Friday, May 5, 2017

Phase 4, week 3

Hi all

So here, for the record, are the things you will have to cover in the phase 4 essay, for each of your countries:

What are the country's interests in the conflict?
What do they hope to achieve by their involvement?
What methods are they using to achieve those goals?
How are they viewed by other countries?

You will need three or more countries.

I advise you to try to cover one country per blog entry, to make the task easier to manage.
(I didn't say this explicitly last week, but because of the long weekend, you have until Monday night to do this).

Finally, there are only 25 comments on last week's post, and there are 37 of you... Make sure your post is there; if it's not or you've forgotten, get it done: a missed blog entry goes into the grade book as a 10/20!

Good luck!


  1. Julie Clar - Boko Haram

    Nigeria’s neighboring countries, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, are all active in the fight against Boko Haram as the insurgents are spreading their violence beyond the Nigerian borders. “Of Cameroon’s 12,500 soldiers in active duty, more than half are already committed to fight the insurgency(1).” As for Chad and Niger, the countries have deployed over 2 000 soldiers to help fight the terrorists (1). In fact, in 2015, in addition to Nigeria, these countries created the Multinational Joint Task Force as to reinforce and coordinate the military offensive against Boko Haram (2). The Multinational Joint Task Force also provided 195 million dollars in humanitarian assistance, mostly provided by the United States. However, the insurgency also needs to be dealt with at the source of the issue, that is the lack of access to education, justice and other social services in Nigeria. This is why in December 2016, Barack Obama signed a new law: “An Act to require a regional strategy to address the threat posed by Boko Haram(3).” It is indeed highly important to adopt a preventive strategy and deal with the poor Nigerian socio-economic environment, in addition to a curative military response to the terrorist group.


  2. David Ripayre – Uyghur conflict in China

    The Uyhgur conflict isn’t characterized by a direct conflict but by a multitude of protest movements, however the most extremes form of protest to occur are terrorist attacks and various bombings. The most extreme group of resistance in the Xinjiang region is the Turkistan Islamic party (TIP). The terrorist organization Al-Qaeda has already expressed their solidarity towards the Uyghur resistance movement and various members of the TIP are part of Al-Qaeda’s leadership council. Al-Qaeda’s involvement in the conflict as a “non-state actor” could be suspected as an other step to spread worldwide Islamist resistance and revolution. The Xinjiang region being deeply Muslim this facilitates any potential actions taken in the far east. To achieve this state of revolution, they incite violent terrorist actions which lead to repression and tougher control from Beijing, leading to a justification for even more terrorist acts, leading to a vicious circle and escalation of violence. This escalation in violence is facilitates radicalization. However although countries like the US and Turkey disagree with China on the Uyghur case they do not support those terrorist movements as they spread internationally and affect also their own territory.

  3. Chloé Erny, EU migration crisis

    The EU asked for China’s cooperation to help fight migrant smugglers, at a meeting this week between EU commissioner for migration Dimitri Avramopoulos and Chinese public security minister Guo Shengkun. Rubber dinghies, used by smugglers to make migrants cross the Mediterranean, are produced by China; that is why, as a first step in the talks with China aimed at fighting the smuggling network, Avramopoulos said he “requested the support of the Chinese authorities in order to track down this business and dismantle it”, so that the boats would no longer serve as a “dangerous tool in the hands of thugs." (Yahoo News)

    PS: About the essay, two of my blog posts talk of countries that were pulled into the conflict rather than the reverse. I can write about Russia, but should I also write about the US and China?

  4. Emilie Shagrin: refugee crisis in the EU

    According to a 2015 CBS poll, 51% of Americans oppose welcoming Syrian refugees. The refugee crisis, though happening in Europe, still impacts the US as it is ensuing chaos within the ranks and relationships of EU countries. Military action, is not an issue. On US President Trump’s 77th day in office, he “sent fifty-nine Tomahawks to strike an airbase in Syria.” (New Yorker) His reasons for this were that Syrian President al-Assad’s air force had reportedly killed people living in a rebel-populated town in a chemical attack. Trump’s decision is said to have been both “spontaneous and confusing.” (Steve Coll) Trump says that his aim was to end the bloodshed in the Middle-East, although he only aggravated things. Letting in yet more immigrants, however, is not his plan. In conclusion, the US’s involvement in the crisis is not well directed, as it is not aiding lives to be actually saved.
    In a may 2016 interview, Canadian President Trudeau explained how it is Canada’s duty to welcome refugees (and North America’s, as a continent populated with immigrants). Canada resettled 25,000 refugees by February 2016, and next accepted upwards of 31,000 (more than the UK pledged to accept by 2020).

