In early March, India’s national security adviser announced that Mauritius and Seychelles had expressed an interest in joining the trilateral maritime security cooperation arrangement among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives known as IO-3. Should they join, it would mean the consolidation of an Indian maritime domain awareness network in the island states of the Indian Ocean region (IOR) where India has historically had influence. However, while these island states look to India to meet nontraditional security threats, India sees them primarily as sites for sensor chains that can monitor Chinese naval movements in the IOR. Indeed, India’s embrace of […]

On March 1, a group of Uighurs from Xinjiang attacked the Kunming train station in southwest China using foot-long knives, killing 29 and injuring 143. The terror attack, popularly referred to as “China’s 9/11,” is a spillover from Xinjiang’s internal conflict. Since being “liberated” by Chinese Communists in 1949, the region has experienced sporadic episodes of significant violence between Uighurs, the dominant ethnic group in the region, and Han Chinese. The source of conflict is disputed—the Chinese narrative emphasizes external, separatist and jihadist influences, whereas Western analysts tend to focus on Uighur grievances toward discriminatory government policies. China’s narrative regarding […]

Thailand’s political deadlock has shifted from the streets of Bangkok to the courts. It is there that the real battle is now being played out. A March 21 ruling by the Constitutional Court invalidating the result of the country’s Feb. 2 election most vividly highlighted the change of venue. The court, with a vote of 6-3, threw the current turmoil onto a new trajectory. When the court made a similar ruling in 2006, annulling an election result, the military swooped in and installed a new, unelected government. The judicial instruments that are now being used to wade into Thailand’s political […]

Following a period of subdued and difficult relations between the European Union and China, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first trip to Europe this week—which will include a stopover at the EU’s headquarters in Brussels, the first-ever such visit by a Chinese president—indicates that advances in ties made last year will continue into 2014. At the end of 2013, the two sides convened the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue for the first time since 2010, and the EU-China summit yielded a 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, a new EU-China Innovation Cooperation Dialogue and an agreement to launch negotiations on a bilateral […]

The arrest of two elected mayors in Venezuela last week demonstrated that repression is ramping up in the oil-producing and deeply troubled country. The arrests—on trumped up charges of inciting and tolerating a rebellion in which 33 protesters have already been killed—signaled that the government of President Nicolas Maduro has shifted from systematically but subtly dismantling institutional checks and balances and independent media to purging the government of elected officials. Sadly, Venezuela’s neighbors are unlikely to do anything about it, and this collective failure to protect democratic norms and human rights has placed the U.S. in the position of coming […]

Relations between South Africa and Rwanda have suffered a sharp downturn in the first three months of 2014 with the murder in South Africa on New Year’s Eve of Patrick Karegeya, the former head of Rwandan external intelligence, and the attempted murder in Johannesburg in early March of the former head of the Rwandan army, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. Both men were once close confidants of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, but since fleeing Rwanda for South Africa, in 2007 and 2010 respectively, both have been viewed by Kigali as traitors, terrorists and legitimate targets for elimination. Indeed this was the third […]

The ongoing crisis in Crimea has put many world leaders in awkward positions, but perhaps none more than Alexander Lukashenko. The president of Belarus since 1994, Lukashenko has just witnessed two of his worst nightmares in neighboring Ukraine. First, he watched as a mass movement in the streets of Kiev overthrew Viktor Yanukovych, a fellow client of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Then the Russian Duma voted to give Putin the power to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty in order to “protect Russia’s interests and those of Russian-speakers,” which Putin promptly did. Since at least 70 percent of Belarusians are Russian-speakers (though only […]

The crisis in Ukraine has presented NATO with both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to reassure its nervous members and partners about their security while deterring further Russian military aggression. The opportunity is that the crisis may rescue the alliance from perceived irrelevancy after the end of its major role in the Afghanistan War this year and against the backdrop of the ongoing U.S. military focus on East Asia and the Middle East. In a speech here in Washington yesterday at the Brookings Institution, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen termed Russia’s seizure of the Crimea from Ukraine […]

