Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Brasilia, Brazil, June 16, 2014 (Agência Brasil photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom).

Relations between Africa and Latin America, which stem predominantly from the post-Cold War period, are incipient but growing, and 2014 saw important developments between the two regions in areas such as trade, diplomatic relations and health cooperation. Their engagement reflects each region’s growing integration into the global economy, rather than a specific prioritization of Latin America-Africa relations. Nevertheless, four key countries—Brazil, Mexico, Cuba and South Africa—have played a leading role in strengthening relations and cooperation. On the economic front, trade between South American and African countries grew 75 percent between 2005 and 2012, reaching $39 billion in 2012. Though the […]

Cambodian riot police officers stand guard in front of Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sept. 26, 2014 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

In September, the Australian government agreed on a deal to send refugees currently housed on the Pacific Island nation of Nauru to Cambodia for permanent resettlement. The agreement is a new twist in the Australian government’s efforts to deter asylum seekers arriving by boat on its northern shores. The Pacific island nation of Nauru currently hosts some 1,233 asylum seekers transferred there by Australia under a separate, earlier agreement, and they are still awaiting determination of their refugee claims. The Cambodian agreement is important for Australia because it provides a long-term solution for refugees on Nauru that does not jeopardize […]

A man holds a placard as people gather in support outside the Zaman newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey, Dec. 14, 2014 (AP photo by Akin Celiktas).

Turkish police raided a newspaper and television station with ties to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his Hizmet movement earlier this month, arresting 23 journalists, producers and writers. While freedom of the press has long been a concern in Turkey—which currently ranks 154 out of 180 in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index—the arrests have more to do with growing tensions between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the exiled Gulen. Gulen was an ally of Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) until a corruption scandal, which Gulen and his followes deny instigating, broke last year. […]

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel observes a training scenario at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Nov. 16, 2014  (DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt).

In a Nov. 15 speech to the Reagan National Defense Forum, outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the creation of a Pentagon initiative to develop new military technologies and operational concepts to counter growing threats to U.S. military supremacy. He noted that potential American adversaries are increasingly able to field advanced weaponry that rivals U.S. capabilities at a time when the Pentagon finds itself in a severely constrained fiscal environment. According to Hagel, the new initiative will seek to produce breakthrough innovations and eventually “develop into a game-changing third ‘offset’ strategy” that will allow the United States to […]

A South Korean army soldier walks near a TV screen showing an advertisement for Sony Pictures’ “The Interview,” at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

When they set out to make “The Interview,” a comedic movie about assassinating the leader of North Korea, actors Seth Rogen and James Franco likely did not realize they would spark a massive cyber attack, lead the White House to dub those attacks a national security problem or inadvertently trigger a First Amendment crisis in the United States. When Sony and theater owners bowed to hacker demands that they cancel the movie’s Christmas Day release, followed shortly by Paramount’s refusal to allow movie theaters to run “Team America: World Police”—another comedy made at North Korea’s expense—in its place, they highlighted […]

Environmental activists in a boat perform wearing puppet heads representing world leaders during the Climate Change Conference COP20 in Lima, Peru, Dec. 12, 2014 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

LIMA, Peru—Divisions among governments about how to deal with global warming pushed the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP20, nearly two days past its deadline. But the agreement approved in the Peruvian capital in the early hours of Dec. 14 was groundbreaking in that all of the 196 participating nations promised to formulate a plan to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. After two decades of negotiations in which developed nations were expected to cut their emissions while the rest got a free pass, that shared commitment is an important step. But it remains to be seen what each […]

An armed soldier enters the stadium where the coffin of the late Zambian President Michael Sata was draped in Zambia’s flag at the funeral in Lusaka, Nov, 11, 2014 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

The death in October of Zambian President Michael Sata has brought internal rivalries to a boiling point not only in his ruling Patriotic Front (PF), but also in the main opposition parties. The infighting, which has already seen some political heavyweights switching parties in order to satisfy their ambitions, complicates efforts to predict the outcome of Zambia’s presidential election on Jan. 20. Amid all the mud-slinging and legal challenges, there has so far been little time for policy discussion in Africa’s second-largest copper producer. Instead, voters are witnessing an unedifying spectacle of name-calling, scheming and internecine squabbling. Sata’s long battle […]

Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard march during an annual military parade just outside Tehran, Iran, Sept. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent remarks about the prevalence of corruption in some powerful Iranian institutions suggest that his relations with the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are entering a new and potentially tense phase. On Dec. 7, addressing a conference on bureaucratic efficiency and anti-corruption policies, Rouhani argued that when a single public organization possesses guns, newspapers, websites and power, it is unlikely to remain free of corruption. While he did not name any specific organization, many observers have interpreted his comments as an implicit reference to and criticism of the IRGC. Conservative media outlets affiliated with the Revolutionary […]

Members of the government, including PEMEX chief Emilio Lozoya, far left, attend a ceremony for the signing of a historic energy reform bill, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Aug. 11, 2014 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

