South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, is welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, second from left, at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, April 10, 2019 (AP photo by Alessandra Tarantino).

Last September, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, signed a power-sharing deal with rebel leader Riek Machar, promising to bring an end to the five-year civil war that has crippled the world’s newest country, which declared its independence from Sudan in 2011. It wasn’t the first time. A similar agreement signed in 2015 broke down the following year, leading to fighting that prompted Machar to flee the country. Observers predicted the new agreement would share the fate of its predecessor. What was billed as a “revitalized” peace plan was still silent on many of the underlying drivers of violence and seemed […]

Czech President Milos Zeman, right, and Lubomir Zaoralek, a former foreign minister who was appointed as the new culture minister at Prague Castle, Czech Republic, Aug. 27, 2019 (Photo by Roman Vondrous for CTK via AP Images).

PRAGUE—A long political drama ended in the Czech Republic this week with the government narrowly averting collapse, but only by surrendering to what amounts to a presidential coup. When President Milos Zeman formally appointed Lubomir Zaoralek as culture minister on Aug. 27, it brought an end to more than 100 days of crisis. Zaoralek, a former foreign minister, was parachuted in after Zeman refused to confirm the previous nominee put forward by the left-leaning Social Democrats, the junior partner in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his populist Ano party. Since this standoff over the Cabinet […]

At a protest against President Juan Orlando Hernandez, a sign reads “Resign JOH” in Spanish, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Aug. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Elmer Martinez).

For the third time in four years, Hondurans are calling for the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, decrying him as a “narco dictator.” In early August, Hernandez was named in a 44-page court filing by the U.S. Southern District of New York, which alleges he funded his 2013 election campaign with $1.5 million in drug trafficking money. Hondurans have poured into the streets since the charges were announced, joining a protest movement against Hernandez that is entering its fifth month. Demonstrations kicked off in the spring against unpopular reforms his government proposed to health care and education. The U.S. […]

Migrant minors allowed to disembark the Open Arms rescue vessel wait to be taken to the Sicilian port of Porto Empedocle from Lampedusa, southern Italy, Aug. 19, 2019 (AP photo by Salvatore Cavalli).

Migration barely came up at the recent G-7 summit in France—a far cry from just two years ago, when Italy hosted the G-7 in Sicily, which has seen an influx of migrants and asylum-seekers given its proximity to North Africa. The most prominent mention of migration in Biarritz took place on the sidelines of the summit, when President Donald Trump’s adviser, Stephen Miller—the architect of the administration’s restrictionist immigration policies—defended Trump’s efforts to make migrating to the United States even more onerous than it already is. Yet even if migration has fallen off the front pages, each member of the […]

Thai bomb squad officers examine the wreckage of a car after an explosion outside a hotel in Pattani province, southern Thailand, Aug. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Sumeth Panpetch).

At the height of the morning rush hour on Aug. 2, as Bangkok hosted foreign dignitaries attending a high-profile regional security summit, six small bombs exploded across the city, injuring four people. Thai police linked the blasts to southern insurgents, whose leaders denied responsibility. Two weeks later, reports emerged that the main rebel group leading that insurgency, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, or BRN, had met Thai government officials for secret talks. The rebels reportedly set out their demands for resuming formal peace negotiations, including “the release of all people detained over suspected links to the insurgency and a transparent investigation […]

French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for the eurozone summit in Brussels,  June 20, 2019 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

It is a question that has lingered since the European debt crisis: Can the European Union and eurozone shore up their institutional crisis-response capabilities without another political or economic emergency to provide the impetus? If June’s eurozone summit in Brussels was any indication, the answer remains no. At the meeting, the eurozone leaders agreed to establish the Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness, or BICC, a mechanism that ostensibly allows the eurozone to redistribute funds among member states. But compared to the lofty ambitions of French President Emmanuel Macron and others who have long advocated for a centralized eurozone budget, […]

The Yumo railway, which will connect Laos to China, under construction in Yunnnan province, China, May 26, 2019 (TPG photo via AP Images).

Is Laos on the edge of an economic boom, or a bust? Six of the 11 countries in Southeast Asia have an external debt higher than the developing world average of 26 percent of gross national income, according to a report last year by FT Confidential Research, an independent research service from the Financial Times. Laos was the worst offender, with an external debt of 93.1 percent of its GNI. Laos was also weakest when it came to its ability to repay loans. Its ratio of external debt to exports, an important indicator, was 327.9 percent. Foreign currency reserves are […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a toast at a summit on the country’s Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing, April 26, 2019 (Photo for Kyodo via AP Images).

Of the many paradoxes surrounding China today, the trajectory of its massive Belt and Road Initiative has become one of the most puzzling. Even as the expansive plan has become essentially synonymous with Chinese foreign policy in general, it remains increasingly difficult to nail down with precision what, exactly, it is. The Belt and Road Initiative today is most readily identifiable as an infrastructure development program, since media coverage tends to focus on flagship projects like ports and power plants, as well as the fallout when some of them go awry. But while Chinese Communist Party leaders hail the scheme […]

President Filipe Nyusi, left, and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade at a signing ceremony in Maputo, Mozambique, Aug. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Ferhat Momade).

