Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu after a visit to the mausoleum of Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, on Republic Day in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 29, 2015 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Turks will head to the polls again this Sunday, Nov. 1, to vote for a new parliament, after negotiations to form a coalition government failed following an inconclusive election in June. The vote comes amid considerable unrest in Turkey: In July, a two-year cease-fire agreement between the government and the insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) collapsed, while a cell of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in southeastern Turkey has attacked several targets near the Syrian border and, recently, deeper in Turkey, including two suicide bombings that killed more than 100 people in Ankara earlier this month. Despite this unrest, opinions polls […]

Conservative Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, left, and Justice candidate for prime minister Beata Szydlo, right, at the party's headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, Oct. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party won an absolute majority in both chambers of parliament in elections last Sunday, marking the first time in 26 years of democratic rule that one party will form a government. Law and Justice, also known by its acronym PiS, broke through that glass ceiling with more than 37 percent of votes. It won the plurality of votes in all categories of the electorate, by reaching out to better-educated urban voters and making advances in the western provinces of the country for the first time. After being in opposition for eight years, Law and Justice […]

Two of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Air Task Group's F/A-18A Hornets during a mission into Syria, Sept. 14 2015 (Australian Department of Defence photo).

Although far removed from Australia’s traditional areas of interest in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, the Middle East continues to be a focus of Australian foreign policy and military strategy. But its own security interests in the region have nearly always been defined in terms of its security relationship with the United States. One of only four countries to have participated in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Australia was more recently among the first countries to follow Washington’s lead in offering renewed military assistance to Iraq after the fall of Mosul to the self-proclaimed Islamic State in June […]

Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau at his first official news conference, Ottawa, Oct. 20, 2015 (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP).

In a surprise last week, Canada’s Liberal Party won an overall majority in the federal election, gaining a clear mandate to form a new government led by party leader Justin Trudeau, the new prime minister-designate. Voters’ predominant concerns were the economy and moving on politically from Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper—not national security or foreign policy. However, Trudeau, Harper and the New Democratic Party’s Thomas Mulcair still clashed on a number of issues throughout the campaign related to Canada’s national and international security policies, including how to tackle terrorism, the refugee crisis and drug policy. Will Trudeau now follow through […]

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso and French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, Dec. 6, 2013 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

The longtime president of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, is now eligible to run for a third consecutive term, after voters overwhelmingly approved amendments to the constitution in a referendum last Sunday, according to the official results announced Tuesday. The opposition, which has protested 72-year-old Sassou’s attempt to retain power since he announced his intentions in May, urged voters to boycott the referendum and called for civil disobedience. The government issued a ban on public gatherings, but protests ensued. Tens of thousands of demonstrators were met with a violent government crackdown. According to government officials, clashes between police […]

A billboard with the face of Guinea’s incumbent president, Alpha Conde, in Conakry, Guinea, Oct. 9, 2015 (AP Photo by Youssouf Bah).

On Oct. 11, Guinea’s president, Alpha Conde, comfortably won re-election in a poll nevertheless marred by deadly clashes between government and opposition supporters ahead of the vote. Official results, announced six days later, showed him taking nearly 58 percent of the vote, with overall turnout at around 66 percent. As in 2010, Conde faced off against Cellou Dalein Diallo, who was Guinea’s prime minister from 2004 to 2006, with another six candidates also participating. Conde’s first-round majority means there will be no second-round run-off ballot. In a year featuring as many as a dozen important elections in Africa, Guinea belongs […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose before a meeting in New Delhi, India, Oct. 5, 2015 (AP photo by Saurabh Das).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to India in early October was the second summit-level meeting she has had with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the span of a month. These talks have themselves been preceded by a flurry of other high-level exchanges. Both sides seem keen to dispel any notion of a lack of momentum in bilateral relations, a view that has arisen ever since Modi failed to meet Merkel in Berlin during his trip to Germany last year. Germany is eager to take advantage of Modi’s renewed push for economic growth through clean energy initiatives and manufacturing. Germany has […]

Indian Muslim activists shout slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest against the killing of a Muslim farmer in New Delhi, India, Oct. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

On Sept. 28, in the village of Dadri in the state of Uttar Pradesh, barely 50 miles from India’s capital of New Delhi, a Hindu mob beat a Muslim laborer, Mohammed Akhlaq, to death. The mob had attacked Akhlaq at home in the belief that he had slaughtered a cow to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid. The horrific absurdity of the crime was further accentuated when subsequent forensic examination of the meat taken from Akhlaq’s refrigerator demonstrated that it was actually mutton. The killing generated understandable anger and profound dismay within India’s vast civil society. However, it took a […]

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes Chinese President Xi Xinping, London, Oct. 21, 2015 (10 Downing St. photo by Georgina Coupe).

