Yesterday Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of sending troops into Ukrainian territory and opening a new southern front in the Ukrainian army’s fight with pro-Russian separatists, capturing the strategic coastal town of Novoazovsk. The reports have been confirmed by NATO and the US, and other Western leaders also seem to have little doubt at this point of Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine.
A ceasefire agreement was eventually reached between Israeli and Palestinians on 26 August. Fifty days after the beginning of Israel’s “Protective Edge” military operation, the Cairo-brokered peace deal was welcomed by Gaza’s inhabitants who demonstrated in Gaza’s streets last night. However, it should not bring much improvement in comparison to the previous ceasefire negotiated in 2012.
One day after the country’s independence day parade on 24 August, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dissolved the Parliament and announced that early elections would be held on 26 October. The announcement is a strong signal on the eve of Poroshenko’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk, and as Russian soldiers have been arrested on Ukrainian soil today. It raises concerns about a potential escalation of the conflict as the political and economic situation deteriorates in Ukraine.
The breakaway region of Abkhazia has held early presidential elections on Sunday, August 24th. Allegations of corruption and misrule had forced the former President Aleksandr Ankvab to resign in early June, consequently rescheduling the date of presidential elections from 2016 to August 2014. The election of a KGB academy graduate has raised concern from the European Union and Georgia about the Kremlin’s involvement in the area.
Azerbaijan has increasingly been criticized for its massive crackdown on human rights activists by international organisations and NGOs. On 19 August, the United Nations issued a report condemning their prosecution, underlining that the “criminalization of rights activists must stop.” The report came as the list of political prisoners was revealed and an Azerbaijani Court presided over an appeal trial of a young activist on August 20, in a case denounced as “politically motivated” by his followers.
Tunisia has recently taken the lead in favour of gender parity in the Arab world. Equality between men and women in politics became constitutionally guaranteed in January 2014 when the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) approved the state’s new charter. On 20 August Hafedh Caid el-Sebsi, the son of the Nidaa Tounes party’s founder Beji Caid el-Sebsi, announced he would resign as head of list for the Tunis 1 governorate in the upcoming elections in favour of a woman. Nevertheless, the party, which represents the country’s largest opposition bloc, has in total included only two women has head of its electoral lists for the October 26 legislative elections.
Western countries have increasingly pinned high hopes on the Peshmerga, Iraq’s Kurdish militia, to fight against the Islamic State (IS) and prevent it from taking control of more territory. In order to counter their lack of equipment, they have decided to ship Kurds modern weaponry. This decision could have great implications on the military balance of the Middle East, especially for their neighbouring country Turkey, which has been in an armed conflict for thirty years with various Kurdish insurgent groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
This Sunday, August 17th, only a handful people showed up at the Siberian independence march, or “Federalization-rally” in Novosibirsk, Russia’s third largest city, capitol of Siberia. And it might look like the Kremlin itself appeared to be its most active participant through its vigorous hunt on media-coverage leading up to the event. What was this “federalization-rally” all about? And why would the Kremlin be so actively engaged to keep it quiet?
An emergency summit was held on Sunday August 17th between Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in Berlin. It was the second round of talks over the Ukrainian crisis after the last summit that was held on April 17th in Geneva. Although progress emerged about the Russian humanitarian convoy’s entry on Ukrainian territory, Sergei Lavrov, Pavel Klimkin, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius did not reach any agreement concerning an exit from the current crisis between the two countries.
Balkan countries have undergone an upsurge in the number of its citizens joining the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) in recent months. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Kosovo are in the front line of the phenomenon after several of their compatriots either died in Iraq or were arrested on their way to jihad. These events underline the reticular organisation of the Islamic State, which attracts more and more European Muslims to join the fight for the caliphate.