Foreign Fighters cross the border to fight for Ukraine as Russia‘s attacks on Ukraine continue, in Przemysl, Poland
Foreign Fighters cross the border to fight for Ukraine as Russia‘s attack on Ukraine continues. | Photo: © picture alliance / AA | Abdülhamid Hoşbaş

“Enlist Now!” – Or Don’t? Why we should be concerned about foreign fighting in Ukraine

With the recent escalation of Russia’s war on Ukraine, tens of thousands of foreign fighters have flocked to the region. While the widespread praise for individuals supporting the Ukrainian defense effort is understandable, governments should take measures to prevent their citizens from joining the war. Foreign fighters epitomize the privatization of wars, and the multiplicity of individual motives and aims contributes to the conflict’s complexity. The involvement of third-country nationals also has the potential to escalate the conflict further. Lastly, Western countries will have to deal with returnees who are better trained, traumatized, and potentially radicalized.

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Afghan women leaders speak at the UN: “Give us a seat at the table.”
It is obligatory to not forget Afghan women and their families. | Photo: UN Women/ Amanda Voisard | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Acting upon Afghan women’s appeals to inclusive peace

After twenty years of “war on terror” the Taliban took power in Afghanistan on August 15th, 2021, following a hasty U.S. troop withdrawal and a chaotic evacuation. This raises multiple questions and concerns. Retrospectively, it questions the reasonableness and benefit of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, as well as the political peace process that culminated in the Doha agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban in February 2020. In terms of future developments, it also raises concerns about the maintenance of socio-cultural gains as well as human rights in general – and women’s rights in particular.

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Protestierende in Gefängniskleidung in Washington
Justin Norman, Protest on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of Guantánamo in Washington | Photo: Justin Norman | www.flickr.com

A Guantánamo in Syria for European Jihadists is not a Solution

Despite previous European calls for the US to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp, established twenty years ago, several European countries are using similar de facto detention camps in Syria. This blog-post argues that detention camps controlled by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria are a security risk rather than a solution. Aside from humanitarian and legal arguments usually made in this context, recent developments in northeast Syria show that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is regrouping, illustrated by its high scale attack on the Ghweran prison in Al-Hasaka, in January 2022.

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Two fingers and a fist
The recognition of armed non-state actors is a deeply ambivalent process. | Photo: Francis Alÿs, Children Game #14: Stone, Paper and Scissors, 2013. © F. Alÿs

The Tricky Politics of Recognizing Armed Non-State Actors

The new volume “Armed non-state actors and the politics of recognition” by editors Anna Geis, Maéva Clément, and Hanna Pfeifer discusses armed non-state actors and their strategic pursuit of being recognized as political actors. It includes methodological considerations as well as case studies from China, Ireland, Lebanon, Nigeria and, Sudan among others. The contributions study the strategic choices that state leaders, citizens, international organizations, and others make in granting such recognition, denying it, or recognizing on their own terms.

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Will the Afghan military be able to fight back the Taliban once the NATO troops have left? | Photo: flickr, Al Jazeera English | CC BY-SA 2.0

Withdrawal of NATO troops – Comeback of the Taliban?

Although peace agreements in armed conflicts in which at least one party has framed its demands in religious language are rare, they do exist. In particular, peace agreements have been reached with certain kinds of Islamist groups. After several rounds of unofficial and official negotiations, and a military stalemate between Afghan and NATO forces and the Taliban, former U.S. President Trump announced a peace agreement with the group in February 2020. However, after President Biden’s recent announcement to unconditionally withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the prospects for an agreement or even a ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghan government seem bleaker than ever, with the Taliban resurging and U.S. diplomatic leverage decreasing.

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Welche Lehren lassen sich aus dem 20jährigen Einsatz der NATO in Afghanistan ziehen? | Photo: flickr, U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

Die NATO in Afghanistan: Geschichte eines Versagens oder Scheiterns?

