Houthi rebels secure a road as Yemenis take part in a march denouncing plans by the Saudi-led coalition to attack the port of Hodeida, Sanaa, Yemen, April 19, 2017 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

As the fate of Yemen hangs in the balance, the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia that supports the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is about to escalate its two-year-old war by launching a new offensive in the key Red Sea port of Hodeida. The move aims to throttle Hadi’s enemies, Houthi rebels aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but it is more likely to choke the country’s population, tipping it from hunger and starvation into outright famine. Hodeida, the country’s busiest and most important port, is responsible for 80 percent of northern Yemen’s imports. If […]

An anti-government protester in front of a burning barricade, Caracas, Venezuela, April 24, 2017 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

The protests and unrest that have wracked Venezuela over the past month, resulting in the deaths of at least 22 people, represent a sudden change from the malaise and passivity that had settled over the Venezuelan opposition from December to March. Through mid-March, there was a heavy sense of pessimism and fatalism on the streets of Caracas and other cities. President Nicolas Maduro’s government seemed to be consolidating its power; people were disillusioned with the opposition leadership; and the international community seemed unable to act. A few things are behind this recent surge in opposition activity. First, Latin American countries […]

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting on Syria, New York, April 7, 2017 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Busy and serious people know only two types of working lunch. There are pleasant but time-consuming lunches they would prefer to skip, and then there are tedious ones they desperately wish to avoid. Today, ambassadors serving on the U.N. Security Council will endure a third category of business luncheon: One that will at best be eventful but nerve-rattling, and at worst could hasten the collapse of international diplomacy. The council is visiting Washington, where it will lunch with U.S. President Donald Trump. What could possibly go wrong? The U.S. has held the rotating presidency of the Security Council in April, […]

French President Francois Hollande walks in the Cerny cemetery during a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Chemin des Dames battle, Cerny-en-Laonnois, France, April 16, 2017 (Sipa via AP Images).

Is Francois Hollande the most underrated statesman of his generation? The question might at first glance seem like a mean jibe. The French president is almost a forgotten man these days. His domestic approval ratings were so dire that he chose not to run for a second term. French voters will start the two-round process of selecting his successor next weekend. The outcome is disturbingly unclear, and the nationalist Marine Le Pen could be the ultimate victor. Even if France picks a more palatable president, Hollande’s exit marks a greater loss for global diplomacy than most analysts recognize. France has […]

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, pauses while speaking to the media during a press briefing, Washington, April 11, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Without admitting it, U.S. President Donald Trump largely continued his predecessor’s military policy in the Middle East during the opening months of his administration. Like Barack Obama, Trump relied on American airpower and special operations forces to strike directly at the self-styled Islamic State, while deploying other U.S. military units to support local forces battling the extremists. But after a grotesque chemical attack on a Syrian village by the military of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Trump ordered a retaliatory cruise missile strike against the air base from which the chemical attack was launched. Suddenly a policy that once seemed so […]

Smoke rises during a clashes that erupted between the Palestinian Fatah Movement and Islamists in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon, April 9, 2017 (AP photo by Mohammed Zaatari).

On Thursday, Palestinian security forces entered the Ain el-Hilweh camp for Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon, putting an end to a week of clashes involving Sunni Islamist militants that killed an estimated seven and injured dozens. The violence broke out last Friday, when a Palestinian security force met resistance from fighters affiliated with Bilal Badr—a radical Islamist with a strong foothold in Ain el-Hilweh—while attempting to deploy throughout the camp. In response, Fatah, the party that has controlled the Palestinian Authority since 1993, launched an offensive targeting Badr’s positions. Jihadi groups aren’t a new phenomenon in Palestinian camps in Lebanon, […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters during a rally for the upcoming referendum, Istanbul, Turkey, March 11, 2017 (AP photo by Kayhan Ozer)

Over the past 18 months, terrorist attacks in Turkey have claimed over 400 lives, a dramatic increase that put pressure on authorities to take action. But the approach that Turkish authorities adopted has raised more concerns than it addressed: On Feb. 1, a month after a gunman affiliated with the so-called Islamic State killed 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve, the Supreme Council of Radio and Television, or RTUK, issued a notice to stations that effectively banned reporting on domestic terror. News outlets can no longer mention where a terrorist attack took place or who might […]

A Syrian air force jet at the Shayrat air base, one day after the U.S. missile attack, Homs, Syria, April 8, 2017 (photo by Mikhail Voskresenskiy/Sputnik via AP).

The U.S. missile attack on the Syrian airbase from which the devastating chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun had been launched was a clear win for the Trump administration on several fronts. It doesn’t, however, guarantee a successful new Syria strategy, for reasons related to the nature of the conflict there and the leadership dynamics in Washington. It’s still worth considering how to make the modest intervention a more transformative event. President Donald Trump’s quick decision to launch cruise missiles against a Syrian airbase early Friday, in retaliation for Syria’s presumed use of sarin gas against residents of the opposition-held […]

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference, Nairobi, Kenya, March 8, 2017 (AP photo by Khalil Senosi).

Napoleon allegedly said that he liked his generals to be lucky. If he were around today to apply the same logic to secretaries-general of the United Nations, he might have some concerns about Antonio Guterres. The new U.N. chief, who has now been in office for 100 days, is clearly an energetic and dedicated leader. But he has had a run of very bad luck indeed. The number and variety of crises that have sprung up around the U.N. since the start of the year is remarkable. Famine is looming in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. The new U.S. […]

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a visit to the mausoleum of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Ankara, March 30, 2017 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Donald Trump is being drawn into the hot conflicts of the Middle East in ways that will define his presidency. Like the idealistic Barack Obama before he became president in 2009, Trump campaigned on promises that he would not allow the United States to get stuck in the region. Unlike Obama, Trump is confident that more military might will provide quick results, while showing little sign of preparing for postwar challenges or real disagreements with regional partners. Reality is catching up with the new administration. The Middle East has long proven its power to lure American leaders, often reluctantly, into […]

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., speaks during a Security Council meeting on the peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo, New York, March 31, 2017 (Albin Lohr-Jones for Sipa via AP Images).

Is it possible that I am a minor source of moral inspiration to the Trump administration? This may sound like a belated April Fool’s joke. The Trump team, with its emphasis on transactional politics, is not exactly a conclave of moralists. And as a liberal internationalist of European origin, I am not entirely in tune with the “America First” crowd. As I have noted, Trump supporters on right-wing websites have cheerfully dismissed me as a “hysterical” globalist or worse. They are unlikely to look to me for inspiration. Yet, tracking recent debates about American proposals to make severe cuts to […]