Muslims pray during morning prayer for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 6, 2016 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

During my last visit to Malaysia in February, I met the famed film director Chiu Keng Guan to discuss his fourth and latest movie, “Ola Bola.” It had just come out in local cinemas and was already proving to be such a sensation that one newspaper asked if there was an “Ola Bola overload.” A little misty-eyed perhaps, the film is a fictionalized account of the Malaysian national football team’s qualification for the 1980 Olympic Games, arguably one of the country’s finest sporting milestones, made all the more memorable by the fact that it was achieved by a multiracial, multireligious […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a rally of his supporters after the country’s abortive July 15 coup, Istanbul, Aug. 7, 2016 (Presidential Press Service photo by Kayhan Ozer via AP).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. Just 25 years after winning the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, the United States is facing a very different world than the one many had expected. Instead of a world of relative peace, with no proxy wars in developing countries and no major global geostrategic opponents, there is violence and terrorism around the globe, much of it […]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, and chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, left, at the NATO summit, Warsaw, Poland, July 9, 2016 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

With the two-year anniversary of Afghanistan’s national unity government approaching in September, long-simmering tensions between President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, have broken out into the open. In mid-August remarks to his supporters, Abdullah made his most public and direct complaints to date, calling Ghani unfit for the presidency. He said that his counsel was being ignored by Ghani, his position within the government was being marginalized, and his demands for reforms were going unmet. Although the two leaders have since met one-on-one and attended Afghanistan’s Independence Day celebrations together on Aug. 17, the complicated power-sharing […]

Nepal's newly-appointed prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Kathmandu, Nepal, Aug. 3, 2016 (AP photo by Bikram Rai).

Pushpa Kamal Dahal is the prime minister of Nepal again, after its parliament voted earlier this month to elect the former Maoist guerrilla leader, better known by his nom de guerre, Prachanda—“the fierce one.” He first held the country’s top job in 2008, but quit nine months later after a rocky tenure. Dahal is Nepal’s ninth prime minister in eight years, and 25th since 1990, when a pro-democracy movement ended the country’s absolute monarchy and established a parliamentary government. He succeeds K.P. Oli, who, faced with a no-confidence motion, resigned in late July from the office he’d occupied for nine […]

India's Olympic team during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 5, 2016 (AP photo by David J. Phillip).

Sometimes a game is just a game, but when it comes to the Olympics, many countries view sports as a metaphor for their standing in the world. The medal rankings constitute a black-and-white yardstick for national pride and, in some cases, much more. Even though the medals are won through the sweat, skill and power of individual athletes, a geopolitical subtext lurks beneath the medal counts. This year, the United States leads those standings by a mile; China is trying to keep up; and Russia, caught playing dirty, barely made it into the competition. But what about India? Despite being […]

A Kashmiri protester clashes with Indian policemen during a protest, Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Dar Yasin).

On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, called on Pakistan and India to give his office access to Kashmir given “grave concerns” over alleged human rights violations there. The move comes as Jammu and Kashmir, which is administered by India but claimed by Pakistan, has seen some of its worst violence in years. On Tuesday, Indian troops shot and killed five civilians and injured at least 15 more during clashes with anti-India protesters, a day after suspected Kashmiri separatist rebels killed one Indian soldier and wounded 10 others in two separate gun battles. In […]

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaving 10 Downing Street, London, July 20, 2016 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

It may be the shortest “golden era” on record. Barely nine months after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s extended visit to the United Kingdom seemed to cement a “very special relationship” between London and Beijing, China’s ambassador to the U.K. is warning that relations are now at a “crucial historical juncture.” The issue nominally at hand is the British government’s decision over whether to proceed with the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, in which China General Nuclear Power Company (CGN) has a stake. But the real question is whether the new British prime minister, Theresa May, intends to walk away from […]

The funeral procession of slain Cambodian government critic Kem Ley, Kandal, west of Phnom Penh, July 24, 2016 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

As Cambodia prepares for national elections in two years, its politics have veered dangerously out of control. Even though young Cambodians are demanding political alternatives and accessing more information outside of state media, the country’s transition toward two-party politics has collapsed. The government’s brutal tactics of the 1990s and early 2000s, when political activists were routinely murdered and opposition parties nearly put out of business, have returned. Young Cambodians may be left with no outlet for their grievances, creating a potentially explosive situation, especially given the promise of reform and dialogue just a few years ago. In 2013, the opposition […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their economic summit, Baku, Aug. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Geo-economics dominated the agenda of two critical meetings this week: a trilateral economic summit in Baku between Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, followed by a bilateral summit in St. Petersburg between Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While matters of war and peace were also on the agenda—the stalemated conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and the ongoing fighting in Syria—both summits’ main focus was on ensuring connectivity to the global economy. Let’s start with Iran. In the year since Iran acceded to the terms of the nuclear agreement it signed with the group of world […]

Indian paramilitary soldiers walk back toward their base camp on the eleventh straight day of curfew, Kashmir, July 19, 2016 (AP photo by Dar Yasin).

