Hold Your Fire!

International Crisis Group

  • 45 minutes 39 seconds
    Ukraine and European Security

    In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Europe & Central Asia director Olga Oliker to talk about the latest from Ukraine, whether a negotiated settlement can be reached anytime soon and the future of European security. They discuss the Ukraine Summit of Peace in Switzerland and whether it met the expectations of Kyiv and other participants. They give an update on what is happening on the battlefield and prospects for a negotiated settlement to end the war. They also discuss Moscow’s and Kyiv’s demands, how they have evolved over the course of the war and what space exists for compromise. They talk about European security at large, the threat Western leaders see from Moscow and the deterrence value of Europe’s military build-up. 


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our reports Ukraine: How to Hold the Line and A Fraught Path Forward for Ukraine’s Liberated Territories and our Q&A An Embattled Kyiv Looks for Aid in the Diplomatic Arena.


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    21 June 2024, 6:47 pm
  • 44 minutes 38 seconds
    Türkiye in its Neighbourhood: “Strong in the Field, Strong at the Table”?

    In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Türkiye/Cyprus project director Nigar Göksel to talk about Türkiye’s foreign policy, particularly in its neighbourhood. They discuss the fallout of the Gaza war for Türkiye’s relations with Israel and the U.S., and Ankara’s evolving relations with other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the Gulf. They assess Türkiye’s balancing act in Ukraine: as a NATO member supplying weapons to Kyiv and keen to check Russian influence in the Black Sea but keeping ties open to Moscow. They discuss Ankara’s close relations with Azerbaijan, prospects for Turkish normalisation with Armenia and Russian and Iranian influence in the South Caucasus. They also talk about Türkiye’s operations against Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria and how Iran views Ankara’s involvement in both countries. They examine whether the past few years represent a new phase in Turkish foreign policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our commentaries Türkiye’s Growing Drone Exports and The Gaza War Reverberates Across the Middle East as well as last year’s episode with Nigar Drones and Diplomacy: Will Türkiye’s Elections Change its Middle Power Activism?


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    15 June 2024, 8:06 am
  • 52 minutes 3 seconds
    A Big Week for Democracy: Elections in India, South Africa and Mexico

    In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Praveen Donthi, Pauline Bax and Falko Ernst to talk about the recent elections in India, South Africa and Mexico. Richard first talks to Praveen about the setbacks for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in India, what explains Indian voters’ discontent with the party, as well as India’s foreign policy, particularly its competition with China, and the role that played in the election. Pauline then joins Richard to discuss the ruling African National Congress’s poor performance in South Africa’s election, where the party has lost its 30-year parliamentary majority. They also look at South Africa’s hedging on the global stage and its motives in bringing a recent genocide case against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Richard and Falko then look at the elections in Mexico, where Claudia Sheinbaum from the ruling MORENA party is set to become the country’s first woman president after winning a landslide in an election marred by violence. They talk about how Sheinbaum’s security and foreign policies might differ from those of her mentor, incumbent President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. 


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out Praveen’s Foreign Affairs piece India’s Perilous Border Standoff With China, Pauline’s Q&A Rising Discontent Pushes South Africa Toward a Tight Poll and Falko’s Q&A As Mexico Votes, What Next for Crime and U.S. Ties?.


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    7 June 2024, 9:53 pm
  • 47 minutes
    Ruto in Washington: Kenya’s State Visit and the U.S.’s Africa Policy

    In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Africa director Murithi Mutiga to talk about Kenyan President William Ruto’s recent visit to the U.S., Nairobi’s involvement in Somalia, DR Congo and Haiti and Washington’s evolving role in Africa. They discuss the motives for and implications of President Ruto’s trip to the U.S., how Washington and Nairobi sought to benefit, and their closer ties. They look at the lessons from Kenya’s troop deployments to Somalia and DR Congo as Kenyan paramilitaries prepare to deploy to Haiti. They also assess U.S. policy in Africa more broadly, amid the continent’s shifting political sands and increasing Chinese, Russian and Turkish influence. They also reflect on Ruto’s foreign policy and pivot West, how he and other African leaders view the prospect of a second Trump presidency and, at a time when the International Criminal Court is in the spotlight, the court’s legacy in Kenya. 


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    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Q&A What’s at Stake in Kenyan President William Ruto’s State Visit to the U.S.? and the episode from our podcast The Horn: Kenya and the Chaos in Haiti.


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    31 May 2024, 4:11 pm
  • 50 minutes 34 seconds
    Iranian President Raisi’s Sudden Death and the ICC Case Against Israeli and Hamas Leaders

    In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Ali Vaez, Mairav Zonszein and Stephen Pomper to talk about the death of Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash and the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders. Richard first speaks to Ali to discuss Raisi’s legacy and how his sudden demise might affect Iranian politics, particularly Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s succession, and its foreign relations. Richard then talks with Mairav and Steve about the announcement by ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan that he was requesting arrest warrants for top Hamas leaders as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. They unpack the reaction to the announcement in Israel and the U.S. and its possible impact on the war in Gaza. 


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Q&A Iran: Death of a President and All Eyes on The Hague: The ICC Prosecutor’s Move against Hamas and Israeli Leaders.


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    25 May 2024, 9:09 pm
  • 45 minutes 44 seconds
    South China Sea: The World’s Most Treacherous Waters?

