89 episodes

Join Crisis Group's Executive Vice President Richard Atwood and Board Member and Harvard Law School Professor Naz Modirzadeh as they dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe with Crisis Group analysts and special guests. These experts bring a unique, on-the-ground perspective to understanding both why those conflicts persist — and what could bring them to an end.
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Hold Your Fire‪!‬ International Crisis Group

    • News
    • 5.0 • 17 Ratings

Join Crisis Group's Executive Vice President Richard Atwood and Board Member and Harvard Law School Professor Naz Modirzadeh as they dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe with Crisis Group analysts and special guests. These experts bring a unique, on-the-ground perspective to understanding both why those conflicts persist — and what could bring them to an end.
See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    S2 Episode 39: Finland’s NATO Application, Western Policy in Ukraine and the War’s Global Fallout

    S2 Episode 39: Finland’s NATO Application, Western Policy in Ukraine and the War’s Global Fallout

    NATO leaders meeting next week in Madrid have a lot on their agendas. Russia’s war in Ukraine has entered its fifth month, with fierce fighting continuing along front lines in Ukraine’s east and south. Media coverage increasingly suggests differences of opinion are hurting the unity NATO powers have displayed thus far during the crisis. The war’s global fallout is becoming ever starker, as a commodities crisis and cost of living hikes start to bite in different parts of the world. NATO leaders will also discuss Finnish and Swedish applications to join the alliance, a reversal of both countries' decades-long position outside NATO. Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine rapidly swayed publics in both countries toward membership. Hurdles remain, however: Türkiye has so far blocked the application, criticising, amongst other things, what it believes is too lax a policy within the Scandinavian countries toward the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), a Turkish insurgent group that Türkiye, along with other countries, lists as a terrorist organisation. 
    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks with former Finnish Prime Minister and Crisis Group trustee Alexander Stubb about the Finnish decision to join NATO, the war in Ukraine more broadly and its global ramifications. They break down the reasons behind the dramatic shifts in Swedish and Finnish public opinion, what a successful application would mean for the balance of force between NATO and Russia, and the likelihood of Turkish opposition scuppering their chances of membership. They talk more widely about NATO policy toward Ukraine, looking at how Western powers should respond to different scenarios. They also ask whether cracks are showing in NATO’s unity. They discuss global perceptions of the war and of Western policy, as an economic crisis partly fuelled by the war looms. They also look at why some leaders in the Global South have distanced themselves from the West’s efforts to isolate Russia and even blame Western sanctions as much as Russia’s aggression for fuel and food price hikes. 
    For more on the war in Ukraine, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Ukraine country page and read our latest commentary, 'Why Türkiye's Hindrance of NATO's Nordic Expansion Will Likely Drag On'.

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    • 39 min
    S2 Episode 38: Rollercoaster Politics Ahead of Kenya's August Elections

    S2 Episode 38: Rollercoaster Politics Ahead of Kenya's August Elections

    Kenya’s presidential race has been turned upside down. After a high-profile split with President Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto – despite being in government for the last nine years – is running on an anti-establishment platform. Having distanced himself from Kenyatta, Ruto is positioning himself as a man of the people, or the “hustler in chief”, opposing the political elite. Meanwhile, his main rival Raila Odinga – for decades an opposition leader and fierce critic of the government – has been endorsed by Kenyatta, thus becoming the establishment candidate. At the same time, while previous Kenyan polls have been shaped mostly by ethnic politics, the 2022 race has also seen economic issues come to the fore, with Ruto promising wide-ranging reforms. Whatever its outcome, the election matters not just in Kenya, but for the entire region, riddled by war and crises.
    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood is joined by Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director, Murithi Mutiga, to talk about the campaign thus far and what to expect from the election. They discuss how things got so bitter between Kenyatta and Ruto, and what the bad blood might mean for the outcome of the vote. They talk about the main issues dominating the election, as Ruto plays on people’s economic frustrations and Odinga portrays himself as a unifier. They also discuss the risks of a disputed outcome, in a country that has suffered terrible bloodshed after contested results in the past. They look at the impact on Kenyan politics of indictments against Kenyatta and Ruto by the International Criminal Court, which were dropped in 2014 and 2016 respectively. They also look at how Nairobi views the war in Ukraine and the impact of the commodities crisis that war has triggered.
    For more on the situation in Kenya, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Kenya country page, including our recent briefing “Kenya’s 2022 Election: High Stakes”.

