Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, left, and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, right, during a meeting in Maputo, Mozambique to discuss the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, April 8, 2021 (AP photo by Ferhat Momade).

On March 24, Ansar al-Sunna, a militant group linked to the Islamic State, launched a bloody attack on the coastal town of Palma, in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, leaving at least 61 dead and scores more unaccounted for. The assault, which lasted more than a week and took place near a major liquefied natural gas plant under construction by the French energy giant Total, made global headlines and shined a spotlight on a fast-growing insurgency. Though the group has since been pushed out of Palma by Mozambican security forces, the attack highlights the danger should the insurgents expand their […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the prime minister’s office, in Jerusalem, April 12, 2021 (pool photo by Menahem Kahana via AP).

While tensions between Israel and Iran have been omnipresent in the Middle East for decades, the prospect of open military conflict between the two countries has never seemed closer than it does now. Over the past few months, the two rivals have escalated an undeclared naval war featuring unclaimed attacks on Israeli- and Iranian-owned ships. At the same time, Israel has continued its air strikes on Iranian weapons shipments transiting across Syria, and a damaging explosion on April 11 at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility was widely attributed to Israel. All of this comes against the backdrop of U.S. President Joe […]

Marla Ruzicka leads a demonstration calling for U.S. compensation to victims of the U.S. led military campaign in Afghanistan, outside of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, April 7, 2002 (AP photo by Suzanne Plunkett).

Last week, just two days after U.S. President Joe Biden announced his decision to withdraw the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the humanitarian community commemorated the death of Marla Ruzicka, a humanitarian hero from the early years of the war there. A college student when the Twin Towers fell, Marla recognized that the U.S. invasion would weigh hard on civilians, and rather than watch from afar, she bought herself a ticket to Afghanistan to do something about it. Landing in Kabul, Marla set about making friends with U.S. soldiers, expatriate aid workers and local Afghans alike. More […]

French President Emmanuel Macron attends the state funeral for the late Chadian President Idriss Deby, with Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, N’Djamena, Chad, April 23, 2021 (pool photo by Christophe Petit Tesson via AP).

On Tuesday, just one day after Chad’s incumbent president, Idriss Deby, was declared the winner of the country’s April 11 presidential election, a military spokesperson announced that Deby had been killed on the battlefield while overseeing fighting with rebels known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, or FACT, in the country’s northern region. Deby, 68, had been poised to claim a sixth term in office, having won almost 80 percent of the vote in an election victory most observers considered to be guaranteed in advance. He had led Chad since seizing power in a 1990 rebellion, making […]

U.S. soldiers, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, patrol west of Kabul, Afghanistan (AP photo by Hoshang Hashimi).

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden announced his decision to fully withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept.11. After 20 years and two generations of American service members fighting there, America’s longest war will come to an end. What will the legacy of that war be for the U.S. military? And will it have a lasting impact on American society? In this week’s big picture Trend Lines interview, Andrew Exum joins WPR editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein to discuss those questions and more. Exum is a partner at Hakluyt & Company, a global advisory firm. He began his career as an officer […]

A U.S. Army carry team transports the remains of a Special Forces soldier who died in Afghanistan, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Dec. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

When U.S. President Joe Biden announced his decision last week to fully withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, he justified it in part by pointing to an agreement signed by the Trump administration committing the U.S. to withdrawing by May 1. But he spent more time highlighting the disconnect between the original reasons the U.S. deployed its military to Afghanistan and the reasons now being used to justify its continued presence. “War in Afghanistan,” he said, “was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking.” And yet, as Biden acknowledged in his speech, that is just what the […]

Girls chant slogans at a protest in front of the U.N. building in Sanaa, Yemen, May 12, 2016 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

It is easy to forget how quickly outsiders’ ideas about places like Yemen changed during the early days of the Arab Spring uprisings that began a decade ago—and how quickly those new impressions faded when the uprisings did not deliver rapid transformation. Such short memories are proving costly for Yemeni women, who gained a place at the political table during and after the 2011 protest movement that ousted then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s autocratic regime, only to be shunted aside amid the violent conflict and international indifference that has plagued the country since. With a cease-fire deal reportedly in the offing […]

President Joe Biden visits Arlington National Cemetery after announcing the withdrawal of the remainder of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, in Arlington, Va., April 14, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

After two decades of a war that started out with what he called clear objectives and a just cause, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he would withdraw the last remaining American troops from Afghanistan. In a 15-minute speech from the White House Treaty Room, where then-President George W. Bush informed the nation in October 2001 of the first U.S. airstrikes against al-Qaida training camps, Biden declared, “I’m now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.” How he inherited the […]

Venezuelan navy soldiers patrol the Arauca River, the natural border with Colombia, seen from Arauquita, Colombia, March 26, 2021 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

For years, the Venezuelan government has permitted armed groups from neighboring Colombia to operate within its borders. It has even occasionally conspired with these groups, taking a cut of the profits from their drug trafficking, extortion and other illicit activities in exchange for allowing them freedom to maneuver. But last month, Venezuela launched a major military offensive against a faction of Colombian guerrillas that is active near the two countries’ border, and which is believed to have fallen out of favor with President Nicolas Maduro’s autocratic government. These are not the first clashes between Venezuelan security forces and Colombian armed […]

Then-Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia, June 18, 2014 (AP photo by Javier Galeano).

