Soldiers attempt to stop a group of demonstrators running toward a cordon of police in the Musaga neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 20, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Two years after a political crisis erupted in Burundi when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, the country remains stuck at an impasse, facing low-intensity violence, political oppression and an increasingly desperate economic situation. As the trouble began in 2015, local, regional and international actors tried to facilitate negotiations and a peaceful solution to a crisis that threatened to transform into a new civil war and spill over Burundi’s borders. But then Burundi left the spotlight after Nkurunziza managed to nip regional and international interventions in the bud, and events such as Brexit and Donald Trump’s […]

Houthi rebels secure a road as Yemenis take part in a march denouncing plans by the Saudi-led coalition to attack the port of Hodeida, Sanaa, Yemen, April 19, 2017 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

As the fate of Yemen hangs in the balance, the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia that supports the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is about to escalate its two-year-old war by launching a new offensive in the key Red Sea port of Hodeida. The move aims to throttle Hadi’s enemies, Houthi rebels aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but it is more likely to choke the country’s population, tipping it from hunger and starvation into outright famine. Hodeida, the country’s busiest and most important port, is responsible for 80 percent of northern Yemen’s imports. If […]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, England, May 12, 2016 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

In early February, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency discovered a cache of $9.8 million stashed in the house of Andrew Yakubu, the former managing director of Nigeria’s state-run oil firm, NNPC. Nigerians on Twitter and Facebook quickly expressed their amazement at the magnitude of the amount and speculated over how Yakubu had gotten the money. Before the cash discovery, Nigerians had been preoccupied with the news of President Muhammadu Buhari’s extended medical vacation, which lasted through March. But their attention was swiftly diverted by the news of Yakubu’s cash stockpile, which was hidden in a fireproof safe inside his home in northern […]

Protesters chant slogans against the government during a march in Bishoftu, in the region of Oromia, Ethiopia, Oct. 2, 2016 (AP photo).

Ostensibly intended to quell unrest perpetrated by “anti-peace” forces, Ethiopia’s extension of a state of emergency in March signals a continued crackdown on the country’s restive and aggrieved population. This repression disproportionately affects 65 million Ethiopian youth, who make up more than two-thirds of the country’s total population. Such brutality has increasingly left these young people—Ethiopia’s greatest asset or, conversely, a massive liability—a choice between two dangerous options: escape or rebel. As is the case elsewhere in Africa, Ethiopia’s youth bulge is a double-edged sword. It strains scant natural resources and limited infrastructure, but, if harnessed, could be a boon […]

An anti-government protester in front of a burning barricade, Caracas, Venezuela, April 24, 2017 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

The protests and unrest that have wracked Venezuela over the past month, resulting in the deaths of at least 22 people, represent a sudden change from the malaise and passivity that had settled over the Venezuelan opposition from December to March. Through mid-March, there was a heavy sense of pessimism and fatalism on the streets of Caracas and other cities. President Nicolas Maduro’s government seemed to be consolidating its power; people were disillusioned with the opposition leadership; and the international community seemed unable to act. A few things are behind this recent surge in opposition activity. First, Latin American countries […]

A letter bomb presumably containing handmade explosives went off after being opened at the offices of the International Monetary Fund in Paris, March 16, 2017 (Sipa via AP Images).

On March 16, a letter bomb addressed to Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, was intercepted in the ministry’s building before it could go off. Its sender, according to the return address, was Adonis Georgiadis, the deputy leader of New Democracy, Greece’s right-wing opposition party. At the same time, a similar letter-bomb actually exploded at the offices of the International Monetary Fund in Paris, slightly injuring a staff member. This one, too, had been posted under the name of a New Democracy politician. The attacks were covered in the international press, but their significance and meaning has perhaps been obscured by […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia's King Salman during a welcome ceremony, Beijing, China, March 16, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

On March 15, King Salman of Saudi Arabia arrived in Beijing for a three-day visit. The trip, part of a one-month tour of Asia, was widely covered in the Saudi and international press, in part due to the fact that the king was accompanied by an entourage of 1,000 people. Far more noteworthy were the $65 billion worth of agreements the king signed with Chinese President Xi Jinping in fields ranging from cooperation on China’s space exploration program to the construction of new refineries in China with Saudi Aramco, the state oil company. Saudi Arabia is clearly seeking to deepen […]

Supporters of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen during a campaign meeting, Paris, France, April 17, 2017 (AP photo by Kamil Zihnioglu).

On Sunday, France will vote in the first round of a heated presidential election that has domestic and international observers biting their nails. More than ever, the outcome of the French vote will resonate beyond its borders, with implications for the fate of the European Union, the plight of migrants and refugees, and security in the Middle East and Africa. Terrorism, immigration and the economy have dominated the contentious campaign period. That’s not surprising: Just yesterday, a gunman killed a police officer in Paris; migrant camps have popped up across the country; and unemployment, especially among youth, is soaring. But […]

Protesters march holding a banner that reads "The worker is not a slave!" during demonstrations against the presidential election victory of Aleksandar Vucic, Belgrade, Serbia, April 11, 2017 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

BELGRADE, Serbia—Tens of thousands of Serbians have taken to the streets in recent days to protest the victory of current Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in the country’s presidential election on April 2. The demonstrations also reflect widespread economic and political dissatisfaction as well as divisions in the country, and present a challenge to the European Union’s approach to the Western Balkans. Brussels is increasingly seen in some quarters as promoting stability over deep reform in the combustible region, allowing strongmen to erode democracy and independent institutions. Protesters returned to central Belgrade on April 18 following a brief lull over Easter, […]

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and former Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Samandepe Gas Field, Turkmenistan, Dec. 14, 2009 (AP photo).

