Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced today that Lt. Gen. Raheel Sharif will succeed Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as Pakistan’s powerful chief of army staff. Kayani, who will retire on Nov. 29 after a six-year tenure, commanded the Pakistani army through a tumultuous time in the country’s history, which included Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s clash with the Supreme Court, imposition of emergency rule and forced ouster; a complex and violent insurgency; antagonism with the U.S.; and economic uncertainty. Kayani was instrumental in transforming the army, enabling it to better cope with current and emerging security threats. He also distanced the army […]

If Mozambique has attracted international headlines over the past year, it has been mainly for the return to armed conflict in central Mozambique by the ex-rebels Renamo as well as for new discoveries of world-class gas reserves in the country’s offshore waters. But while the results of Mozambique’s municipal elections, which took place on Nov. 20, have not attracted the same level of international attention, they are an important indicator of the health of political pluralism in a country touted as a post-conflict success story with impressive GDP growth. The election results will influence how the Mozambique government deals with […]

The debate about U.S. targeted killing policy has become repetitive and familiar. The policy’s proponents argue that the precision and accuracy of drones keep civilian casualties to a minimum, and that drones are the most viable tool in fighting an asymmetric war, particularly in places that are off-limits to U.S. troops. Opponents of drone strikes argue that civilian casualties are much higher than U.S. government estimates, and that the policy is counterproductive because it leads to the radicalization of a new generation of terrorists. The number of civilian casualties from drone strikes is perhaps the most complicated of these questions, […]

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The phase one agreement signed in Geneva over the weekend by the P5+1 powers and Iran, though temporary, conditional and fraught with uncertainty, is inarguably good news: It is the first time that Iran has explicitly agreed to freeze or limit parts of its nuclear program, and roll back other parts of it, since the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president in 2005. If the deal holds, the next six months will be the first time in eight years that Iran’s nuclear program has been slowed for reasons other than technical difficulties and outside sabotage. It bears noting that the […]

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Voters in the West African nation of Mali will go to the polls this weekend for legislative elections that may offer insight into the country’s uncertain political trajectory. Mali descended into chaos last year, when a coup d’etat in the country’s south paved the way for Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida to take over the northern two-thirds of the country. In late-July, Malians turned out in record numbers for a presidential election that the international community—particularly, France and the U.S.—had been calling for as a condition for unlocking nearly $4 billion in pledged assistance. That election came just six months […]

On Nov. 17, Georgian and Israeli officials signed an agreement to lift visa requirements for Georgian citizens traveling to Israel, reciprocating Georgia’s visa-free policy for Israelis in place since mid-2005. Although subject to approval from their respective legislatures, the deal represents a major diplomatic accomplishment for Tbilisi and a stunning turnaround in bilateral relations. As recently as a year ago, Georgia-Israel ties were at their modern nadir under Georgia’s now-opposition United National Movement (UNM). Despite a once-close relationship, the two countries rapidly fell out due to Georgian accusations over an arms purchase gone bad, Georgia’s seemingly retributive jailing of Israeli […]

Hondurans will vote Sunday, Nov. 24, in a presidential election that polls suggest is too close to call. U.S. interests are plainly at stake, but this has less to do with the individual who may end up being elected than with the legitimacy of the election itself and how the new president, once in office, chooses to govern. In what should be a clarifying and unifying election, the electorate instead is polarized, and at least three of the leading candidates are each convinced they will win. Official results may not be known for a week or more after the election; […]

There is some relief now that the presidential election in the Maldives has been completed and its result accepted by all sides. But the outcome has not allayed concerns over the nation’s democratic transition. Yaamin Abdul Gayoom of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), who is the half-brother of former authoritarian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was sworn in as the Maldives’ new president Sunday, Nov. 17. He narrowly defeated the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was ousted in what Nasheed claims was a coup in February 2012. The runoff, held Nov. 16 after repeated […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently visited Istanbul to mark the opening of the Marmaray, a mammoth tunneling project connecting Europe with Asia beneath the waters of the Bosphorus. Constructed at a cost of more than $4 billion, the project is an iconic example of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grand vision for Turkey. More ambitious still is Erdogan’s plan to build an extensive nuclear power program, virtually overnight, in a country that currently has no nuclear power plants. The prime minister hopes to have two nuclear power plants, with four reactors each, online in time for the Turkish Republic’s […]

