Police officers stand guard the entrance of the Mariana Paez demobilization zone, one of many rural camps where rebel fighters are making their transition to civilian life, in Buenavista, Colombia, June, 27, 2017 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

When he took office earlier this month, Colombia’s new president, Ivan Duque, was introduced at his inauguration by the president of Congress, Ernesto Macias, a wily politician from the country’s coffee-rich state of Huila. Before Duque’s inauguration speech floated over the windy ceremony in the capital, Bogota, Macias served up his own view of the president’s inheritance. Macias painted a dark, pessimistic picture of Colombia: An economy going down the drain; gangs running rampant over the countryside; coca plantations through the roof. Was there a culprit? Of course: outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos. The scene evoked the Wild West, where […]

A woman holding a sign with a message that reads in Spanish, “Rich women have abortions, the poor ones die,” during a demonstration in front of the Argentine Embassy in Lima, Peru, Aug. 8, 2018 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

Earlier this month, Argentina’s Senate rejected a bill to decriminalize abortion by a vote of 38 to 31. The bill, which narrowly passed the lower Chamber of Deputies in June, would have legalized abortion up to 14 weeks. It was a disappointing, though perhaps not unexpected, outcome for the thousands of abortion rights activists who made up Argentina’s “green wave” demonstrations. Activists’ hopes were buoyed by recent successes in Chile in 2017 and Ireland in 2018, where restrictions on abortion were overturned. While a majority of Argentines reportedly supported the bill, Argentina’s #NiUnaMenos, or “not one less,” movement faced a […]

Ugandan pop star Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, center, wearing a beret, is hugged by a supporter as he gets into an ambulance after leaving a courthouse in Gulu, Uganda, Aug. 27, 2018 (AP photo).

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni knows how to take down a rival. The wreckage of various careers are scattered across his 33-year rule—politicians and military officers, unwilling to bend to his will or accept his largesse, who were derailed by well-timed scandals, arrests or worse. But with the detention and apparent torture this month of 36-year-old pop star-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known to Ugandans as Bobi Wine, has Museveni finally overreached? Over more than three decades, Museveni has faced only one legitimate political challenger. Kizza Besigye was part of Museveni’s National Resistance Movement, or NRM, during the Bush War that brought […]

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 14, 2018 (Presidency Press Service photo via AP Images).

Turkey is enduring its most severe economic crisis since the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, took power after sweeping elections in 2002. With a nearly 40 percent decline in the value of the Turkish lira this year, Turkey’s foreign exchange troubles risk plunging the heavily leveraged Turkish economy, and with it potentially the global economy, into a tailspin. On one hand, it’s a typical post-Cold War financial crisis in an emerging market whose economic prospects have always been volatile, with high risks and high rewards. On the other hand, the lira’s collapse is the product of a constellation of […]

Far-right politician Tomio Okamura addresses opponents of immigration from Muslim-majority countries during a protest in central Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 12, 2015 (Photo by Michal Dolezal for CTK via AP).

PRAGUE—With xenophobia spiraling across the former communist states of Central Europe, the region’s one sizable non-white and non-Christian immigrant community is unflustered, for now. Constituting around 1 percent of the Czech Republic’s population of 10 million, the country’s decades-old Vietnamese community is largely tolerated and respected, even if integration is limited. That situation remains mostly unchanged by the recent political shift to the right in the Czech Republic. Many Czechs view the Vietnamese community—officially 60,000-strong but estimated to actually number around 100,000—in stark contrast to Muslim immigrants—around 20,000 or so—and the much larger and long-ostracized Roma community. “The Vietnamese community […]

U.S. President Donald Trump poses with African leaders, including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the Group of Seven summit, Taormina, Italy, May 27, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Medichini).

In his first year in office, U.S. President Donald Trump’s attitude toward Africa was a mix of scorn, neglect and mercantilism. He reportedly called several African nations “shithole countries” and said they were places his friends went “trying to get rich.” When then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his maiden voyage to the continent in March, he went home early and was promptly fired. Africans noticed the snub. But in Trump’s second year, there are indications his administration may be taking a new, more traditional tack, even as Trump himself continues to create crises. Late Wednesday night, Trump tweeted unexpectedly […]

Graffiti showing U.S. President Donald Trump with a footprint on his face and Arabic that reads, "For Jerusalem and the right of return, we resist," Gaza City, May 20, 2018 (AP photo by Khalil Hamra).

Despite repeatedly announcing his intention to present a bold, sweeping plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to keep everyone waiting. If he ever does present his plan, it is set to backfire, for several reasons. For one thing, the Trump administration has been shunned by Palestinians since it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. Palestinians were angered by the move, arguing that the U.S. government violated its role as mediator and sponsor of the peace process by adopting Israel’s position on Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders have taken the unprecedented step of halting all […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera, St. Petersburg, Russia, May 23, 2018 (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev for Sputnik via AP Images).

Investigating the Russian government has historically been a dangerous business, and yet the circumstances surrounding the deaths of journalists Alexander Rastorguyev, Kirill Radchenk and Orkhan Dzhemal in the Central African Republic late last month still managed to raise eyebrows. Part of the reason the tragedy has continued to attract international attention weeks later is because it highlights a story that had flown under the radar for months: the unexpected presence of Russian mercenaries in one of the most obscure parts of the world. Russia’s presence in the Central African Republic is a relatively new phenomenon. While Soviet activity there was […]

Colombia’s former president, Juan Manuel Santos, center, welcomes President Ivan Duque at the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 7, 2018 (Colombia’s presidential press office via AP).