    sources actually used here:

    other neat sources that there weren't enough words for:

  5. Pierre-Malo Vienney -- Violence in DRC

    South Africa is one of the main trading partners of the DRC among China, Belgium or the United States. Therefore, this leading African country is very interested in the stability of the country for it to trade more minerals and primary sources that are abundant. South Africa and the DRC also have a military relationship: South African allows Congolese soldiers to train on its soil to help DRC have a better military defense. South Africa has also started a program with the DRC to promote the stability of the country. They try to reduce corruption by training diplomats and officials and promote investments on the Congolese soil. South Africa would like to encourage a greater prosperity across the African continent to benefit from the economic progress it could create. Therefore, they encourage peace in the Great Lakes region to enhance the economic progress.

  6. War in Yemen - Anna

    Before 2004, Saudi Arabia was the Houthis’ allies, but ever since, it has led a series of small campaigns against them (Al Monitor). When the Yemeni civil war exploded in 2015, Saudi Arabia started spending a lot of resources battling against them, as it realised that Iran, leading the coalition supporting them, was planning to rally the Houthis to its cause of destroying Saudi Arabia (Project Syndicate). Saudi Arabia panicked when it realised Yemen, and all of its 27 million citizens, could become an Iranian puppet state, pressurising its most vulnerable and porous 100-mile border (Al Monitor). Since then, this country has been founding its own military campaign, as well as some of the ones of its Yemeni allies, notably Sudan, but it won’t release the price it is paying to fight in this war (Al Monitor). Saudi Arabia has the third largest defence and security budget in the world, but sustaining their involvement in all these wars is way too much for a country of 20 million people. The Western Front denied Saudi Arabia’s warning to the International community about Iran’s involvement in this war (Project Syndicate). It refuses to believe the Iran input in this war, as it wants no part in it.

    Al Monitor:
    Project Syndicate:

  7. Kashmir conflict - Sophie

    According to an article written by I-wei Jennifer Chang for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), China’s policies regarding the Kashmir conflict have progressively changed over time; Beijing has come to oppose the internationalization of the conflict, shifted from a strong pro-Pakistan stance to a more balanced one, and put a premium on working with the United States in order to prevent war between India and Pakistan (USIP). During the Cold War, India and the Soviet Union shared a strategic, economic, diplomatic, and military alliance. At the same time, however, political and ideological relations between China and the Soviet Union began to deteriorate (the Sino-Soviet split refers to a divergence about Marxist ideology between the two major communist nations). Therefore, China created a military alliance with Pakistan against India, ending the neutrality it had maintained over the Kashmir conflict in the 1950s (USIP). In September of 2016, China was still strongly allied with Pakistan; in a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, the Chinese Premier said his country would stand with Pakistan: “We support Pakistan and will speak for Pakistan at every forum” (Firstpost). In response, Nawaz said that Pakistan and China were “iron brothers” (ibid). However, despite its strong ties with Pakistan, China has prioritized preventing war over protecting Pakistani interests during various crises (USIP).


    United States Institute of Peace:
    (also see:)


  8. North Korea
    Kelcie Bons
    South Korea can be considered an enemy of North Korea. The relations between the two countries throughout history gives a better understanding of South Korea’s position in the conflict today : Korea was part of the Japanese Empire until the end of the Second World War; it was separated in two, the Russians occupied North and the Americans the south. After both countries left the peninsula they still gave their support to their half. There were skirmishes between the two countries and then a war. The war started with North Korea’s invasion and ended after American intervention who considered it a fight against communism. Still, in the years 2000 tensions are strong with events like a gun battle in the Yellow Sea in 2002, crossborder clashes near disputed borders in sea in 2010 and the North firing on the South during the annual milltary exercise in 2015. Today, like the United States, their allies, they hope for the outcome to be the denuclearization of the North. Letting the United States install Thaad in their country is one thing they have done to protect themselves from the threat.

  9. Juliette Scholler - Taliban in Afghanistan

    American presence in Afghanistan dates back to the Cold War, when the country was under the influence of the Soviet Union. In order to fight against the communist bloc, the United States sent aids to resistance groups, the mujahideen, who fought for Islamic unity and the jihad (South Asian Studies). They received billions in aid from other countries, and were recognized as US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia backed (South Asian Studies). However, after the fall of the USSR, America maintained its military presence. They wanted to restore order and peace in the country, which was devastated by a civil war between the different factions who fought against the previous regime (South Asian Studies). The battle ended, and the new government was lead by the Taliban; the US presence did not leave though. Indeed, the Taliban government supported the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, who had attacked the US in multiple occasions, including the 9/11 incident (South Asian Studies). America then launched a war against terrorism in Afghanistan (South Asian Studies). The war continues to this day, even though the Taliban regime had been outlawed (South Asian Studies).
    Today’s Afghan government, which was installed with the help of the US, is an “important partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism, working with us to eliminate the remnants of al-Qaeda and its affiliates” (US Department of State). US invests resources in order to improve the situation in the country, along with over 100 countries and organizations (US Department of State). International conferences and meetings were held, such as Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in October 2016, where other countries joined America in their fight against terrorism and to aid the current Afghan situation (US Department of State).

