Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech on board the Chinese frigate Changbaishan at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Feb. 19, 2015 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

While the world watches the ongoing debt negotiations between Greece and its international creditors mainly for their impact on the Greek and eurozone economies, the talks have already put Beijing’s plans for a strategic transport system meant to further integrate Europe and the Mediterranean with the Chinese market back on track. The new leftist government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens had initially announced plans to halt the privatization of Greece’s largest seaport, Piraeus, alarming investors from the Chinese shipping giant Cosco, which is keen to take a majority share in the Greek facility. But as part of the […]

Ugandan tanks of the African Union Mission in Somalia participate in a joint offensive with the Somali National Army on the outskirts of Afgooye, west of Mogadishu, May 24, 2012 (U.N. photo by Stuart Price).

On Feb. 9, Somalia’s parliament finally endorsed a Cabinet, 66 members strong, after Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke had failed in two previous attempts in January 2015 to present a list that could appease all of the country’s fractious clan leaders and political players. Sharmarke is President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s third premier since taking office in September 2012—a product of consistent bickering between Somalia’s top leaders over their respective powers and responsibilities. With only two years left in the government’s mandate, expectations are high that it can work with all stakeholders in Somalia and complete an ambitious post-conflict transition […]

A Libyan soldier wakes his comrade in Al Ajaylat, 75 miles west of Tripoli, Libya, Feb. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Mohamed Ben Khalifa).

Four years after the revolution began to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi’s regime with NATO’s help, and amid a worsening civil war, Libya today faces a new and very real threat: militants affiliated with the self-declared Islamic State (IS). Even though Libya has no religious divisions that IS can exploit to establish a foothold, the country’s ongoing political crisis, armed conflict and security vacuum provide a fertile environment for IS to expand its influence to Europe’s doorstep. The Islamic State’s senior leadership in Libya is made up of foreign fighters from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who were dispatched to Libya by […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave to the media before a meeting in New Delhi, India, Jan. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

U.S. President Barack Obama’s January visit to India saw some long-awaited movement on the two countries’ Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), touted by both sides as a means to transform the current buyer-seller defense relationship into one based on coproduction and co-development. In pursuit of this stated goal, India and the U.S. have agreed upon some pathfinder projects for production of U.S.-origin systems in India, in addition to exploring several high-end joint technology development proposals. The moves confirm that the DTTI will be a key element of the two sides’ renewed bilateral defense pact as it moves into its […]

Opposition demonstrators display a Venezuelan flag in front of a line of Bolivarian National Guard officers dressed in riot gear in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 12, 2015 (AP photo by Fernando Llano).

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stepped up his crackdown on his political opponents with the arrest last week of the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, who stands accused of trumped-up charges of plotting a coup with support from the United States. Ledezma’s is the most recent in a string of arrests of opposition politicians and comes as Maduro faces a severe economic crisis at home. Since assuming power in 2013, Maduro has struggled escape the shadow of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, and unify his base of support, known as the Chavistas. Last July, with oil prices only just falling, Frida Ghitis […]

A taxi driver transports a car full of passengers in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 17, 2015 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

U.S. President Barack Obama defends his opening to Cuba as a more effective way to bring democracy to the island than his 10 predecessors’ policy of isolation. Engagement, he argued in December, “chips away at this hermetically sealed society, and I believe offers the best prospect then of leading to greater freedom, greater self-determination on the part of the Cuban people.” This rationale has been echoed by administration officials at every opportunity since then, along with the hope that Washington’s new approach will enable it to recruit European and Latin American allies to push Havana on human rights and democracy. […]

A busker plays music in front of graffiti that refers to Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Plaka district of Athens, Feb. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

On Friday, European finance ministers meeting in Brussels reached a deal to extend Greece’s bailout by four months. As part of the deal, Greece was given 48 hours to present a list of reforms to creditors, including measures such as cracking down on tax evasion and relaxing labor laws. This list is due to be submitted by midnight on Monday, and if creditors do not feel the reforms go far enough, the entire deal could collapse. The tentative agreement eases some of the uncertainty that came with the victory of the radical left Syriza party in Greece’s snap election in […]

Burkina Faso Lt. Col. Issac Yacouba Zida, right, leaves a government building after meeting with political leaders in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Nov. 4, 2014 (AP photo by Theo Renaut).

Late last month, the transitional government of Burkina Faso officially announced that presidential and legislative elections would take place in October. That came after two months of lengthy negotiations between the new government and the Independent National Electoral Commission, known by its French acronym, CENI, along with political leaders and civil society. The elections will formally conclude a consensus-based but nevertheless precarious political transition. It will also mark the one-year anniversary of popular protests that forced the resignation of Blaise Compaore, who ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years. After the violent demonstrations last October against Compaore’s attempts to modify constitutional […]

A Japanese coast guard patrol boat approaches a Chinese fishing boat, left, off the northeastern coast of Miyako island, Feb. 2, 2013 (AP photo/Japan Coast Guard 11th Regional Headquarters).