Francois Hollande may be one of the least popular presidents of all time at home in France, but in Israel, where he was greeted yesterday with the red carpet treatment, he is certainly one of the most popular French presidents ever to visit the country. The obvious reason is France’s hard-line stance in Geneva at the latest round of talks on the Iranian nuclear issue. But contrary to how it has been portrayed, Paris’ firmness on Iran’s nuclear program is not driven by a desire to curry favor in Israel—or in the Persian Gulf—and French-Israeli relations should not be reduced […]

A new political alliance was announced in Europe this week. Meeting in The Hague, the leaders of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, and France’s National Front, Marine Le Pen, announced they would campaign together for the approaching European Parliament elections in 2014. Both parties oppose immigration, Islam and the European Union, and hope to rally a pan-European insurgency to their banner. The meeting was focused on May 2014, when voters across Europe will head to the ballot box to elect their representatives in the European Parliament. European elections are held every five years to determine the composition of […]

While Michele Bachelet is all but certain to win a second, nonconsecutive term over Evelyn Matthei in Chile’s Nov. 17 presidential election, the long-term implications of Bachelet’s victory are still to be written. The election will be a watershed in Chile’s 23-year-old democracy, and not just because it will be the country’s first presidential election held without mandatory voting. A realignment of political forces and the emergence of a new generation of young politicians have pushed a new reform agenda, which Bachelet has tried to capture in a series of constitutional and tax reform proposals. The shifts are certain to […]

Prior to the end of 2012, the Sahel, the region comprising Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, did not receive much attention in Europe outside Paris. However, since the French-led intervention in early 2013 to combat the violent Islamist takeover in northern Mali, the Sahel has become a regular subject for discussion among European foreign and security policymakers. Suddenly, as Bamako was faced with a coup, it hit home to Europeans how close the region is and how closely intertwined with European interests it has become. As we near the end of 2013, the strategic importance of this region, and […]

Globalization is predominantly thought of as a benign force offering greater opportunities for trade, communication and technological innovation. Yet globalization has developed a dark side, exploited by malicious actors like drug and human traffickers, terrorists and WMD proliferators. Globalization has done more than just provide these actors tools for conducting their trade; it has created an entirely new breed of crime, where illicit activities converge and the drug trafficker may also be the terrorist or the proliferator, or both. One recent example of this growing confluence of transnational security threats is Panama’s recent seizure of the North Korean cargo ship […]

In the aftermath of the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program over the weekend, too much emphasis is being placed on the “failure to reach a deal” and not enough on the fact that leaving Geneva without a signed agreement represents not a breakdown, but simply a strategic and in all likelihood short pause. Furthermore, there has been very little precision as to what the deal currently being hammered out in Geneva represents. It would help if the word “interim,” “preliminary” or “confidence-building” were systematically placed in front of the word “deal,” as that’s what is under discussion for the time […]

Like with so many of its other neighbors, Turkey’s relations with Iraq have been something of a roller-coaster ride over the past few years. Initially benefitting from Ankara’s now-defunct “zero problems with neighbors” foreign policy, Turkey-Iraq relations were on the upswing until early 2012, when they quickly deteriorated and came close to hitting rock bottom. In recent weeks, though, both Ankara and Baghdad have started singing a different tune, in what appears to be to be an effort to bring their relations back from the brink and start working together again on mutual interests and concerns, particularly regarding the situation […]

Tuesday’s news of the defeat of the M23 rebel group by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) national army forces was a rare bright spot for those who follow the country’s fortunes. Until this week, the Congolese army, known by its French acronym FARDC, had not achieved a decisive military victory against any nonstate armed group in its history. The nominal national forces were better known as a ragtag amalgamation of soldiers from former militant groups who as often as not engaged in gross human rights violations against the civilians they were charged with protecting. In battle, FARDC forces typically […]

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