In this undated file photo, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave its flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq from Raqqa, Syria (Militant website via AP).

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria and work with Iran and Iraq to defeat the Islamic State has been met with a rather predictable response among Washington pundits: Putin is strong, and Barack Obama is weak. “Like Iran, Putin is willing to back up his pursuit of his interests with force,” writes Eliot Abrams in the National Review. “U.S. deterrence is dead,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka. The Washington Post editorial page bemoans Obama’s lack of a strategy for Syria and noted that while “shortsighted and cynical . . . at least Mr. Putin […]

Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara waves at reporters after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Dec. 4, 2014 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

A presidential election on Oct. 25 is likely to bring a second term for Cote d’Ivoire’s president, Alassane Ouattara. The economy is booming, with growth rates consistently above 8 percent, and in a region scarred by crises—from the ravages of Ebola to Islamic extremism in the Maghreb and around Lake Chad—Cote d’Ivoire stands out as an attractive proposition for investors. Abidjan has bounced back from the dark days of post-election violence in 2010 and 2011, with life returning even to the poor neighborhoods that saw the worst of the fighting. Ouattara, a smooth, bilingual technocrat, has maintained good external relations. […]

A convoy of Azerbaijani army tanks moves in the direction of Agdam, Azerbaijan, Aug. 2, 2014. (AP photo by Abbas Atilay).

Azerbaijan reported that three of its troops and nine Armenian soldiers were killed during clashes Sunday in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia denies the losses and says more than 10 Azerbaijani troops were killed. This is only the latest incident in a year marked by a dramatic increase in hostilities between the two neighbors. The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia began in 1988 when the Armenian majority in Nagorno-Karabakh, which was then an autonomous province of the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, started a movement calling for unification with Armenia. Regional violence became a full-fledged war after Armenia and Azerbaijan became […]

Peacekeepers serving with the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) patrol the town of Pinga, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dec. 4, 2013 (U.N. photo by Sylvain Liechti).

There are a lot of smug policy wonks in New York right now. As this year’s high-level General Assembly session kicks off at the United Nations, the media is focused on what the meeting could mean for Syria. It may achieve very little on that front. But analysts who take a longer view of multilateral affairs still see some reasons for optimism elsewhere. The most obvious is the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a sprawling but impressively ambitious list of global targets for 2030. Academics and activists have been celebrating this success all weekend. A special summit […]

Islamic State fighters wave an Islamic State flag as they patrol in a commandeered Iraqi military vehicle, Fallujah, Iraq, March 20, 2014 (AP photo).

Russia’s deployment of military equipment and personnel to Syria, combined with revelations about failed U.S. efforts to train and equip Syrian rebels, has rekindled criticisms of the Obama administration’s strategy against the self-declared Islamic State. The U.S. approach has been attacked from both sides of the political aisle, characterized as mission creep by some and weak incrementalism by others. During last week’s presidential debate, in particular, most of the Republican presidential candidates vied to burnish their national security credentials by vowing to expand U.S. military operations to defeat the Islamic State. However, the urge to “do something” in Iraq and […]

Syrians gather amid the rubble of damaged buildings in the predominantly Christian and Armenian neighborhood of Suleimaniyeh, Aleppo, Syria, April 11, 2015 (AP photo/SANA).

Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, the United States has rejected deep involvement, hoping that the conflict would work itself out or at least remain limited to Syria itself. These hopes are now bankrupt. Syria’s humanitarian disaster and refugee crisis is only growing, with tragic consequences for the Syrian people. It is destabilizing neighboring nations and threatening Europe. Containment of the conflict has failed. Yet there is no movement toward a resolution that reflects American interests. There is only stalemate and chaos. From the American perspective, the core problem is that U.S. strategy has been based on three […]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is interviewed by the Associated Press at Blair House in Washington, July 21, 2015 (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, spent three days last week in France, on his second major trip out of Africa since taking office on May 29. The items topping Buhari’s agenda in Paris—economic investment and security cooperation—reflected his main challenges at home: an economy in turmoil and the persistent threat of the jihadi movement Boko Haram. The visit also demonstrated Buhari’s patient, long-term thinking about Nigeria’s problems, which includes a greater willingness to work with neighbors and international partners than his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. At the same time, demands within Nigeria for immediate change confront Buhari with an imperative to demonstrate […]

Russian T-14 Armata tanks make their way during the Victory Parade marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, Red Square Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

America, it seems, has a new foreign threat: Russia. “For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” read the lede in a Foreign Policy article last week, “the Pentagon is reviewing and updating its contingency plans for armed conflict with Russia.” Even worse, in recent war games that imagined a NATO conflict with Russia, “we are unable to defend the Baltics,” concluded one former Pentagon official. If this sounds familiar, it’s because you might have read it in the Daily Beast a month ago. “A series of classified exercises over the summer,” two unnamed sources told the […]

A Bahraini man sits on a street by a wall covered in political graffiti, which is regularly sprayed over by authorities and reapplied by government opponents, Malkiya, Bahrain,, June 11, 2015 (AP photo by Hasan Jamali).

