Urmas Paet, an MEP and former foreign minister of Estonia, writes about how brutality has multiplied in international politics during 2014. He refers to the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the war in eastern Ukraine and the rise of ISIL to the south.
The historian Mart Nutt reminds us that 2014 was full of anniversaries – the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW I and the 75th of WW II. Nevertheless, his article focuses on the 20th anniversary of the war in Chechnya and 35th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
“People in Russia stubbornly refuse to believe that the real threat does not emanate from the West but from the South, and in a few years, also from the East,” Nutt writes. “At least, they are not showing their fear. While the USSR saw an opportunity to increase its sphere of influence in the Middle East and Central Asia 35 years ago, radical Islam is swiftly nearing the borders of Russia and crossing them today.”
Janika Kronberg, a literary scholar, provides an overview of his journey to Turkish Kurdistan. “The massive flight and killing of Kurds in the border town Kobanî does not seem to bother the Turks at first glance,” says Kronberg. “Besides, some members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party fled to Syria among the fighters in Kobanî—they are the arch-enemies of the Turks. It is more convenient to let the Kurds and caliphate fighters kill each other off. Moreover, the official regime in Syria would still interpret Turkish military actions as an intervention in their internal affairs, and if the caliphate were successful, Turkey should probably also be afraid of retaliation from its hostile new neighbour. Is there anyone to whom ISIS is not hostile?”
Urve Eslas, a journalist from the daily Postimees, conducted an interview with the Paris-based scholar Antonela Capelle-Pogacean, according to whom the reason minorities and immigrants are seen as a problem is not that people have become less tolerant, but the tendency of politicians to use them as an explanation for the problems facing countries.
Hille Hanso, a freelance journalist living in Turkey, states that the Islamic extremists have created a successful narrative because the West is helping to tell it. “While looking for a narrative for Estonia is something philosophical, and everybody has a different vision of it, the radical and violent Islamic extremist group lately known as ISIL or ISIS went all out and cunningly started to call itself the Islamic State in various media channels,” Hanso writes. “In media terms, ‘the Islamic State’ is more quotable and substantially more memorable, and found widespread use immediately.”
Kai Kaarelson, a civil servant, reviews the latest books by Henry Kissinger and Francis Fukuyama.
This article was published in ICDS Diplomaatia magazine.