Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, at a meeting in New Delhi before Wickremesinghe was ousted from his post, Oct. 20, 2018 (AP photo).

Sri Lanka recently emerged from a dangerous political crisis with its democracy and constitution miraculously intact. President Maithripala Sirisena’s attempted coup, in which he violated the constitution by replacing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with his bitter rival and presidential predecessor, Mahinda Rajapjaksa, was overturned thanks to Sri Lanka’s defiant Parliament, steadfast judiciary, a vigilant international community and a resilient civil society. The failed coup revealed Sri Lanka’s institutions to be sneakily strong, but as it barreled along, international and domestic watchers speculated about the nefarious role foreign actors may have played—especially India and China, which have long projected power in […]

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, Oct. 30, 2018 (DPA photo via AP Images).

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi rules with brutal authority, but Egypt's political and economic future look anything but secure. CAIRO—To the many Egyptians who took to the streets in January 2011 to bring down former President Hosni Mubarak, Cairo is full of reminders of the country's post-revolution failures. Tahrir Square is once again a bleak traffic-laden roundabout; just next to it, the Egyptian Museum is associated with torture by the military after activists were detained and interrogated there following a protest in March 2011. Nearby, the downtown area of Maspero is notorious for the massacre of Coptic Christians. To the east, Rabaa […]

Large video displays in the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Virginia, Aug. 22, 2018 (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

2018 was in many ways a watershed year for the United States in cyberspace. Washington revamped its cyber strategy. It loosened authorities for military cyber operators. It responded to large-scale global cyberattacks. And it dealt with chilling intrusions on its critical infrastructure. Looking back, though, what did all these changes mean, and how well did U.S. cyber policy fare? Let’s start with the good news. In two particular areas—attribution and indictments—the United States has shown clear improvements in responding to inappropriate behavior in cyberspace. Over the past year, the Department of Justice significantly increased the pace of indictments against Chinese, […]

An asylum-seeker at the Hermanos en el Camino shelter studies a map of Mexico, Ixtepec, Oaxaca, June 17, 2016 (Photo by Joseph Sorrentino).

Mexico, once viewed mainly as a country of transit for Central Americans fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, has increasingly become a destination, according to the United Nations. The number of Central Americans applying for asylum in Mexico increased from 3,400 in 2015 to 14,600 in 2017. Francesca Fontanini, the regional spokesperson for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said that there were 14,000 applications in the first six months of 2018 alone. But for most Central Americans, Mexico really isn’t a country of destination. It’s a country of last resort. Between 400,000 and 500,000 Central Americans enter […]

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, with Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in Singapore, Nov. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

During the first two years of the Trump administration, Washington has dramatically reduced its rhetorical focus on democracy promotion in Asia. For instance, President Donald Trump has mostly ignored issues of human rights and democracy when meeting with leaders of abusive regimes, like the Thai prime minister and junta leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha. This approach is consistent with Trump’s overall realpolitik; he usually does not raise rights issues in meetings with other authoritarian leaders, and he often seems to have more contempt for democratically elected leaders around the globe than for autocrats. More recently, despite extensive evidence suggesting that the armed […]

Staff operate at the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability technical center, at NATO’s military headquarters, SHAPE, in Mons, southwestern Belgium, Dec. 10, 2013 (AP photo by Yves Logghe).

As NATO’s relations with Russia seem to be hitting a post-Cold War low, numerous experts argue that the West is already in a state of conflict with Moscow in three domains: intelligence, information warfare and cyber. In particular, Russia’s increasingly hostile actions in the cyber domain have lent new urgency to the debate over cybersecurity in the West, including within NATO. The recent Russian plot to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, discovered and thwarted by the Netherlands, is yet more proof that complacency over Russian cyber operations will prove costly. Russia has decided to adopt a […]

A Hungarian man holds a banner depicting Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a king on TV during a demonstration against a government media law, Budapest, Hungary, Jan. 27, 2011 (AP photo by Bela Szandelszky).

For all the criticism leveled at him, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is an innovative political leader. His illiberal model of governance is increasingly embraced on both sides of the Atlantic, and his unflinching focus on migration—years after the refugee crisis peaked in Europe—continues to pay him handsome dividends. He won a third supermajority in Hungary’s parliament earlier this year and is poised for a landslide victory in elections in the European Parliament next year. Yet recent developments in Hungary’s media market, engineered by Orban’s government, seem anything but innovative. The creation of a pro-government media juggernaut at the end […]

Supporters attend an election rally for presidential hopeful Marc Ravalomanana, Antananarivo, Madagascar, Nov. 3, 2018 (AP photo by Kabir Dhanji).

On Dec. 19, voters in Madagascar will elect their next president in a second-round runoff pitting two ex-presidents and bitter rivals against each other. Marc Ravalomanana, the 68-year-old economic pragmatist who held the office from 2002 until 2009, will face Andry Rajoelina, the 44-year-old populist who ousted him from power in a 2009 coup and ran the country under an internationally isolated transitional government until 2013. In first-round voting on Nov. 7, Ravalomanana and Rajoelina received 35.3 percent and 39.2 percent of the vote, respectively, far ahead of the other 34 candidates on the ballot, including the incumbent, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Shuhei Yokoyama for Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images).

