Smoke and fire from an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, July 29, 2014 (AP photo by Hatem Moussa).

In the wake of the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, Israel remains in the spotlight for the civilian casualties and widescale destruction of civilian areas caused by its attacks on Gaza. Like most democracies whose air wars kill large numbers of civilians, Israel claims the moral high ground. Though acknowledging that the harm caused to civilians was regrettable, Israel argues that its armed forces took all feasible precautions to avoid it, while taking care to aim their strikes at Hamas military targets. By contrast, according to Israel, Hamas was targeting Israeli civilians directly and intentionally. But this […]

A woman hands money to a vegetable vendor at a market in Kohima, India, June 30, 2020 (AP photo by Yirmiyan Arthur).

In many parts of the world, particularly in emerging markets, women are at a stark disadvantage when it comes to obtaining a loan. Studies have shown that expanding access to credit for women would spur economic growth, yet the financial gender gap remains stubbornly wide. In fact, there are more than 70 countries where women cannot even open a bank account. According to Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of the nonprofit Women’s World Banking, emerging financial technologies, or fintech, have the potential to revolutionize access to credit for women in low-income countries by allowing them to receive loans from […]

Belarusian police detain journalist and activist Roman Protasevich, center, in Minsk, Belarus, March 26, 2017 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

When a Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet forced a Ryanair flight filled with civilians to divert from its Athens-to-Vilnius route and land in Minsk on Sunday so that the regime could arrest one of its leading critics, it justifiably triggered international outrage. It was, indeed, a brazen violation of international norms. But this new transgression by the Belarusian dictator, President Alexander Lukashenko, was not an isolated event. It was part of an increasingly common practice by repressive regimes across the globe, one so common that it now has a name: transnational repression. Lukashenko personally ordered the military aircraft to scramble into […]

An Israeli artillery unit fires shells toward targets in Gaza Strip, at the Israeli-Gaza border, May 19, 2021 (AP photo by Tsafrir Abayov).

After 11 days of rocket fire and air strikes, a tenuous cease-fire has brought to a close, at least for now, the latest outbreak of violence between the Israeli government and the armed group Hamas in Gaza. As in previous rounds of fighting between them, narratives about which side was to blame and whether either or both were committing war crimes were rampant in media coverage, social media debates and commentary on the conflict. These narratives included a number of misconceptions about or mischaracterizations of the nature of the conflict as well as of belligerents’ obligations under international law more […]

An employee works on the production of AstraZeneca vaccines for COVID-19 at the Fiocruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Bruna Prado).

Leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies are meeting virtually at the G-20 Global Health Summit on Friday, co-hosted by Italy and the European Commission. There is much that participants agree on: More coronavirus vaccine supplies are urgently needed, and the world must boost manufacturing capacity in order to produce them. But the G-20 countries may disagree on how to build that increased capacity and where it should go. This week, U.S. President Joe Biden promised to share at least 80 million surplus vaccine doses for global use by the end of June and to launch a multilateral effort to […]

Migrants are surrounded by Spanish security forces after arriving at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, near the border of Morocco and Spain, May 19, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Thousands of African migrants were caught in the middle of a diplomatic feud between Morocco and Spain this week, touching off a humanitarian emergency and raising concerns about Madrid’s migration policy. The standoff between Madrid and Rabat was the latest fallout from a […]

Flanked by party members, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks a day after parliamentary elections, in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 7, 2020 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Something interesting is happening in Venezuela. Just as the rest of the world risked becoming resigned to a stalemate in that failed nation’s political crisis, with essentially no viable path to a solution, a sudden flurry of activity suggests a possible way forward. Even if experience tells us a strong dose of skepticism is warranted when it comes to the Venezuelan regime’s real intentions, the recent developments must be taken seriously. The key event came last week, via Twitter. Opposition leader Juan Guaido released a video calling for talks with the government of President Nicolas Maduro in pursuit of a […]

A nurse during a night shift at a field hospital set up to handle a surge of COVID-19 patients, in Cranston, Rhode Island, Feb. 10, 2021 (AP photo by David Goldman).