Der Abzug der NATO aus Afghanistan hat begonnen. Trotz aller Bemühungen und bester Vorsätze der intervenierenden Staaten, trotz eines riesigen Einsatzes militärischer und ziviler Ressourcen, hinterlässt die Mission nach 20 Jahren einen Scherbenhaufen. Im unwahrscheinlichen best-case Szenario führt der inner-afghanische Friedensprozess zu einer Einheitsregierung oder territorialen Machtteilung. Den wahrscheinlicheren Szenarien zufolge übernehmen die Taliban nach Abzug der NATO-Truppen die Macht oder es eskaliert der Bürgerkrieg. In beiden Fällen dürften die mageren Aufbauleistungen schnell verloren gehen.

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Über diese Themen wurde bei den "Frankfurter Ideen für den Frieden" im Dezember 2020 diskutiert. | Photo: HSFK/PRIF.

Im Dialog mit hessischen Schülerinnen und Schülern

 Zwei Schulkurse und drei Wissenschaftlerinnen der HSFK sind bei den Frankfurter Ideen für den Frieden im Dezember 2020 in den gemeinsamen Dialog zu Themen der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung getreten, die im Schulunterricht der gymnasialen Oberstufe diskutiert werden, aber gleichzeitig von hoher Aktualität sind und auch die Jugendlichen in ihrem Alltag beschäftigen. Eineinhalb Stunden lang standen Melanie Coni-Zimmer, Nicole Deitelhoff und Hanna Pfeifer Schülerinnen und Schülern zu den vier Themenfeldern Zukunft der transatlantischen Beziehungen, Populismus und Demokratie, Internationaler Terrorismus und 75 Jahre Vereinte Nationen Rede und Antwort. Ein Ausschnitt des umfassenden Dialogs kann hier nachgelesen werden. 

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A fighter jet of the Russian Aerospace Forces accompanied the Presidential aircraft en route to the Syrian Arab Republic in January 2020. | Photo: Kremlin. | Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Counter-Terrorism for Peace – Syria between the Russian-Led Coercive Peace and the United States’ Withdrawal

After the fifth round of the UN-led Constitutional Committee for Syria in January 2021, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pederson, eventually announced that they failed to draft a new charter for the Syrian constitution. Further UN-led negotiations were postponed after the Russian-led meeting in Sochi which took place on February 16 and 17. This blog presents the latest developments of the parallel processes of peace talks for Syria, arguing that the United States’ uncertainty in the region is leading to more success of the Russian-led Astana format. This comes not only at the cost of UN-led engagement in Syria but also risks the lives of the population in Idlib as regional counter-terrorism plans are a central issue in the current peace talks.

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Why not to deport suspected ‘terrorists’ to Syria: a security perspective. | Photo: Flickr, Edna Winti | CC BY 2.0

Why not to deport suspected ‘terrorists’ to Syria: a security perspective

In their meeting in December 2020, German interior ministers decided not to prolong the general ban on deportation to Syria in place since 2012, which makes Germany among the first European countries to take this controversial move. Refugees with a criminal record and suspects of planning terrorist attacks, the so-called ‘Gefährder’ are facing possible deportation to Syria. Building up on a discussion of Syria’s ambiguous historical relationships with militant Islamists, this blog post argues that sending suspected terrorists back to Syria does not serve a long-term goal of countering violent extremism.

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Radikalisierung und Terrorismus – in Buchform unter den Weihnachtsbaum? | Photo: Unsplash, Sherise. | Free use

Radikalisierung und Terrorismus – in Buchform unter den Weihnachtsbaum?

Die Themen Extremismus, Radikalisierung, Terrorismus und Terrorismusbekämpfung sind aus der gesellschaftlichen Debatte in Deutschland nicht mehr wegzudenken. Diese findet oftmals in einem Modus der Aufgeregtheit statt, sodass wichtige wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse, Differenzierungen und Querverbindungen sowie kritische Blickwinkel auf diese Phänomene nicht immer angemessen berücksichtigt werden. Die Forschungsgruppen Radikalisierung und Terrorismus stellen deshalb eine kleine Liste von lesenswerten Werken im Feld zusammen. Und während es zunächst so scheinen mag, als wären die Themen wenig für die besinnliche Zeit geeignet, so sprechen sie doch große Herausforderungen gesellschaftlichen Wandels zugänglich an – und tragen somit zu besser informierten Debatten bei: ein Geschenk für alle. Wir wünschen eine entspannte Zeit mit spannenden Büchern!

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