Russian President Vladimir Putin and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, in Moscow, July 14, 2018 (Photo by Sergey Mamontov for Sputnik via AP Images).

Moscow's relationship with Sudan is far from new, but Russian activity in Sudan is deeper now, and Russia cannot afford to sacrifice the benefits of having Bashir in its orbit. As protests in Sudan calling for the removal of President Omar al-Bashir enter their fourth month, Russian support for the regime has begun to attract international interest. Much has been written about Russian activity, whether overt or covert, in places like Syria, the Central African Republic and Venezuela. But until now, comparatively little attention has been given to Moscow’s involvement in Sudan, which is a linchpin of Russia’s approach to […]

Kazakhstan’s interim president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, right, and outgoing president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, after an inauguration ceremony in Astana, Kazakhstan, March 20, 2019 (AP photo).

Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, resigned from office March 20, stunning the nation and the region. For many Kazakhstanis, Nazarbayev is the only leader they remember. At age 78, he had ruled for three decades and was the last remaining Soviet-era leader still at the helm of a former Soviet country. In his inaugural address, Kazakhstan’s new acting president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a former foreign minister and speaker of the Kazakh Senate, praised Nazarbayev’s leadership and called for the capital city to be renamed “Nursultan” in his honor. Dariga Nazarbayeva, Nazarbayev’s daughter, took up Tokayev’s former position in the Senate, officially putting […]

Residents make off with bags of rice in a scramble for food delivered by a South African Air Force helicopter in Nyamatande Village, Mozambique, March 26, 2019 (AP photo by Phill Magakoe).

Two weeks after Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, unleashing heavy rain and winds of more than 100 mph on the port city of Beira, the scale and precise nature of the devastation is still coming into focus. Receding waters have allowed more stranded people to receive aid, while also revealing more fatalities; as of Wednesday, the official death toll stood at 468 in Mozambique, along with 185 killed in Zimbabwe and 60 in Malawi. Hundreds of thousands of people in southern Africa have been displaced, and the United Nations estimates that nearly 2 million people have been affected by […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at Rome’s Villa Madama, March 23, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Medichini).

On March 23, Italy officially joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, an expansive development strategy first unveiled in 2013 that aims to build a network of roads, railways and ports connecting China with more than 60 countries across Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In addition to the memorandum of understanding on the infrastructure-building initiative, signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Rome last week, the two countries agreed on a constellation of deals worth 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion), ranging from banking and energy to sports. The visit’s outcome reflects deepening relations between the eurozone’s third-largest […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

North Korea sanctions were back in the news last week. On Thursday, the United States Treasury Department announced economic penalties on two Chinese shipping companies for breaching United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang. That announcement was seemingly reversed Friday by President Donald Trump, who said on Twitter that he would be rescinding newly announced Treasury Department sanctions against North Korea. After some confusion, the White House explained that Trump was referring to as-yet unannounced U.S. unilateral sanctions, highlighting the administration’s lack of coordination on key messaging with regard to North Korea. Observers could be forgiven for seeing the mix-up as an […]

A cryptocurrency mining center in the Leningrad region of Russia, Aug. 20, 2018 (Photo by Alexei Danichev for Sputnik via AP).

New financial technology—so-called fintech—has rapidly become an important part of the financial industry, from mobile payment systems to cryptocurrencies. But it also represents a new area of national security vulnerability for the United States. The U.S. is a leader in fintech investment and development for now, but other countries are quickly catching up in key areas. U.S. policymakers should act to improve fintech regulations and coordinate a strategy in order to ensure that this kind of technology remains a strength, rather than a vulnerability, for the U.S. There has been a huge investment boom in fintech in recent years, with […]

Men carry a body bag during rescue operations at a flooded mine in Kadoma, Zimbabwe, Feb. 16, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Zimbabwe’s informal mining sector is in the spotlight after an accident at a gold mine killed at least 24 people last month. As many as 70 informal miners were believed to be working inside two abandoned mineshafts near the town of Battlefields, southwest of Harare, when the underground tunnels were flooded by water from a burst dam. Eight miners were rescued but others are unaccounted for and feared dead, as authorities struggled to drain water from the shafts. President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially declared a state of disaster and pledged all available government resources for rescue efforts. According to many mining […]

Activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold a candlelight vigil outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Saudi Arabia has lately been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It has been widely condemned for a disastrous war in Yemen that has forced over 3 million civilians to flee and left over 15 million people on the brink of famine. The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul—allegedly on orders from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—is a story that refuses to go away. More recently, the Saudi government finds itself responding to alarming allegations regarding the detention, torture and impending trial of many prominent female activists in the kingdom. On March […]

Peruvian police officers stand guard in a recovered area deforested by illegal gold mining in the Madre de Dios province of Peru, Feb. 19, 2019 (pool photo by Cris Bouroncle via AP Images).

