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A number of rail link items have caught my attention recently, and I thought it worthwhile to pass them along. The first is this massive China-Turkey joint development of a Turkish high-speed rail project, with China financing the project to the tune of an estimated $30 billion. The second is this Burma project linking its deep-water port of Kyaukphyu to Kunming, the capital of China’s southwestern province of Yunnan. Then there’s this one, in Africa, linking South Sudan to Uganda. And finally, there’s this rundown of the current rail projects in Southeast Asia. We often talk about ties between two […]

U.S. and European efforts to stabilize Yemen and Somalia are boomeranging. Rather than weakening militants in both countries, Western counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategies are fueling radicalism and turning wide swathes of the population against the West. With little real effort to economically and politically stabilize the two countries, U.S. military and security support for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the embattled head of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, exacerbates local fault lines and strengthens deep-seated anti-Americanism. The backfiring of Western policies is compounded by a one-size-fits-all approach and a failure to address local grievances. To be […]

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The EU makes for an easy target these days when it comes to being considered a strategic actor in global affairs. Many analysts, myself included, have a tendency to explain that by pointing to the union’s lack of security bona fides. But there’s more to it than just the question of how many divisions Europe has, to paraphrase Stalin, or of who to call when you want to call Europe, to quote Kissinger. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy himself put it best when he observed, only half-jokingly, that the EU has plenty of strategic partnerships — now all it […]

A multinational flotilla of warships has been assembled off the coast of Somalia to do what warships have done for as long as navies have existed: fight pirates. However, the combined efforts of France, Britain, Russia, China, India, the United States, and others have not sufficed to prevent the pirates from targeting ships across the breadth of the Indian Ocean. In much the same way that poorly equipped insurgents are resisting U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan, impoverished Somalis continue to frustrate the great naval powers. Indeed, counterpiracy and counterinsurgency share a common frailty: Both lack good metrics for evaluating success, […]

Relations between Iran and Egypt have been strained — if not outright hostile — since the Islamic revolution of 1979. In addition to ideological hostility entrenched by the Islamic revolution, Egypt is the traditional regional power and does not welcome Iranian interference in issues Cairo considers to be Arab concerns. The growth of Iranian proxies in Arab states has raised the stakes in a rivalry that began in 1979 as a war of words and propaganda, but has now become a reflection of the broader struggle for regional leadership. While both sides have made efforts to improve ties, recent developments […]

Some of the most distressing aspects of human behavior have endured stubbornly throughout history. To name just one example, human beings continue to inflict unspeakable horrors on other human beings in the course of combat. It is, indeed, a well-established fact that war is hell. But there is one feature of warfare, well-documented and generally accepted as unavoidable since biblical times, that is now coming under increasing scrutiny and facing a well-organized pushback: the use of rape as a weapon of war. As David Axe just reported for WPR from Congo, a growing number of organizations are now focusing their […]

JOHANNESBURG — Public meetings held throughout Zimbabwe, intended to seek input for the drafting of a new constitution, have been suspended due to violence, evoking memories of the country’s bloody 2008 presidential election and boding ill for the prospects of free and fair elections scheduled for next year. In the latest twist in Zimbabwe’s ongoing political crisis, the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee suspended the outreach exercise late last month, following violence in most parts of the country, particularly the capital, Harare, and the second-largest city, Bulawayo. Two deaths and dozens of injuries were reported. The army and supporters of President Robert […]

Editor’s note: This article is the second in a two-part series. Part one focused on assistance to rape victims and educational efforts for everyday Congolese. Part two looks at efforts to reform the groups responsible for rape in Congo. KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo — A team of U.S. Army medical personnel arrived in this crowded capital city the first week of September. For two weeks, the Americans trained alongside 300 members of the Congolese army. The goal of the exercise? “To increase interoperability with Congolese forces . . . and give them the opportunity to learn from us,” Lt. […]

Editor’s note: This article is the first in a two-part series. Part I focuses on assistance to rape victims and educational efforts for everyday Congolese. Part II, which will appear tomorrow, looks at efforts to reform the groups responsible for rape in Congo. DUNGU, Democratic Republic of Congo — Two years ago in this remote territory, a young woman named Dina and three others — another woman and two men — fled a camp belonging to the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group. The LRA had kidnapped the four months earlier: the men as laborers or fighters, the women as sex […]

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I had the pleasure of participating on France 24’s panel discussion program, The World This Week, last Friday, along with Philip Turle, Laura Dagg and Dave Clark. Topics included the Israeli-Palestinian direct talks, the Irish bank bailout and EU immigration politics. Part one can be seen here. Part two can be seen here.

America’s top African diplomat recently signaled Washington’s desire to establish more official contacts with the autonomous region of Somaliland, which sits within the internationally recognized borders of the failed state known as Somalia. Meanwhile, both our Agency for International Development and the Pentagon’s recently established Africa Command worry about Sudan’s upcoming vote on formally splitting the country in two. For a country that has sworn off nation-building, it’s interesting to see just how hard it is for America to remain on the sidelines while globalization remaps so much of the developing world. Not that globalization causes changes that otherwise would […]

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Citing a Der Spiegel interview with Condoleezza Rice on the first Bush administration’s insistence that a reunified Germany remain a full NATO member, Greg Scoblete makes a good point about the enduring rationale of the alliance: Whatever other rationales are offered up for why NATO remains relevant, it’s central, animating purpose is to keep America immersed in the affairs of Europe. Seen in this light, Europe’s collective decision to continue to sacrifice defense budgets on the altar of austerity is a feature, not a bug. The logic at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union, in both Washington […]