  10. Cassiopeia, Libya

    The EU issues joint statements and agrees on common position. The UNSC in Libya is comprised of Italian, French, British and Swedish members which shows the EU's involvement.

    They are interested in Libya economically being it's main trade partner (especially because of Libya's oil). They are also interested because of their ongoing war against ISIS and terrorism and because of the migrant crisis. Important amounts of black market trafficking and smuggling goes through Libya which the EU is concerned about. According to IRIS Europe also feels a moral and political obligation to participate.

    European have been cautious when facing the conflict in Libya. They support the government the UN created. They condemn the escalation of violent conflict which derail the political peace process they are working on.
    Currently Italy is the only European country to currently have an embassy in Libya an they also have a navy ship. In 2014 Italy pledged to provide have of the advising troops ( which was approved by the UN). It also built a field hospital and has thousands of paratroopers in Libya. The UK has special forces advising military personnel. French forces are present in neighboring countries (Algeria and Niger) to watch the borders. France voted for an international sanctions for those who obstruct the political transition in Libya which shows their desire for a united Libya. In 2016 , as a part of the west's counter-terrorism efforts they lead a sizable mission in Sirte defeating ISIS.

    According to their council on foreign relations their future course of action should be helping with economic stabilization and mediation because they already have significant leverage on it, intense political engagement, helping with stabilization in general, helping to bring about elections instead military figures, helping to unify the country, and helping to reduce military conflict.

    Internationally most country's agree with some sort of intervention in Libya. China and the US are on the EU's side. Egypt, Russia and the UAE are on the opposing side. Most neighboring countries are pro intentional intervention because of their worries for their own country's security and that of its borders, but need to find a common point and a common side to support. Chad and Niger believe in foreign military intervention. Tunisia is scared of terrorism coming in its own country and wasn't the biggest supporter of foreign military action. Algeria wants political intervention and isn't too happy about foreign military intervention.

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  12. Paul ISIS in Iraq,

    As evoked in the previous phase, the ongoing conflict in Iraq is currently opposing two major forces which are the following: ISIS militants and anti-ISIS troops.

    The anti-ISIS group is actually composed of multiple countries (including the local one) such as: France, Russia, the United States. Within the country, Iraqi forces are leading persistent offensives versus ISIS.

    The UK (member of the coalition), for example,has been involved in Iraq for a very long time. Everything started off in 2003, when British and American forces invaded Iraq in order to remove from the government, Saddam Hussein. He was depicted as a dangerous man who treated his own people in a disgraceful way. The true reason for them to intervene, in Iraq was that, this man hid extremely powerful weapons and that no one should trust him. Today the reasons why the UK is fighting in Iraq have changed; they are more in an “counter-terrorism” logic and claim fighting for global peace. They also have parallel diplomatic goals, such as : restoring sustainable foreign relations with the country.

    At least 67 countries support the UK’s actions within Iraq.

    The UK has reported that: approximately 1400 UK military and civilian personnel are directly involved in the conflict and that the UK has contributed to the funding of weapons, tanks and all sorts of military support for the coalition. They are on the anti-ISIS side of this battle and have another role over there which is: training. As a matter, they’ve managed to train more than 25,000 Iraqi forces to add as much support as possible to counter the terrorist opposition.


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  14. India is an up and coming global power whose importance on the world’s geopolitical stage has grown. However, its stance on the conflict in the South China Sea has been the cause for some confusion.
    On one side the country's leaders have expressed worry over China’s actions in the South China Sea and wish to contain their action in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, New Delhi is a big proponent of freedom of navigation in the sea and wishes to leave the waters open to international trade. However, India is committed to remain a neutral actor. The country has refused to take part in joint military patrols of the contested area with the United States despite a growing strategic partnership with Washington. India is wary of performing joint patrols with the US as it believes China will do the same with Pakistan, a country whose relations with India today are extremely tense. Furthermore, it does not want to provoke China with which India shares a border.
    Despite this, a month after this announcement India, China and Russia released a trilateral statement criticizing the role of the international community in the conflict. The statement expressed desire to establish legal order in the contested area based on the principles of international law without the involvement of unconcerned countries. Through this joint communique, India has expressed desire for the conflict to be discussed among involved countries without the participation of the UN. This communique was released just days after India’s Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar, and US Defense Secretary, Ashton Kutcher released a statement showing support for the opposite side of the issue.