    In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s China and Philippines experts Amanda Hsiao and Georgi Engelbrecht to talk about friction between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. They discuss recent incidents involving Chinese coast guard vessels ramming and firing water cannons at Philippine supply boats near the contested Second Thomas Shoal and the risk of further escalation. They unpack the competing claims in the South China Sea and the strategic value of the maritime features for China and the Philippines. They talk about Manila’s policy towards China and its deepening defence ties to the U.S. under current President Ferdinand Marcos. They also discuss U.S. involvement in the South China Sea and Asia more broadly, China’s reaction to Washington reinforcing its Asian alliances and how to manage risks of incidents between the Chinese and U.S. militaries in the region.


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our South China Sea page.


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    17 May 2024, 4:44 pm
  • 50 minutes 25 seconds
    War and Hunger in Gaza and Darfur

    In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Alan Boswell, Shewit Woldemichael, Rami Dajani and Rob Blecher about the latest from Sudan’s western Darfur region and from Gaza. Richard first talks to Alan and Shewit about the worsening violence in North Darfur. As the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces encircle the city of al-Fashar, the last Darfuri capital held by the Sudanese army, and both sides build up forces, they talk about the implications of an all-out battle for the city. They also discuss the legacy of the 2020 Juba peace agreement and why some Darfuri former rebels have now chosen to fight alongside the Sudanese army against the RSF. Richard then talks to Rami and Rob about Israel’s incursion this past week into Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah. They discuss prospects for talks over a ceasefire-hostage release deal in Cairo, the views of both Hamas and the Israeli government on what such a deal should entail and Israeli politics around the Rafah offensive. They also talk about the difficulties of aid delivery and famine risks in both Sudan and Gaza. 


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our statement Sudan: A Year of War and our report Stopping Famine in Gaza.


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    10 May 2024, 8:31 pm
  • 43 minutes 58 seconds
    Egypt and Gaza: Cairo Talks, Sinai Fears

    In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s North Africa director Riccardo Fabiani, U.S. director Michael Hanna and Dareen Khalifa, Crisis Group’s senior dialogue adviser, to talk about the Gaza war’s impact on Egypt. They assess the latest round of ceasefire talks in Cairo and Egypt’s role as a mediator. They talk about Cairo’s fear, since 7 October, of Palestinians’ forced displacement from Gaza into Egypt’s Sinai region and the implications of an Israeli ground operation in Rafah. They look at how the war in Gaza has exacerbated Egypt’s economic woes, particularly given the Egyptian military’s outsized economic footprint and the country’s closed politics. They assess the significance of protests in solidarity with Palestinians and whether those might channel discontent at the government of President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi. They also explore Egypt’s position on Gaza’s future and interim governance arrangements. 


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Egypt and Israel-Palestine pages.


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    3 May 2024, 4:10 pm
  • 45 minutes 52 seconds
    Could a Competitive Vote Offer a Way out of Venezuela’s Crisis?

    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Venezuela expert Phil Gunson to discuss Venezuelan presidential elections, whether they offer a chance for the country to escape its protracted political crisis and Venezuela’s claim to Essequibo, an oil-rich region of neighbouring Guyana. They talk about Edmundo Gonzalez, an outsider whom the opposition appears to have rallied behind as its candidate to take on President Nicolas Maduro. They look back to the October 2023 Barbados agreement between the government and opposition that set out conditions for the vote, the opposition primary just afterwards, and the government’s efforts since to curb the opposition’s prospects. They explore how the country has been faring, as economic collapse triggers a humanitarian crisis and a wave of migration. They also talk about Venezuela’s dispute with neighbouring Guyana over Essequibo and what role other neighbours, Brazil and Colombia, could play in resolving the crisis. Finally, they assess whether a more competitive vote could offer a path to some form of transition or cohabitation between the government and opposition. 


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our latest commentary Seeking the Best from a Skewed Poll: Hard Choices for Venezuela.



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    26 April 2024, 4:42 pm
  • 46 minutes 31 seconds
    Bonus Episode: Polarisation, Political Violence and the U.S. Elections

    Today we're bringing you a bonus episode on the U.S. elections from Crisis Group's Ripple Effect podcast.


    In this episode of Ripple Effect, Michael and Steve talk with Rachel Kleinfeld, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, about the state of U.S. democracy and the risk of political violence as the U.S. heads toward the November elections. They break down how we should understand polarisation in U.S. society. They assess the potential risk factors that could contribute to political violence in the run-up and aftermath of the November elections and how they compare to the 2020 elections. They discuss how Washington is navigating the difficult task of promoting democracy abroad while facing its own challenges to its democratic institutions. They also talk about what politicians on both sides of the aisle can do to mitigate the risk of political violence in the near term.


    For more, check out Rachel’s piece Polarization, Democracy, and Political Violence in the United States: What the Research Says. You can read more of Crisis Group’s in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode on our United States program page. 


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    24 April 2024, 4:37 pm
  • 49 minutes 11 seconds
    Out of the Shadows: Exchanges of Fire Between Iran and Israel

    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard is joined by Crisis Group experts Ali Vaez, Mairav Zonszein, Michael Hanna, Lahib Higel and Robert Blecher to discuss the exchange of fire between Iran and Israel, risks of a wider regional war and what the escalation means for the war in Gaza. Richard first speaks with Ali, Mairav and Michael about Iran’s calculations in launching an attack on 13 April that saw hundreds of missiles and drones target Israeli military infrastructure, debates in Israel on how to respond and views within both countries’ societies. They also talk about U.S. efforts to stop regional tensions spiralling out of control. Richard then talks with Lahib and Rob about the latest developments in Gaza, particularly warnings of famine and prospects for a ceasefire. 


    For more on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our latest statement The Israel-Iran Crisis: A Chance to Step Back from the Brink, our report Stopping Famine in Gaza and our Middle East & North Africa page.


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    19 April 2024, 6:00 pm
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