A day before Nicolas Maduro accused Juan Manuel Santos and the “Bogota oligarchy” of orchestrating an audacious attempt on his life with explosive-equipped drones earlier this month, Colombia’s outgoing president reminded his Venezuelan counterpart of the reality that divides their two nations. “Eight years ago we agreed with Chavez and Maduro that history would judge which economic system was better,” Santos wrote on Twitter. Inflation in Colombia, he noted, was 3.12 percent. In Venezuela, it was a stunning 1 million percent. “The verdict is clear.” Reining in inflation is one of a number of economic achievements from Santos’ eight years […]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a selfie with Muslim lawmakers following the presentation of the signed Bangsamoro Organic Law at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 6, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

On July 26, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law paving the way for the long-awaited creation of a new self-governing region encompassing Muslim-majority areas on the Philippines’ conflict-wracked southern island of Mindanao. Known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law, it had been fiercely debated by lawmakers and rebel leaders amid political wrangling and ongoing violence. It aims to end a bloody separatist conflict that began in the early 1970s and has claimed thousands of civilian lives. The bill’s passage is the culmination of four years of talks between the government and the 30,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been fighting […]

A demonstrator holds up a sign that reads, in part, “Maduro giving oil to Cuba and the people dying of hunger, Enough is enough,” in front of a line of police officers during a protest, Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 16, 2018 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Venezuela’s flailing oil industry has helped prop up global energy prices even as Saudi Arabia and Russia open the spigots and global oil demand remains robust. Though oil prices have recovered from their lows during the price collapse in 2015, Venezuelan output has since seen an incredible decline of 1 million barrels per day. The drop in oil production is further squeezing the Venezuelan economy, which faces critical shortages of goods and ballooning inflation that is expected to reach an astounding 1 million percent this year. But could Venezuela’s oil production decline even more steeply? Three evolving developments will largely […]

A poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with Arabic that reads “Welcome to victorious Syria,” is displayed on the border between Lebanon and Syria, July 20, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

The billboards that greet people crossing the border from neighboring Lebanon now read: “Welcome to victorious Syria.” It’s unclear if they’ve replaced the old signs inviting you into “Assad’s Syria,” which have adorned highways near Syria’s land borders and the Damascus airport for years. A decade ago, one of the many other pieces of pro-Assad propaganda lining roads and the sides of buildings across the country was a huge, backlit sign that guarded an entrance to Damascus’ Old City, abutting the medieval Citadel: “I Believe in Syria,” it read, next to a beaming, waving President Bashar al-Assad. The Associated Press […]

Imran Khan, the presumptive next prime minister of Pakistan, addresses his supporters during a campaign rally in Lahore, Pakistan, July 23, 2018 (AP photo by K.M. Chaudary).

Pakistan’s new government, which takes office on Aug. 18, will confront a raft of pressing challenges at home. They include a looming economic crisis; an unhappy political opposition, led by the previously ruling PMLN party, which could seek to obstruct the government’s legislative measures; and the omnipresent threat of extremism. Foreign policy won’t be the initial focus of presumptive Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration in Islamabad. Still, Khan faces five major foreign policy tests requiring immediate attention. How he responds to them will offer an early read on his government’s thinking on foreign policy. His actions will also help determine […]

Simone Gbagbo, wife of Laurent Gbagbo, during a pro-Gbagbo rally at the Palace of Culture in the Treichville neighborhood of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Jan. 15, 2011 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

In the immediate aftermath of Cote d’Ivoire’s 2011 post-election conflict, as soldiers were still trying to impose order and Red Cross workers were clearing dead bodies from the streets of Abidjan, President Alassane Ouattara vowed to hold those responsible for the violence to account. “There can be no reconciliation without justice,” he said. “All Ivorians are equal before the law. We will fight impunity.” It was a message he would return to again and again—including four years later, when he was preparing to run for a second term. “Everyone responsible for atrocities will be tried,” he said in April 2015. […]

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, right, sits with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga during a Heroes’ Day event in Harare, Aug. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

After Zimbabwe’s elections late last month, the first without Robert Mugabe on the ballot, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite pre-poll speculation that the vote might usher in an era of change and renewal after 38 years under the ruling ZANU-PF party—and two decades of steep political and economic decline—a new dawn stubbornly failed to arrive. Zimbabwe has a largely unchanged political landscape, still dominated by ZANU-PF. Emmerson Mnangagwa retained the presidency with 50.8 percent of the vote over Nelson Chamisa of the opposition MDC Alliance, who got 44.3 percent. ZANU-PF has […]

A Chinese construction worker stands on land that was reclaimed from the Indian Ocean for the Port City Colombo project,  Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 2, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

No stranger to political controversy, the International Monetary Fund may soon find itself embroiled in one that pits China’s interests against those of the United States. Beijing’s hugely ambitious international development project, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, is raising fears of debt crises in the developing world, and the IMF may be called in to clean up the mess. The U.S. is poised to oppose any IMF deal providing funds that would ultimately go to pay off Belt and Road-related tabs. How the IMF handles this situation could give clues about how the institution will deal with competing […]

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese economic revitalization minister, hold talks in Washington, Aug. 9, 2018 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Minister for Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi ended two days of “productive talks” last week and signaled they would hold another round in September. With significant gaps remaining on key issues and much at stake in the bilateral economic relationship, the next phase of talks could be an important turning point for the two allies. Negotiators are aiming to further bridge the divide on issues like auto tariffs and Japanese market access for American exports before a likely meeting next month between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a feasible but challenging […]

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