Vietnam’s trade minister, Tran Tuan Anh, left, and Japan’s minister of economic revitalization, Toshimitsu Motegi, shake hands at a press conference, Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

On the sidelines of the leaders’ summit for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC, earlier this month in Vietnam, the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the mega-regional free trade pact that includes Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei—agreed on most elements of a deal to salvage it in the form of a new, so-called TPP-11. In late January, in one of the first moves after taking office as U.S. president, Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from what had been Barack Obama’s signature economic achievement […]

A member of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces walks inside a prison built by Islamic State fighters, Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. What does the future of the Islamic State look like in the wake of its battlefield setbacks in Iraq and Syria, from the fall of Mosul last summer to Raqqa last month? Will it revert to a low-level insurgency, or lash out with the kinds of terrorist attacks more associated with its predecessors, like al-Qaida? Can it sustain itself as a movement drawing in sympathizers and recruits from around the world? Writing for […]

Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, center, during the party’s annual conference, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Nov. 25, 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images).

BELFAST, Northern Ireland—The deadlocked political situation in Northern Ireland shows no sign of ending, at least this side of Christmas. The region’s two main parties—the conservative Democratic Unionist Party, or DUP, and left-wing, nationalist Sinn Fein—still cannot reach an agreement to restore a devolved power-sharing government, which was brought down by a domestic scandal in January. The crisis has been deepened considerably by the prospects of a British exit from the European Union that calls into question the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that ended three decades of violence between nationalists and unionists. That deal, which has […]

A young girl marches during a military parade at the inauguration of new Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

As Zimbabwe finally enters the post-Robert Mugabe era, neighboring South Africa has an opportunity to play a constructive role in helping put in place a democratic roadmap. Despite being the dominant regional power and current chair of the 16-nation Southern African Development Community, or SADC, South Africa has, for too long, essentially endorsed the disastrous status quo in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s unexpected ouster by the military should push South Africa to change course, making its Zimbabwe policy more in line with the values that underpin the South African constitution and inform the founding charters of the African Union and the SADC—though […]

A man takes pictures of blood stains of victims after masked gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Coptic Christians to a monastery, Maghagha, Egypt, May 27, 2017 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

On Thursday, an assault on a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killed 305 worshippers in what officials have called the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Egyptian history. The staggering number of victims was a sign of the shifting nature of violence in which Egypt has been mired for nearly five years. Militants in Sinai who have waged an insurgency against the government are expanding their campaign to include not just agents of the state, but a rapidly growing number of civilians. The ongoing violence has weakened the position of the military-led regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledges his supporters during an appearance in parliament, Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 21, 2017 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. The Syrian civil war is drawing to a close, at least in the way that the traditional conflict dynamics have been understood since 2011. The rebel opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in disarray and confined to relatively small patches of disconnected territory across the country, while the self-proclaimed Islamic State is on its last breath, pushed out of its base in the city of Raqqa and squeezed in eastern Syria. Only […]

Women who lost family members at Srebrenica react as they watch a TV broadcast of the sentencing of Radovan Karadzic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Tuzla, Bosnia, March 24, 2016 (AP photo by Amel Emric).

BELGRADE, Serbia—The first war crimes tribunal to be established since the military court in Nuremberg after World War II will close its doors at the end of the year, and with it, a chapter of international criminal justice will end. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established by the United Nations in May 1993 while the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were raging. It would adjudicate the worst crimes seen in Europe in half a century. The jurisprudence set since then has paved the way for other countries to adjudicate similar crimes, and for the […]

Zimbabwean soldiers bump fists with joyful protesters thanking them for their intervention, Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Robert Mugabe became Zimbabwe’s prime minister in 1980 in the country’s first multiracial elections, after it finally won its independence from British rule. He has served as president or prime minister of the country ever since. Roughly 85 percent of Zimbabwe’s population has never known another leader. Despite his frail health and various opposition movements over the years, Mugabe has repeatedly found a way to hold on to power. Until last week. Early Wednesday morning, shortly after tanks started appearing on the streets in and near Harare, members of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces went on the national broadcaster, ZBC, to […]

A robot in Parliament Square as part of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, London, April 23, 2013 (Press Association via AP Images).

