British Prime Minister Theresa May, center, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, right, at an EU summit, Brussels, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Nearly 18 months have passed since Britain voted for Brexit, a decision that was backed by 52 percent of voters in Britain overall and nearly 54 percent in England. Support for leaving the European Union was much deeper among manual workers, around 60 percent of whom backed the referendum, along with an estimated 75 percent of people with no qualifications—people who left school at 16 and then stayed out of the education system. Since the Brexit vote, Britain’s political landscape has changed considerably. Theresa May has replaced David Cameron, who as prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party was […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres shakes hands with civilians at the cathedral in Bangassou, Central African Republic, Oct. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Joel Kouam).

He said his visit was to show solidarity with those inside the conflict-torn country, but the U.N. chief was clearly sending a message to the outside world. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrapped up a trip to the Central African Republic last Friday, his first visit to a country hosting a U.N. peacekeeping mission since he assumed his post in January. The choice signaled the severity of the situation in CAR and a determination to highlight the importance of U.N. peacekeeping. Violence has surged and spread in CAR, a near lawless former French colony, bringing a years-long crisis to a boil. Record […]

Iran’s army chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, looks into binoculars as he visits other senior officers from the Iranian military in the Syrian province of Aleppo, Oct. 20, 2017 (Syrian Central Military Media via AP).

After a few years in which the threats to Israel’s security had eased somewhat, recent events have taken a turn for the worse. To its north, Israel faces a joint Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis that is growing more powerful and confident, as President Bashar al-Assad re-establishes control in Syria backed by a strong Russian presence. Assad, whose regime has waged a brutal six-year civil war that has killed half a million Syrians and displaced some two-thirds of the country’s population, has successfully withstood all internal and external pressures, including American demands that he step down, and is now securely ensconced in power […]

Nicole Castillo, 7, of East Boston, holds a sign while standing with her brother Diego, 4, and mother Elsa, who is originally from El Salvador, during a “Here to Stay” rally, Boston, July 6, 2017 (AP photo by Charles Krupa).

On Oct. 12, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that America’s asylum process was “subject to rampant abuse and fraud,” that migrants were taking advantage of the system and that “genuinely meritorious” asylum claims were down. He offered no evidence for these sweeping statements beyond the fact that asylum petitions had increased in recent years and his claim that “many”—he didn’t say how many—asylum-seekers who pass “credible fear” interviews, the initial screening process for those seeking asylum at the U.S. border, then “simply disappear and never show up at their immigration hearings” once they are in the country. Sessions’ comments […]

Angola’s new president, Joao Lourenco, casts his vote in the election that brought him to power, Luanda, Angola, Aug. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Bruno Fonseca).

On Sept. 26, Joao Lourenco was sworn in as just the third president since Angola gained its independence from Portugal in November 1975. Unlike other post-colonial leaders in Africa, Angola’s first president, Agostino Neto, was in power for barely four years, until September 1979. In the nearly 38 years since then, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been at the helm of the oil-rich nation. The historic handover of power, after elections in August, came as Angola finds itself in the deepest economic crisis since before its civil war ended in 2002. Even if there is not yet a political transition […]

A Jordanian soldier stands at the northeastern border with Syria, Feb. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Raad Adayleh).

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. The defeat last week of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Raqqa, its major base of operations in northern Syria, may prove to be a seminal event in ways the battle’s victors did not intend. While no doubt a major milestone, Raqqa’s fall is far from the conclusion of the broader six-year conflict in Syria, nor the end of the jihadi movement itself. The temptation to claim victory over the Islamic State may […]

Lebanese demonstrators hold placards calling for the departure of Syrian refugees from Lebanon in Zouk Mosbeh, north of Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

AMMAN, Jordan—A new humanitarian catastrophe is looming on the horizon as thousands of refugees and internally displaced people return to their homes in Syria, by choice or by force. Changes in the course of Syria’s civil war and developments in fragile peace talks are making return a reality and, in some cases, a nightmare, as conditions inside Syria are still dire. The widespread, premature return of Syrians to their towns and cities could undermine the country’s long-term stability and hinder the hopes of more Syrians coming back. Throughout the war, there has been a constant trickle of refugees returning to […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, toasts with Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, during an official visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 21, 2016 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Changing realities in the Americas are forcing Japan to re-evaluate its brand in the region. Seeking to preserve and expand its longstanding economic connections from Argentina to Mexico, Japan is taking active steps to raise its profile in the shadow of China’s continuing push into Latin America and growing uncertainty about the role of the United States under the Trump administration. As the newly protectionist trade talk coming out of Washington threatens economic pillars like NAFTA, there are surprising consequences for Tokyo. Traditionally, Japan has taken a low-key approach to Latin American issues, content to build its relations quietly and […]

Federal Iraqi security forces gather outside Alton Kupri, on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq, Oct. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

Events in Iraq this week will go down as one of the greatest debacles in the living memory of many Iraqi Kurds. On Monday, the confrontation between the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government of President Masoud Barzani and Iraq’s central government escalated dramatically when Baghdad launched a major military offensive to retake the multiethnic, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Kurdish forces had seized control of the city in 2014 in the vacuum created by the advance of the self-proclaimed Islamic State and the retreat of Iraqi troops. Less than 15 hours after the start of the Kirkuk offensive, a coalition of regular […]