A few years ago, a trio of competing multilateral infrastructure development projects sought to advance economic interconnectedness in Central Asia, a region that, by most measures, is perhaps the least-integrated in the world. Washington proposed a “New Silk Road Initiative” to tether Central Asian states with one another and with Afghanistan. Moscow, meanwhile, launched the Eurasian Union, which was to serve, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said, as the foundation of a new “epoch” for the post-Soviet states. And China, in 2013, announced plans for its “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB), expanding railway and, most especially, pipeline networks in the […]

A row of F18 fighter jets on the deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is prepared for patrols off the disputed South China Sea, March 3, 2017 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

The United States shapes, monitors and reacts to events around the world every day—developments that require minor, and sometimes major, military and foreign policy actions to implement the established U.S. strategy. But some developments call for more than just decisions to implement the current strategy. They require an adjustment to a new strategy. The current trajectory of military-technological change is one such development making a strategic adjustment necessary. Proponents of all of the major strategic alternatives for the United States agree that events that happen elsewhere can affect our security and prosperity at home. The key question they disagree on […]

Lenin Moreno, Ecuador's president-elect, during a campaign event, Quito, Ecuador, March 30, 2017 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

On Sunday, April 2, Ecuadoreans returned to the polls to elect their president in a second round of voting after a highly contentious campaign season. During the first-round ballot, former Vice President Lenin Moreno won 39.2 percent of the vote, just shy of the 40 percent required to avoid a runoff. His challenger in the second round was banker Guillermo Lasso, who won approximately 28 percent of the first-round vote. The campaign for the second round was divisive and at times became a referendum on controversial outgoing president, Rafael Correa. Voters struggled to muster excitement for either candidate. In fact, […]

Smoke rises during a clashes that erupted between the Palestinian Fatah Movement and Islamists in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon, April 9, 2017 (AP photo by Mohammed Zaatari).

On Thursday, Palestinian security forces entered the Ain el-Hilweh camp for Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon, putting an end to a week of clashes involving Sunni Islamist militants that killed an estimated seven and injured dozens. The violence broke out last Friday, when a Palestinian security force met resistance from fighters affiliated with Bilal Badr—a radical Islamist with a strong foothold in Ain el-Hilweh—while attempting to deploy throughout the camp. In response, Fatah, the party that has controlled the Palestinian Authority since 1993, launched an offensive targeting Badr’s positions. Jihadi groups aren’t a new phenomenon in Palestinian camps in Lebanon, […]

A passenger airliner flies past steam and white smoke emitted from a coal-fired power plant, Beijing, Feb. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Stories abound in the U.S. press about the hollowing out of the State Department. Employees at Foggy Bottom have relocated from work desks to cafeteria tables to spend their newfound free time over paperbacks and coffee. But there is one table that U.S. diplomats could find themselves absent from this fall—the negotiating table at the next international climate meeting in Bonn in May. U.S. President Donald Trump’s skepticism of climate change guarantees that his administration will cede leadership on the issue. “We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Budget and Management, said […]

Opposition demonstrators gather on the lawns of the Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa, April 12, 2017 (AP photo by Denis Farrell).

Have the events of the past few weeks in South Africa provided the long-awaited tipping point for President Jacob Zuma’s dysfunctional presidency? His reckless sacking late last month of respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was driven not by any economic logic, but by narrow political and financial ambition. It has helped unite previously disparate forces against Zuma and brought closer the prospect—though not the guarantee—of his removal. This emerging opposition goes well beyond the official opposition parties and now embraces a large section of the ruling African National Congress itself. Last year over 100 ANC veterans called for Zuma’s resignation, […]

Turkish flags and posters of Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a rally in support of a referendum on constitutional reforms, Istanbul, April 8, 2017 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

It is not very often that a candidate country admonishes the organization it wants to join. Yet that is the story in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gone on a series of tirades against the Netherlands, Germany and the European Union at large ahead of a referendum this weekend on constitutional changes that would grant Erdogan more powers and transform Turkey’s government from a parliamentary to a presidential system. Turkey has been stuck in accession talks with the EU for over a decade. Erdogan’s anti-EU streak began with attacks early last month against the Netherlands, which he called […]

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia, left, and President Evo Morales during the signing of a new coca law at the presidential palace, La Paz, Bolivia, March 8, 2017 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

Last month, Bolivia passed new coca and drug control laws that marked another milestone in the independent—but to his critics, controversial—drug policy fashioned by President Evo Morales’ government. A decade in the making, the laws “were an essential step because the former drug law was imposed by the U.S.,” the vice minister for social movement coordination, Alfredo Rada, told the local press. He was referring to a 1988 law pushed by the United States that limited the production of coca—the main ingredient in cocaine—and carried harsh penalties for illegal cultivation. The new coca law nearly doubles the area for legal […]

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