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    • 1 hr
    S2 Episode 37: Peacemaking After Ukraine: A Look at Nagorno-Karabakh and Libya

    S2 Episode 37: Peacemaking After Ukraine: A Look at Nagorno-Karabakh and Libya

    How much have the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reverberated across other warzones? Moscow is involved in several of the world’s conflicts, and the breakdown of relations between Russia and the West could endanger peacemaking elsewhere. In Nagorno-Karabakh, for example, Russian peacekeepers monitor a ceasefire brokered by Moscow between Armenia and Azerbaijan after the 2020 war. Moscow is also co-chair, along with France and the U.S., of the Minsk Group, the main format for peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh. In Libya, the Kremlin backs military commander Khalifa Haftar, who leads forces in Libya’s east. Moscow is the only capital in the world to recognise as Libya’s prime minister Fathi Bashagha, who heads a rival cabinet to the internationally recognised government in Tripoli.
    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood is joined by Crisis Group’s teams on Nagorno-Karabakh and Libya respectively to discuss the Ukraine war’s impact on these crises and diplomatic efforts to resolve them. First, he talks to South Caucasus experts Olesya Vartanyan and Zaur Shiriyev about the role of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, how their presence is perceived by Armenians and Azerbaijanis in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how diplomacy around the conflict is evolving. After that, he speaks with Claudia Gazzini, Crisis Group’s Libya expert, about Russian involvement in Libya, the role of Russian private contractors from the Wagner Group and what motivated the Kremlin’s recognition of Bashagha. They also discuss how the Ukraine war has changed prospects for international diplomacy, given Russian involvement in previous talks aimed at helping resolve the conflict.  
    For more on these crises, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Caucasus regional page and our Libya country page.

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    • 1 hr 24 min
    S2 Episode 36: Who is Rodolfo Hernández, Colombia’s “TikTok King”, and Can He Win the Presidency?

    S2 Episode 36: Who is Rodolfo Hernández, Colombia’s “TikTok King”, and Can He Win the Presidency?

    Colombians decisively rejected mainstream political parties in the first round of their presidential election last week, with two anti-establishment candidates advancing to the run-off on 19 June. Gustavo Petro, a leftist former guerrilla, promises to overhaul the country’s socio-economic system. He’s drawn fierce opposition from Colombia’s financial elites. His opponent, Rodolfo Hernández, known as the “King of TikTok”, has connected with voters through an astute social media campaign and is often compared to former U.S. president Donald Trump for his populist and sometimes outlandish rhetoric. The candidate that came in third in the first round of voting, establishment-backed Federico Gutiérrez, has thrown his weight behind Hernández, arguably making him the favourite. It remains unclear how Hernández will tackle Colombia’s most acute challenges, notably the inequality and corruption that drove country-wide protests last year and rampant insecurity in the countryside. In May this year, an armed strike organised by a former paramilitary, now criminal, group, the Gulf Clan, paralysed several regions in northern Colombia for days.
    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood is joined by Crisis Group experts Elizabeth Dickinson, Senior Colombia Analyst, and Renata Segura, Deputy Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. They talk about the candidates’ campaigns and Colombians’ disenchantment with their political elite. They discuss the hurdles Petro will have to surmount to win the run-off. They chart Hernández’s meteoric rise and dissect some of his proposals. They assess Colombia’s worsening insecurity, as armed groups, from guerrillas to former rebels and criminal gangs, exploit the state’s absence in rural areas. They also discuss what the election of Hernández or Petro would mean for Colombia’s foreign relations and Latin American politics more broadly.
    For more on the situation in Colombia, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Colombia country page, including our recent Q&A “Colombia’s Election Clash Rattles a Fragile Peace”.

