War in Libya and its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces (1)

With two primary warring alliances and two rival governments, Libya’s civil war is becoming increasingly polarized. The Islamist/Misratan coalition, or Dawn of Libya, which supports the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli, is battling General Haftar and the Nationalist coalition, which supports the Council of Representatives in Tobruk. With this in mind, we shall begin the present state of play with the Nationalist coalition. In this post, we shall specifically evaluate the Petroleum Facilities Guard, the Army of Cyrenaica, the Cyrenaica Protection Force, the Libyan military, al-Saiqa (Special Forces), al-Sawaiq Brigade, and al-Qaqa Brigade. The remaining groups – the Libyan National Army, Zintan Brigades, various tribes and regional forces – shall be presented in the next post. The Council of […]

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Ultra-Nationalism and the Far Right in Ukraine (1): Victims and Heroes

Parliamentary election in Ukraine will be held on 26 October 2014. Meanwhile, the road towards full peace in Eastern Ukraine is still uncertain, despite the 5 September Minsk protocol and its 19 September memorandum (OSCE), witness, among others, the battles for Donetsk airport and latest fighting in Luhansk or near Mariupol (OSCE SMM reports). Furthermore, on 2 November, the special status territories of the Donbass, the “self-proclaimed” Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) will vote to elect their respective heads and representatives at the People’s Assemblies (Ria Novosti, 11 October 2014). It is thus all the more important to continue our evaluation of the state of play for the various Ukrainian actors. Ukraine is indeed more than ever poised […]

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War in Ukraine: Hope, Outrage and Fortitude – The Separatists (2)

(Update 20 January 2015 – see also the latest posts on ultra-nationalism in Ukraine – 1- victims and heroes; 2- demise or metarmophosis and 3- parties and battalions – which contribute to explain current interactions, and foresaw an increased likelihood to see the conflict re-start. What is below is still important and relevant to be able to understand the current situation as well as its possible evolution). In the framework of our analysis on Ukraine, this post is the second part of our focus on the separatists, the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), now united in the confederate Union of People’s Republics. It explores the various dimensions of the very challenging situation into which the two People’s Republics are and their […]

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War and Peace in Ukraine: The Separatists (1)

The war in Eastern Ukraine has killed from 15 April to 20 June an estimated number of “423 people, including servicemen and civilians,” (UN HCHR statement, 24 June 2014), which, compared with our own estimate of 99 deaths up to May 15 shows the rising violence of the ongoing fighting. Refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) from the East now reach “nearly 34,600″ people,  with nearly half of the displacements – estimated to 15,200 within the Donetsk and Luhansk regions – taking place “over the last two weeks”, i.e. after 6 June 2014. Russia estimates that it now hosts 16,700 Ukrainian refugees on its territory, notably in the region of Rostov (Ria Novosti, 27 June; 14,000 on 25 June 2014, Itar-Tass). This, again, shows an intensification […]

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Conflict in Ukraine – State of Play – The Oligarchs

This post of our series on the war in Ukraine will focus on the oligarchs. We saw previously how the oligarchic system functions and its impacts on the country, notably in terms of poverty and a weak, fragile, and dependent state. Here, we shall look first at the way to classify oligarchs, if any, and at the interactions among oligarchs. We shall then present oligarchs and tycoons one by one, separating them into two sections, first the wealthiest and most influential, then the others. We shall only provide details for the most influential businessmen, notably addressing their relationship to politics and to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. We shall, however, also name the others, notably to allow for monitoring. Groups and interactions among oligarchs Following […]

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Conflict in Ukraine – State of Play – The Oligarchic System

This article is the second of the series on the conflict in Ukraine and starts a review of the various domestic actors. It focuses on the oligarchic system, its dynamics and challenges. On 15 May 2014, steelworkers working for oligarch Rinat Akhmetov took over the city of Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, as reported by Andrew Kramer for the New York Times, even if the People’s Republic of Donetsk seems to have kept power (e.g. Roza Kazan, 18 May 2014), after Akhmetov released a first statement video (see original 14 May, with subtitles). Meanwhile, Kim Sengupta for The Independent, writing on the 9 May attack on Mariupol mentions that “An assortment took part in the assault, including a private army supposedly bankrolled by an oligarch – the “men in black”. […]

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The Syrian War: the Start of a New Phase

This (long) post ends the current series of updates on the Syrian war. It focuses on the evolution within the National Coalition and the Supreme Military Council, the expected failure of Geneva 2 and the start of a new phase in the Syrian war. This will allow us, next, to finally turn to an evaluation of our scenarios and indicators. The National Coalition and the Supreme Military Council The last alliance to emerge over the Autumn has been Syria Revolutionaries Front (SRF), created on 9 December 2013 (see Youtube video), which is composed of moderate or non-ideologically motivated groups, as detailed by Lund (13 Dec 2013) and mapped below (click on the image for a larger picture). It is a reaction to the Salafi-Nationalist […]

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The Kurds and Rojava, State-Building in the Syrian War

During the Autumn 2013 and Winter 2014, we witnessed a major reconfiguration of forces in Syria, as seen previously, including with the rise of Salafi-Nationalists. This article looks at the evolution that took place in Western Kurdistan, notably the birth of novel political institutions, Rojava, and how and why the Kurds relate to the Geneva conference that took place in early 2014. Creating Rojava We recall that on 10 July 2013, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) declared starting making plans to move towards some degree of autonomy for Rojava or the Syrian part of Kurdistan (see for detail 4 Nov 2013 update, 2.1.). News about Rojava and its “project” can be followed on its own website, created in August 2013. The PYD moved forward on 11 November 2013 […]

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Facing the Fog of War in Syria: The Tragedy of Kurdistan

This post is the latest update for the State of Play: The Kurds in the Syrian civil war. It can be read independently, but readers will be able to refer to the initial post for background. A general call to arms to fight Jihadis – Since first clashes erupted on 12 July, intensifying on 16 July, notably over and in the city of Ras al-Ain, the YPG (The People’s Defence Units – see updated mapping of actors below) has been fighting Jahbat-al Nosra (JAN) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS or ISIL) (van Wilgenburg, Al-Monitor, July 16). At the end of July, fighting was raging in the area of the oil fields of Rmeilan “around the main […]

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Facing the Fog of War in Syria: The Syrian Islamists Play the Regional “Game of Thrones”

This second update covers the evolution in Syria from July to October 2013. It focuses first on dynamics of change involving the interplay between the Syrian Islamist factions on the ground and international players – especially the declaration of an “Islamic framework” and then the creation of the Islam Army, with impact on the overall situation, and provides an updated mapping for Syrian Islamist groups. It then looks at evolutions related to the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. Syrian Sunni factions intending to install an Islamist state in Syria (For background and past state of play, see here) It is within those groups that we have been witnessing throughout September-October 2013 the most potent changes. As always, and as Lund […]

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