Turkey’s domestic strife—starting with last summer’s Gezi Park protests and continuing with government corruption scandals and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s public falling out with the powerful Gulen Islamic movement—has forcefully reordered previous assumptions about the trajectory of the country’s politics. While Erdogan had been expected to push for a new constitution that creates a more powerful presidency—a position Erdogan himself was clearly planning on assuming—that path is now blocked. This has raised questions about Erdogan’s next moves, and whether his failure to fulfill his presidential aspirations augurs further setbacks for the previously invincible leader. Things certainly looked different three […]

A recent internal party resolution by legislators from Uganda’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) all but secured yet another opening for longtime President Yoweri Museveni to represent the party without any internal challenge in the next elections in 2016. By then Museveni will have ruled the East African country for 30 years, the longest stretch by any leader in the region dating back to independence half a century ago. A similar move in 2010 was challenged successfully in the courts, on the grounds that the party’s constitution does not provide for reserving any particular leadership position for any given person. […]

Central Asia has looked with alarm to the events in Ukraine, where massive protests have led to the overthrow of a Kremlin-backed dictator and the subsequent Russian invasion of Crimea. The region’s autocrats are worried by the fact that street protests were able to oust a strongman in a fellow ex-Soviet state. At the same time, Russia’s heavy-handed intervention in a former Soviet republic has unsettled Central Asians, who see themselves as Moscow’s next potential target. Russia’s move in Crimea is especially salient for Kazakhstan, which has a large ethnic Russian population concentrated on the country’s border with Russia. President […]

One year into Xi Jinping’s presidency of China, it would be easy to despair about the current state of U.S.-China relations. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to push cooperation with Beijing on North Korea and climate change have fallen well short of Washington’s ambitions. China’s search for a “new relationship among major powers” has yet to materialize into something of real substance. And sparks are flying as the United States and its allies contend with a China that appears determined to enforce its claim to contested areas in the East and South China Seas in increasingly provocative and […]

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was removed Tuesday after failing to stop a tanker from sailing away with an illicit shipment of Libyan oil. The event underscores the crucial role of the oil industry in the country’s current political instability, while further eroding initially optimistic expectations about Libya’s transition and the return to health of its oil industry. Not so long ago, the political and economic prospects for Libya looked brighter. The toppling of the Gadhafi regime in 2011 set the country on the path of a democratic transition. The oil sector, which is the backbone of the Libyan economy, […]

Colombia’s congressional election Sunday proved a modest setback for President Juan Manuel Santos. A new party loyal to former President Alvaro Uribe, a conservative populist and vocal critic of Santos, made a reasonably strong showing, though without securing enough seats to either pass or block legislation. Santos may now find it more difficult to move legislation forward, but his agenda as a whole will survive. Uribe, now Colombia’s most prominent new senator, served as president from 2002 to 2010, and is popular for having overseen a military buildup and offensive that weakened the country’s large leftist guerrilla groups and sharply […]

The transformations that took place in the Italian political system during the past few months produced an outcome that few observers were expecting. On Feb. 14, Enrico Letta resigned his post as prime minister after having lost the support of his party, the center-left Democratic Party (PD). A few days later, Matteo Renzi, the recently elected PD leader, formed a new government backed by the same parliamentary majority that had supported Letta. How can we explain this puzzling reshuffle, and where is it likely to lead? A modernizer with cross-party appeal, the 39-year-old Renzi has long been considered the key […]

President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia later this month will come at a time of considerable shifts in Saudi regional strategy. Three recent policy changes in particular—the moving of the Syria file from Prince Bandar bin Sultan to counterterrorism chief Prince Mohammad bin Nayef; the withdrawal of the Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini ambassadors from Qatar; and the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as terrorist organizations by Saudi Arabia—are signs that Riyadh is taking a more assertive approach to dealing with a range of Islamist forces. The […]

In February, Mexico City lawmakers introduced two bills that would decriminalize and regulate the consumption of marijuana in the Mexican capital. Possession of marijuana for personal and medical uses would no longer be subject to incarceration as a first response, and legal marijuana dispensaries would be allowed in the capital. Mexico City’s move follows others in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado, which approved initiatives by popular vote in late 2012 to legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana for adults 21 and older, as well as commercial cultivation, manufacture and sale. Together with Uruguay, which became the […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 211 2 Last