Iraq Syria Turkey
Turkish soldiers stand on a hill, facing the Islamic State (IS) fighters' new position, 10km west of the Syrian city of Ain al-Arab (Kobane) near the Syrian border, 2 October, 2014. AFP

Border Patrol: Turkey Tries a New Tack on Its Southern Frontier

In this Q and A, Hugh Pope, deputy director of Crisis Group’s Europe and Central Asia Program, discusses Turkey’s latest change in policy towards Syria, Iraq and the coalition against Islamic State.

Does the parliamentary resolution accepted on 2 October 2014 ­– authorizing Turkish troops to be deployed over the border and foreign armed forces to be based in Turkey – mean that Turkey is going to war in Syria or Iraq?

No cross-border action is likely, at least not yet. There is confusion in the Turkish capital as the government feels its way towards the safest of several dangerous courses. One Turkish newspaper splashed a headline this week about how, if necessary, “We’ll Go in Alone”. A few dozen Turkish tanks have been sent to the border and several thousand troops moved up in reserve. But Turkey is only inching towards direct action. Turkey’s defence minister says the government has no immediate plan to use the new authority to send troops abroad or accept foreign troops in order “to counter any possible attack on our country from all terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria”. Instead, the main purpose appears to be to deter Islamic State jihadis from taking on Turkey, and perhaps to signal both determination and impatience to Turkey’s Western allies.

Iraq Syria
A fighter of the Islamic State (IS) holds an IS flag and a weapon, Mosul, 23 June, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

What lies behind the “Islamic State” threat

Going beyond the clichés, Peter Harling shares some disturbing truths on the origins and the rise of the Islamic State. The horrific murder of hostage Hervé Gourdel in the name of the Islamic State organisation has focused France’s attention on the jihadi group and reinforced President François Hollande’s determination to strike the group’s positions in Iraq.

But what really is this ultra-radical group? Who contributed to its ascension? Why does it continue to attract disciples around the world? And how can it be stopped? International Crisis Group’s project director for Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and senior Middle East and North Africa adviser, Peter Harling, who lived and worked in Iraq for seven years, reveals to Le Point some disturbing truths on the war against the Islamic State.

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Central African Republic

Crisis Group’s Central Africa project director, Thierry Vircoulon, speaks to Deutsche Welle following the announcement from the International Criminal Court of a new investigation into atrocities committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the last two years. Months of fighting between the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition and the Christian anti-Balaka militia have left at least 5,000 people dead. The atrocities to be probed include murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillage and the use of children under the age of 15 in combat.

Women from Altyn-Kazyk on the way to fetch water from Kalys-Ordo. CRISIS GROUP/ Max De Haldevang

Central Asia’s Coming Winter of Discontent

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Germany and like-minded Western donors like Switzerland and the Netherlands have poured millions into trying to solve Central Asia’s chronic water problems. But Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have wasted this opportunity. A new strategy is called for, both in the region and by those who would help it.

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The Maritime Regional Architecture in the Gulf of Guinea. CRISIS GROUP

Gulf of Guinea: A Regional Solution to Piracy?

Acts of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea represent more than a quarter of worldwide reported attacks. Steadily increasing since 2007, maritime insecurity in this region affects the trade of 455 million people. It affects the shipment of five million barrels of oil per day (Africa’s total is nine million), accounting for forty per cent of European and twenty-nine per cent of American imports. In its December 2012 report The Gulf of Guinea: The New Danger Zone, Crisis Group analysed the emergence of this problem and recommended a two-pronged, long-term response: building a regional maritime security architecture and improving the economic and security governance of the states in the region. While the region is working to develop the security architecture, it also needs to tackle the illicit economic dimensions of the overall situation. In addition, lessons learned from the securing of the Straits of Malacca (which inspired a similar effort in the Gulf of Aden) should be shared with African countries.

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Korean Peninsula

Improving missile defense (MD) capabilities presents its own distinct set of regional and alliance-based issues for the Republic of South Korea (ROK). While the U.S. has been keen to deploy more MD assets to the region, Beijing perceives U.S.-led ballistic missile defence efforts as aimed at its own rising influence and military power in the region. The ROK abhors the thought of being forced to pick sides in a U.S.-China rift, but Seoul’s greatest security concern is Pyongyang’s advancing missile and nuclear programs.


A 12-hour truce between Israel and Hamas came into effect Saturday 26 July at 8am in the Gaza Strip, where over 900 Palestinians have died since the start of the Israeli offensive 19 days ago. International Crisis Group (ICG) Senior Analyst Ofer Zalzberg examines the different positions of the conflict’s actors on a potential ceasefire.

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South Sudan

The parties to the South Sudan conflict all have their own ideas about what civil society is; and each party tends to believe the most legitimate civil-society representatives are those that think just as it does. Most recently, unresolved questions of what civil society is and what role it should play helped derail talks. The regional precedents are not encouraging, but there are still lessons to be learned from earlier peace processes.


In a DW interview, Graeme Smith, senior Afghanistan analyst for the International Crisis Group, says any significant delay in the electoral calendar will it make it harder for the US and NATO to reach a deal to keep troops in the country after the end of the year. It remains unclear whether both the candidates will accept the final election results.

DW: What do the current preliminary results mean for the electoral process?

Graeme Smith: This means that Ghani’s team has successfully persuaded the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to release the preliminary results in a timely fashion. That was a key demand of the Ghani campaign, which wants the process to go ahead.

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  • 4 February 2014

    CrisisWatch Interactive Map

    CrisisWatch interactive map provides busy readers in the policy community, media, business and interested general public with a succinct regular update on the state of play in all the most significant situations of conflict or potential conflict around the world.

  • 24 June 2014

    The Central African Crisis

    In this series of video interviews, Thierry Vircoulon, Crisis Group's Central Africa Project Director, discusses the conflict in the Central African Republic.

  • 27 May 2014

    Iran's Nuclear Crisis

    Ali Vaez, Crisis Group's Iran Senior Analyst, discusses the latest developments in nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and suggests a way forward that would satisfy all sides.