Sixty-year-old Irina Grigoryan's voice is drowned out by the merry noise of 230 children waiting for their lunch. Director of kindergarten N3, located in Stepanakert, capital of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Region (NKR) deep in the Caucasus, Grigoryan smiles tolerantly at the din.
The Mar. 21 ceasefire in the battle between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Turkish state offers Turkey not only the hope of peace after decades of bloodshed, but poses profound implications for the region at large.
It was only seven in the morning when Mohamed Abdi spread out a rug a few metres away from an artillery crater, up in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq. This Iraqi Kurd from Suleimaniyah, 260 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, was ready to celebrate the Newroz – the Kurdish and Persian New Year – along with his family.
Shortly after Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire agreement on Nov. 21, the Israeli navy abducted 30 Palestinian fishers from Gaza's waters, destroyed and sank a Palestinian fishing vessel, and confiscated nine fishing boats in the space of four days.
The ceasefire has brought extremities in Gaza. In the morning the coastal territory woke up bashed and bloody from one of Israel’s most intensive nights of bombardment since a week’s tit for tat violence broke out between Hamas and Israel. By late morning the coastal strip was ghostly quiet, gripped with fear as people stayed indoors awaiting the inevitable retaliation from Israel for a bus bombing carried out in Tel Aviv by Palestinian extremists. But as night fell thousands of Gazans took to the streets in joyful celebration in what they see as victory over Israel.
Ending Israel’s first military operation since the Arab Spring changed the Middle East depended on both the diplomatic blitz exerted on Israel and Hamas and the extent of the military blows exchanged between them. As for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the ceasefire must live at least until his re-election.
In a country where talk of a ceasefire brings representatives from 11 different armed ethnic groups to the table, Myanmar’s chief peace negotiator, Railway Minister Aung Min, is experimenting with an unusual solution to decades of separatist struggles.