Children play in the surf at Kite Beach in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell).

Tucked just below the surface of the ongoing Saudi- and Emirati-led blockade of Qatar lies a seemingly banal rationale for the dramatic standoff: the future of tourism in the Gulf. When vacationers think of sun, luxury or both, which futuristic city will they think of: Doha or Dubai? As part of their post-oil economic strategies, Gulf states have doubled down on tourism, none more so than the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The skylines of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha all glitter with ever newer, ever more luxurious high-rise hotels, as Emirati and Qatari development plans pin their hopes on […]

Smoke rises following airstrikes by the Philippine Air Force at militant positions in the besieged city of Marawi, southern Philippines, June 6, 2017 (Sipa photo by Richard Atrero de Guzman via AP).

On May 23, militants linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State ambushed soldiers in the southern Philippines seeking to apprehend Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the Islamic State’s affiliates in Southeast Asia. Within a matter of hours, over 400 militants from the Maute Group had completely seized the city of Marawi, launching a major operation to occupy city buildings, recruit sympathetic locals, take hostages and project the power of the Islamic State. The seizure of Marawi represents the greatest challenge Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has faced since taking office last year, and one of the most significant and concerted attempts by […]

Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, center, speaks during a peace conference at the Presidential Palace, Kabul, June 6, 2017 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

With the Trump White House abdicating decision-making authority over the Afghan war to the Pentagon, it’s only a matter of time until the United States escalates troop levels in Afghanistan again. The security situation in the country is dire, with the Taliban in control of more territory than at any point since the 2001 invasion and momentum on its side. The situation for Afghan civilians remains terrifying, with a spate of recent attacks highlighting how little progress has been made in America’s longest war. If things weren’t bad enough, Afghanistan is also in the grips of a festering political crisis, […]

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with officials from Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador during the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, Miami, June 15, 2017 (AP photo by Wilfredo Lee).

Over two days in Miami earlier this month, the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador met with officials from the United States and Mexico to discuss the longstanding challenges of combating transnational crime, narcotrafficking and corruption in Central America. Any discussion of migration policy, however, was explicitly off the table at the Conference on Prosperity and Security, which included U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Despite brutal conditions in the region that have driven a spike in migration north in recent years, the Trump administration’s narrow priorities in Central […]

A U.S. Navy F-18 fighter jet lands on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson following a patrol in the South China Sea, March 3, 2017 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

On June 21, the United States and China held their first-ever Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in Washington. The dialogue, co-chaired on the American side by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, is a new iteration of engagement that evolved from the April meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at Mar-a-Lago. Along with other newly created discussions on trade and law enforcement issues, the dialogue is aimed at narrowing the focus of the former U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which met annually during the Obama administration. Unfortunately, when it comes to […]

Two Japan Self-Defense Forces destroyers anchored at the Port of Djibouti, during a break in an antipiracy mission in the waters off Somalia, Jan. 19, 2015 (Kyodo photo via AP).

The world’s newest mega-dock opened last month in Djibouti, the strategic real estate agent to world powers that is leasing access to the highest bidder. In a move to widen its African investment portfolio, China fronted the $590 million needed for the 1,700-acre Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port, the first of four docks and other infrastructure projects in Africa that are central to China’s grandiose Maritime Silk Road master plan. This comes as Djibouti gets more crowded. The small, strategically located country in the Horn of Africa already hosts U.S., French and Japanese military bases and will soon add a Saudi military […]

European Council President Donald Tusk walks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the EU-China summit, Brussels, June 2, 2017 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

After the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, many analysts expected that relations between the European Union and China would enter a honeymoon phase. Facing a protectionist and potentially destabilizing period in U.S. foreign policy, Europe and China would necessarily have to cooperate more closely on issues ranging from climate change to trade, in order to head off threats to the very future of globalization. The recent EU-China summit, taking place the day after Trump’s announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, would have been the natural occasion to showcase this new alignment, which would represent […]

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha during a press conference, Bangkok, Thailand, May 23, 2017 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

In July, according to spokespeople for Thailand’s government, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha will come to Washington for a White House visit. It promises to be a substantial diplomatic and reputational boost for both Prayuth, who led the coup in May 2014 that deposed Thailand’s most recent elected government, and the junta running Thailand, which remains a U.S. treaty ally. Former President Barack Obama did not offer Prayuth a White House invitation, although Obama did meet with him as part of a summit in California of Southeast Asian leaders in February 2016. The Thai junta repeatedly expressed anger at the Obama […]

A tour bus in front of the Capitolio, Cuba’s National Capitol Building, Havana, June 17, 2017 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” President Donald Trump told a cheering crowd of Cuban exiles in Miami on June 16. That declaration was not quite true, since there was no single deal to cancel. President Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba included a series of bilateral agreements on issues of mutual interest and five packages of regulatory changes to the U.S. embargo that Obama made unilaterally in order to boost travel and trade. Trump’s new policy, embodied in a Presidential Memorandum, partially closes two holes that Obama punched in the embargo. First, Trump’s […]

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a welcome ceremony in Doha, Feb. 15, 2017 (Press Presidency Press Service photo by Kayhan Ozer via AP).

