Libya’s Haftar and the Fezzan: one year on (Clingendael)

Since early 2019, Libya’s eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar has exerted significant efforts to position his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) as the territorially-dominant force across the country’s western half. An ostensible takeover of the Fezzan, the country’s southwestern province, was the first step of that conquest attempt. This policy brief examines the depth of the LNA’s territorial gains there, and describes the dynamics used. Haftar’s discourse, which depicts his armed coalition as the sole entity capable of countering extremism and ensuring stability, stands in contrast with the reality.

The debate around returning foreign fighters in the Netherlands (Clingendael)

Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?”, US president Donald Trump asked French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the NATO leaders meeting in London this month. “I can give them to you”. Macron didn´t think it was funny. “Come on, let’s be serious”, he replied. The awkward exchange between the two leaders was emblematic of the wider question at hand; should countries take back their foreign terrorist fighters? And if so, what would that mean for their national security? Much like other European countries, the Netherlands has been struggling with this very question since the so-called caliphate has crumbled.

Soleimani’s death: can State actors also be terrorists ? (Clingendael)

Soleimani is no more. The mourners in Iran are in deep grief, while many in for instance Israel and the US feel relief. People all over the planet hold their breath. Nobody knows what could be next.


Bridging the real gaps in sustainability policies in 2020 (Clingedael)

2019 has been a moving year in international as well as national sustainability policies. More people than ever before seem to realise that there are very important decisions at stake that in the near future will fundamentally change the world as we know it.

Stephan Slingerland, Senior Visiting Fellow at the Clingendael Institute

Brexit in 2020: just getting started (Clingendael)

When it comes to Brexit, British politics has often felt like it is the blind leading the blind. It is easy to lose track of the many times the UK and its government have lacked a strategy, set unrealistic ambitions, made political missteps, and have shown a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face.

Tim Oliver – Senior Lecturer at Loughborough University London

Resetting NATO and European strategic autonomy (Clingendael)

NATO’s 70th birthday party in London on 3-4 December left the impression of an Alliance in political disarray. It resembled not a brain-dead NATO à la Macron, but certainly an Alliance suffering from a serious illness. It looks like the patient will not recover very soon. Hope is instead vested in one of the few decisions taken at the London Leaders’ Meeting, to task a group of wise persons to reflect on the patient’s ailments and potential cures. The diagnosis is aimed at strengthening the political dimension of the Alliance.

Dick Zandee

No time like the present for democratic reform in Iraq (Clingendael)

Fall in Iraq brought along with it the death of more than 300 protesters and security personnel in what has become the country’s largest wave of protests since 2003. The protests started off as modest and focused on improving services and providing job opportunities. But with the rise of violence, and the unexpected, government crackdown through the use of live ammunition against civilians, the breadth of protesters’ demands only expanded, and so did the use of violence against them creating a situation which has resulted in a political impasse.  Many recommendations were put forward to contain the widespread anger, but the government – paralyzed by significant party interests and foreign agendas – has not been able to meet protesters’ demands. The protesters also seem to lack an organized leadership, despite their ability to unite under one goal: good governance and the rule of law. This piece attempts to look at Iraq within its regional context and to provide an overview of the past sixteen years to argue why the need for democratic reform is imminent.

Al-Hamzeh Al-Shadeedi

European seaports and Chinese strategic influence (Clingendael)

Chinese investments in European seaports have increased rapidly in recent years. This process has triggered a debate in Europe on the significance of, and how to deal with, growing Chinese influence in European ports. This process is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – in particular its maritime component, the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) – and is among the economic and geopolitical effects of China’s growing role in global affairs. The MSR and the debate on Chinese port activities are highly relevant for the Netherlands, which is a major hub for trade between Western Europe and the rest of the world, and hosts Europe’s largest seaport.

Frans-Paul van der Putten