Autonomous weapons are on the agenda in Geneva this week. The Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, which has members and observers drawn from national governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society, is holding its first meeting since it was established last year under the auspices of the U.N. Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, or CCW. On the table for discussion are the technical, legal, military and ethical dimensions of machines capable of making battlefield decisions without human oversight. The stakes are high. Autonomous weapons have, in recent years, catapulted into the defense and security strategies of the […]

An Iranian holds a poster showing caricatures of U.S. President Donald Trump,  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Tehran, Iran, June 23, 2017 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

U.S. President Donald Trump’s team of neophyte Middle East peacemakers is reportedly shifting to “a new phase” in its effort to solve one of the world’s most intractable disputes, by starting to draft a peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s lawyer and Middle East envoy, was quoted by The New York Times as saying the team is “not going to put an artificial timeline on the development or presentation of any specific ideas and will also never impose a deal.” Instead, he said, the goal “is to facilitate, not dictate, a lasting peace agreement to improve the […]

A Russian military policeman, left, rests in the lobby of a hospital in the city of Deir el-Zour, Syria, Sept. 15, 2017 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. In Syria, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, was always treated as a problem with an essentially military solution. At least for the U.S.-led international coalition, there was no positive end state or program of political change that could be joined to the military campaign against the jihadi group. The general repulsiveness of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad meant that, unlike in neighboring Iraq, Washington and its allies could not simply invest […]

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at an ASEAN summit dinner at the SMX Convention Center, Nov. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

During his marathon visit to Asia, the longest by a U.S. president in over 25 years, Donald Trump at least demonstrated to American allies and partners that he is not going to ignore the region. Following up on the Obama administration’s promise to regularly send high-level U.S. officials to major Asian summits to demonstrate Washington’s regional commitment, Trump attended the summits of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But he cut short his trip at the last minute and skipped the East Asia Summit’s plenary session, which he had added to his itinerary earlier. […]

U.N. forces from Rwanda patrol the streets of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 12, 2016 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

On Nov. 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to decide on the fate of the U.N. mission in Central African Republic, known by its acronym MINUSCA. In stark contrast to the debate over the U.N. mission in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, which the U.S. pushed to reduce last April after citing its ineffectiveness and cost, few in New York expect cuts to the Central African Republic (CAR) mission. To the contrary, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited CAR at the end of October and called for increasing the mission’s authorized troop ceiling, currently just over 12,000, by […]

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, right, poses with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders during the ASEAN-U.S. Summit, Manila, Philippines, Nov. 13, 2017 (Photo by Manan Vatsyayana via AP).

Even as Donald Trump wraps up his first trip to Asia as U.S. president this week, deep uncertainty remains over what the broad contours of his administration’s Asia policy will actually end up being. Though U.S.-Singapore ties themselves are already on a solid footing and the city-state remains a key U.S. strategic partner, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Washington last month, ahead of Trump’s Asia tour, reinforced the point that this important relationship is not immune to that uncertainty, with both sides trying to manage their relations in the context of their domestic and foreign policies. Both […]

Homeowner Sohail Soomro dumps debris on his front yard in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Katy, Texas, Sept. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Matt Rourke).

Devastating hurricanes and fires in the United States and the Caribbean since August have demonstrated yet again that extreme weather exacerbated by climate change has created new risks. The suffering and damage caused by this extreme weather has, in turn, created additional new dangers to public health. One of the more worrisome is the spread of disease, especially “vector-borne” diseases. These are diseases transmitted to humans through insect bites, most commonly by mosquitoes, ticks and flies. They include Zika, Lyme, Chikungunya and malaria. In 2015, malaria alone infected over 200 million people and caused about 438,000 deaths worldwide. According to […]

Iraqis from the Yazidi community rebuild temples destroyed by Islamic State fighters, Bashiqa, Iraq, Oct. 18, 2017 (AP photo Khalid Mohammed).

Late last month, in an unexpected political maneuver after Iraqi Kurdish officials went ahead with their controversial referendum on independence, Iraq’s central government restored its dominance over most of the so-called disputed territories in the north of the country. Even though they fall outside the jurisdiction of the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, these areas had effectively been controlled by the KRG for the past three years, amid the chaos created by the self-proclaimed Islamic State and the retreat of Iraqi forces. Iraqi forces swept through the key, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, as well as Sinjar and much of the Nineveh […]

A supporter of Bolivian President Evo Morales waves a party flag during a march supporting his re-election, La Paz, Bolivia, Nov. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

Bolivian President Evo Morales is forging ahead with a plan to get around constitutional limits to stand for a fourth term in 2019, despite losing a February 2016 referendum on whether he could run again. His party, the Movement Toward Socialism, or MAS, presented a petition to Bolivia’s elected constitutional tribunal in late September requesting that four articles of the country’s constitution be declared “inapplicable,” allowing Morales to stand for president indefinitely. The MAS also wants the court to scrap term limits for other elected officials, including governors, mayors and members of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, Bolivia’s legislature. A decision […]

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