Last week, 33 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, signed a letter to the U.N. Human Rights Council criticizing Bahrain’s human rights record, but also commending some of the government’s “positive steps” toward reform. It called on Bahrain to investigate claims of torture and abuse of detainees, hold perpetrators accountable and accept a visit by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture. “The human rights situation in Bahrain remains an issue of serious concern to us,” said the Swiss ambassador, who read out the letter in Geneva. It was the fifth such letter issued since Bahrain’s […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a news conference, Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 14, 2013 (State Department photo).

American and Russian diplomats have proved to be congenitally unable to end the Syrian war. Could their military counterparts do any better? Last week, the Obama administration accepted a Russian offer of military talks over Syria. This is not necessarily a reason for much optimism. Moscow has sent aircraft, air-defense systems and significant amounts of new equipment to reinforce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s beleaguered regime. Some analysts believe that Russian troops will be fighting on the ground soon. This could make the war even more dangerous. The goal of the new Russian-American talks, which kicked off with a phone call […]

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mualem meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Moscow, Russia, June 29, 2015 (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti via AP).

After World War II, the United States reluctantly assumed global power. But most Americans considered this temporary, assuming the United States would disengage once Europe was back on its feet and the world’s war-torn regions were on the way to recovery. But by the time the Soviet Union finally collapsed and the Cold War ended 45 years later, Americans had become so accustomed to global power that there was little serious pressure for disengagement. Global power had become comforting and normal. Yet this, too, proved temporary. Now, weary after decades of containing the Soviet Union and 14 years of fighting […]

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks to the media about the situation in South Sudan, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Aug. 31, 2015 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

When South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, inked a new agreement in late August to end his country’s 20-month conflict, he seemed to be following a pattern the two warring sides had set in reaching or recommitting to an earlier deal to cease hostilities: Temporarily stave off international and regional pressure by signing, then allow it to collapse under the weight of continued fighting. True to form, clashes have continued into September, with each side accusing the other of attacks. So far, however, neither camp has yet declared the latest deal a failure. And the leaders, though critical of some elements […]

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sits on a wheelchair after taking oath as president, Algiers, April 28, 2014 (AP photo by Sidali Djarboub).

On Sept. 13, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced the retirement of Gen. Mohamed “Toufik” Mediene, head of the Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS), days after sacking several top generals who worked under Mediene and weeks after the arrest of a former intelligence chief. Bouteflika’s office claimed that the retirement decision was made “in line with the constitution.” But that muted explanation belied the stunning decision to remove Toufik, as he is widely known in Algeria, who has been the head of Algeria’s state intelligence service for 25 years. Created in 1958 during Algeria’s War of Independence as the Ministry […]

A man carries a child as migrants and refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos, Greece, Sept. 8, 2015 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

The wave of refugees washing over Europe today is the latest distress call from the remnants of what we still, for simplicity’s sake, refer to as Syria. The immediate reaction has been one of panic, with the European Union’s vaunted open borders—symbol of a generation’s worth of hard-won European integration—now at risk. There is much to criticize in the official and popular reactions in Europe. The flow of migrants from the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan has been building over a long enough time for the EU to have formulated a more effective response. But the shift in routes […]

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Brookings Institution, Washington, Sept. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

One of the defining declarations of Barack Obama’s 2008 run for the White House was his pledge not only to end the war in Iraq, but also to change the mindset that got America involved in that disastrous war in the first place. In fits and starts, he has adopted that approach as president, particularly in his second term. Unfortunately it appears that Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state and now the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, still hasn’t gotten the memo. Last week Clinton ventured to Washington’s Brookings Institution to talk about her views on the Iran […]

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic attends a government session in Belgrade, Serbia, July 11, 2015 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

In early September, Serbia, an aspiring European Union member, conducted a military drill with two people on the EU’s bad list: Russia and Belarus. In Novorossiysk, Russia, in an exercise known as “Slavic Brotherhood,” paratroopers from the three countries played war games and practiced crushing a Maidan-style revolt. “Who can lecture us?” said Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, responding to questions about what impact the drill would have on his country’s image in Brussels. “The European Union is not a military bloc. Let them mind their own business.” The EU was not impressed, given the diplomatic energy it has expended […]

An explosion and smoke rise after an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition at a weapons depot in Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 11, 2015 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

The Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen began as a war waged from the skies, but as it drags on, it is increasingly moving to the ground. In the past week, Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have deployed more soldiers to Yemen, capped by 1,000 ground troops from Qatar. Egypt reportedly sent 800 of its own soldiers, after rumors last spring of its willingness to join a potential ground war to drive the Houthis out of territory they have seized in Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa. The Qatari and Egyptian troops join a 3,500-strong battalion of soldiers from […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 221 2 Last