  15. Taliban in Afghanistan

    Since the Soviet's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the ISI has been aiding the Taliban group with weaponry as well as information. Although the matter remains unclear, recent claims from US officials state that "U.S. officials and commanders openly acknowledge that terrorist outfits, including the Taliban, enjoy safe havens, recruitment and training camps, and financial networks inside Pakistan", and that Pakistan was considered a friendly adversary due to their implications.
    Supposedly, the Pakistan government are continuously backing the Taliban because they "cannot afford hostile borders" and therefore it is a "geo-strategic imperative" to support the Taliban. However, this aid is problematic to the US because since 2001, it has donated over 30 billion dollars to Pakistan, who in return, give sums of it to the Taliban.
    In reaction to this, the US have decided on a "benign neglect" of the situation, because they consider that Afghanistan's stability "remains inescapably linked to two fundamental factors: peace with Pakistan and peace with the Taliban."

  16. Juliette Debray - Boko Haram

    Nigeria is the African country France exchanges the most with, approximately 27,8% of France’s sub-Saharan importations come from Nigeria and most importantly it is its fifth most important hydrocarbon supplier (1). More directly related to fighting the terrorist group and the humanitarian crisis, François Hollande co-presided the second regional summit in the fight against Boko Haram in Abuja, Nigeria on May 14th 2016 (2). During this conference, the AFD (Agence Française de Développement)—who has invested close to a billion euros in the country in order to help urban and agricultural development and support the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative (3)—promised to launch a project specifically around the region of Lake Chad (4). France also announced having donated 25 million euros to the military coalition and 17 million to humanitarian aid (4).
    It seems France wishes to “re-launch” the Nigerian economy, in a meeting on March 31st with vice-president Yemi Osinbajo, the French prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve “assured Osinbajo that French investors would take advantage of the opportunities in the Nigerian economy” (5). This evidently is majorly influenced by the conflict and therefore it would make sense that France send not only material but military aid in order to eradicate Boko Haram and thus boost the country’s economy. Although Nigeria does not appear in the list of countries in which France has deployed soldiers from Operation Burkhane (6), on the meeting of May 14th, Hollande pledged to “ share intelligence, help with counterinsurgency training, and provide equipment to those fighting the group” (7).

  17. Singer Jack. North Korea

    North Korea’s allies and ennemies were defined at the time of the Korean War. Even though relations slightly change over the years, they generally remain the same. Russia is one of North Korea’s long lasting ally. This is due to the similar communist ideology and economy. Russia had therefore been actively involved in the Korean conflict as it forgave close to 90% of dette from the Cold-War era (Chandran, Nyshka. "As China-North Korea Ties Cool, Russia Looks to Benefit." CNBC. CNBC, 08 May 2017. Web. 08 May 2017.). Nowadays, Russia also seeks to make trade with Pyongyang easier: ferry services are planned and in development. Russia-Korea analyst Anthony Rinna said that: ”There is little doubt that Russia is making sincere attempts at building a partnership with North Korea,”.(Chandran, Nyshka. "As China-North Korea Ties Cool, Russia Looks to Benefit." CNBC. CNBC, 08 May 2017. Web. 08 May 2017.) Russia hence protects North Korea and guarantees Kim’s dictatorship.
    Russia sees strategic trading with North Korea. According to Rinna: "Russia values its geographic access to North Korea as a way to reach broader global markets.”. Moreover, Rinna states that it could also allow “Russia to develop and securitize its Far Eastern regions". Russia sees strategic commerce and control in North Korea. But communism also ties them together.
    Western countries see this alliance as an obstacle. All drastic measures must be avoided in order to not provoke Russia. China, North Korea’s other ally is competing against Russia to be the main ally. However with tensions between North Korea and the US dramatically increasing over the past few weeks, China has proven itself not to be an true supportive ally. For instance, they asked all Chinese people to leave North Korea as a result of the US threatening Pyongyang: their alliance is weak (Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae. "China 'tells Citizens to Leave North Korea' as Tensions with US Escalate." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 03 May 2017. Web. 08 May 2017.).

