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 […]

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, talks to reporters in Manila, the Philippines, Feb. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Two years into the three-year mandate of a transitional authority tasked with governing a long-troubled corner of the southern Philippines, its chief minister, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, is pushing to extend the term of his interim administration. The transitional authority’s 80 members were appointed to lead the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, in 2019, as part of a peace deal the Philippine government signed with Muslim rebels fighting for independence in Mindanao. The extension, if approved, would postpone a scheduled vote for the region’s first democratically elected parliament from May 2022, as originally foreseen by the transition […]

Hamas supporters protest against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to postpone Palestinian elections, in Jebaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip, April 30, 2021 (AP photo by Adel Hana).

The cease-fire that entered into force last Friday brought an end to 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, leaving behind at least 248 Palestinian and 12 Israeli dead, as well as untold destruction in Gaza. Yet even as the fragile truce is holding thus far, the power struggle between the two largest Palestinian parties—Hamas and its rival, Fatah—seems poised to only intensify. The most recent round of violence was the fourth since 2007, when Hamas violently wrested control of Gaza after winning elections the previous year. It took place against the backdrop of an intense political crisis triggered […]

A U.S. soldier walks past parked armored vehicles and tanks of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, as they are unloaded in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

In late September 2020, the long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan boiled over into full-blown war. As Azerbaijani tanks and drones advanced into territory held by Armenian forces, commentators around the world warned of the possibility of regional instability or even a wider conflict between Turkey and Russia, which supported opposite sides in the fighting. The heart of the conflict was the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an obscure province in the South Caucasus that most Americans have never heard of—even fewer can muster an opinion as to which former Soviet republic it should belong to. Its relationship to U.S. security […]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, center, and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

As U.S. troops begin what may be their final withdrawal from Afghanistan, no third country will be affected by their departure as much as Pakistan, which shares a long, porous border with Afghanistan, hosts much of the Taliban leadership as well as millions of Afghan refugees, and faces threats from Pakistani militants based there. For Pakistan, America has been both a partner and a strategic competitor in Afghanistan. Notionally, the U.S. exit presents Islamabad with an opportunity to proactively shape Kabul’s political future in its favor. But in reality, a post-withdrawal Afghanistan without an internationally backed, intra-Afghan accord offers far […]

Palestinians wave national flags at al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem, May 21, 2021 (AP photo by Mahmoud Illean).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo, which takes a look at what’s happening, what’s being said and what’s on the horizon in the Middle East. Subscribe to receive it by email every Monday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it. Israel and Hamas ended their latest round of fighting with a minimalist cease-fire, referred to in the lexicon of their long-standing conflict as “quiet for quiet.” Though the rocket fire and air strikes have come to a halt for now, there was no broader or deeper […]

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 anti-government protest in Bogota, Colombia, May 10, 2021 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. What matters in global affairs? It’s a question that, as the editor-in-chief of World Politics Review, I keep constantly in mind, because our job at WPR is to help our readers answer it, week in and week out. At times, the answer is right in front of us: the […]

A demonstrator takes part in a protest in support of Palestinians, in Los Angeles, May 15, 2021 (AP photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu).

As an American, watching the violence explode between Israel and Palestinians over the past two weeks has felt like awakening from a heavy narcotic sleep. The drug, in this instance, has been the willful and persistent denial embraced by American politicians and media alike about the grave crisis that, though less visible recently, has been ticking like a time bomb in this part of the Middle East for years. As the situation between Israel and Palestinians has grown steadily more dangerous, the doses of denial needed to ignore it, too, have like a narcotic become constantly bigger. It is easy […]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses the United Nations Security Council, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Craig Ruttle).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. 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. Under fire for staying silent on the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, U.S. President Joe Biden finally expressed support for a cease-fire in a statement Tuesday. He followed that up today by telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “he expected a significant […]

A man paints Israeli, Iranian, U.S. and Saudi Arabia national flags on a wall during an anti-government protest in Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 17, 2019 (Photo by Ameer Al Mohammedaw for dpa via AP Images).

In April 2018, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, said in an interview with The Atlantic that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “makes Hitler look good.” MBS, as the crown prince is widely known, also dismissed the possibility of any talks between the two regional rivals. Just three years later, MBS has changed his tune, saying in a recent television interview that he hopes to “build a good and positive relationship with Iran.” His remarks came amid reports that the two sides were in the early stages of negotiations to deescalate tensions, which both […]

A protester waves the Palestinian flag during clashes with the Israeli forces at the Hawara checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, May 14, 2021 (AP photo by Majdi Mohammed).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo, which takes a look at what’s happening, what’s being said and what’s on the horizon in the Middle East. Subscribe to receive it by email every Monday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it. Framing the latest outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas is a distressing new reality for Palestinians: a great many power brokers in the region have lost any serious interest in their rights. In fact, the downgrading of Arab interest in Palestinian rights reflects a wider […]

Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepts rockets fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza towards Israel, in Gaza City, May 10, 2021 (Photo by Mohammed Talatene for dpa via AP Images).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. When videos of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system swinging into action began flooding social media platforms earlier this week, it seemed like a case of déjà vu. But there was one major difference compared to other recent episodes of rocket fire from Palestinian militants in Gaza. This time, […]

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, May 11, 2021 (AP photo by Hatem Moussa).

Israeli forces and Palestinian militant factions in the Gaza Strip have been engaged in their heaviest exchange of fire this week since the 2014 Gaza War. A heavy barrage of Israeli airstrikes has killed at least 83 people thus far in Gaza, including 17 children, while authorities in Israel have reported seven fatalities due to Palestinian rocket attacks. Among them was a 6-year-old child. Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations are all working to broker a cease-fire, but there is no indication yet of an end to the violence, with potentially far-reaching implications across the region. The conflict follows weeks […]

Armed Afghan policemen sit with confiscated poppy bulbs during a poppy eradication sweep of a farmer’s field in the village of Karezaq, Afghanistan, April 11, 2004 (AP photo by David Guttenfelder).

Corruption and criminality have long bedeviled both conflict and post-conflict settings. As illicit economies that predated or emerged from the years of conflict persist and grow, they often undermine apparent battlefield victories and aspirational regime transitions to the point of eviscerating stability and liberalization. From Somalia to Afghanistan to Myanmar to South Sudan to Haiti, the stabilization efforts of international and local actors have often been held hostage to the unsavory behavior of elites, both old and new. One reason why anti-corruption and anti-crime efforts have struggled is that they have been understood as technical, institution-building efforts rather than as […]

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, […]

A soldier stands guard outside the site of a terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Even with its physical “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in tatters, the Islamic State is still managing to wage a global insurgency, maintaining an operational presence in at least 20 separate countries. The organization’s global diffusion recently led a group of leading terrorism experts to describe ISIS as an “adhocracy,” better understood as a group of “structurally fluid organizations in which ‘interacting project teams’ work towards a shared purpose and/or identity.” By maintaining this structure, the group’s leaders seek to harness the benefits of a transnational network spanning multiple regions and continents. “All politics is local,” as the famous saying […]

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