The Vikings conquered the high seas to plunder and pillage. The British established their empire by dominating the oceans. And in the past 40 years, the United States Navy helped usher in a new era of unprecedented trade and global connectivity by safeguarding major sea routes. The world’s oceans have always represented an important strategic theater. But the threats today go beyond the headline-grabbing developments, like China’s advanced naval capabilities and Russia’s growing submarine activities in the Baltic Sea. A quieter maritime challenge is building up out of sight: control over the world’s fisheries. With over 90 percent of global […]

Thousands of North Koreans gather at the Kim Il Sung Square to rally in support of their leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s address, Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

The launch of five short-range missiles from North Korea’s east coast earlier this month threw icy water on some recent and uncharacteristically positive media coverage of Kim Jong Un’s regime. Reports of tentative discussions with U.S. officials about the possibility of jumpstarting nuclear talks, combined with the supposed mid-2015 rollout of additional Chinese-style economic reforms contained in the so-called May 30th Measures announced last year, suggested that significant shifts could be in the cards in Pyongyang. But the missile launch highlights the ways in which North Korea’s room for maneuver, especially on the economic front, will continue to be constrained […]

A demonstrator holds a sign that reads in Creole “Coalition MOLEGHAF says: Down Martelly, down MINUSTAH” during a protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 4, 2015 (AP photo by Dieu Nalio Chery).

There is no question that Haiti’s government has hit the ground hard lately. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s Cabinet resigned in December, following mounting criticism of its record on human rights and the economy, as well as its failure to hold local and parliamentary elections for over three years. The election delays rendered parliament dysfunctional last month, as terms expired for a third of Haiti’s Senate seats and the entire Chamber of Deputies. Meanwhile, on the streets, a steadily growing opposition movement generates at least one large anti-government demonstration each week. For two days last week, cities across Haiti were paralyzed […]

Villagers sitting on the back of a small truck as they, and others, flee the recent violence near the city of Maiduguri, Nigeria, Jan. 27, 2015 (AP photo by Jossy Ola).

Last weekend, Nigeria’s electoral commission announced that, contrary to statements made just days prior by the chief of defense staff and the chief of army staff, the country’s security forces could not guarantee the safe conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections originally scheduled for Feb. 14 and 28. The commission postponed the poll for six weeks, the minimum time the security forces say they need to conclude a major military operation against militants from Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria and before which they would be unavailable to provide security for the elections. The presidential and parliamentary elections are now set […]

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, center, claps as Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, left, shakes hands with Senate President Franklin Drilon, Manila, Philippines, Sept. 10, 2014 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

The political fallout of a botched police raid in the southern Philippines continues to dominate international headlines and threaten the country’s burgeoning peace process with southern rebels. Forty-four police officers and 18 fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) lost their lives in the township of Mamasapano after what its mayor called a “misencounter” during a police operation to capture Zulkifli bin Hir—a senior leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network with suspected ties to the MILF. The incident represents the largest single loss of life by Philippine police officers in recent history, and has significant political ramifications for […]

An Egyptian looks at a vehicle lit on fire during a riot outside the Air Defense Stadium in a suburb east of Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 8, 2015 (AP photo by Ahmed Abd El-Gwad, El Shorouk Newspaper).

Deadly clashes this week at a Cairo stadium between soccer fans and riot police point once again to the malignancy of police violence in Egypt, which helped spark the protests that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak exactly four years ago today. The issues of accountability with Egypt’s police have evolved over the course of the tumultuous post-Mubarak years. But the historic and transformational openings of early 2011 were squandered, and now the possibilities for security sector reform are as distant as ever, perhaps even more so. In the days before the uprising of January 2011, skirmishes between soccer fans and […]

A protestor shouts slogans during a “Dignity March” to protest against austerity in Madrid, Spain, Nov. 29, 2014 (AP photo by Andres Kudacki).

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was in Brussels on Wednesday for an emergency meeting with 18 other eurozone finance ministers about his country’s bailout. It is just the latest sign of how the victory of the radical left, anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece’s election last month has dominated the European Union’s agenda. But with all the attention currently on Greece’s attempt to restructure its debt plan, it is easy to forget the other countries subjected to strict austerity measures by the troika of the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including Portugal, […]

Former Congresswoman and opposition leader Maria Corina Machado holds up the Venezuelan flag outside of the Attorney General Office in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 3, 2014 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

As the oil slide further complicates Venezuela’s economic woes, with inflation and shortages of basic goods dominating the latest headlines from Caracas, another crisis is unfolding over the deterioration of the rule of law. In December, Venezuela’s highest court brought charges against opposition politician Maria Corina Machado, accusing her of a conspiracy to kill President Nicolas Maduro. Machado’s case came amid the ongoing trial of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was arrested in February 2014 during widespread anti-government protests and charged with inciting violence and conspiring to commit a criminal offense. In August, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary […]

Indian women who underwent sterilization surgeries receive treatment at the District Hospital in Bilaspur, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, Nov. 12, 2014 (AP photo).

The death of 13 women last November in a government-run sterilization clinic, followed by the news of dozens of patients blinded by free cataract surgery, put the spotlight on the poor state of public health infrastructure in India. It was a particularly alarming wake-up call amid celebrations and positive press over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory last May and his much-touted promise to improve governance and shake up the status quo. But as those incidents—followed by the announcement of a 20 percent cut in the state health budget—showed, India’s health care woes only seem to be stacking up and […]

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