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Hagia Sophia: Turkey's secularism under threat

24-07-2020

Turkey's decision to convert Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, announced on 10 July 2020, created a wave of protest from international and EU authorities, who fear for religious freedom and the republican secular tradition in Turkey. The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union (EU) condemned this decision at its meeting of 13 July 2020, alongside international organisations including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), raising concerns that the ...

Turkey's decision to convert Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, announced on 10 July 2020, created a wave of protest from international and EU authorities, who fear for religious freedom and the republican secular tradition in Turkey. The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union (EU) condemned this decision at its meeting of 13 July 2020, alongside international organisations including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), raising concerns that the decision would 'fuel mistrust, promote renewed divisions between religious communities and undermine efforts at dialogue and cooperation'. While Turkey is still an EU candidate country, several recent initiatives, ranging from military interventions in Syria and military assistance to Libya in breach of the arms embargo, to illegal gas drilling and repeated threats to EU Member States in the eastern Mediterranean, undermine the country's path towards EU membership and open the door to possible sanctions.

Combating anti-Muslim hatred in the EU

28-11-2018

Discrimination against minorities is against EU values and principles. However, research shows that discrimination against Muslims is becoming more common, and that it is increasingly supported by some political parties. EU secondary legislation on the issue is limited, and even grounds and areas of discrimination that are already covered need more work to ensure comprehensive protection. Nonetheless, several key legislative proposals are not making any progress, much to the regret of the European ...

Discrimination against minorities is against EU values and principles. However, research shows that discrimination against Muslims is becoming more common, and that it is increasingly supported by some political parties. EU secondary legislation on the issue is limited, and even grounds and areas of discrimination that are already covered need more work to ensure comprehensive protection. Nonetheless, several key legislative proposals are not making any progress, much to the regret of the European Parliament.

Saudi Arabia in the Western Balkans

17-11-2017

The Gulf States, along with other external players, have raised their profile in the Western Balkans in recent years. While most have set out on an economic quest, Saudi Arabia is considered to have a more ideological approach, seeking a strong role among the region's Muslims. In the 1990s Bosnian war, it provided significant aid for the Muslim cause and has stayed in the region to expand its influence, introducing stricter interpretations of Islam that are gradually taking root there.

The Gulf States, along with other external players, have raised their profile in the Western Balkans in recent years. While most have set out on an economic quest, Saudi Arabia is considered to have a more ideological approach, seeking a strong role among the region's Muslims. In the 1990s Bosnian war, it provided significant aid for the Muslim cause and has stayed in the region to expand its influence, introducing stricter interpretations of Islam that are gradually taking root there.

ISIL/Da'esh: From Mosul to Mosul

13-07-2017

In June 2014, ISIL/Da'esh took over the city of Mosul in Iraq, and from there declared the advent of an Islamic State. Three years later, in July 2017, after nine months of battle involving Iraqi security forces, popular militias and Kurdish troops, ISIL/Da'esh has been expelled from its Iraqi stronghold, adding to the past two years' severe territorial losses. This is an important victory; however, it does not yet represent the eradication of a terrorist group that still has many supporters.

In June 2014, ISIL/Da'esh took over the city of Mosul in Iraq, and from there declared the advent of an Islamic State. Three years later, in July 2017, after nine months of battle involving Iraqi security forces, popular militias and Kurdish troops, ISIL/Da'esh has been expelled from its Iraqi stronghold, adding to the past two years' severe territorial losses. This is an important victory; however, it does not yet represent the eradication of a terrorist group that still has many supporters.

Qatar: Rising tension in the Gulf

09-06-2017

On 5 June 2017, several Arab nations, including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), simultaneously announced that they were severing ties with Qatar, a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Accusing Qatar of supporting and financing 'terrorism and extremism' in the region, the above countries announced that they would halt all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, expel its diplomats and ask Qatari citizens to leave their territory within 14 days. Oil prices ...

On 5 June 2017, several Arab nations, including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), simultaneously announced that they were severing ties with Qatar, a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Accusing Qatar of supporting and financing 'terrorism and extremism' in the region, the above countries announced that they would halt all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, expel its diplomats and ask Qatari citizens to leave their territory within 14 days. Oil prices rose initially as markets responded nervously to the worst crisis to involve the GCC since its creation in 1981, but then dropped again. Any escalation in the crisis would likely lead to more sustained increases in oil and gas prices.

Syrian crisis: Impact on Iraq

03-04-2017

The Syrian crisis, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into full-scale civil war, has had a huge impact on neighbouring Iraq. From its stronghold in the Syrian town of Raqqa, the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL/Da'esh), which originated in Iraq, was able to over-run a third of Iraq's territory in 2014, sowing death and destruction in its path and leading to the internal displacement of over 3 million Iraqis today. It is estimated that as many as 11 million Iraqis ...

