Italian Deputy Prime Ministers Matteo Salvini, right, and Luigi Di Maio during question time at the Chamber of Deputies, in Rome, Feb. 13, 2019 (ANSA photo by Fabio Frustaci via AP Images).

BOLOGNA—Italy’s populist government has been in power for all of 13 months and already speculation is rife about its imminent demise. The stability of this rowdy coalition was in doubt from the moment it was formed. How could the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, or M5S, avoid falling out with its aggressive junior partner, the far-right Lega or League, and its leader, Matteo Salvini? These doubts only grew when Salvini used his first year in office as interior minister and deputy prime minister to boost his own popularity, campaigning rather than governing. In the European Parliament elections at the end of […]

Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh, addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters, in New York, Sept. 25, 2014 (AP photo by Frank Franklin II).

It had long been an open secret in Gambia that former President Yahya Jammeh hand-picked young women to work in his office as so-called protocol girls whom he harassed and abused. That changed last month when Fatou Jallow, a former beauty queen known in Gambia as Toufah, became the first person to publicly accuse the exiled dictator of rape. Her testimony, told to investigators from Human Rights Watch and Trial International, has sparked an overdue reckoning in Gambia, where women have begun sharing stories of sexual assault on social media with the hashtag #IAmToufah. Last week, more than 200 young […]

Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest at Unchiprang refugee camp, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Nov. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Dar Yasin).

Last month, the United Nations released a blistering report about its own recent track record in Myanmar, the source of one of the world’s worst refugee crises. Written by an independent investigator but commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the report documented the “systemic failure” by U.N. agencies in dealing with the humanitarian suffering caused by Myanmar’s state crackdown on minority Rohingya Muslims. That failure continued even as abuses escalated over the past five years, ultimately resulting in such atrocities that the U.N.’s own fact-finding mission has called for Myanmar’s top military leaders to be investigated on charges of genocide […]

Jailed human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor shows journalists a screenshot of a spoof text message he received when he was targeted by spyware that can hack into an iPhone, Ajman, United Arab Emirates, Aug. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell).

Earlier this year, Reuters broke a stunning story. It disclosed that intelligence services from the United Arab Emirates had hired ex-U.S. operatives from the National Security Agency to hack into the iPhones of Emirati citizens in order to access their personal phone numbers, emails, passwords and even follow their location. The operation, code-named “Project Raven,” was supposed to track Islamic State cells. But Reuters uncovered a much more sinister pattern of surveillance. Under the guise of national security, Raven contractors broke into the personal communications of scores of human rights activists, civil society leaders and investigative journalists, both in the […]

Liviu Dragnea, the former leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party, center, arrives escorted by police officers for a court hearing in Bucharest, Romania, April 15, 2019 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

Some protesters mockingly waved handcuffs in Liviu Dragnea’s face as he left the courtroom in Bucharest to start a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence on May 27. Many others celebrated less publically, seeing the fall of Romania’s most powerful man as proof that the country’s embattled institutions, though under more and more political pressure, still function independently. Dragnea’s arrest put the brakes on the government’s controversial judicial reforms, viewed by many of Romania’s allies as an attempt to undermine a strikingly successful anti-corruption drive. The government’s staunchest critics hope it will be a knockout blow for the ruling Social Democratic Party, or […]

President Donald Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Fears of a full-blown trade war between the United States and India seem to have faded for the moment following last week’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan. Trump and Modi agreed to instruct their trade officials to meet soon to find solutions to an escalating row over tariffs that had triggered concern in both countries. It was a climbdown of sorts for Trump, who just a day before the Osaka meeting had taken to Twitter, as usual, to air his grievances. “India, for years having put […]

Ekrem Imamoglu, the new mayor of Istanbul from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, at a press conference the day after he took office, Istanbul, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

The resounding victory by opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in last week’s mayoral election in Istanbul delivered a sharp blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, whose 17-year grip on power suddenly looks a little less tight. In addition to a resurgent opposition, Erdogan now also faces rumbles of discontent from within the AKP and a looming challenge from several of his own former allies who are planning to launch a new center-right party. But both the opposition and Erdogan’s erstwhile AKP partners face an uphill task taking on the man who […]

Farmers transplant rice seedlings in a field in Chongsan-ri, Kangso district, Nampho, North Korea, May 12, 2019 (AP photo by Cha Song Ho).

A prolonged drought in recent months on top of harsh economic sanctions have made already lean times in North Korea especially dire, with the United Nations warning in May of a “hunger crisis.” Last year’s harvest was the worst in 10 years, and more than 10 million people are facing food shortages as a result. The U.N. also noted that agricultural inputs like fuel, fertilizer and heavy machinery are in short supply due to sanctions that have been imposed by the United Nations Security Council in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The lack of fuel, in particular, […]

U.S. President Donald Trump at a signing ceremony for commercial trade agreements with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong at the Presidential Palace, in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Is it Vietnam’s turn in Donald Trump’s barrel? In a rambling interview last week with Fox News, Trump unexpectedly blasted Vietnam, a growing American partner in Southeast Asia and the host of Trump’s highly anticipated but ultimately failed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February. Vietnam is “almost the single worst abuser of everybody,” Trump declared in response to a question about imposing tariffs on the country, adding that “a lot of companies are moving to Vietnam, but Vietnam takes advantage of us even worse than China.” It was a moment that Vietnamese officials have been dreading […]

Former Defense Minister and ruling party presidential candidate Mohamed Ould Ghazouani casts his ballot in Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 22, 2019 (AP photo by Elhady Ould Mohamedou).

It may be the first peaceful transfer of power between elected heads of state since Mauritania won its independence from France in 1960, but the victory by Mohamed Ould Ghazouani in presidential elections on June 22 really represents the latest phase of control by a ruling clique of military officers and businessmen whose influence reaches back to the 1980s. With 52 percent of the vote, Ould Ghazouani—a former defense minister and the handpicked successor of outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz—forestalled a second round, though the opposition claims the results were marred by fraud and is trying to challenge them. […]

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