  18. Billy McGovern-- Israel-Palestine

    Saudi Arabia is a regional neighbour in the Israel-Palestine conflit. As a member of the Arab Leaugue and an Islamic kingdom, Saudi Arabia has been one of the biggest supporters of Palestine, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to Palestinian authority. Saudi Arabia has no official diplomatic ties with the Israeli government, but a mutual aversion for Iran has brought both states closer together, communicating mainly by intelligence exchange. Futhermore, Saudi Arabia is America’s “closest ally in the Arab world”(1), and wishes to broker peace between both states with the Arab Leaugue peace plan, which consists of Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and West Bank, and a “just settlement” on the Palestinian refugee problem.
    The Saud government has at many occasions voiced discontent at the support of Israel by the US and the EU, “justifying any action taken by Israel, no matter how illegal or outrageous.”(2) The United states do not have the same views on the conflict, Saudi Arabia donating great financial aid to Palestine and having brokered an agreement between Palestine authority and the islamist group Hamas. Israel’s view of Saudi Arabia is that it is a “guarantor of stability,” this shown by Israel’s approval of the sale of 200 German tanks to Saudi Arabia in 2011. There are claims that the Saudi government has also aided the Israelis during the conflict, but they have yet to be founded or aknowledged.

    (1, 2)–United_States_relations–Saudi_Arabia_relations

  19. Singer Jack. North Korea

    In a similar way to Russia, China is also one of North Korea’s long-lasting ally. During the Korean war, China helped North Korea fight South Korea and the US. Therefore, China also manifests interest in North Korea: sees it in North Korea trade. The DPRK’s main source of energy and main trading partner is China. Over the past 17 years, the trade volume has strongly increased: from 0,49 billions of USD in 2000 to 6,86 in 2014. (Albert, Eleanor, and Beina Xu. "The China–North Korea Relationship." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 08 May 2017)
    Moreover These neighbouring countries also share boarders. This means that in order keep this alliance strong, China helps North Korea with the refugee crisis: all North Koreans trying to escape the DPRK by walking across the Chinese-Korean boarder will be sent back to North Korea if found by the Chinese authorities. (Albert, Eleanor, and Beina Xu. "The China–North Korea Relationship." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 08 May 2017)
    For North Korea, China combined with Russia serve the purpose of a shield. Western countries hesitate before punishing (sanctions or military menaces most recently) the DPRK since two superpowers are hiding and making profit behind it.
    This seems to be the new kind of 21st century global conflict: a new subtle form of cold war where the superpowers seem be playing chess with other weaker countries.
    Albert, Eleanor, and Beina Xu. "The China–North Korea Relationship." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 08 May 2017.
    "The Korean War (1950-1953)." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 08 May 2017.

  20. Ambre Perron - Civil War in South Sudan

    In two years, as the situation in South Sudan has evolved, so has the US influence in the country. Even though peacekeepers remain in the country, the amount of time and money dedicated to the country’s peace has decreased significantly. The Trump administration, unlike Obama’s has reduced its foreign aid budget, including that of the United Nations. This year only, the United States has given $277 million to Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, all countries at risk.
    Yet, only 9 percent of “the money the agency needs for [South Sudan] has been funded.” (1) The total of $4,4 billion required according to the secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres to keep 20 million people out of famine is “less than a tenth of the $54 billion increase that President Trump is seeking for the United States military budget.” (1) In the past, “oil-rich” Sudan had “ been the third largest recipient of its aid since 2005, behind only Iraq and Afghanistan.” (2) Today, the US priority has diverged. “The chief economist for the World Food Program, Arif Husain, said that in the world’s war zones, a shortage of food is one of the most important factors driving people away from their home countries” claims the New York Times. Fortunately for the United States, an ocean separates the two countries. Other neighboring countries however will or already have felt the influence of the food shortage.


  21. Elise - War in Yemen
    Iran has supported the Houthi movement since the very beginning. After Hussein al-Houthi’s death, Iran provided the insurgent group with arms, training, and money in order to capture Sanaa in September 2014.
    This support seems to have no explanation other than Iran’s desire to revive Shia Islam, and “challenge the existing Middle East order”. This is seen through the conflict between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shiite Muslim Iran, and some claim that Yemen is just another “flashpoint” in this conflict over regional power and influence.
    In short, the Houthis are Iran’s key to making Yemen another proxy that they’ll use to assert their power and “destabilize the Sunni-led Arab Gulf states”.
    Just like Damascus (Alawi, but basically Shiite) and Baghdad, Sanaa has become the capital for a Shiite minority trying to govern a Sunni majority. This “so called arc of influence” therefore supports Iran’s influence on Yemen.
    However, the rest of the world doesn’t. Iran has been repeatedly accused of being the reason that the conflict has not yet ended, and according to the Telegraph (and everyone else), “Without [Iran’s support], the rebel cause would probably slump.” It’s also recently been implied that the UN’s peace plan to help the Houthis keep a say in the government, but not have their own, was rejected because of Tehran’s influence on the leaders of the rebel group.

