A funny thing happened on the way to the apotheosis of Egypt’s next president: The adoring crowds stayed home. The former military leader, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, was supposed to win a landslide victory with strong support from a public that had given every indication of burning with passion for the strongman. El-Sisi urged them to come out en masse to give him a strong mandate, and in the past they had always responded. There was never any doubt that el-Sisi would win. The only other candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, served the useful purpose of giving a patina of legitimacy to the process. […]

If the past century’s dominant image of Ethiopia was that of an impoverished, war-torn state, epitomized by the horrendous 1984-1985 famine in Tigray and Wollo provinces, the early 21st-century picture of the country is surely exemplified by the construction of the biggest infrastructure project anywhere in Africa: Mere miles from Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, nearly 8,000 workers and engineers are laboring seven days a week, 24 hours a day as part of a round-the-clock construction schedule to erect the nearly 560-foot-tall Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Africa’s second-most populous nation is betting that the multibillion-dollar GERD will dramatically modernize Ethiopia’s […]

Representatives from the six-country negotiating group known as the P5+1 and Iran met earlier this month for talks on Iran’s nuclear program that observers generally agree were inconclusive. As the parties prepare for the next round in Vienna June 16-20 and the July 20 deadline for a final agreement approaches, domestic forces in both the United States and Iran are trying to affect the goals and substance of a final agreement. In particular, the arrest two weeks ago of six young people in Tehran who had appeared in an online music video in defiance of Iran’s public morality rules has […]

The confirmation process last week for David Barron, a former Obama administration lawyer nominated to the federal judiciary, reopened a debate about the justification for what has come to be known as the U.S. “targeted killing” program. But as the politics of the issue heat up, the administration and its critics seem to be relying on different interpretations of the terminology at the heart of the debate, and their underlying disagreement speaks to broader questions about the future of the American war on terror. For many critics of the administration’s approach to counterterrorism, the term “targeted killing” has come to […]

The electoral earthquake that just shook up India is stirring up great excitement in, of all places, Israel, where Indian voters’ dramatic move to sweep away the ruling Congress Party and bring to power the opposition is making outsized headlines. By all indications, the victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Narendra Modi, is about to rapidly accelerate a trend that was already in place, creating much closer and much more productive ties between Israel and India. Modi was famously described months ago by an Indian journalist as “Israel’s best friend in South Asia.” The […]

Last week former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in jail for corruption. In an email interview, Udi Sommer, assistant professor of political science at Tel Aviv University, discussed the state of corruption in Israel. WPR: What institutional and legal factors have facilitated the reported worsening of corruption among Israel’s political parties and civil servants? Udi Sommer: Israel is ranked 36th among 177 countries in the world and 23rd among 34 OECD countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), but the jury is still out on whether Israel has experienced an increase in real corruption […]

Over the course of the past year, there has been a cascade of African-led initiatives to increase security cooperation in the Sahel and Maghreb regions. While such initiatives are a function of the enduring imperative for states there to develop a more robust regional response to counter nonstate transnational threats, such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other violent extremist organizations, Sahel and Maghreb states may yet struggle to let go of some of the baggage that had impeded previous regional cooperation efforts. Prior to the 2012-2013 Mali crisis, mistrust among regional partners had hampered efforts to convince […]

The past few years have seen a remarkable recovery of Russia’s international influence and ambitions. Rejecting an implicit offer of partnership with the West, albeit with junior status for Moscow outside its Eurasian region, the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin continues to pursue a separate agenda aimed at making Russia an important and independent pillar of the global order. Moscow may not yet aspire to become a global superpower and peer rival of the United States again, but its goals and some of its capabilities still exceed those of Britain, France, Germany, Japan and other typical regional powers. Not […]

Last month, amid nonstop coverage of the Ukrainian crisis and an onslaught of domestic U.S. issues, the New York Times published an editorial urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to comply with international obligations on illegal fishing. Why did the editorial board think this issue warranted ink? Part of the answer is that the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trade in fish is no longer just a conservation and biodiversity challenge. Environmental crimes across the board today have significant consequences for countries’ development aspirations, in addition to global security implications. In this light, governments around the world need to […]

President Barack Obama’s delayed visit to East Asia—finally carried out this month after domestic politics forced him to skip key summits last fall—was supposed to highlight America’s seriousness about rebalancing its foreign policy attention to the Asia-Pacific region. Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, spoiled the narrative, as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine continues to suck up most of the oxygen of the U.S. foreign policy process. Unlike earlier Obama peregrinations overseas, this trip did not generate blockbuster headlines or do much to burnish U.S. global leadership. Some pundits are already writing off the entire “pivot” to Asia as a failed […]

Over decades of authoritarian rule in Egypt, and into the recent years of upheaval, one segment of the state enjoyed a reputation for maintaining a considerable degree of independence. In contrast to much of the governing structure, the Egyptian judiciary was willing to challenge the powerful. Its decisions were guided to a large extent by the concept of rule of law. All that is now a thing of the past. On Monday, an Egyptian judge in the governorate of Minya sentenced to death 680 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the group’s top leader. It was a jaw-dropping verdict, reached […]