U.S. soldiers stand guard in Hasaka, northeast Syria, Jan. 27, 2022 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

At its height half a decade ago, the Islamic State was among the most feared armed organizations in the world. The infamously brutal group had at one point captured and established governance of more than a third of Iraq and large swaths of Syria. But that shocking, sudden rise to infamy was followed by a steep, if slower, downfall. By January 2019, the Islamic State had lost nearly all of its territory in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. declared it defeated and media organizations began to pay only sporadic attention to its isolated attacks. By 2021, Google searches for the Islamic State, a […]

Colombian navy soldiers stand guard near the Arauca River, the natural border with Venezuela, in Arauquita, Colombia, March 26, 2021 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

BOGOTA, Colombia—Violent confrontations on the Colombian-Venezuelan border between leftist armed groups with roots in the Colombian civil war have left at least 27 dead and an unknown number of people displaced or confined to their homes since fighting began on Jan 2.  The 10th Front—a dissident group that splintered from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC—has been engaged in a simmering conflict with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, in the Arauca region of Colombia since at least last year. But the recent fighting represents a serious escalation between the two groups. Investigators at Human Rights Watch have […]

Seeking information flyers produced by the FBI to identify alleged Capitol rioters, photographed on Dec. 20, 2021 (AP photo by Jon Elswick).

In the months after the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, law enforcement agencies received an avalanche of tips and witness statements claiming to have evidence that might help identify those allegedly involved in the insurrection. Many of these tips from the public were the result of online crowdsourcing and amateur detective e-sleuthing, and with their help, the FBI has arrested over 700 suspects in the year since then. The use of crowdsourced, open-source intelligence, or OSINT, to hold the Capitol rioters accountable highlights the ways in which this technique has rapidly spread in recent […]

An army soldier scuffles with an anti-government protester outside a military court in Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

What would it take to transform the way countries in the Middle East are governed? That question has taken on added urgency over the past year, in which we’ve seen stark new tests of competing theories of power and change in the Middle East. The region’s reformers and despots are still engaged in a struggle over the central purpose of government: Should the state provide social goods and services—including security—as well as a sense of belonging to the governed, or is the state simply a vehicle to uphold sovereignty, as defined, personified and exploited by a country’s rulers? This bedrock […]

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In late 2018, a violent attack in Indonesia brought sudden, global attention to West Papua, a region whose fight for independence was by then decades old. The attack targeted construction workers who were building a stretch of the controversial Trans-Papua highway, a project the central Indonesian government has said will improve quality of life, but that many locals oppose. By the end, 17 civilians and Indonesian military members had been killed; a separatist militant group, the National Liberation Army of West Papua, later claimed responsibility.  It was the deadliest attack Indonesia had seen for several years—and it was a sign of […]