Tagged: syria

Mathis Lohaus

Links: Updates from Bahrain, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela

With most of the attention understandably focused on Ukraine right now, I thought I’d do a very short summary of recent events elsewhere. (Image credit: someone silly on reddit.)

In Bahrain, three policeman were killed by a remotely detonated bomb during a protest in a village west of the capital. The demonstrations in Bahrain are connected to last week’s  death of a protester in custody as well as the third anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring protests. It looks like there will be heightened security (read: a crackdown, but also potential for an escalation?) in the coming days:

The Royal Court declared Tuesday a day of mourning and King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa “directed the security agencies to take all the necessary measures for the strict application of the law against all those who are implicated in the disgraceful terrorist bombing aimed to cause the loss of lives.”

Police have arrested twenty-five people for allegedly being involved.

North Korea launched two Scud missiles (into the sea) on Monday. This was the first launch since 2009.

The OPCW just announced that a third of Syria‘s chemical weapons stockpile has now been shipped out of the country. Another batch is on the way to a U.S. vessel right now, which will then bring the chemicals to Germany and the United Kingdom for destruction. So far, the process is slower than initially planned, and a deadline of giving up the whole stock by mid-2014 looks likely to be missed.

And what about the civil war? Well, after the failure of the last round of talks, it looks like nothing is going to change for the better anytime soon.

In Venezuela, the protests keep going “despite carnival season”. After more than three weeks of demonstrations, at least twelve people have died. If you want to learn more about the background, Political Violence @ a Glance published a helpful collection of links last Monday, including this resource guide by AS/COA.

Mathis Lohaus

Syria, Chemical Weapons & Civil War: Is A Bad Plan Better Than No Plan?

syriareport

Yesterday, the United Nations published their report on the use of chemical weapons (CW) in Syria on August 21. You can read the conclusions above. Bottom line: Sarin has been used, but the report doesn’t explicitly blame either the Syrian regime or the rebels.

A few days earlier, on September 14, the Syrian government has officially requested to join the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This is a reaction to the U.S. threat to launch an attack, paired with new diplomatic efforts by Russia (and others?). The UN has received all necessary documents now and the accession will be effective in mid-October.

So instead of witnessing yet another U.S. military campaign to punish a dictator, now we’re all warm and fuzzy about international law? It’s almost as if they are following Richard Price’s guide in Foreign Affairs step-by-step. German critics of an intervention (please note the great series of posts at Sicherheitspolitik-Blog) should be happy, too.

In addition, it looks like the UN Security Council – after months of paralysis and a grand total of one single press release mentioning Syria in 2013 – might actually pass a resolution soon. So Russia and the U.S. seem to have agreed on … something. To me, it is not entirely clear what to expect – but it seems to be focused on taking CW out of the picture.

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Mathis Lohaus

Links: Taking Kids on Field Trips; Forecasting; Cyber Security; Syria’s Future; Football and Violence; New UN Blog; Honest Acknowledgments

Temperatures in Berlin are falling. Let’s wait and see what this means for the blog…

A great match to our little series on parenting:  Kim Yi Dionne writes about “taking children to an African country while you conduct research” (via the Duck)

Jay Ulfelder has two great posts on forecasting. One deals with common “screw-ups” in predictive models. The other is about the ethics of statistical forecasting, and the responsibility of researchers to be honest about their limits:

The fact that we use mathematical equations to generate our forecasts and we can quantify our uncertainty doesn’t always mean that our forecasts are more accurate or more precise than what pundits offer, and it’s incumbent on us to convey those limitations. It’s easy to model things. It’s hard to model them well, and sometimes hard to spot the difference.

Brandon Valeriano offers a comprehensive reading list on cyber security, nicely balancing intro stuff and very specialized articles.

Jeffrey Stacey writes about Syria’s future (“intervening not now but later”), with a big potential role for the EU:

It is difficult to predict which way the current conflict in Syria will end up, as even some sort of stalemate could be the result.  But if opposition forces were ultimately successful in defeating Assad’s forces then it would be difficult for Western governments to ignore their shared security interests in the assurance of post-conflict stability in Syria.

Andrew Bertoli has a paper about nationalism and aggression, arguing that countries that qualify for the football/soccer World Cup behave more aggressively. German weekly Zeit has an interview with him (h/t Tobias Bunde).

Instead of lamenting the state of the German twitter- and blogosphere, let’s try and improve networking! So far, I had completely overlooked the blog “Junge UN Forschung”, written by members of the German junior researcher’s working group for UN studies (h/t Christian Kreuder-Sonnen).

Finally, Dan Drezner offers 15 examples of a world where book acknowledgments are really honest, such as:

I’m grateful to Peter Klugman, a Big Shot in my field who made a useful offhand comment to me once. People reading this will hopefully think I really know him and therefore be impressed.

Tobias Bunde

Security Saturday: Who cares about Syria?

By Voice of America News: Scott Bob report from Azaz, Syria. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In his speech at the Freie Universität Berlin, Peer Steinbrück (SPD) made clear he opposed any arms transfer to the Syrian opposition. As is the case with the German government, he did not offer any alternative policy options. German politicians have long warned of an escalation of the conflict, but few have come up with specific proposals what the country could do to avoid it. As Markus Kaim (SWP) argues in an interview with the newspaper Südkurier, Germans are particularly good at telling others why their ideas won’t work, while not coming forward with an alternative. But is this enough for a country that size? Continue reading