new political party was founded in Turkey on 25 October 2017. Named the “IYI Party”, meaning “good party”, it claims to bring betterment for Turkey’s financial, judicial and also human rights situation. The inaugural speech of the party’s founder, Meral Akşener, leaves an impression of the “modern” face of Turkish conservative politics. The IYI Party presents itself as an alternative to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in times of a growing dissatisfaction with Turkish politics and reorientations in opposition parties’ political stance. Although the idea that the AKP era might come to an end is intriguing, the Akşener’s party seems to follow the well-known narrative of Turkish nationalism. For a truly pluralist democracy in Turkey, this is not enough.

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Premises of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands
Premises of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands | Photo: United Nations Photo

The International Criminal Court in Difficult Times: Challenges for the 16th Assembly of States Parties

On 26 October 2017, Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute – the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – took effect. This withdrawal is just the tip of the iceberg of a long-lasting confrontation between the ICC and some African states. When the Assembly of States (ASP) Parties to the Rome Statute convenes today for its 16th annual session in New York, the stakes are high as the ICC faces major challenges. The ASP should take on the dwindling support and criticism from the African Union (AU) as well as African states and bolster the ICC: States Parties should defend the integrity of the Statute, back the ICC’s budget, further outreach activities as well as the regional scope of investigations and strengthen the cooperation with the Court.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016 | Photo: Philippine Government | Public Domain

A “Ripe Moment” by Accident? The Turn-Around in Sino-Philippine Relations

In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) rejected most of the Chinese claims in the case on disputed “islands” in South China Sea brought to the Court by the Philippines. The verdict triggered widespread fears of a further escalation of the conflict between China and the Philippines as well as the other claimants and the United States. Yet, the near simultaneous ruling by the PCA and the change in Philippine administration from President Benigno Aquino to Rodrigo Duterte created a “ripe moment” for a fundamental transformation of the crumbling Sino-Chinese bilateral relations. 

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A building in Marawi, Philippines is set ablaze by airstrikes carried out by the Philippine Air Force
A building in Marawi, Philippines, is set ablaze by airstrikes carried out by the Philippine Air Force | Photo: Mark Johmel | CC BY-SA 4.0

An Emerging Caliphate in Southeast Asia? The Framing of Political Violence in the Philippines

In May 2017 two groups of Muslim fighters raided the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines. After five months of fighting, the Philippine military finally announced that the city was reconquered from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups that supposedly had ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This incident resembles a crisis in 2013 when members of another armed group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), entered the city of Zamboanga and battled government troops for weeks. But whereas the Zamboanga crisis neither attracted much foreign attention nor was linked to international jihadism, the fighting in Marawi has been portrayed as part of larger conflict between militant Islamism and the civilised world – a narrative that is lacking substantial empirical evidence.

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Hamady Ould Hamady, Chairman of the High Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya of the African Union at the UN Security Council | Photo: UN Photo

Global Governance and Procedural Justice

Worauf beruht die Chance, dass globale Normen und Regelwerke von Staaten und Sicherheitsorganisationen auf regionaler Ebene befolgt werden? Diese Frage steht im Zentrum der Diskussion um globales Regieren. Sie stellt sich jüngst drängender, weil neuere Entwicklungen den Eindruck nahelegen, zentrale Staaten in der nicht-westlichen Welt seien im Begriff, sich von den liberalen Institutionen des globalen Regierens zu verabschieden. Empirische Forschung zum Verhalten Südafrikas und der Afrikanischen Union zeigt, dass sich diese Skepsis in der Wahrnehmung mangelhafter prozeduraler Gerechtigkeit begründet. Für erfolgreiches globales Regieren muss zunächst diese Voraussetzung eingelöst werden.

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Manchester Bees | Photo: Transport Pixels | CC BY 2.0

Benefit Concert in the Manchester Arena: The Terror Threat and Peaceful Protests

On 22 May 2017, the suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people and injured many more after an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena. On 9 September 2017, the Manchester Arena was reopened with a benefit show labelled as a “We Are Manchester” concert. The concert’s aim was to raise money for a place of memorial for the victims of the attack. “We Are Manchester” is only one of the many peaceful responses to the attacks: In contrast to the heated debates on increasing security, they reveal different ways of standing together for a liberal and diverse society against the fear caused by terrorism.

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Clashes between the police and the poeple of Warraq Island in Cairo, Egypt
Clashes between the police and the poeple of Warraq Island in Cairo, Egypt | Photo: dpa / Ibrahim Ezzat

Egypt’s New Stability: How Long Can an Exclusionary Order Be Sustained?

The Egyptian government raised the prices of fuel and electricity at the end of June 2017, marking the second increase in less than a year. These measures are part of an IMF-backed reform effort, initiated in November 2016, that seeks to abandon most currency controls and to cut fuel subsidies. This new round of subsidy cuts has accelerated Egypt’s annual inflation rate, leading it to reach the highest level in decades by July. Despite the deterioration of socio-economic conditions in Egypt, protests have not erupted to any significant degree and, at first sight, the overall situation seems to be stable. This text presents a few doubts as to why the current order is not sustainable – in spite of the lack of public contention

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Alter Elbtunnel | Foto: Jens Cramer | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Knife Attack in Hamburg: Lone Actor Violence and Mental Illness

On the 28th of July, a 26 year old man, Ahmad A. launched a knife attack in a supermarket in the Barmbek area of Hamburg, wounding four people and killing one. He fled the scene of the attack before being forcefully apprehended by some bystanders. The attacker, a rejected asylum seeker, was understood by the police to have been recently religiously radicalised. Hamburg’s Interior Minister Andy Grote explained that he was known to the police as an “Islamist but not a jihadist” and was suspected of having psychological problems. Prosecutors have asserted that he had no known connections with any organized radical network or group and that he had planned on dying as a martyr.

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