The protests that began in Istanbul last month and soon spread throughout Turkey have become a globally watched demonstration against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his recent policies. By their nature and, most importantly, because this crisis was so badly managed by the prime minister, the protests will undoubtedly represent a turning point in the country’s political life, affecting Turkish society and democracy. However, the past month’s events, while alarming, do not necessarily represent the worst-case scenario for Turkish democracy that many have made them out to be. In fact, the protests in Turkey are reinvigorating public debate in […]

As the people of Zimbabwe steel themselves for another election cycle and their leaders argue over the timing of the poll, international investors are watching political developments with interest. Excitement about the economic opportunities in Zimbabwe, combined with frustration at the lack of good policy options to hasten the departure of President Robert Mugabe, has fueled a growing desire to explore alternatives to the political stalemate. The European Union has already shown its willingness to open a new chapter in its relations with Zimbabwe. In March, Brussels suspended sanctions against 81 officials and eight companies linked to Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. […]

If there was ever a threat to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s leadership in recent months, it was annihilated last weekend. Not a single candidate from Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost in the latest Tokyo municipal government elections, while the biggest national opposition party even fell behind the Communists. Though Abe’s political dominance could bring an end to Japan’s stretch of political instability, the country’s economic future remains shaky at best, and the lack of any meaningful opposition to the LDP can only bode ill for the country’s longer-term prospects. Voters in Tokyo, who are generally regarded as […]

When Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, appointed his Cabinet, he decided to keep two major portfolios for himself: foreign affairs and defense. The move was widely interpreted as emanating from the civil-military imbalance that defines decision-making on foreign and security policy in Pakistan. Senior members of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) explained that Sharif wanted to prevent the kind of “misunderstandings” between the prime minister and the military on matters of foreign affairs that had occurred in the past, and added, “We’ve been dominated by the military for decades. And they still think they are superior to the […]

Pakistani and Indian officials met earlier this month to discuss cross-border energy cooperation, perhaps signaling that the new government in Islamabad aims to follow through on plans its predecessor spent years talking about. That would be good for both countries. Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party swept Pakistan’s parliamentary election in May, and Sharif took over as prime minister early this month, pledging—among other things—to improve relations with India and address his country’s crippling energy shortage. On June 11, the prime minister’s younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, the head of government in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, reportedly met officials from […]

When South Sudan formally declared its independence from the Republic of Sudan in July 2011, jubilant celebrations in the world’s newest country were almost equally matched by gloomy predictions about a failed state in the making. The past two years have done little to dispel the dire predictions that institutions in the South would not be able to cope with the enormous challenges of building a viable state. While not formally ranked in the 2012 Fund for Peace Failed States Index, the available data suggest that only three countries in the world score worse on indicators of state failure. This […]

With small measures of tangible progress counterbalanced by intermittent stumbles, Georgia-Russia relations seem to have taken two steps forward and one step back since Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary elections swept the opposition Georgian Dream (GD) coalition to power. For all of Tbilisi’s best efforts, Moscow continues to view ties from a zero-sum perspective. While some degree of normalcy may be possible, divergent interests mean that the high-water mark of Georgia-Russia relations might already have been reached. After taking office in October, one of billionaire philanthropist-turned-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s first moves was to appoint a special envoy to Russia. Although the new […]

Two weeks ago, the government of Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the seizure of two rail lines operated by Latin America Logistics (ALL), Brazil’s largest private transportation company. Florencio Randazzo, Argentina’s interior minister, echoed a 2012 government report that cited “grave” violations of a 1999 railway contract with the company, including failure to invest sufficient resources in Argentina and refusal to pay large fines, as the reason for the nationalization. The railway seizures mark the latest in a string of nationalizations in Argentina that includes a $24-billion pension fund, Argentina Airlines and, last year, the government’s seizure of […]

A recent reshuffle of Uganda’s military command by longtime President Yoweri Museveni installed into the leadership a new generation of younger, more loyal officers effectively headed by Museveni’s son, Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba. The move is seen as aimed to strengthen Museveni’s grip on an army that has recently appeared to lack discipline due to growing displeasure within its senior ranks. But it also left the president as the sole remaining high-ranking member of the group that captured power a quarter-century ago. Museveni now rules, without any obvious challenger, a very tense country. The mainstream opposition, including the Forum for Democratic […]

