A protest in front of the Chinese Consulate in Makati city, Philippines, July 12, 2021 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

On April 21, a suicide bomber struck the four-star Serena Hotel in Quetta, Pakistan, killing five people and wounding 12 more. Initial reports indicated the target was Nong Rong, the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, who was staying at the Serena but was not present at the time. The Tehrik-i-Taliban, or TTP, a jihadi terrorist group active along the Pakistani-Afghan border, later claimed responsibility for the attack, vaguely saying it had targeted “locals and foreigners” staying at the hotel.  A few months later, in mid-July, another suicide attack targeted a convoy of Chinese workers headed to the construction site of a hydroelectric dam […]

Biafran separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu attends a court hearing at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, Jan. 29, 2016 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Last month, news emerged that Nnamdi Kanu had been arrested and repatriated to Nigeria to face charges of terrorism and unlawful possession of firearms, among other alleged offenses related to his role as the leader of the separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra, or IPOB. Kanu was first detained […]

Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo attends a mass at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, June 20, 2021 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

After being away for a decade while on trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, former President Laurent Gbagbo returned home on June 17 to Cote d’Ivoire, where he was greeted by jubilant crowds. A few months earlier, on March 31, ICC judges confirmed the acquittal of Gbagbo and his co-defendant, former Youth Minister Charles Ble Goude. They had faced charges of inciting violence and committing human rights abuses during the electoral violence that took place in the aftermath of Cote d’Ivoire’s disputed 2010 election.  The 76-year-old Gbagbo continued to exercise influence even during his absence, and […]

Soldiers of the Tunisian army guard the entrance of the parliament building during a protest a day after Tunisian President Kais Saied fired the prime minister and suspended the parliament, July 26, 2021 (AP photo by Khaled Nasraoui).

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. Tunisian President Kais Saied suspended parliament Sunday night and placed travel bans on opposition politicians. Reports quickly documented the usual authoritarian playbook: raids on journalists, threats to jail those who impugn the state, and a raft of edicts concentrating judicial, legislative and executive power in his own hands. Saied’s decisions […]

A nurse at Kenyatta National Hospital fills a syringe from a vial of the Covid-19 Covishield vaccine in Nairobi, Kenya, March 24, 2021 (AP photo by Robert Bonet).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. We are all in this together. COVID-19 is the great leveler. The pandemic knows no borders. Build back better together.  The coronavirus pandemic has yielded enough shopworn cliches to last an entire lifetime of Model United Nations speeches. Yet, nearly 18 months after Africa’s first recorded case […]

A screen displays a notice on an iPhone in New York, Oct. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Jenny Kane).

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. Explosive revelations this week from the Pegasus Project detailed the widespread use of the Pegasus surveillance software program by repressive governments and three democracies—Hungary, India and Mexico—to spy on their own citizen activists and journalists, but also on foreign journalists and even heads of government. The software, developed and sold by the Israeli […]

Activists wearing masks depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Joe Biden hold signs reading “Free the vaccine” and “Waive the patents,” in front of the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, Germany, July 14, 2021 (AP photo by Fabian Sommer).

For just about anyone who spends time thinking about the future of the world, the fast-unfolding competition between the United States and China looms as one of the most important issues shaping both expectations and uncertainty over the near and medium term. The rivalry between these two countries, which boast the biggest economies and most powerful militaries in the world, is ostensibly over global leadership. The international crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, however, has revealed another darker reality: Where it counts most—meaning for the well-being of the largest numbers of people in the world—there is no real leadership competition. […]

Rwandan armed forces prepare to board a flight to Mozambique, at the airport in Kigali, Rwanda, July 10, 2021 (AP photo by Muhizi Olivier).

A violent insurgency in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado is sparking fears that the area could become the next frontier for global jihadism in Africa. In recent years, young men, sometimes carrying the black flag of the Islamic State, have swept hundreds of thousands of people off their land in the natural gas-rich province. The militants’ attacks have often been marked by beheadings and mutilations, including of children.  All told, more than 3,000 people have been killed in the violence. Mozambican security forces have struggled to contain the insurgents, who in late March stormed the northern town of Palma, […]

Women pack up their roadside food stall in Alexandra Township, north of Johannesburg, South Africa, July 15 2021 (AP photo by Ali Greeff).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. South African civil society campaigners and social activists have long cautioned about the perils of the country’s extreme levels of economic inequality. Now the violent uprisings in parts of South Africa, initially triggered by the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma for his refusal to testify before […]

Looters outside a shopping center alongside a burning barricade in Durban, South Africa, July 12, 2021 (AP photo by Andre Swart).