Can the international community pay attention to multiple health crises at the same time? The coronavirus pandemic is putting this question to the test, and the experience of the past year suggests that the answer is a qualified no. If that is indeed the case, it means that the world will likely be living with the after-effects of COVID-19 for years to come. At the same time, the pandemic has spurred some changes in the world of public health that may create additional chances for improving access to health care in the long term. COVID-19 itself has already had devastating […]

A doctor checks on COVID-19 patients at Llavallol Dr. Norberto Raúl Piacentini Hospital in Lomas de Zamora, Argentina, May 8, 2021 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Last week, the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response released its long-awaited final report, “COVID-19: Make It the Last Pandemic.” Co-chaired by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, the 13-member panel was established in September 2020 at the behest of the World Health Assembly to examine the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and propose improvements based on the lessons learned. Its final report offers several useful recommendations designed to create “a new system that is coordinated, connected, fast-moving, accountable, just and equitable.” What is missing is a strategy to achieve these […]

Health workers tend to an Ebola victim kept in an isolation cube in Beni, Congo, July 13, 2019 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Nearly two dozen women came forward this week to accuse aid workers of sexual exploitation and assault during the international response to the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that began in 2018, even as evidence has emerged that World […]

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is reflected in glass as he leaves at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, Dec. 11, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

As soon as the global magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic started to become evident in the early part of last year, the obvious corollary became inescapable: COVID-19 would have far-reaching political impact around the world. One of the places where the political ramifications of the crisis—or, more precisely, the consequences of its mismanagement by authorities—are becoming more pronounced is Central Europe, a region that in recent years has drifted steadily in an authoritarian, illiberal direction. While a steady erosion of democratic practices has been on display across much of the globe over the past 15 years, the pattern in Central […]

Exhausted workers who carried the dead for cremation sit on the rear step of an ambulance in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2021 (AP photo by Altaf Qadri).

When the Biden administration made its surprise announcement last week that it would seek to waive American patent protections on coronavirus vaccines, many were quick to cheer this as evidence that the president’s much-beloved slogan about global leadership, “America’s back,” was already becoming something more than mere rhetoric. Here was Washington appearing to put self-interest aside for the benefit of global public health, and in doing so, it would not only be taking on the American pharmaceutical giants that had pioneered the most important vaccine technologies in the first phase of this crisis, but also those of America’s European allies, […]

A researcher for Brazil's state-run Fiocruz Institute handles a cage of captured monkeys at Pedra Branca State Park, near Rio de Janeiro, Oct. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted humanity’s growing vulnerability to emerging infectious diseases and underscored the need to reduce our collective exposure to these pathogens. Not surprisingly, then, the past year has seen a torrent of reports on pandemic preparedness, including one I co-authored for the Council on Foreign Relations. Most of these focus on controlling outbreaks after they start, rather than averting them in the first place. Moving from reaction to prevention requires identifying and mitigating the main drivers of new infectious diseases. These drivers are almost entirely anthropogenic and are the same forces responsible for precipitous declines in global […]

U.N. peacekeepers observe Israeli excavators working near Mays al-Jabal, Lebanon, Dec. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

For better or worse, the United States military is leaving Afghanistan. Proponents for withdrawal argue the U.S. has done all it can militarily in the country, has more pressing security interests elsewhere and may do more harm than good by staying. Critics say the power vacuum the U.S. is leaving behind will reignite a civil war and open the door to ethnic cleansing, gender apartheid and state failure. Both views have merit, but the choice is not between these options alone. Yes, the U.S. record of nation-building in Afghanistan is poor. And yes, power vacuums and state fragility breed insurgencies, […]

People protest against the rule of a transitional military council headed by the son of the late President Idriss Deby, in N’Djamena, Chad, April 27, 2021 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week. Three weeks after President Idriss Deby was killed in battle in late April, the transitional military council that seized control of Chad in the wake of his death moved to solidify its hold on power this week, naming a new government filled with holdovers from Deby’s regime. The move by the council, which is headed by the former president’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, threatens to fuel tensions in […]

Senegalese President Macky Sall, left, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez during a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, April 9, 2021 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

MALAGA, Spain—In early April, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez traveled to Angola and Senegal, accompanied by representatives of 12 Spanish companies he hopes will do business there. The visit followed the launch in late March of his ambitious Focus Africa 2023 project, which aims to increase Spain’s commercial presence and investment throughout the continent, as well as to improve economic opportunities and infrastructure in several sub-Saharan nations. Closer to home, in terms of Sanchez’s political agenda, the project seeks to address the root causes of migration, with the hope that, in time, these improved circumstances will reduce the levels of […]