People share rations of beans at a World Food Program distribution site in Congo’s troubled Kasai region, March 13, 2018 (DPA photo by Kate Bartlett via AP Images).

The United Nations is sounding the alarm over the large-scale and ongoing expulsion of migrants and refugees from Angola, which has triggered a humanitarian crisis along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. So far this month, nearly 330,000 people have been forcibly deported from Angola into the Congolese border regions of Kasai, Kasai Central and Kwango. On Friday, Michelle Bachelet, the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights, warned that the migrants face an “extremely precarious situation” and raised the prospect of renewed communal violence in an unstable region. Six people have already been confirmed dead, reportedly at the […]

An anti-narcotics police officer runs toward a helicopter after the destruction of a cocaine lab in Calamar, Guaviare state, Colombia, Aug. 2, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

In 1821, Gen. Francisco de Paula Santander told a congress full of statesmen, “Guns will give you your independence, but laws will help you keep it.” Santander was addressing representatives of Gran Colombia, the political state that once covered most of northern South America, including what is today Colombia and Venezuela. Ten years later, Gran Colombia split up, and Colombia and Venezuela set off on separate paths. But both countries disregarded Santander’s statement, as their histories have been marked by a string of armed conflicts that eroded laws and justice. Still, after decades spent fighting militias and rebel movements while […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct. 26, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

The atmosphere during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s rare visit to China last week, the first by a Japanese leader since 2011, was loaded with historical meaning. Oct. 23, two days before Abe arrived in Beijing, was the 40th anniversary of the two countries’ Treaty of Peace and Friendship coming into effect. That agreement formally ended their state of war. The anniversary has now become a convenient touchstone for two countries seeking to normalize relations following a multi-year chill, mainly over disputed islands in the East China Sea and sensitive historical issues. And in the 1970s, as in 2018, it was […]

Cambodians hold a protest demanding the release of opposition leader Kem Sokha,  Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 18, 2017 (DPA photo by Wiktor Dabkowski via AP Images).

Cambodia has made significant progress on reducing poverty since its transition to democracy in the 1990s, yet millions still remain at risk of falling back into destitution given the nation’s shaky dependence on foreign money, both from trading partners and aid donors. That’s why many Cambodians will be desperately hoping the European Union’s recent threat to suspend valuable trade preferences does not actually come to fruition. In early October, the EU announced that it was formally looking into removing Cambodia’s special trade status, known as “Everything But Arms,” which gives developing nations duty-free access to export into Europe. European Trade […]

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, center, arrives at Government House for a Cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

On a visit to Japan earlier this month, Thailand’s prime minister and the leader of the junta in power since 2014, Prayuth Chan-ocha, confirmed that elections would indeed be held early next year, by May 2019 at the latest. According to a readout of a meeting between Prayuth and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Prayuth said that elections could be held as early as February. They would be the first elections since February 2014, which were subsequently invalidated by Thailand’s Constitutional Court, precipitating the military coup that deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government. Although the junta has repeatedly […]

A Russian S-400 air defense missile system during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 3, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko). Such systems reduce NATO's ability to counter the Russian threat in Eastern Europe.

As NATO has focused its attention on Russia’s offensive military capabilities in Eastern Europe, an equally significant and, in practice, more problematic issue has been largely ignored: Russia’s preponderance of “anti-access, area-denial” capabilities in the borderlands between the Baltic and Black Seas. Is NATO focusing on the wrong Russian threat in Eastern Europe? This week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss, among other things, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Announced by President Donald Trump last weekend, the move comes after repeated Russian violations […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, right, during the Uzbekistan-Russia Interregional Cooperation Forum, Toshkent, Uzbekistan, Oct. 19, 2018 (Photo by Aleksey Nikolskyi for Sputnik via AP Images).

On Oct. 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Uzbekistan for the first meeting of the newly established Uzbekistan-Russia Interregional Cooperation Forum. Putin attended the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony of a new $11 billion nuclear power plant, signing investment deals totaling $25 billion, mostly in the energy sector. The visit was a clear illustration of how significantly Uzbekistan has changed since the death in August 2016 of Islam Karimov, the country’s first post-Soviet president who ruled for 27 years. Under Karimov, Uzbekistan pursued a path of outward isolation and inward repression. His successor, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has slowly opened Uzbekistan up […]

A health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, eastern Congo, Sept. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Al-hadji Kudra Maliro).

In many ways, there is no country better prepared to respond to an Ebola outbreak than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Back in 1976, when Mobutu Sese Seko was in power and the country was known as Zaire, the disease was first discovered in the northern village of Yambuku, near the Ebola River, for which it is named. That initial outbreak resulted in 318 cases that killed 280 people—a fatality rate of nearly 90 percent. Since then, Congolese and international health workers have responded to, and eradicated, eight other outbreaks, more than any other country. And they’ve often succeeded in […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 2018 (AP photo).

