People stand around the statue of a Red Army soldier protesting against the Estonian government’s plan to move it, Tallinn, April 22, 2007 (AP photo by Timur Nisametdinov).

Compatriot Games: Russian-Speaking Minorities in the Baltic States

By Agnia Grigas
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Nowhere does Russia’s policy of protecting its “compatriots”—Moscow’s term for the Russian-speaking diaspora in the former Soviet republics—spell as much concern as in the Baltic states. All three have large Russian-speaking minorities concentrated close to the Russian border.
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Armed men belonging to the Self-Defense Council of Michoacan guard a checkpoint in western Mexico, May 9, 2014 (AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo).

Armed and Dangerous: Self-Defense Groups in Weak States

By Jerónimo Mohar
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The emergence of self-defense groups in Mexico earlier this year is yet another chapter in the history of nonstate actors that contest the government’s monopoly on violence. Parallel cases in Colombia, El Salvador and Nigeria can help illustrate how such groups form and why they persist.
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Zimbabweans queue in the rain outside immigration offices in Johannesburg as they wait to apply to become legal immigrants, Dec. 15, 2010 (AP photo by Denis Farrell).

Closing the Door: South Africa’s Draconian Immigration Reforms

By James Hamill
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Recent reforms to South Africa’s immigration regime threaten to disadvantage African immigrants seeking to enter or remain in the country. The changes flow from the privileging of a narrow nationalism at the expense of the pan-Africanist ideology supposedly informing South Africa’s public policy.
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A drill in the biocontainment unit in Omaha, Neb., Oct. 28, 2006 (AP photo by Nati Harnik).

After Ebola: Preparing Western Health Care Systems for the Next Epidemic

By Jeremy Youde
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The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has prompted a wider discussion about the ability of the U.S. and other Western countries to respond to an epidemic. The likelihood of Ebola overwhelming Western health systems is low, but we cannot be sanguine about their ability to tackle other threats.
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The Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy Jiangkai-class frigate Linyi moors alongside the Luhu-class destroyer Qingdao, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 6, 2013 (U.S. Navy photo by Daniel Barker).

China's Naval Modernization: The Implications of Seapower

By Andrew S. Erickson
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As China pushes maritime territorial claims against its neighbors, Asia’s future may hinge on the capabilities of the Chinese navy. This article explores Beijing’s plans for modernizing its naval forces, as well as the rising costs of seapower and the implications for regional stability.
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A man sits alone near the road between the Dakhla Refugee Camp and Awsaard Refugee Camp, June 24, 2003 (UN photo by Evan Schneider).

Waiting for Disruption: The Western Sahara Stalemate

By Jacob Mundy
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The Western Sahara conflict is fast approaching its 40th anniversary with no end in sight. A web of geopolitical interests keeps the conflict in a permanent state of limbo. Therein lies the paradox: The peace process now exists to contain the conflict, but only a crisis will save Western Sahara.
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Campaign to Stop Killer Robots rally in London, April 23, 2013 (Photo by Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

The Politics of Advocacy: Setting and Vetting the Global Agenda

By Charli Carpenter
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A U.N. conference this year on fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots,” raises the question: Why do some issues and not others attract global policy attention? This article explores the channels through which humanitarian concerns are guided from grassroots activism to the highest levels of the international political agenda.
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Men mine for gold using rudimentary equipment in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, May 22, 2014 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

After the Gold Rush: Peru's Crackdown on Illegal Mining

By David Dudenhoefer
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Peru has overseen a comprehensive effort to halt illegal gold mining. But while the environmental risks of illegal mining are serious, some in Peru have raised concerns about the livelihoods of the miners, the struggling communities they support and the political ramifications of the crackdown.

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Hundreds of newly trained Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18Km south of Mogadishu on Thursday Feb. 17, 2011 (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Al-Shabab: A Close Look at East Africa's Deadliest Radicals

By Peter Dörrie
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More than any other organization, Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahedeen, widely known as al-Shabab, has left its mark on the recent history of Somalia. Political and radical Islam have a long history in the country, but no group has survived longer than al-Shabab, and no group has emerged stronger from challenges and setbacks. Today, the group has emerged from an existential crisis and looks stronger than it has in years. Though al-Shabab is often referred to as simply a “terrorist group,” the term does not accurately describe the range of the group’s activities.

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Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers and tanks return to their positions during military exercises outside Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh, April 19, 2006 (AP photo by Karen Minasian).

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Summer of Violence

By Laurence Broers
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This year, while Europe commemorated 100 years since the beginning of World War I, a long-forgotten conflict on the edge of the continent rumbled on. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a contest for control over Nagorno-Karabakh for more than 25 years. Following a particularly dismal stretch of the peace process over the past two years, tensions have come to a head in a summer of violence along the front line. Yet while front-line casualties have dominated the headlines, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has also become a formidable weapon for both Armenia and Azerbaijan to securitize politics, exclude opposition and explain away the absence of domestic reforms.
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