BOGOTA, Colombia—In his last visit to Colombia as U.S. vice president in December 2016, Joe Biden praised then-President Juan Manuel Santos for the historic peace accord reached that year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—the country’s largest guerrilla group, better known as the FARC—which ended the longest-running armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. More than four years later, the Andean nation is at risk of losing most of the security gains from the hard-won peace agreement, with violence escalating to levels last seen before the peace talks. Now that Biden is back in office as president, he must pay […]

An anti-coup protester at a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, March 27, 2021 (AP Photo).

In the days after Myanmar’s military staged a coup on Feb. 1, it likely hoped to consolidate power with minimal bloodshed. Having overthrown the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Tatmadaw, as the armed forces are known in Myanmar, set out to create a managed democracy like neighboring Thailand’s, with an electoral system that guarantees victory for military-aligned parties and their allies. The coup leader, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, probably hoped that neighboring states and possibly even the world’s leading democracies would eventually recognize Myanmar’s new government. Indeed, as protests erupted across the country in the coup’s […]

Anti-Syrian government protesters mark 10 years since the start of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Idlib, Syria, March 15, 2021 (AP photo by Ghaith Alsayed).

Some things haven’t changed in seven years. One of the first pieces I wrote for WPR was on the prospects for transitional justice in Syria someday, roughly three years into a civil war that still hasn’t ended today. The news hook back then was the appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee of a former Syrian military photographer, hidden under a blue hoodie and identified only as “Caesar.” He had defected from the regime and smuggled a trove of roughly 55,000 photographs out of Syria, documenting the deaths of some 11,000 prisoners killed in Bashar al-Assad’s jails—many showing signs of […]

A supporter of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement of Justice, takes part in a rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, in Peshawar, Pakistan, April 23, 2011 (AP photo by Mohammad Sajjad).

When it comes to armed drones, is smaller and more precise necessarily better? The question came to my mind upon seeing the news that the U.S. Air Force just successfully test-launched a new weaponizable drone, the ALTIUS-600, making it the smallest drone in operation. Even more remarkably, this tiny aircraft was launched from the second-smallest-drone, the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie, while the Valkyrie was in flight. There is nothing objectionable about the development of mini-drones. One could even argue they would be improvements, in humanitarian terms, over the use of the much larger Reaper to deliver 500-pound bombs in allegedly “precise” […]

A Tigrayan refugee woman sits in front of her shelter at Hamdeyat Transition Center, near the Sudan-Ethiopia border, eastern Sudan, March 14, 2021 (AP photo by Nariman El-Mofty).

Millions of people in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region are facing starvation. Until now, it’s been a crisis without pictures. Those wrenching images of emaciated children and mothers with dull-eyed gazes, so sadly familiar from famine zones, have yet to emerge. But that’s because journalists aren’t permitted to travel to the worst-hit areas of Tigray, where hunger is deepening by the day. When the media can finally get access, or when starving villagers abandon their homes and flee to towns, the pictures will surely remind viewers of drought victims from Ethiopia’s 1984 famine, which prompted the famous LiveAid benefit concert and […]

A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position near the Line of Contact near Vodiane, 468 miles southeast of Kyiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, March 6, 2021 (AP photo by Evgeniy Maloletka).

For the better part of six years since Russia and Ukraine signed the Minsk II cease-fire accord for the disputed eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass, one question has loomed: How will the U.S. and NATO respond if Russian troops again cross back over the so-called Line of Contact, dividing Ukrainian forces from Russian-backed separatists? With reports now trickling in of a buildup of Russian military forces along the border and in Crimea, Washington and Brussels may need quick answers soon. In response to those reports, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke this week with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, […]

A Mozambican soldier provides security prior to the arrival of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a technical school in Maluana, Mozambique, July 7, 2016 (AP photo by Schalk van Zuydam).

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. For more than a week, Islamic State-linked militants have laid siege to Palma, a coastal town in northern Mozambique that serves as a hub for natural gas projects worth a combined $60 billion. The sustained attack has left dozens of people dead, potentially displacing tens of thousands more. It is the most severe escalation of a jihadist insurgency that began in 2017, and is expected to exacerbate an […]

A soldier holds a Taiwanese national flag during a military exercise in Hsinchu County, northern Taiwan, Jan. 19, 2021 (AP photo by Chiang Ying-ying).

The top U.S. military commander for the Asia-Pacific region, Adm. Philip Davidson, raised eyebrows at a recent Senate hearing when he suggested China could invade Taiwan within the next six years. The nominee to replace Davidson at the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. John Aquilino, then went a step further, telling the same committee last week that in his view, “This problem is much closer to us than most think and we have to take this on.” At first glance, such concerns might seem justified. The Chinese Communist Party has always viewed the annexation of Taiwan as a key […]