Peruvian authorities are touting an aggressive new military-led effort aimed at eliminating widespread illegal gold mining activities, which have caused massive deforestation and pollution in the fragile Amazon rainforest. But this kind of militarized environmental management could further complicate an already messy situation in Peru. On March 5, senior Peruvian defense officials inaugurated the first of four new military bases near the remote Tambopata National Reserve—part of their new campaign, codenamed Operation Mercurio, or Mercury, focused on restoring order and eliminating illegal mining in the southeastern region of Madre de Dios, the epicenter of illegal gold mining in Peru. President […]

Cybersecurity experts take part in a test at a conference in Lille, France, Jan. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Michel Spingler).

Elizabeth Warren, one of the 13 candidates in an already crowded field of Democrats running for U.S. president in 2020, wants to break up tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Twitter by legally designating them as “platform utilities,” she said recently, in order to “keep that marketplace competitive and not let a giant who has an incredible competitive advantage snuff that out.” Amy Klobuchar, another senator seeking the Democratic nomination, says flatly that she doesn’t trust tech companies. She doesn’t want to break them up, but instead has proposed new regulations in the form of antitrust laws, new […]

A woman prays at a beach in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, March 11, 2019 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

Last week, Japan marked the eighth anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in 2011, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or unaccounted for and triggering the Fukushima nuclear disaster, one of the worst nuclear accidents in modern history. A moment of silence was observed across the country at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, the time the earthquake struck. Sports teams interrupted their practice to pray for the souls of those who perished. “We must never let the valuable lessons that we have learned from the enormous damage caused by the disaster to fade away,” Prime […]

A health worker from the World Health Organization gives an Ebola vaccination to a front-line aid worker, Mbandaka, Congo, May 30, 2018 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).

Amid widespread criticism of its response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa five years ago, the World Health Organization took stock of what went wrong. In a report released in 2015 before the outbreak had even ended, its Ebola Interim Assessment Panel urged the WHO to “re-establish its pre-eminence as the guardian of global public health” and to “undergo significant transformation in order to better perform.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus vowed to act on these recommendations when he ran to become the WHO’s new director-general in 2017, during its first-ever open election campaign, in which the director-general was selected in […]

A woman walks in front of a police cordon in front of the police headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia, March 17, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

Serbia’s protests have been hard to miss even if you don’t follow news and politics out of the Balkans. For more than three months, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Belgrade and other Serbian cities to demand free and fair elections, an end to violent attacks against politicians and journalists and investigations into them, and more independent and unbiased reporting in the country. Why is that last demand so central to protesters? Serbia’s media environment has been suffering from several long-standing problems, but things took a turn for the worse after President Aleksandar Vucic and his Serbian […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo listens as his running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, delivers a speech during a televised debate in Jakarta, Indonesia, Jan. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Tatan Syuflana).

In recent years, the issue of Chinese investment has become divisive enough to help shape the outcomes of elections in Malaysia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, mostly through money tied to Beijing’s huge Belt and Road Initiative. Indonesia, which is preparing for general elections next month, has welcomed billions in Chinese money to fund critical infrastructure needs, and there are signs that Asia’s largest economy will play a major role in the vote there too. Opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto has already called for reassessing Indonesia’s trade with China, declaring that President Joko Widodo, whose administration has prioritized infrastructure development, is […]

A signage of artificial intelligence at the stand of Xiaomi during the 2018 China Mobile Global Partner Conference in Guangzhou city, China, Dec. 7, 2018 (Photo by Li Zhihao for Imaginechina via AP Images).

Great-power competition is back. But for all the focus on countries like the United States and China building up their militaries, consolidating resources and leveraging industrial productivity, science and technology to boost their influence, another area of competition is emerging: artificial intelligence. Is China already outpacing the United States there? Artificial intelligence carries enormous promise, both economically and militarily. For already developed economies, including America’s, artificial intelligence could lead to the likes of automated supply chains and increased worker productivity through automating routine business tasks. Similar impacts are predicted for the military—with new levels of intelligence and automation in everything […]

Zuzana Caputova, a candidate in Slovakia’s presidential election, prepares for a debate at a TV studio in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 13, 2019 (Photo by Mikula Martin for CTK via AP Images).

The murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusirova, just over a year ago stunned Slovakia. Sunday’s presidential election will show if the shock was sharp enough to shake up a political scene long criticized for corruption and cronyism. Although the shooter, driver and other middlemen are all in jail, it took until today, March 14—two days before the election—for police to formally charge a suspect for ordering the February 2018 killing of Kuciak and Kusirova: Marian Kocner, a businessman with links to the ruling Smer party. The investigative journalist had been probing Kocner’s businesses. The murder sparked […]

Benin’s president, Patrice Talon, arrives at the “Compact With Africa” conference in Berlin, Germany, Oct. 30, 2018 (Photo by Annegret Hilse for dpa via AP Images).

Thousands of supporters of Benin’s political opposition flooded the streets of the country’s largest city, Cotonou, on Monday, bearing flags, vuvuzelas and banners with slogans denouncing the government. But while the country is set to hold legislative elections next month, the rally was not a standard show of support to get out the vote. Rather, its organizers were demanding something more fundamental: that opposition political parties be allowed to participate at all. Because of changes to Benin’s electoral rules, only two parties have met the requirements to field candidates for the polls scheduled for April 28, and both of them […]

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