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Diplomacy refers to all forms of communications, networking and negotiations practiced in international relations to advance the interests of a given state. Formal international platforms - whether security or economic communities - seek to coalesce states around shared interests, and create protection against conflicts of interest becoming violent.


Yemen: under fire, desperate for peace

Can the Yemen peace talks succeed? The dire humanitarian situation demands it but political factionalism and external interference may prove inordinate obstacles.

Morocco, UN myopia and the Libyan crisis

It may be understandable that the UN should clutch at any straws to address the miasma in Libya. But Morocco shouldn’t be one of them.

Yemen at war

With a humanitarian crisis mounting in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has eased its military pressure—for the moment.

Erdoğan, Syria and the Kurds: be careful what you wish for

A complex political triangulation links the Turkish president with the Syrian imbroglio and the Kurdish question, but his political target is receding.

Iran behind the conciliatory veil

Right-wing US and Israeli venom against the outline agreement is one thing; genuine concern about the Islamic regime’s Shia expansionism and human-rights record is however another.

Securitisation not the response to deaths at sea

The European Union has responded to the humanitarian crisis presented by refugee deaths in the Mediterranean—but only through the lens of border control.

Prohibiting autonomous weapons systems

They have been dubbed ‘killer robots’. Concerted international action is needed to prevent the emergence of weapons which could operate without meaningful human control.

Yemen: dialogue must replace war

The Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen have failed to stem the Houthi advance. Time for jaw-jaw, not war-war.

A Gulf in understanding

The outline Iran nuclear deal has highlighted divisions in the region—not just between majority Shia and Sunni states but between those supporting the status quo and those challenging it.

Iran nuclear deal: keeping hope of peace alive

Conservatives in the US, Israel and Iran itself are all opposed to the outline nuclear accord. So it looks like progress.

Sudan: nodding through a dictator’s re-election

Next week sees elections in Sudan. But there’s one thing wrong—we already know the outcome.

Iran celebrates historic nuclear deal—all eyes now on supreme leader

A quarter-century on from the 'Islamic' revolution, Iran's beleaguered economy and its reformist leader desperately need a deal to end sanctions. But will the ideologically-driven Khamenei allow it?

Andargachew Tsige: Ethiopian brutality, British apathy

A UK citizen who was a refugee from the one-party state that is Ethiopia has been spirited back into its clutches. Why is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office doing so little?

Libya: the pressing need for dialogue

The western intervention in Libya in 2011 failed to recognise the complex warp and weft of its pre-democratic tribal fabric. Only a regionally facilitated dialogue can repair the shattered state left behind.

An irresistible force? Arab citizens of Israel after the elections

Binyamin Netanyahu may have returned to power by disowning the two-state solution and scaremongering about Arab voters pre-election. But Palestinians in Israel have become a force to be reckoned with.

Arms and the men: Sweden’s revoked Saudi arms deal

From the outside, the Swedish snub to the Saudi royals looks like a big triumph for women’s rights over commercial pressures. Close up, the ethical picture is a little muddier.

Indonesia regresses with the use of the death penalty

The prospect of execution of two Australians in Indonesia has caught international media attention, amid Australian protest. But these are part of a wider official spasm, in a country dominated by a ‘tough on crime’ narrative.

With Ghani in Kabul, will relations with Pakistan change?

There are signs that the long-fraught relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan could improve, following the change of leadership in Kabul. Reciprocation from Islamabad will, however, be needed.

Turkey and Armenia: genocide? what genocide?

April 1915 saw the start of the genocide against Armenians and other minorities in the former Ottoman Empire. Erdoğan hopes he can ignore the anniversary and it will go away—while Armenian politics is stuck in victim mode.

Karabakh truce shaken by gunshots and tough talk

OSCE mediators urge an end to attacks after a month in which the 20-year-old ceasefire was broken in thousands of incidents.

Is there reason to hope for Minsk II?

The last Minsk agreement on eastern Ukraine failed to bring peace. The latest looks similar—but the context has changed.

Ukraine ceasefire announced at Minsk summit—what next?

The ceasefire agreement in Minsk over Ukraine was better than no outcome at all. But only a little better.

Yemen: descent into anarchy

With the resignation of its president and prime minister, Yemen lacks the capacity to steer its political transition towards the goal of greater stability. The alternative, however, does not bear thinking about.

Multilateralism: is the end in sight?

The P5 process was a British attempt to spark multilateral nuclear disarmament. It should no longer be accepted as an excuse for inaction.  

Obama, Netanyahu, Iran, Congress and the Republican Party

An intense political battle is going on over Iran on Capitol Hill. Insular Republicans underestimate at their peril international pressures driven by global security concerns.

In Ukraine, NATO has ceased to be an instrument of US foreign policy

In the renewed cold war over Ukraine, while Russia’s economy has been weakened by European sanctions, the US is no longer the hegemon it once was—and NATO is under strain.

Ukraine steels for more unrest as Donetsk bus attack kills 12

The latest violence in eastern Ukraine would lead most observers to think an end to the military and political attrition is not in sight. They would be right.

Will America's political discord torpedo the Iran talks?

Continued Republican efforts to force further sanctions on Iran threaten the fragile coalition making progress on nuclear negotiations, which already show wear from an outdated zero-sum approach. 

Tensions rise between India and Pakistan

International constraint and mutual nuclear deterrence may have prevented all-out war with Pakistan in the past over contested Kashmir. With thousands fleeing their homes amid escalating violence, that may not remain a secure wager.

Western Sahara: Africa’s last colony

As 2015 opens, the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara have been waiting for a self-determination referendum for four decades. They will wait longer due to the passivity of the international community. 

Reflections on intervention in the 21st century

Where stands now the ‘responsibility to protect’? Recent egregious intervention failures require simplistic nostra to be replaced by a more complex understanding.

Eastern Ukraine: the humanity behind the headlines

The government in Kyiv, aid organisations and the international community must work together to address the humanitarian crisis created by the fighting in the east.

Complacency is slowly killing the non-proliferation regime

Fatalism over the chances of achieving agreement on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is symptomatic of a failure that goes deeper than the inefficiencies of the diplomatic process.

Myanmar: the human-rights story behind the spin

The authorities in Nay Pyi Taw are steering the former authoritarian pariah state to open engagement with the world. Well, that’s what they say.

Choosing the next UN leader should not be left to three people

The secretary-general of the United Nations holds the world in his hands. It shouldn’t be possible to count those who decide who that is on the fingers of one.

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