Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Future Investment Initiative, the so-called Davos in the Desert, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

As international pressure builds on Saudi Arabia over the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul early last month, the costs for Riyadh continue to rise. The damage to the country’s image and reputation will haunt its political elite for years, especially now that the CIA has blamed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for having authorized the operation. The backlash was already visible in late October, when many Western political and business leaders at the last minute canceled their trips to Riyadh for the big-ticket Future Investment Initiative, the so-called Davos in the Desert. While […]

Central Americans riding atop a freight train in Ixtepec, Mexico, in 2012. Since a Mexican government crackdown, scenes like this are rare (Photo by Joseph Sorrentino).

MEXICO CITY—Geovanni Martinez Hernandez fled Honduras after being threatened by one of the most vicious gangs in the Americas: Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. “It was because of my sexual orientation,” said Martinez Hernandez, who is gay. “I just want a place where I can live without being abused, where I can walk without discrimination or fear.” He had hoped to find that in Mexico. But, while traveling alone in late May through Tapachula, a city in far southwestern Mexico bordering Guatemala that is one of the first stops for Central American migrants and asylum-seekers making the trek north […]

Supporters of the opposition Kuomintang cheer in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Nov. 24, 2018 (AP photo).

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, suffered a historic defeat in local elections last weekend that were overshadowed by an extensive Chinese interference campaign. Taking responsibility for her party’s midterm drubbing, President Tsai Ing-wen resigned as DPP leader on Saturday night, casting doubt on her prospects for winning a second term in national elections set to take place in early 2020. Many observers had expected the opposition Kuomintang, or KMT, which favors closer ties with China, to make a comeback after losing both the presidency and a legislative majority in 2016. Anti-incumbency was in the air in the months […]

Men duck for cover as heavy gunfire erupts in the Miskin district of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 3, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

In the span of a year, the Central African Republic has gone from a country on the margins of international attention to a flashpoint. Russia’s expanding military presence and French attempts to retain influence over its former colony have ignited a competition for influence, threatening CAR’s already shaky peace process and its fledgling democratic government, which lacks much authority beyond the capital, Bangui. If Russia and France continue to recklessly prioritize their own interests, then CAR’s fragile security situation will only worsen. In late October, Moscow announced its second arms shipment to CAR and the deployment of 60 additional military […]

A girl removes scales from a fish in her home in Belle Anse, Haiti, May 22, 2013 (AP photo by Dieu Nalio Chery).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on food security around the world. Over the past 30 years, as economies in the region developed and democratic gains were made, Latin America has undeniably seen major progress in the fight against hunger. Since 2000, the number of Latin Americans suffering from undernourishment has dropped from more than 60 million to 39 million. From Mexico to Argentina, leaders have felt optimistic. Compared to Africa and Asia, few places in the developing world were tackling food security and nutrition-related health risks with quite the same rigor and effectiveness. It was […]

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, right, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sept. 2, 2018 (Pool photo by Nicolas Asfouri via AP Images).

Earlier this month, on Nov. 7, the State Department announced what appeared to be a significant step forward in relations between the United States and Sudan. A spokesperson said the U.S. would consider removing Sudan from its State Sponsors of Terrorism list if it helps Washington advance some of its foreign policy priorities in Africa and beyond—including cooperating on counterterrorism, ending Sudan’s internal conflicts and isolating North Korea. The statement also called on Sudan to improve its human rights record, respect religious freedoms and meet legal claims related to its previous support of terrorist attacks against American citizens. Removal of […]

From left, Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Deputy Prime Ministers Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini at Chigi Palace in Rome, Oct. 3, 2018 (ANSA photo by Angelo Carconi via AP).

Governing is always harder than being in the opposition. This is especially true when you’ve promised the moon to get yourself elected and dramatically raised voters’ expectations, as the populists in Italy’s self-styled “government of change” are quickly finding out. The two parties that performed best in general elections last March—the Five Star Movement, or M5S, and the Lega, or League—made bold campaign pledges to reduce poverty and slash taxes. The M5S, with over 30 percent of the vote, emerged as the largest party in parliament. The League, led by Matteo Salvini, was the largest party within the right-wing coalition […]

A man demonstrates operating an electronic voting machine that will be used in Congo’s election, Beni, Congo, Oct 16, 2018 (AP photo by Al-hadji Kudra Maliro).