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    • 1 hr 2 min
    S2 Episode 35: New President in Somalia, New Opportunity for Reconciliation

    S2 Episode 35: New President in Somalia, New Opportunity for Reconciliation

    On 15 May, Somali lawmakers voted in new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The peaceful vote and transfer of power drew a line under what had been a fraught, long-delayed and sometimes violent electoral process that repeatedly threatened to tip into a major political crisis. Defeating the incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as “Farmajo”, Hassan Sheikh became the first Somali to hold the presidency twice – having already served between 2012 and 2017. The new president promises reconciliation among Somalis and a new era of peace. But he faces daunting challenges. Foremost among them are deep divisions among Somali political elites, particularly between the capital Mogadishu and Somalia’s federal member states, or regions, and the long struggle against the Islamist militant group and al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab. 
    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood is joined by Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group’s Senior Somalia Analyst, to talk about what the change in power means for Somalia. They discuss how it might impact domestic politics, notably the fraught dynamics between Mogadishu and federal member states. They look at how Somalia’s foreign relations might evolve: in the Horn of Africa, where Farmajo had forged tight links to Ethiopia and Eritrea; in the Gulf, where Farmajo’s close ties to Qatar had alienated the United Arab Emirates; and with Western governments that had grown impatient with his election delays. They then talk in depth about a forthcoming Crisis Group report on prospects for dialogue with Al-Shabaab. Omar and Richard map out the many challenges to such engagement: the troubled history of dialogue with Al-Shabaab, the group’s uncompromising nature, unpopularity and foreign ties, political fractures among other Somalis and resistance in regional capitals. They examine why, despite all the challenges, it would be worth President Hassan Sheikh testing the water with the group’s leaders to see what sort of compromise might be feasible. 
    For more on Somalia, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Somalia country page and keep an eye out for our upcoming report “Testing the Water: Considering Political Engagement with Al-Shabaab in Somalia”.

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    • 1 hr 8 min
    S2 Episode 34: Shades of Jihad in Syria

    S2 Episode 34: Shades of Jihad in Syria

    On 3 February, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that American special forces had killed the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), Abdullah Qardash, in a house where he was hiding out in Idlib province, in north west Syria. Idlib is held by another militant group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Qaeda affiliate and supposedly a sworn enemy of ISIS. Qardash’s killing came just after ISIS’s largest attack in the country for years on a prison holding many ISIS prisoners in the north east, and a two-week long pitched battle between ISIS and the mostly Kurdish forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), that control that area. Other ISIS attacks over recent years in the north east and the desert in central Syria suggest that despite having lost the territory it controlled for some years, ISIS remains a resilient insurgency. Moreover, its enemies are largely antagonistic toward each other and new fighting among them could open more space for jihadists. 
    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group experts Dareen Khalifa, Senior Analyst on Syria, and Jerome Drevon, Senior Analyst on Jihad and Modern Conflict, about ISIS in Syria, its global footprint and the evolution of HTS. They assess the strength of ISIS, the nature of its insurgency and Qardash’s role before his death. They look at links between ISIS in Syria and affiliates in other parts of the world, notably Africa, where more local militants now fight under ISIS’s banner. They talk about the challenges faced by the largely Kurdish SDF, which leads the ISIS fight in the north east, their relations with Arabs in areas they control, their enmity with Turkey and their reliance on U.S. protection. They also discuss HTS and its rule in Idlib, where Qardash was killed, drawing on frequent visits to that area. They discuss the state of play in Syria more broadly – the U.S.’s presence in the north east, the uneasy ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia in the north west and the precarious calm that prevails after years of brutal war. 
    For more on Syria, check out Crisis Group’s extensive analysis on our Syria country page.

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    • 1 hr 13 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
17 Ratings

17 Ratings

kukuchris ,

Great work ICG

The Afghanistan latest was extremely well done thanks to all of you for giving us the information we need to process this difficult situation. And a good job to my friend Sam Mednick for fine production work.

Ale travels ,

Very clear, pertinent and up to date analysis. Listen to this every week! Thank you

The podcast looks at different issues or situations in the hybrid form of a conversation and presentation, building on existing Crisis Group work or emerging concerns.

Very useful both professionally and personally, thank you.

Mathieu Lohr ,

What do you expect?

It’s Crisis-Group level of analysis packaged into a well-produced podcast. What more could one wish for?

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