The Syrian crisis, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into full-scale civil war, has had a huge impact on neighbouring Iraq. From its stronghold in the Syrian town of Raqqa, the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL/Da'esh), which originated in Iraq, was able to over-run a third of Iraq's territory in 2014, sowing death and destruction in its path and leading to the internal displacement of over 3 million Iraqis today. It is estimated that as many as 11 million Iraqis ─ almost a third of the population ─ may need humanitarian assistance this year to deal with the effects of continuous conflict and economic stagnation. Moreover, a quarter of a million Syrians have sought refuge in Iraq from the war raging in their country. Most have settled in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), increasing the population of this autonomous region by nearly 30 % over the past few years. The ─ mostly Kurdish ─ Syrian refugees were well received by the government of the Kurdish Region, which gave Syrians the right to work in the region and to enrol in public schools and universities. Nevertheless, the large influx of refugees has placed strains on the local economy and host communities, and on public services. Prices and unemployment have increased while wages have tumbled. Economic growth in the KRI has slowed, while the poverty rate has more than doubled. The international community has stepped in to assist Iraq in its fight against ISIL/Da'esh and to help the country deal with the humanitarian crisis caused by the unprecedented displacement of Iraqis, and Syrian refugees. As a result of concerted military efforts, ISIL/Da'esh now occupies less than 10 % of Iraqi territory. At the same time, funds and substantial amounts of humanitarian aid have been poured into the country, to support the displaced and facilitate their return to areas over which the Iraqi State has re-established control. The EU is a leading partner in the effort to mitigate the impact of the Syrian crisis on its Iraqi neighbours.

The Yazidis: An ongoing genocide

09-12-2016

The award of the 2016 Sakharov Prize to Nadia Murad Basee Taha and Lamiya Aji Bashar highlights the fate of their people, the Yazidis, one of the communities most affected, in proportion to their total population, by the violence committed by ISIL/Da'esh (or ‘Islamic State’).

The award of the 2016 Sakharov Prize to Nadia Murad Basee Taha and Lamiya Aji Bashar highlights the fate of their people, the Yazidis, one of the communities most affected, in proportion to their total population, by the violence committed by ISIL/Da'esh (or ‘Islamic State’).

Syria: Stalled Peace Process and Blocked Humanitarian Access

24-11-2016

Amid stalled peace talks and a worsening humanitarian situation, the EU is working alongside the UN Special Envoy for Syria to engage key regional and international players and broker a return to the negotiating table. In parallel, an EU emergency humanitarian initiative for Aleppo has been launched to attempt to break the deadlock over humanitarian access and deliver aid to some of the 275 000 people in Aleppo and 13.5 million people across the country who are in desperate need of assistance.

Amid stalled peace talks and a worsening humanitarian situation, the EU is working alongside the UN Special Envoy for Syria to engage key regional and international players and broker a return to the negotiating table. In parallel, an EU emergency humanitarian initiative for Aleppo has been launched to attempt to break the deadlock over humanitarian access and deliver aid to some of the 275 000 people in Aleppo and 13.5 million people across the country who are in desperate need of assistance.

Indonesia: Political landscape under President Jokowi

24-10-2016

After the downfall of former dictator Suharto in 1998, Indonesia underwent a successful democratic transition. Current President Jokowi heads a coalition government with an ambitious reform agenda tackling some of the country's long-term problems, but the lack of progress by his predecessors on this front suggests that he will find it difficult to achieve real change.

After the downfall of former dictator Suharto in 1998, Indonesia underwent a successful democratic transition. Current President Jokowi heads a coalition government with an ambitious reform agenda tackling some of the country's long-term problems, but the lack of progress by his predecessors on this front suggests that he will find it difficult to achieve real change.

EU Strategic Communications with a View to Counteracting Propaganda

26-05-2016

Emanating from Russia in the east and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the south, the EU has been increasingly hit by destabilising messages amounting – in different forms and to different degrees – to coherent hostile ‘strategic communications’ campaigns, or the processes of infusing communications activities with an agenda or plan to impact the behaviour of a target audience. Both Russia and ISIL have engaged in aggressive messaging and deceptive media campaigns, albeit ...

Emanating from Russia in the east and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the south, the EU has been increasingly hit by destabilising messages amounting – in different forms and to different degrees – to coherent hostile ‘strategic communications’ campaigns, or the processes of infusing communications activities with an agenda or plan to impact the behaviour of a target audience. Both Russia and ISIL have engaged in aggressive messaging and deceptive media campaigns, albeit with distinct narratives, targets and audiences. This paper analyses the ‘what’ and the ‘how’: the respective narratives of each actor, their specificities, their similarities and their differences. The analysis also draws attention to strategic communications efforts undertaken by the EU, which are vectored into defensive (react and respond) and offensive (probe and push) dimensions. This understanding of the present context finally allows for an evaluation of what actions can be taken to enhance the effectiveness of the EU’s own strategic communications.

Autor externo

European Union Institute for Security Studies - EUISS, France

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