According to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Constitution, President Joseph Kabila should have left office two years ago. The end of his second five-year term came and went in December 2016, and his refusal to step down at the time led to violent protests, acrimony—and then two more years in power. Now, he says he’s on his way out. Seventeen years after taking office to replace his assassinated father, and in the face of mounting international condemnation, Kabila has agreed to step aside for elections next month in what could be Congo’s first peaceful and democratic transition of power since […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, at a press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after their talks in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Sept. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry toured Central and Eastern Europe in mid-November, touting America’s credentials and warning countries against deepening their ties to Russia. The visit was part of a new push by the Trump administration in a region where energy is part of a wider geopolitical rivalry. Ostensibly arriving as a salesman for the U.S. liquified natural gas and nuclear industries, Perry signaled that Washington was ready to step up in a tussle that has long pitted Russia—with its vast gas resources and nuclear ties to former Soviet bloc countries—against the European Union. It’s a tussle that China is […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis waits for Chinese Minister of Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe before an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Warfare has always been both physical and psychological. As combatants attempt to injure, incapacitate or kill enemy fighters, they also try to weaken the will of their adversaries and anyone who might support them. Throughout history, warriors relied on ferociousness for that, intimidating their enemies by the way they looked or the horrible actions they took. In the modern era, militaries turned to communication technology and psychology. Soldiers were trained to craft and transmit messages and propaganda, while psychological operations became a particular military specialization. Over time, the U.S. military got quite good at this. Psychological operators dealt with adversaries […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a joint press conference, Darwin, Australia, Nov. 16, 2018 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

World leaders gathered in Singapore this week for the 13th annual East Asia Summit, the premier meeting for regional heads of state to discuss political and security issues. It comes amid rising tensions between Asia’s two largest powerbrokers, the United States and China. Their standoff has left Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a position to take the lead as the advocate for maintaining and even expanding a multilateral order in the region. His full-court press, at a time of trade wars and rising nationalism, is a litmus test for international rules and free markets. The Abe administration continues to […]

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signs a peace accord with Ethiopia in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 16, 2018 (Saudi Press Agency photo via AP Images).

In a sign of rapidly changing geopolitical dynamics in the Horn of Africa, the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to lift sanctions against Eritrea. The move comes amid a rapid thaw in Eritrea’s relations with neighboring Ethiopia and Somalia. The leaders of all three countries met for a rare summit in September, raising hopes for broader regional cooperation. In a further sign of detente, Somalia and Ethiopia advocated at the U.N. for the sanctions to be lifted, strengthening Eritrea’s case. The sanctions, which included an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on Eritrean officials, were first […]

Algerian soldiers march during a military parade at the Cherchell “Houari Boumediene” in Algiers, July 1, 2018 (AP photo by Anis Belghoul).

Since last June, Algeria’s 81-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has been dismissing high-profile security officials at an unprecedented rate. A who’s-who of top brass from the police, the gendarmerie and most importantly the army, which has long been the backbone of the Algerian regime, have all been replaced—and all without any public explanation from Bouteflika or his inner circle. The shake-ups, which seemed to have concluded in late September, ousted around a dozen senior generals and regional army commanders, including the director of defense personnel, the chief of the army’s powerful Central Security Directorate, the commander of the ground forces and […]

A soldier stands guard at the state funeral of Mozambique’s opposition leader, Alfonso Dhlakama, in Beira, Mozambique, May 9, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

In early October, a court in Mozambique began trying 189 people accused of carrying out a spate of grisly attacks, some involving beheadings, in Cabo Delgado province, in the north of the country. The trial, the first of its kind, represents a rare opportunity to gather information on a security threat that continues to confound experts and government officials alike. Though the violence in Cabo Delgado, which has killed more than 100 people, first began getting serious attention more than a year ago, details about what’s driving it remain elusive. It has been attributed to a group commonly referred to […]

Thousands of workers and retirees protest against a proposed pension reform, Asuncion, Paraguay, Aug. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

A narco boss bribes multiple justice ministers from prison and luxuriates in a VIP cell. A senator is recorded boasting about buying off judges, but is still re-elected thanks to a closed party list system. Taxpayers foot the bill for medical insurance covering liposuction and implants for low-level public employees. These are just some of the many embarrassing episodes in the past two years alone in Paraguay, a country notorious for its culture of public malfeasance and long faithful to the words of its late dictator Alfredo Stroessner that “corruption is the price of peace.” In Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption […]

South Korean Lee Chun-sik, center, a 94-year-old victim of forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before the end of World War II, arrives at the Supreme Court in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

Japan’s relations with its neighbors have long been haunted by residual acrimony over atrocities and human rights abuses committed by the Empire of Japan during World War II. Politicians in China and South Korea maintain that Japan never properly atoned for its imperial transgressions, rankling Japanese officials. Those historical issues returned to center stage in recent weeks, due to a long-running case before the South Korean Supreme Court in which four Korean men sought damages from a major Japanese steelmaker that forced them to work without pay during World War II. On Oct. 30, the court ruled that the defendant, […]

Central American migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, leave a temporary shelter early in the morning in Queretaro, Mexico, Nov. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).)

Late last week, the Trump administration declared in a proclamation that it would deny asylum applications to anyone who entered the country through illegal ports of entry, even though it has been clear for months that asylum-seekers are being denied access at official ports of entry. It was the latest attempt by the administration to discourage migrants, primarily from Central America, from coming to the United States. In the recent pre-election fervor, President Donald Trump likened the caravan of Central Americans, which is slowly making its way north from Honduras and into southern Mexico, to an invasion. Yet the latest […]

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