Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

2014. Crises at every turn?

(credit: Russian Defense Ministry)
(credit: Russian Defense Ministry)

(BRUSSELS2 in Athens) The year 2014 – celebrated as the centenary of the start of the First World War for Europeans – should quickly find its own mark as the geopolitical issues seem numerous in this coming year. If we quickly flip through the calendar, we see how numerous there are appointments in crisis zones. Starting with the Middle East which will be the center of all attention.

The Middle East: on fire or at peace?

This year risks being a turning point for the region. The negotiators Israeli et Palestinians agreed to meet until May to find a new peace agreement. Whether or not there is an agreement, it risks shaking both countries and both populations. But the maxim repeated so far – no peace in the Middle East without peace between Palestine and Israel – has lost its intensity and therefore made the resolution of the conflict less vital. Because the entire region is tectonic.

Syria, Lebanon, Iran…

The intensity of the conflict in Syria does not seem to be weakening. The internal fronts become more and more fragmented until they become a bi-civil war: not only between the regime and the rebels/revolutionaries but between the rebels themselves. Bashar's regime, until recently reviled, now appears more as a guarantee of stability in the face of extremist movements which have gained ground. If the outcome of the negotiation – known as Geneva II – seems delicate, a solution will not put an end to the conflict anytime soon. THE Lebanon, close, which has so far held its ground, is grappling with both the risk of a spiral of terror from one against the other, while welcoming a maximum number of refugees from Syria which would have brought down any what other country. As for theIran, he is engaged in a policy of reintegration of the international concert, which we would be wrong not to neglect; a (temporary) solution to the nuclear conflict. For completeness, we should also mention the Yemen in a dangerous situation andEgypt who has not always digested his Arab “spring”.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the traces of international intervention

The regular violence in Iraq has not so far alarmed the international community, the capture of Fallujah by the group linked to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), gives the conflict the appearance of a pitched battle. In Afghanistan. , in 2014, enters a phase of the unknown with the end of the withdrawal of NATO troops, an electoral phase and a new international security mission which has not yet found its framework. These two countries have not finished digesting the remains of international interventions (unilateral for the first (led by the American-British, under mandate of the United Nations and NATO for the second) which have ultimately not nothing resolved, or even worsened the previous situation.

The African crisis arc

THEAfrica around its Sahelian zone, from the arc of crisis from the Horn of Africa to the Gulf of Guinea, is filled with ups and downs. The conflict in Central like at South Sudan is in the acute phase. And the wars Mali or Somalia are not completed. While a dangerous zone shakes the Libya, North ; and the Nigeria, South. Without forgetting the Congo, still in the grip of a conflict which has not yet found its end or other countries which could burst into flames. Although piracy has disappeared as a significant threat in the Indian Ocean, it remains active in the west of the continent.

The Russians on the move?

We must expect international initiatives, notably from Russia which, in addition to the Sochi Olympic Games, will chair both the G8 and the Security Council in June and intends to restore its hate of “great power”, lost since 1991. It now has the means and is benefiting from a climate favorable to this resurgence, in the wake of its “Ukrainian victory” over Europe last year.

And during this time ...

During this time, Europeans will be on electoral “vacation”. The next few months will be devoted to parliamentarians and European commissioners wrapping up current files, before heading off on the electoral campaign, or looking for a base. An activity which will also concern a good part of the European senior administration for whom the European puzzle part can be the opportunity for more interesting careers. Between March and November (where the new European Commission will be fully installed), with a high point in May-June (during the European elections and the official distribution of the main positions), we will witness – while part of the world will be in boiling – to a certain European sluggishness, where initiatives will be more complicated than usual…

Yet Europe has a few tricks up its sleeve. On the one hand, it seems determined to assert itself in certain crises, particularly in the Central African Republic, with the launch of an operation, such as EUFOR, around Bangui or further afield in the country (read on the Club – free access: The first options for an EUFOR Bangui operation). And it should be added that two European countries will be at the helm of the Security Council in the spring. Luxembourg and Lithuania (in February and March).

Happy New Year !

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

One thought on “2014. Crises at every turn?"

  • Giraud Jean-Guy

    It would indeed be useful for the EU to emerge as quickly as possible from its current lethargy and impotence in matters of diplomacy and defence. Could we only consider the outgoing officials – MM. Barroso and Van Rompuy as well as Mrs Ashton – jointly take stock of the European situation in these two areas and propose to their successors as well as to the Institutions and the Member States a precise plan/catalogue of reforms and initiatives to relaunch the CFSP/ESDP as soon as the Parliament and the Commission are reconstituted? This would at least give these two policies the place they deserve in the pre-electoral debate and quickly start the necessary negotiations from the end of 2014. JGG

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