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United Kingdom this week has largely attracted the wrong kind of headlines. Reactions from experts and officials in the United States and across Europe have been scathing, ranging from the bemused to the disturbed. Many contend that Britain’s China policy, at the instigation of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, has been reduced solely to matters of commerce. Not only do strategic matters in Asia, human rights concerns, and threats to democracy in Hong Kong appear to be virtually absent from the U.K.’s considerations, the British government gives the impression of believing that […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the Residence of the Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, New York City, Oct. 1, 2015 (State Department photo).

On July 20, Colombia’s peace talks with the FARC guerrilla group emerged from what was hopefully their roughest patch. With daily episodes of combat between FARC militants and the Colombian army, June was the most violent month in Colombia since peace talks began in October 2012. Then, in late July, at the strong urging of foreign diplomats accompanying the talks, the FARC declared a new unilateral cease-fire, and both sides said they would dedicate themselves to making it bilateral. The three months since then have been the least violent that Colombia has experienced since 1975. The July truce and de-escalation […]

University of the Witwatersrand students march during a protest, Johannesburg, South Africa, Oct. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Students have been rallying at South Africa’s universities since Oct. 13 to oppose a planned 11.5 percent tuition hike, with public investment in education declining across the country. Protests came to a head Wednesday, when students in Cape Town marched on Parliament and clashed with police officers wielding stun grenades and tear gas, leading to numerous injuries and arrests. Protests have spread across the country, and classes have been suspended at 15 universities. The wave of protests comes amid a season of discontent among South Africa’s university students, primarily from the University of Cape Town—one of the most prominent academic […]

Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani arrives to support Kurdish forces as they head to battle Islamic State militants, Sinjar, Iraq, Dec. 21, 2014 (AP photo by Zana Ahmed).

In Iraqi Kurdistan, the times of plenty and stability are over. The autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq has been hailed for most of the past decade as an emerging Dubai in Mesopotamia and the only success story of the Iraq war. But it is descending farther into civil strife, agonizing economic recession and a political stalemate that threatens to paralyze one of America’s most potent allies in the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Last Monday, Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), fired four ministers of his government, all of them members of the […]

Guinea-Bissau's president, Jose Mario Vaz, and his wife Celestina arrive at the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit at the White House, Washington, Aug. 5, 2014 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Last week, in a bid to end a months-long political crisis, Guinea-Bissau’s president, Jose Mario Vaz, swore in a new government after initial talks collapsed with Prime Minister Carlos Correia over the formation of a Cabinet. Correia is the third prime minister to hold the post since August, as intraparty rivalries have left Guinea-Bissau without a functioning government for months, risking international aid to a country trying to recover from its latest military coup in 2012. But Guinea-Bissau is not in the clear yet, as the underlying institutional differences at the root of this standoff clearly haven’t been solved yet. […]

German federal police officers guide a group of migrants after crossing the border between Austria and Germany in Wegscheid, Germany, Oct. 15, 2015 (AP photo by Matthias Schrader).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has become Europe’s moral voice during the refugee crisis that has seen over 710,000 people fleeing war, violence and poverty arrive at the European Union’s borders so far this year. In a press conference in late August, Merkel said, “If Europe fails on the question of refugees, if this close link with universal civil rights is broken, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for.” In a speech last month to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, Merkel re-emphasized her moral view of the worst refugee crisis since World War II—and Germany’s ability to meet its challenges. […]

Smoke rises after shelling by Syrian army backed by Russia airstrikes, Damascus, Syria, Oct. 14, 2015 (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP).

Russia’s combat operations in Syria, barely three weeks old, are the kind of expeditionary campaign that Moscow has not undertaken since the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. This intervention is the consequence of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama both following through on the original, respective paths they chose in Syria. While the United States sought to avoid military entanglement and stay out of the conflict—doing the bare minimum to appease regional allies in their efforts to force Bashar al-Assad out of power—Russia remained consistent in its belief that the Syrian state represents the only viable and legitimate […]

An elderly man sits under a mural depicting a Saudi-led airstrike hitting Sanaa with Arabic writing that reads, "using internationally banned bombs," in the Old City of Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 19, 2015 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

The war in Yemen has pushed the country to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations’ World Food Program, while Yemenis are dying daily because of a lack of access to clean water supplies, basic medicine and even affordable transport to medical facilities. Yet despite a mounting international outcry, the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen is unlikely to have much of an impact on the calculus of the main players in the conflict, or their foreign backers. In truth, a solution to Yemen’s humanitarian crisis will only come once the warring parties believe a political solution works in their […]

Soldiers prepare a simulated casualty for transport as a UH-60 medevac helicopter lands nearby during live-fire training, Tactical Base Gamberi in eastern Afghanistan, July 2, 2015 (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Charles Emmons).

Backtracking on earlier plans for a withdrawal of U.S. forces, President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the United States will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through 2016, before reducing the number to 5,500 by early 2017. “While America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures,” Obama said during the announcement at the White House. The Obama administration originally planned to cut the number of U.S. soldiers in half by next year, eventually leaving 1,000 troops stationed at the U.S. embassy in Kabul by early 2017. But it changed course with the Taliban’s […]

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