Throughout the month of July, a series of violent clashes in Kashmir between protesters and Indian security forces left more than 50 Kashmiris dead and more than 5,000 injured. In an email interview, Anit Mukherjee, an assistant professor in the South Asia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), NTU, Singapore, discusses the Indian military’s domestic security role and civil-military relations. WPR: What role does the Indian military play in domestic security, including the Kashmir conflict and the Naxalite insurgency? Anit Mukherjee: The Indian military has historically played an important role in countering domestic insurgencies and separatist […]

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reacts as he addresses a press conference in New Delhi, Aug. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Altaf Qadri).

After nearly a decade of deliberations and vehement debate, India’s parliament finally passed a unified goods and services tax earlier this month, marking the first significant economic reform under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While correctly heralded as a major achievement that overhauls India’s convoluted tax system, the passage of this legislation nevertheless underscores how little Modi’s government has actually accomplished in its attempts to transform India’s economy. Modi’s failure to implement a sweeping reform agenda seems like a paradox. After all, he swept into power in 2014 with the promise of reviving India’s faltering economy, putting an end to corruption, […]

Government workers at a rally to encourage Thais to vote in the constitutional referendum, Bangkok, Aug. 4, 2016, (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

In what could be described as a self-inflicted wound, Thais voted Sunday to accept an undemocratic constitution in a nationwide referendum. According to the preliminary count collected by the Election Commission, based on 94 percent of the votes cast, 61.4 percent of Thais were in favor of the constitution, while 38.6 percent rejected it. A significant shift in the results isn’t expected with the final, official tally on Aug. 10. When it is enacted, whether in weeks or months, the constitution will be Thailand’s 20th in 84 years—the last was dissolved in May 2014 following the military coup that ousted […]

Delegates supporting Bernie Sanders wave anti-TPP signs at the Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, July 25, 2016 (CQ Roll Call photo by Bill Clark via AP).

U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to continue his push for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite firm opposition to the free trade agreement from both of the major candidates for president, including his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. “Right now, I’m the president and I think I’ve got the better argument,” he told reporters following a meeting Tuesday with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. But what are the actual arguments about the TPP? For all the heated debate over the deal, which would free up trade among the United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific […]

A worker at a construction site, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 8, 2014 (AP photo by Hasan Jamali).

It is no secret that Saudi Arabia is experiencing a sharp economic slowdown and has decided to respond by implementing far-reaching economic reforms. But in recent days, a less well-known aspect of this transformation has become visible, highlighting the repercussions and potential risks of the kingdom’s crisis. Less than 60 days after the Saudi government announced its five-year National Transformation Program, part of the larger Vision 2030 reforms, the government of India announced it had launched an emergency operation to rescue thousands of desperate Indian nationals caught in Saudi Arabia’s economic crosscurrents. The plight of large numbers of South Asian […]

Activists chant slogans during a demonstration to condemn the honor killing of model Qandeel Baloch, Islamabad, Pakistan, July 18, 2016. (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the status of women’s rights and gender equality in various countries around the globe. Last month, Pakistani social media star Fauzia Azeem, who went by the name Qandeel Baloch, was murdered by her brother in an alleged honor killing that was condemned by women’s groups, but praised by some people on social media. In an email interview, Anita Weiss, a professor at the University of Oregon, discusses women’s rights in Pakistan. WPR: What is the current status of women’s rights and gender equality in Pakistan? Anita Weiss: Many […]

Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, at a seminar in Gwadar on development and security, Balochistan, April 12, 2016 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Last month, as an attempted military putsch was put down in Turkey, posters lining streets across Pakistan beckoned the country’s popular army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, to take over in a coup. The posters have since been taken down, and the man responsible for them arrested. But the question still remains: Is the Pakistani military poised to take over? The last time Pakistan experienced a coup, in October 1999, the context was markedly different from today. At the time, Pakistan was reeling economically, in part due to U.S. sanctions over the country’s May 1998 nuclear tests. Civil-military relations had gone […]

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing, China, July 25, 2016. (AP photo by How Hwee Young).

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice visited China last month, where she held talks with Chinese officials about the threat of terrorism and prospects for improving counterterrorism cooperation. In an email interview, Jeffrey Payne, the Manager of Academic Affairs at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, discusses the state of counterterrorism cooperation between the U.S. and China. (The views expressed in this article are his alone and do not represent the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.) WPR: How extensive is counterterrorism cooperation between the U.S. […]