Filipino students burn a caricature depicting President Rodrigo Duterte during a protest in front of the gates of the Malacanang presidential compound, Manila, Philippines, Oct. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is approaching the third calendar year of his bombastic term in office, but for all his tough-guy language, his policies on several critical issues remain muddled and contradictory. Duterte’s blunt, aggressive rhetoric—often veering into profane rants, including one last week against the European Union—has played well at home, keeping his popularity high. A September poll by Pulse Asia showed that about 75 percent of Filipinos have trust in Duterte, despite the notable gap between his talk and his actions in three key areas. Duterte was elected in part on promises to fight economic and political elites […]

Carlos Ocariz, the opposition candidate for governor of Miranda state, yells out “Let’s go!” as he walks hand-in-hand with his stepdaughter to a polling station, Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Fernando Llano).

After months of delays, polling booths finally opened in Venezuela last Sunday for gubernatorial elections in each of the country’s 23 states. Accusations of fraud have already marred the results, as candidates backed by President Nicolas Maduro and his regime won an overwhelming majority of seats despite poor polling numbers that pointed to an opposition victory. Candidates with the opposition coalition have demanded an electoral audit in every state, citing cases of voter intimidation, repeat ballots and nonfunctioning polling booths. The opposition’s failure to turn the tide on the regional level looks like a major political loss, but the situation […]

An Algerian paratrooper jumps by a flag showing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika during a military show, Algiers, July 5, 2017 (AP photo by Anis Belghoul).

When Algeria’s newly appointed prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, addressed parliament last month, he ominously declared that his government would be insolvent by November. Three years of low oil prices had rapidly expanded the country’s budget deficit and eroded its reserves, leaving it with little cash to pay public sector employees or invest in the type of projects that would keep the private sector afloat. Ouyahia’s startling admission provided the pretext for unveiling a new, unconventional monetary policy that he argued would buy Algeria some more time to fix its finances and execute reforms. Ouyahia’s policy—known popularly by economists as “helicopter […]

Aziza Yousef drives a car on a highway as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 29, 2014 (AP photo by Hasam Jamali).

The royal decree permitting Saudi women to apply for driver’s licenses in June 2018, issued late last month, was a highly visible statement of intent from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his plans to modernize and reform Saudi Arabia remain on track. Uncertainty over the viability of the crown prince’s much-vaunted plans to transform the Saudi economy had mounted after the partial reversal of austerity measures last April and reports in September that the National Transformation Program, a series of economic reforms with a target date of 2020, was being revised. Slower than expected progress on restructuring Saudi Aramco, […]

Luigi Di Maio of Italy’s Five Star Movement speaks during a protest outside parliament moments after a vote in favor of a new election law, Rome, Italy, Oct. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Gregorio Borgia).

BOLOGNA—Italy’s Five Star Movement has a new leader. At the national meeting for the upstart populist party late last month—calling it a congress would be far too formal for the anti-establishment movement—its co-founder, comedian Beppe Grillo, stepped down as the political leader, although he will remain its “garante,” or judge of final appeal for internal disputes. An online primary in which a mere 37,000 people voted anointed Luigi Di Maio as the new political head of the M5S, as the party is known in Italy. The election was clearly the result of a backroom fix of the kind the M5S […]

A home destroyed by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

The hurricanes that swept through the Caribbean last month were a stark reminder of the vulnerability of its small island states to events largely outside their control. In recent years, Caribbean countries have entered a new era of economic and environmental instability entirely different in scope from what they endured only a decade ago at the height of the global financial crisis, which hit many islands hard given their dependence on trade, tourism and investment from the United States. Climate change and the shifting effects of globalization are significant new obstacles to their continued growth. With the earth’s climate beginning […]

Opposition protesters scatter as police fire tear gas at them during a demonstration in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 26, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Kenya’s long-running political drama is sinking deeper into crisis, testing the outermost limits of the country’s election laws. Its highest court seemed at first to have struck a rare victory for judicial independence with its declaration that August’s presidential election, which gave a second term to President Uhuru Kenyatta, was “invalid, null and void,” necessitating a rerun. But as the weeks have passed, the Supreme Court ruling looks more like a mixed blessing that guaranteed a prolonged political morass. The new vote was supposed to take place before the end of October, but very few of the underlying problems identified […]

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir casts his ballot for presidential and legislative elections, Khartoum, Sudan, April 27, 2015 (AP photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy).

After several false starts over the past decade, the United States finally lifted sanctions it first levied against Sudan nearly two decades ago. The decision came late last week, after the Trump administration had extended its deadline over the summer on whether to make the Obama administration’s easing of sanctions permanent. The sanctions relief for Sudan was one of former President Barack Obama’s final, surprising foreign policy moves in office. The U.S. has imposed the financial restrictions since the 1990s in response to the Sudanese regime’s penchant for harboring terrorists and for the atrocities it has committed, including the genocide […]

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