On Dec. 20, Mexico will reach its cutoff for the approval of legislation related to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s sweeping energy reforms. Yet while the focus is on Mexico’s oil and gas sector, this deadline is likely to come and go without any serious debate on the future of renewable energy. With its abundance of wind, solar and geothermal resources, the renewables industry should thrive in Mexico. Indeed, many hoped Pena Nieto’s reforms would catalyze it. Instead, Mexico risks missing an opportunity to make good on its commitment to a clean energy future and to tackling and adapting to climate […]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 2, 2014 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Cold War-era fears are resurfacing in northeastern Europe. Over the past year, Russian aircraft have violated the air space of nearly all Nordic and Baltic countries at a worrying rate, while this past fall, Sweden hunted for a suspected Russian submarine thought to be lurking in the waters off Stockholm. Those Russian provocations, along with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, have recharged debates in Finland and Sweden over joining NATO. In Finland, which shares an 800-mile border with Russia, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb responded to a question in September about the possibility of his country joining NATO by saying, “We […]

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace greet the crowd upon arrival at the ZANU-PF 6th National Congress, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec. 6, 2014 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Zimbabwe has been a de facto one-party state since the mid-1980s, despite the formal trappings of a multiparty system and a series of fraudulent elections. Real politics, in terms of decision-making and genuine contests for power, is inevitably confined within the ruling party, ZANU-PF. The sole exception to this was the government of the national unity period between 2009 and 2013, although even then, the hegemony of ZANU-PF and President Robert Mugabe remained largely intact despite convincing electoral defeats in 2008. However, because the party is in thrall to Mugabe—and given his frequent assertions of what amounts to a divine […]

A French Senator casts his ballot in an urn supporting a motion, at left, during a vote on the recognition of a Palestinian state, at the French Senate in Paris, France, Dec. 11, 2014 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Last week, the French Senate voted to recognize Palestine as a state, following a similar vote by the French National Assembly the week before. With the symbolic measure, which only recommends that the French government recognize Palestine, the French lawmakers join their counterparts in the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, all of whom passed similar nonbinding resolutions in recent weeks. Sweden has gone even further, with the government officially recognizing Palestine, a move which caused Israel to withdraw its ambassador. The recent groundswell of support in Europe for a Palestinian state comes as European relations with Israel are at […]

CIA Director John Brennan at a news conference at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Dec. 11, 2014 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

After months of wrangling with the Obama administration over its release, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 500-page executive summary of its voluminous report on CIA torture practices against suspected terrorists is a searing document that excoriates the CIA for engaging in brutal “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the agency’s euphemism for torture. Not surprisingly, the report has been roundly criticized as either factually wrong or partisan by leaders in President George W. Bush’s administration, under which the torturing took place, as well as by the CIA’s senior management team and their retired counterparts from the Bush years. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the […]

Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following airstrikes by the U.S. led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, Nov. 17, 2014 (AP photo Vadim Ghirda).

GAZIANTEP, Turkey—Since June, hundreds of airstrikes by the United States and its Arab allies have killed thousands of fighters in Syria belonging to the so-called Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS. But the strikes have also played into the group’s recruitment strategy, drawing thousands of new militants from other Syrian rebel groups, along with ideologues from around the world. If the U.S. and its allies would like to effectively combat IS, they will need to go beyond just airstrikes and work toward a decisive political solution in Syria while countering the group’s narrative about global jihad. When the coalition […]

People walk past a display with currency exchange rates in central Moscow, Dec. 1, 2014 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

December has been a brutal month for the Russian economy. On Dec. 1, the value of the ruble, already at a historic low, experienced its steepest one-day drop since the 1998 financial crisis. The exchange rate with the dollar remains high, and there are no signs of improvement in a slide that has seen the Russian currency lose over 40 percent of its value since the beginning of the year. On the same day, the Ministry of Economic Development announced that Russia would be in recession through at least 2015; quickly chastised by the Kremlin, the ministry removed the offending […]

A performer during the opening ceremony the U.N. Climate Change Conference, Lima, Peru (U.N. photo by Mark Garten).

LIMA, Peru—The thousands of national delegates and observers who have gathered here for the two-week United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP20 have endured exceptionally hot weather. Air-conditioning units are barely able to cool the tent pavilions erected on the grounds of Peru’s Defense Ministry for the event, and delegates frequently remove their suit jackets when walking between pavilions or dining in the venue’s open-air restaurants. The heat wave roasting Lima several weeks before the start of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer serves as a reminder of the need for international cooperation to halt global warming, which has been an […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the Australia China state and provincial leaders forum in Sydney, Australia, Nov. 19, 2014 (AP photo by Jason Reed).

For centuries, the trade routes of the Silk Road have evoked spices, empires and deserts. However, if a new strategy planned by the Chinese government proves successful, it may well come to be associated with China’s ascent in world politics. On Nov. 8, during the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $40 billion for the creation of a Silk Road Investment Fund to “break the connectivity bottleneck” in Asia. Only five days after the APEC announcement, the China Securities Journal reported that “relevant departments” are trying to establish a private […]

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