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to put his authority behind not just the cause of land reform in South Africa, but the expropriation of land without compensation, is political risk-taking of the highest order. If it works, he may succeed in building support for the ruling African National Congress ahead of the 2019 general election, as well as neutralizing his populist opponents inside and outside the ANC. But it also has considerable potential for blowback, with Ramaphosa ultimately pleasing no one and alienating important constituencies at home and abroad. This inevitably raises some broader questions. Why has a president with a […]

Robert Habeck, center, and Anton Hofreiter, right, leaders of the Greens, celebrate the results of the Bavaria state elections, Munich, Germany, Oct. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Kerstin Joensson).

While much has been made of the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party, it was the left-wing Greens that recorded the biggest gains in last week’s state elections in Bavaria. By winning more than 17 percent of the vote, the Greens nearly doubled their total from Bavaria’s last elections in 2013 and will enter the new state parliament as the second-largest bloc. Their success amid the ongoing collapse of Germany’s political center was a sign that across the spectrum, and not only on the right, voters are beginning to harden around the political extremes. If that […]

Communist Party General Secretary and Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong delivers a speech at the National University of Public Service in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Balazs Mohai).

When President Tran Dai Quang of Vietnam died suddenly last month, shortly before he was scheduled to visit New York and address the United Nations General Assembly, the usual condolences poured in from foreign dignitaries. But the news did not prompt grief among human rights watchdogs, who have criticized Vietnam’s brutal suppression of political dissent. Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, summed up his reaction in two words: “Good riddance!” Quang, a security sector apparatchik who rose through the ranks to become minister of public security, was elevated to the largely ceremonial post of […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Moscow for meetings with senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, as the U.S. prepares to officially withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms reduction pact. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, bans all ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the treaty for years. That, along with concerns over the rising threat from other U.S. rivals who are not bound by the deal’s terms, […]

U.S. Lt. Col. William Clark, second from left, talks with Gen. Abdul Raziq, a police commander in southern Afghanistan, on the outskirts of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2009 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

In one fell swoop last Thursday, a gunman eliminated two of the most powerful officials in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province and critically injured a third. The Taliban quickly claimed credit for the attack, which killed Gen. Abdul Raziq, who held the title of provincial police commander but was in reality a prominent 39-year-old warlord in an official uniform. In the past decade, the Taliban’s insurgency has grown to cover all corners of the country, swarming the non-Pashtun northern crescent and pushing to reclaim southern Afghanistan. The Taliban has made gains in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, with advances more recently into neighboring […]

Bangladeshi students participate in a protest, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Aug. 4, 2018 (AP photo by A. M. Ahad).

Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, doesn’t seem to be taking any chances before national elections in December, in which she hopes her Awami League will win an unprecedented third consecutive term in office. While she seeks the domestic and international legitimacy that was missing in her 2014 election victory, after arguably the most bloody and controversial polls in the country’s history, she also can’t afford to lose a zero-sum contest with the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, or BNP, which her government has made more toxic with a series of increasingly coercive measures against it. The second objective has overshadowed […]

Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra attends a ceremony marking the army’s anniversary in Lima, Peru, Sept. 21, 2018 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

Casual observers of Peruvian politics can be forgiven for not being able to keep up with recent events there. Opposition leader Keiko Fujimori was released from jail on Wednesday, just a week after her provisional detention on suspicion of money-laundering. Meanwhile, earlier this month, President Martin Vizcarra strong-armed Peru’s Congress—where Fujimori’s conservative Popular Force party has a majority—into approving a referendum on his signature package of political and judicial reforms. Vizcarra has a good chance of winning that vote, which is set for Dec. 9, but not everyone is convinced that it’s the best prescription for the long-term health of […]

Migrants wait to be transported to a police station after being rescued in the Strait of Gibraltar, Algeciras, Spain, June 26, 2018 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Roughly 300 people will wade into the shallow water off the coast of Libya today, moving under the cover of night and according to the shouted instructions of their smugglers. Most will have come from sub-Saharan nations like Nigeria and Eritrea, having traveled for months along a route plagued by armed gangs and predatory police for the opportunity to climb into a rubber raft and float toward a future in Europe and beyond. In 2016 and 2017, nearly 8,000 migrants drowned while attempting this dangerous Mediterranean crossing. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly late last month, U.S. […]

Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, of the right-wing Social Liberal Party, arrives for a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

In the first round of their country’s most tumultuous presidential election in recent history, Brazilians voted overwhelmingly for far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro, who fell just short of winning outright. The clear favorite heading into the runoff later this month, the former army captain has run a defiant and deeply divisive campaign—attacking women, racial minorities and LGBT rights, and romanticizing Brazil’s Cold War-era military regime. The stakes of this election are of course high for Brazilians, who are dealing with a years-long economic and political crisis that has crippled the country, on top of rising crime. But migrants fleeing the dictatorship […]

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