In December 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Japan and got a lavish welcome. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received Putin at a hot springs resort in his ancestral hometown of Nagato, in southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture. He referred to Putin by his first name in public appearances, a rare personal touch in the formal world of Japanese diplomacy. During the run-up to the visit, Japanese officials even reached out to the Kremlin with an offer for a dog, a prized Akita breed, intended as a male companion to Yume, the female Akita that was sent to Putin as a Japanese gift […]

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, center, and his wife, Anna Akobian, leave a polling station during parliamentary elections, Yerevan, Armenia, Dec. 9, 2018 (Photo by Vahan Stepanyan for PAN Photo via AP Images).

YEREVAN, Armenia—Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s bid to consolidate his new government’s power paid off on Sunday, when his Civil Contract party won an overwhelming majority in early parliamentary elections that Pashinian had called last month. Civil Contract took 70 percent of the vote, while two moderate opposition parties cleared the 5 percent threshold to enter parliament. The outcome legitimizes Pashinian’s position seven months after coming to power, and dealt a knockout blow to the former ruling Republican Party, which finished with just 4.7 percent of the vote. Pashinian, a former opposition leader, led a wave of popular protests earlier […]

Uruguayan presidential hopeful for the Nacional Party, Luis Lacalle Pou, center, celebrates in his headquarters after being elected candidate for his party, in Montevideo, Uruguay, June 30, 2019 (AP photo by Matilde Campodonico).*

After over a decade in power, a leftist party is damaged by corruption allegations. A weakened economy and parlous public finances add to public disaffection. Mounting fears over street crime fuel a sense of crisis. Challengers on the right, promising a clean-up and a crackdown, capture public attention—and eventually the presidency. The same broad-strokes scenario has played out over the past 18 months across much of Latin America, notably in Argentina, Chile and Brazil. And with under a year until presidential and congressional elections in October 2019, a similar story—albeit with characteristic understatedness—is unfolding in Uruguay, the Southern Cone’s final […]

Members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces walk inside the stadium that was the site of Islamic State fighters’ last stand in the city of Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

This week’s attack against a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, by a radicalized French Muslim illustrates that jihadis, or militant Islamists, still pose a serious threat to national security in the U.S. and Europe. But since late 2013, jihadis have also become a threat to other jihadis, regularly killing each other on battlefields across the Middle East in numbers that have observers talking about a jihadi civil war. In Syria, armed rebels affiliated with al-Qaida and the so-called Islamic State continue to fight each other, while the most potent force battling the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan is the Taliban. […]

The Laziska coal-fired power plant near Katowice, Poland, where the U.N. climate change conference is being held, Dec. 12, 2018 (Photo by Monika Skolimowska for dpa via AP Images).

It’s easy to be discouraged these days by the state of progress on addressing climate change. This week’s United Nations climate change conference in Poland risks concluding without having made any meaningful progress, in part due to obstruction from the U.S. delegation. The failure would come at a bad time. In late November, the U.S. federal government released the fourth national climate assessment, a series of reports mandated by a 1990 statute called the Global Change Research Act. These blockbuster assessments, produced roughly every four years, comprise hundreds of pages of detailed analysis of climate change’s impact on various ecosystems, […]

Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar at a convention for the All Progressives Congress, Lagos, Nigeria, Dec. 10, 2014 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Earlier this month, Oby Ezekwesili, a Nigerian activist, former Cabinet minister and 2019 presidential candidate, participated in an event at Chatham House titled “Next Generation Nigeria: How to Foster Inclusion, Social Justice and Opportunity for All.” The official announcement suggested it would be a pretty tame affair, but one brief exchange with a Nigerian audience member kept Ezekwesili’s name in the headlines for days afterward. At one point during the event’s question-and-answer portion, Bisi Alimi, a prominent Nigerian LGBT activist who fled to the U.K. more than a decade ago because of threats to his safety, asked Ezekwesili for her […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, New York, Sept. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

As 2018 draws to a close, U.S. President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, are sounding remarkably optimistic about the future of the Korean Peninsula, a marked contrast to the hostile rhetoric of potential “fire and fury” that reflected heightened tensions following a series of nuclear and missile tests by North Korea just one year ago. Most experts and analysts, however, are skeptical that the current approach will yield the positive outcomes the two leaders predict, noting that no concrete actions toward denuclearization, much less the process by which they might be taken, have been discussed with […]

Andrej Babis, prime minister of the Czech Republic, addresses lawmakers during a parliamentary session in Prague, Nov. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

PRAGUE—A billionaire with a short fuse, a dim view of the democratic process and a long list of suspicious business dealings, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis now looks set to head further toward the populist margins ever since his son claimed to have been kidnapped on Babis’ orders. On Nov. 23, the minority coalition government led by Babis’ ANO party narrowly defeated a no-confidence vote in the Czech parliament. The vote followed media reports in which Andrej Babis Jr. claimed he had been forced to travel to Crimea in order to prevent him from testifying in a fraud case against […]

From left to right, South Sudanese refugee Thomas Wani, his brother Peter Lemi, his mother Rose Sunday and his father Julius Lezu enter Uganda at the Busia crossing, near Kuluba, northern Uganda, June 8, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Uganda has been praised for its open-door policy to refugees fleeing South Sudan’s civil war. But new evidence indicates that response was marred by lapses in accountability and disregard for institutional safeguards. The international community has long lauded Uganda for its response to the massive influx of South Sudanese refugees who have fled across the border since the start of that country’s conflict in 2013. As the number of arrivals climbed into the hundreds of thousands, Kampala maintained an open-door policy and committed increasing amounts of land for agencies to construct temporary settlements and for refugees to build permanent shelters. […]

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