South Africa is in flames over its graft-plagued former president. After the 79-year-old Jacob Zuma turned himself in to authorities to begin a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court on July 8, violent protests and riots erupted in parts of the country, and at least 72 people have been killed in the unrest so far. Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed the military to the worst-hit parts of the country.  Underneath the riots and looting, Zuma’s prison sentence—which the Constitutional Court handed down in late June after he refused to testify before the official commission of inquiry charged […]

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok during a news conference at the Grand Palais Ephemere in Paris, May 17, 2021 (pool photo by Sarah Meyssonnier via AP Images).

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok didn’t mince words about his country’s future during a press conference last month, putting his concerns about the growing tensions between the civilian and military sides of the fragile transitional government in existential terms. “The big question today is will Sudan exist or not exist,” he said. The week before, Hamdok delivered a rare televised address in which he warned the country could fall into civil war between multiple armed groups and different factions of the Sudanese military.  The alarming remarks come at a pivotal time for Sudan, which next month will mark the second […]

The border fence that separates Spain, left, and Morocco, right, as seen from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, June 3, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

CEUTA, Spain—In March 2020, Morocco closed its land borders around Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, citing the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They have remained closed since, and with no indication of when they might reopen amid diplomatic tensions between Spain and Morocco, the two enclaves have been forced to confront their dependency on a newly assertive Morocco and come up with a radically different economic model. The economic picture in the enclaves, each of which hosts some 85,000 residents, has rarely been pretty. Today, about half the salaried workers in each are employed by […]

Pakistani activists take part in an International Women’s Day rally in Lahore, Pakistan, Oct. 9, 2020 (AP photo by K.M. Chaudhry).

Of the many injustices in the contemporary world, modern slavery is among the most shocking. The trade in humans is a worldwide phenomenon. It spans the poorest and wealthiest countries and is deeply embedded in global supply chains. This is not only an ethical outrage but a threat to international security, prosperity, good governance and development. As the world seeks to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic, it must tackle the scourge of human bondage. Slavery is one of the oldest human institutions, and it remains stubbornly persistent. The global abolitionist movement, which originated in the late 18th century, […]

A gathering during the 2014 uprising against Burkina Faso’s former president, Blaise Compaore, in Ouagadougo, Burkina Faso, Oct. 29, 2014 (Sipa photo by Sophie Garcia via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. 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. If you’re a regular reader of Africa Watch, it’s possibly because you were tired of reading about “Africa” as if it were a monolithic country of 1.3 billion people with all the same traits, habits and perspectives. Or better yet, that might have been your own impression […]

A soldier stand guards outside the site of an attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—The images that circulated on social media following last month’s bloody attack on the village of Solhan, in northeastern Burkina Faso, weren’t as gory as those that are often shared online after towns have been hit by armed groups. But even in a country where such killings are a near-daily occurrence, there was something about the photographs—showing dozens of bodies wrapped in woven prayer mats and piled into a mass grave—that jolted many people to take to the streets.  “It was horrible, but it showed us the limits of our state and the current regime in finding solutions […]

Supporters of the Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami at a rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, in Peshawar, Pakistan, April 23, 2011 (AP photo by Mohammad Sajjad).

On June 30, a coalition of 100 NGOs delivered a concise letter to the office of President Joseph Biden demanding “an end to the unlawful program of lethal strikes outside any recognized battlefield, including through the use of drones.” The letter arrived at an important political and symbolic juncture, just as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, initially scheduled to coincide with the 20th anniversary of 9/11, was nearing completion. The attacks of 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan that followed kicked off the massive expansion of America’s military footprint abroad, from which the drone program emerged and grew. […]

Eswatini’s King Mswati III addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Craig Ruttle).

Many years ago, an acquaintance told me a story from her childhood in the country then known as Swaziland that sounded like something from out of the distant past. One day, she said, officials from the king’s palace came to her high school and left with one of her friends, a beautiful girl, in tow. The country’s king, Mswati III, had caught sight of the girl and decided he wanted her as one of his many wives, who now number 15.  As startling as Mswati’s predatory marital practices are, so too is the fact that the depth of his despotism, […]

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