Like the rest of the world, Turkey was blindsided by the sudden decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to cut all diplomatic, trade and transportation ties with Qatar earlier this month. Ankara is now scrambling to respond coherently to this new headache over Qatar, a state with which it has deepened ties in recent years. This is a strategic dilemma of the first degree for Turkey. If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fails to stand by the only true Arab ally he has left, he could lose all semblance of influence in the Arab world. […]

A protest by supporters of Albania’s main opposition party demanding a caretaker Cabinet to take the country to parliamentary elections, May 13, 2017 (AP photo by Hektor Pustina).

Albania’s “on again, off again” election is back on after the opposition ended its threat of a boycott last month. But allegations of a spiraling drug-trafficking problem, and claims and counterclaims of criminal links to politics, are still an unedifying sight in a European Union candidate state. Prolonged political deadlock over recent months is a sign not only of Albania’s deep political divisions and dysfunctions, but also of the EU’s limited ability to use its leverage in the increasingly restive Western Balkans. On May 22, Albania’s government confirmed a deal that put opposition figures into government positions, a compromise that […]

Rural midwives return home after shopping at the market in Patzun, Guatemala, Sept. 2, 2008 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

In addressing the root causes of migration, building allies, developing markets and advancing U.S. interests, the Inter-American Foundation provides the best dollar-for-dollar return on U.S. investment in Latin America. Yet the Trump administration wants to end it. An independent agency of the U.S. government, the IAF has funded local development projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean since its creation in 1969. The Trump administration’s budget proposes shutting it down to save a mere $22.5 million in appropriations this year. The administration’s budget would cut funding to the IAF to just $4.6 million in the 2018 fiscal year, with nothing […]

A woman lights candles at a memorial in a seaside park, Nice, France, July 18, 2016 (AP photo by Claude Paris).

Buoyed by his party’s resounding success in last weekend’s parliamentary elections, France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, is off to a strong start. While some were skeptical of his youth and inexperience—not to mention his brief participation in the unpopular government of his predecessor, Francois Hollande—Macron’s party, La Republique En Marche, is poised to become a dominant force in French politics. As one of its candidates told the Financial Times, “I’m again proud to be French.” That enthusiasm is no surprise: The French were tired of Hollande, who left office with dismal approval ratings and 10 percent national unemployment—a rate that […]

The expanded meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Astana, Kazakhstan, June 9, 2017 (Sputnik photo by Vladimir Astapkovich via AP).

For much of its 16 years of existence, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, has carried perhaps the greatest promise of any multilateral organization in Eurasia. Made up of Russia, China and four of the five Central Asian states—Turkmenistan, characteristically, kept the organization at arm’s-length—the SCO hasn’t just provided a high-level forum for discussing regional counterterrorism efforts. It has offered an outlet for Moscow and Beijing to coordinate their security and, increasingly, economic policies without concerns of Western input. The SCO was never quite a “counterweight to NATO” as some asserted, but it provided the groundwork for cohesion to come. […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Ankara, June 13, 2017 (Pool photo via AP).

As the dust settles from President Donald Trump’s first visit to the Middle East, his policy in the region, such as it exists, is harkening back to the years before his predecessor, Barack Obama. Obama only sought minor recalibrations in long-standing U.S. policy toward its allies in the region, and his criticisms of them amounted to the mildest rebukes. But Trump’s visit made it clear that Saudi Arabia and Israel are, once again, the unmistakable pillars of America’s Middle East posture. Egypt also seems more firmly in the U.S. orbit than ever, given Trump and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s mutual […]

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic inspects the Guard of Honor during an inauguration ceremony, Belgrade, May 31, 2017 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

In late April and into May, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, Hoyt Yee, made several visits and high-level phone calls to the countries of the Western Balkans. These states have been wracked by corruption scandals and governing standoffs that have raised questions about the effectiveness of American assistance. Yee’s efforts have yielded some positive outcomes. But they also made clear that American diplomacy alone cannot provide the longer-term solutions to the region’s nagging political and economic problems. After Yee’s visit to Skopje on April 29, Gjorge Ivanov, Macedonia’s president, finally gave the opposition party […]

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the new director-general of the World Health Organization, during the 70th World Health Assembly, Geneva, Switzerland, May 23, 2017 (Keystone photo by Valentin Flauraud via AP).

Last month, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus won the election to serve a five-year term as the director-general of the World Health Organization, beginning July 1. He may have one of the most unenviable jobs in the world. The World Health Organization does not enjoy the most stellar reputation these days, with its legitimacy and authority up for debate. Its response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016 was widely and roundly criticized; no less than six high-level panels recommended substantial changes to how the WHO responds to crises and finances its operations. Member states have refused to […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 271 2 Last