With the U.S. slowly defining its drone policy, and with drones receiving increasing attention among European defense policymakers due to the recent military operations in Libya and Mali, Europe is laying out its own concerns over the ethics of drone use. Though much of the debate focuses on the use of armed drones for strikes, as conducted by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, drones are also useful for surveillance and intelligence gathering, in both military and civilian policing operations. For instance, Frontex, the European Union border agency, has expressed interest in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to […]

The unexpected victory of centrist candidate Hasan Rowhani in Iran’s presidential election last week signals a significant shift in Iranian politics. Rowhani began his campaign as a moderate who was unlikely to cause trouble for Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or the conservative ruling elite. After the disqualification of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the decision by reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref to drop out of the race, however, the reformists and supporters of Rafsanjani rallied around Rowhani. As a result, large segments of the electorate came to see him as an alternative to the conservative candidates favored […]

Since Mali’s current crisis began in 2012, West Africa’s terrorist movements have generated sustained and intense international concern. On June 3, the U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program announced its “first reward offers for terrorists in West Africa.” Bounties ranged from $3 million to $5 million for commanders in al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), and $7 million for Abubakar Shekau, the formal leader of the Nigerian Muslim sect Boko Haram. Rewards for Justice, its website explains, exists to incentivize the release of information that helps prevent “international […]

The annual plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) later this month in Prague will focus attention once again on India’s application for membership in the group. Since 2008, India has been campaigning to join the NSG, which governs all legal transfer of nuclear technology and material globally. While the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal concluded that year raised India’s hopes of inclusion, the NSG remains bitterly divided over the issue, with a U.S.-led bloc supporting India’s candidature and a China-led bloc vehemently opposing its entry into the group. The stand-off has frustrated India’s deep-seated desire to become an equal […]

Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River is creating serious tension among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. There is a fear in Egypt that the large storage capability of the dam will put control of valuable Nile water in the hands of upstream Ethiopia. Egyptian leaders have regularly issued threats to deter Ethiopia from completing the project, without much success. Meanwhile, Sudan, which has had a water-sharing agreement with Egypt on the Nile since 1959, has sided with Ethiopia, heightening uncertainty in Cairo over the future of Nile water sharing. The Renaissance Dam project has been […]

Over the past 12 months, Iran’s June 14 presidential election was shaping up as a struggle among reformers, nationalists and so-called principlists, who pledge allegiance to the supreme leader’s overriding authority. However, with calls for change rising from many Iranians, including the Shiite clergy, fundamentalist ayatollahs stepped in to assist their principlist allies. To “immunize” the “velayat-e faqih”—or “governance of the Muslim jurist,” the principle that gives the ayatollahs final say over the state—against having to reform, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other fundamentalist ayatollahs are seeking massive turnout at the polls and a strong showing in favor of […]

French President Francois Hollande’s three-day visit to Tokyo, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, resulted in major agreements on nuclear cooperation and joint development of military hardware. The summit, which also covered a range of other topics, reflected the noticeable improvement in recent years of the two countries’ already solid bilateral ties. Despite often being rivals for foreign contracts, Japan and France remain closely bound through cooperation on advanced technologies. Indeed, the agreement to increase nuclear cooperation was not a total surprise considering that a French-Japanese consortium just won a lucrative $22 billion joint bid to develop […]

U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent speech on America’s use of drones in the conflict with al-Qaida and its affiliates marked his administration’s first real attempt to explain a program that has generated much domestic criticism and international outcry. By contrast, few have taken notice of Brazil’s increasing use of surveillance drones, which it has been dispatching over its vast borderlands in an effort to control illegal immigration, contraband and smuggling. So far, Brazil’s drone initiative has not generated as much political controversy as Obama’s program. Nevertheless, President Dilma Rousseff’s administration must tread lightly lest it offend bordering nations that carefully […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 221 2 Last