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 […]

A woman hands money to a vegetable vendor at a market in Kohima, India, June 30, 2020 (AP photo by Yirmiyan Arthur).

In many parts of the world, particularly in emerging markets, women are at a stark disadvantage when it comes to obtaining a loan. Studies have shown that expanding access to credit for women would spur economic growth, yet the financial gender gap remains stubbornly wide. In fact, there are more than 70 countries where women cannot even open a bank account. According to Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of the nonprofit Women’s World Banking, emerging financial technologies, or fintech, have the potential to revolutionize access to credit for women in low-income countries by allowing them to receive loans from […]

Belarusian police detain journalist and activist Roman Protasevich, center, in Minsk, Belarus, March 26, 2017 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

When a Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet forced a Ryanair flight filled with civilians to divert from its Athens-to-Vilnius route and land in Minsk on Sunday so that the regime could arrest one of its leading critics, it justifiably triggered international outrage. It was, indeed, a brazen violation of international norms. But this new transgression by the Belarusian dictator, President Alexander Lukashenko, was not an isolated event. It was part of an increasingly common practice by repressive regimes across the globe, one so common that it now has a name: transnational repression. Lukashenko personally ordered the military aircraft to scramble into […]

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 […]

A man sends brain-computer interface commands to a robotic computer during Science Conference at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2011 (AP photo by Jose Luis Magan).

Technology has blurred all sorts of boundaries we used to take for granted—between work and leisure, between being alone and being with others, between private and public spaces. One boundary we still generally treat as sacrosanct, though, is the one around our own minds, which allows us to think for ourselves and to keep those thoughts private, whether they are rebellious, impolite or simply irrelevant. After all, the power to make up our own minds is an essential part of what makes us individuals. Technology may now be challenging this mental independence, too, and some of its applications could threaten […]

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 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 […]

Migrants are surrounded by Spanish security forces after arriving at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, near the border of Morocco and Spain, May 19, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

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. Thousands of African migrants were caught in the middle of a diplomatic feud between Morocco and Spain this week, touching off a humanitarian emergency and raising concerns about Madrid’s migration policy. The standoff between Madrid and Rabat was the latest fallout from a […]

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 […]

Then-Crown Prince Salman, left, speaks with his son, Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 14, 2012 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Saudi Arabia and Iran recently confirmed that they are engaging in direct negotiations to lower tensions between the two rivals and eventually normalize diplomatic relations. Officials from both sides are sounding cautiously optimistic about the endeavor. “We have initiated some exploratory talks. They are at a very early stage but we are hopeful,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday. On the Trend Lines podcast this week, Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to discuss the complicated history of the Saudi-Iranian relationship and […]

The UAE’s de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Zayed, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, July 22, 2019 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

A chorus of condemnation has risen in recent months from Western capitals in response to China’s persecution of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada have imposed sanctions on Chinese officials, and U.S. President Joe Biden has maintained his predecessor’s stance that Beijing is committing “genocide” in Xinjiang—a position that the Canadian and British Parliaments also back. Yet, governments of Muslim-majority countries have so far largely refrained from criticizing China over its actions in Xinjiang. Why? There are justifiable fears that their relations with Beijing would suffer if they condemned […]

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 […]

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in her office in Tehran, Iran, Nov. 1, 2008 (AP photo by Arash Ashourinia).

In 1985, my parents were taken to court in Tehran by a tenant who was trying to stop them from selling a property he was renting from them at the time. My parents were surprised to learn about the lawsuit. After all, they had given the tenant several months to vacate. He had no legitimate legal argument. On the day of the hearing, when it was the tenant’s turn to present his case, he pointed at my parents and shrilly declared that they were communists. For a moment, the room fell silent. Then my parents’ lawyer calmly closed his legal […]

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 […]

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