  22. South China Sea - Marine Tallon

    A large number of the Paracel Islands were under the control of South Vietnam, but a brief battle in 1974 led China to take over the islands since. Modern Vietnam still claims what they have lost.
    All of the countries that claim the land, ASEAN, are looking for gas or oil under the sea and more fishing grounds.
    Vietnam, to defend their cause, according to an Australian professor of politics, would surely take arbitral action such as a petition with the world court in The Hague. Vietnam, to defend their cause, does not want to proceed aggressively unlike the United States, for example.
    Furthermore, Vietnam seems to be trying to improve their relations with China, even though the Vietnamese are strongly anti-Chinese. The Vietnamese government maintains their relations with China outside of the ASEAN context about the South China Sea dispute, considering they enjoy economic benefits such as cheap imports and Chinese tourists.
    Even though the ASEAN countries are known to be united and understanding, they will not push China over the Paracels even if Vietnam tries to: members such as Cambodia and Laos are very pro-China. Previously, the Philippines have also set aside their disputes with China. Lately, ASEAN as a whole is trying to improve their relations, especially China who is offering aid and investment to every other countries one by one, in order to enhance good relations.


  23. Matteo Valderrama-dRC
    The biggest source for violent tensions in DRC are those related to the rich in resource lands in eastern Congo. In these are involved many different armed militias as well as international corporations that reap the benefits of an illegal trade of resources and negate human rights by for example making children work in the mines. However, these can also bring some benefits to the country. As of 2011, 25 international mining corporations were involved in DRC. Canada had four companies, Anvil Mining, First Quantum Minerals, Katanga Mining, and Lundin Mining involved in large-scale commercial extraction for several years or more. According to the Congolese government, in 2009 Canadian companies held US$4.5 billion in mining-related investments in the DR Congo. (Wikipedia) Today, Canadian companies such as Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., Banro Corp. and Alphamin Resources Corp. are expanding their operations in Congo, hoping that the country’s mineral resources and improving transport links will provide profits for them as well as for the Congolese government. Furthermore, Chinese mining company Zijin has also taken a part in this practice, paying $412-million for half of Ivanhoe’s majority stake in the Kamoa-Kakula mine, while the Congo government has acquired a 20-per-cent share of the mine. This shows a desire for involvement from the Chinese in the development of Congo through mining, as they have also backed a $1.9-billion project to rebuild a 1,344-km railway between southern Congo and the Atlantic Ocean port of Lobito, in Angola (York, globeandmail)
    Next week I will write about all the illegal activity, and continue on Chinese and Canadian involvement.

  24. Delphine Chiffaudel - Israel & Palestine

    Lebanon has long been implicated in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They participated in the joint arab attacks of 1946, against the newly formed Israeli state. Unlike other arab nations that participated, Lebanon signed only an armistice with Israel, and never a peace agreement. Officially, the two countries are still at war. During the course of the following Arab Israeli conflicts -- where Lebanon supported the arabs in 1973 against Israel and Israel attacked Lebanon in 1982 -- many Palestinian fled to Lebanon, a choice facilitated by the shared ethnicity. To this day, there are 450 000 Palestinians in Lebanon.
    The problem Lebanon is facing is not only the refugees from Palestine, but their children, who also inherit the refugee status; the Palestinian refugee population in Lebanon is constantly growing. The pace is high: 300,000 Palestinians in Lebanon in 2011. 150,000 more in 2014. Lebanon is one of the most densely populated countries on earth! (#20)
    In response to Israeli hostilities against Palestinians, Lebanon acts hostile towards Israel. Notably, the 2006 Lebanese-Israeli War ignited by a Lebanese cross border raid to Israel. Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora stated that Lebanon would be “the last Arab country to make peace with Israel.”

    I will continue on Lebanon next week.

  25. Deniz

    The United States of America has been pursuing relations with the Kurdish peoples since the early 20th century. In an attempt at overthrowing the government of Iraq at the time, the United States starting supporting Kurdish groups in the area, and now openly supports all Kurdish groups who are fighting against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Doing so has angered the Turkish government, which views any and all Kurdish organisations as terrorist groups, without any differentiation, whilst the US government recognizes the separate status of the PKK, which it openly condemns as terrorists, in relation to the other Kurdish groups in the area, like the YPG or the Peshmerga. Continued US support, despite Turkish protests, has maintained and worsened tensions between the allied governments, as the US considers the defeat of the Islamic State too important to ignore any potential allies.

  26. Domitille- Conflict in Ukraine

    The United States and Ukraine have established their diplomatic relationship since 1991. Since then, the US has given great importance to the “success of Ukraine's transition to a modern democratic state with a flourishing market economy” (1). The US also stresses the importance of Ukraine being “closely integrated into Europe and Euro-Atlantic structures”(1). Therefore, it is the United States’ interest to be on the Ukrainian side, since they want Ukraine to develop following their own development: they promote their values by apllying them to another country. To the US, if Russia won, it would represent a threat to their own values. The US also has strong economic ties with Ukraine: they export “coal, machinery, vehicles”(1) etc. and import “iron and stell, inorganic chemicals etc.”(1), so the US has reasons to maintain good relationships with Ukraine. However, an article from The Hill reflects a worried state of mind as Donal Trump was elected President and evoked the idea of relieving sanctions on Russia. The journalist claims it is necessary to continue supporting Ukraine, not only for the country’s sake, but also for their own: “By ignoring Russia’s actions towards Ukraine, we not only risk Ukraine’s future [...] but also our own national security interests in the region”. (2)


  27. Ito - Burundi
    Tanzania has two roles in this conflict: that of a mediator, and that of welcoming refugees. Already, back in 1995, during Burundi’s civil war, Mwalimu Nyerere, Tanzania’s first president, had been chosen to mediate peace talks. Now, as the new conflict threatens to ensue in war, former president Benjamin Mkapa is a controversial mediator of the current peace process. (Jumanne, The Citizen)
    As Tanzania is one of the most stable and wealthy countries in the region, it is hosting the majority of Burundi’s political refugees. An April Unicef report reveals that around 45 Burundians arrive in Tanzania every day, a significant decrease compared to a few months ago (600 to 700 in February), due to “tighter border measures put in place by the Tanzanian government”(Unicef Tanzania). The situation remains dire, as the camps are drastically underfunded (missing 68% of required funds) and will soon reach their maximum capacity.
    Facing the issue, Tanzania hopes to use its mediating role to slow the influx of refugees: according to an article in the Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen, the Tanzanian president John Magufuli is “categorical that restoring political stability (is) the only way to resolve the crisis.” (Jumanne, The Citizen)

  28. Olivine --- Kashmir conflict - Iran

    Iran’s interest in the Kashmir conflict is explained by the economic and political benefits it could reap by ensuring stability and cooperation in the region. Iran’s partiality to Pakistan in the conflict date back to partition as Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan as a country. Its shared border with Baluchistan reinforces their ties as the CPEC project is also very profitable to them. Iran’s ambassador to Pakistan declared that the CPEC was “full of opportunities, not only for Pakistan and China but for all countries of the region.”

    In order to achieve stability in the region, Iran reaffirmed “its readiness for any support, for any hope of peace and tranquillity in the region.” Iran has attempted to foster trade with Pakistan and the rest of the region through open diplomacy. For example, the “Free Trade Agreement draft has been signed and it would soon be operative to enhance two-way trade”.

    Iran’s ties with India are equally strong as “making a country like India – which is Iran’s second largest oil market after China - a stakeholder in its economy is equal to securing political insurance.” The negotiations between the two countries for upcoming-energy deals allow Iran to receive international support for political stability in their country and India to secure a much needed energy source. China too is close to Iran for the same reasons.

  29. FROM TIM

    The US have always been moderately keen when it came to enter the war in Syria and that has not changed today. Under the Obama administration, the US have always said that Assad could not be part of Syria’s future and they have supported Syria’s main opposition group, the “National Coalition” (BBC). With Donald Trump’s election, it was believed his priority would be to regain decent relations with Putin, but instead the US have continued to firmly condemn Assad and now even do so with Putin (BBC). The US is now determined to fight ISIL as well as Assad’s regime even though it might mean indirectly confronting Russia. They have already famously deployed the MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) in Afghanistan to begin their fight against terrorism and this might just be the beginning of powerful military interventions in the Middle-East (Wikipedia). If the US do decide to play a more decisive role in Syria, it wouldn’t be as much for the money like Russia, but to put an end to the tyrannical regime that Assad has put in place.


  30. Marin Duroyon - Libyan Civil War
    Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos Operation and political activists from the city of Misrata held a meeting in Russia in order to appease the political and security situations in Libya. Russia is acting as a mediator between the two rival parties, on one side the army from the Misatra community and on the other the forces of the General Khalifa Haftar. During the meeting commander Mohammed Essa controversial said that the General Khalifa Haftar only fights for power and military gains: “Haftar exploits terrorism to brand his opponents as terrorists.”
    Russia has been involved for quite awhile in the Libyan Civil War, constantly trying to appease the conflict but at the same time making “marketing meetings” with different rivals of the Civil War (explained in phase 2) or recruiting extra military. This could be explain by the large amount of oil that could be found in the country. Furthermore, during the Civil War the ports were closed, therefore Russia might be involved in this world conflict in order to gain some control of this oil.

  31. Lucca Stagno- Al Shabaab in Somalia

    Ever since the 9/11 terror attacks, the USA have declared a war against terrorism and have been notably opposed to the culprits of the 2002 attacks on the Twin Towers, Al Qaeda. Furthermore, the United States has been historically and presently allied to the African nation of Kenya. All of these factors make it so that the US is almost inevitably opposed to Al Shabaab. Seeing as they are Al Qaeda affiliates that operate in Somalia and its neighbors (including Kenya) the US has taken indirect action against Al Shabaab in recent years. This has most usually been in the form of aid given to Kenya (for example the helicopters given to the KDF I reported on earlier this year in phase one).

  32. Leah Sadoff- al-Shabaab

    From the start of the al-Shabaab terrorist problem the USA has been supporting Somalia. The US sends Somalia a lot of armory to be able to protect themselves as well as fight the terrorists. It is in the US' interest to to help them fight off the terrorists because they want to destroy all possibilities of them coming into their country and creating chaos. Although the US does send some machinery it isn’t enough to be able to get rid of the problem. The military equipment that is sent is also used to secure densely populated places. When Obama was still president he had a set plan and was making key decisions to help Somalia as much as he could. But now that Trump is president, he does not know what to do and how to do it tactfully. The few decisions he is making seem to be almost out of impulse because they don’t help and it is creating chaos within the military allies.

  33. Emma Ghafari – Conflict in Ukraine
    Syria has given its opinion about the crisis in Ukraine, being among the minority of countries supporting Russia. In fact, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has backed Russia’s annexation of Crimea claiming that it will “restore security and stability to the friendly country of Ukraine […] through President Putin’s wise policy and commitment to the international legitimacy and legal rules that govern relations among countries and peoples” (Keating). Syria’s endorsement of Russia is not a surprise; Russia has been an active supporter of Assad against the U.S. in the Syrian civil war and was “protected by Russia’s veto in the UN Security Council three times since the Syrian civil war began” (Matthews). Therefore, the former’s decision was likely made to return Putin’s loyalty. No country has reacted to Assad’s support of Russia. In short, Syria’s backing Russia is mainly out of fidelity to the latter and in the hope of creating stronger ties with it.
    Matthews, Kyle. "From A to Z: These Are the 10 Countries Backing Putin's Annexation of Crimea." Global News. N.p., 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 13 May 2017.
    Keating, Joshua. "Countries Supporting Russia on Crimea: Venezuela, Syria ... India?" Slate Magazine. N.p., 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 13 May 2017. .

  34. Rémi Masia-Depardieu, Destabilization of Mali
    Northern Mali is originally populated by Tuaregs, an ethnic minority that considers herself as mistreated and discriminated against by the Malian government. Therefore, they have started a revolt in 2012, and have since then been fighting for independence or equal rights. They are usually involved in groups, such as Ansar Al-Dine or the Movement for the National Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA), and take part in terrorist attacks, protests, and even negotiations with Bamako to raise awareness about their situation. Some Tuareg groups are more violent, which owe them a bad reputation internationally, and in Southern Mali. As they are responsible for the start of the crisis in 2012, they have lost control of the Northern population since, and the crisis evolved more towards terrorism than fighting for independence or recognition. The Tuaregs are also spread around Mali, such as in Libya, where they also are engaged in the crisis, seeking the same results, an independent state, or governmental participation.

  35. Matteo Valderrama- Conflict in DRC
    The biggest involvement in mining in the DRC is from China. In 2014, the volume of Chinese trade with the DRC was $4.33 billion- 12 times greater than that of the U.S. Furthermore, they loaned $6 billion in 2009, through the Chinese Exim Bank, to the Congolese government. The point of this loan was to improve Congo’s infrastructure and mining operations and the DRC government claims it has brought results despite multiple problems surfacing. Moreover, earlier this year, China Molybdenum Co Ltd. acquired a majority stake in a major copper and cobalt mine in the Katanga province through a $2.56 billion dollar deal. These efforts to control the mining industry in Congo have been to disrupt US supply chains for the metals coming out of these mines and help China assert themselves as the leader in the production and exportation of these metals. The Chinese have also backed a $1.9-billion project to rebuild a 1,344-km railway between southern Congo and the Atlantic Ocean port of Lobito, in Angola to be able to export more easily the produce of the mines. This helps the DRC in the development of their infrastructure which will help fight the violence in these provinces because of the resources as well as help them establish organized mining that will bring back profit to the government unlike the illegal mining activity.