The peace agreement signed recently in Mozambique by President Filipe Nyusi and the head of the former rebel group Renamo, now a political party, addresses the two critical issues that have festered since an accord in 1992 never fully ended the country’s civil war. The deal includes provisions for the full demobilization of Renamo fighters, with the integration of selected Renamo personnel into the armed forces, and the decentralization of political power. It is the second attempt to end renewed conflict between rebels and the government since 1992, following an earlier agreement in 2014 that was supposed to end a […]

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, speaks at a seminar on the sidelines of the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Fukuoka, Japan, June 8, 2019 (pool photo by Kiyoshi Ota via AP Images).

Christine Lagarde took over the top spot at the International Monetary Fund eight years ago in the midst of two crises. The first was an internal crisis of leadership: Her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Khan, had just been forced to step down amid sexual assault allegations, only four years into his tenure. The second crisis was external: Europe’s economy was reeling after an initial bailout of Greece hadn’t resolved its debt crisis and political tensions between Athens and Brussels threatened to upend any future deal. Now, Lagarde is leaving the fund to become the likely next chair of the European Central Bank. […]

Agents from IBAMA measure illegally cut timber from Cachoeira Seca indigenous land in Para state, in Brazil’s Amazon basin, March 10, 2018 (Photo by Vinicius Mendonza for IBAMA via AP Images).

Two weeks after the release of new government data showing a sharp rise in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, hundreds of indigenous women occupied a government building in Brasilia on Tuesday to protest what they called President Jair Bolsonaro’s “genocidal” environmental policies targeting their communities. The following day, a contingent of over 1,000 indigenous women joined some 100,000 other demonstrators in Brazil’s Women’s March on the streets of the capital. “We are all warriors on the front lines of this struggle against today’s political situation, which is so adverse to our peoples,” said Sonia Guajajara, who works with the organization […]

Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge’s No. 2 leader, at a hearing of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 16, 2018 (Photo provided by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via AP Images).

He died in a hospital in Phnom Penh, 93 years-old and still portraying himself as a Cambodian hero. Nuon Chea was the senior-most surviving member of the genocidal Khmer Rouge, having served as Brother No. 2, as he was known, under its leader Pol Pot. He was widely seen as one of the major planners of the regime’s rapid, brutal overhaul of Cambodian society from 1975 to 1979, which included emptying Phnom Penh of citizens, murdering a sizable portion of the population, and torturing and killing some 14,000 people at an infamous prison called Tuol Sleng. Nuon Chea was also […]

Alejandro Giammattei, now the president-elect of Guatemala, at a campaign rally on the outskirts of Guatemala City, June 8, 2019 (AP photo by Santiago Billy).

There is a simple metric that many will use to judge the performance of Guatemala’s next president: Can he stop the exodus of people fleeing the country? Alejandro Giammattei, the leader of the right-wing Vamos party who won Sunday’s runoff convincingly over Sandra Torres of the center-left National Unity of Hope party, says he has a plan. But there are many reasons to be skeptical. According to local estimates, nearly 250,000 Guatemalans left their country in the first half of this year, equivalent to 1.5 percent of the population of some 17 million, and most of them headed for the […]

Pakistanis burn a representation of an Indian flag and a poster of Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi during a protest to express solidarity with people in Kashmir, Peshawar, Pakistan, Aug. 5, 2019 (AP photo by Muhammad Sajjad).

In a sudden move on Aug. 5, India’s government announced it was eliminating the special, semiautonomous status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by revoking Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The decision is a watershed moment in the 72-year-long standoff between India and Pakistan over control of the Kashmir region, as well as for the Kashmiri peoples’ long struggle for political autonomy. It opens an uncertain new chapter in Indian-administered Kashmir, with reverberations far beyond its contested borders. The historic arrangement under which Jammu and Kashmir was to have a greater degree of political autonomy than other Indian […]

An indigenous woman from the Amazon protests the environmental policies of President Lenin Moreno’s government, in Quito, Ecuador, March 12, 2018 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

In mid-July, government officials inaugurated operations at the sprawling Mirador mine in southern Ecuador. An open-pit copper, gold and silver mine in the Zamora-Chinchipe province near the Peruvian border, Mirador’s reserves reportedly include 3.2 million tons of copper, 3.4 million ounces of gold and 27.1 million ounces of silver. The amount of copper makes it Ecuador’s largest copper mine, but still smaller than the massive copper mines in Chile and Peru. The mine, which can already produce 10,000 tons of minerals per day, is expected to increase its output to 60,000 tons per day and potentially earn the Ecuadorian government […]

Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Aug. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Even longtime observers of Sudan didn’t predict the collapse of President Omar al-Bashir’s government when protests against his economic policies began late last year. Widespread discontent and a crumbling economy, though, eventually proved to be too much for his entrenched but beleaguered regime. Since Bashir was forced out of power in April, the Transitional Military Council running the country has presided over a massacre of civilian protesters in Khartoum. Despite some recent progress in negotiations between the generals and protest leaders who are eager to begin a democratic transition, the situation remains fraught and exposed to the meddling of outside […]

President Mario Abdo Benitez speaks to the nation, accompanied by his wife Silvana Lopez Moreira, from the Palacio de Lopez in Asuncion, Paraguay, Aug. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

Small, landlocked Paraguay has been engulfed in a political storm that has seen both its president and vice president nearly impeached in recent weeks. The crisis began on July 23 when Pedro Ferreira, the head of the National Electricity Administration, the state-owned energy company known as ANDE, resigned. Ferreira claimed that he was being pressured to add his signature to a secret energy deal with Brazil that had been negotiated behind closed doors by high-ranking officials in May. Ferreira described the deal as constituting “high treason.” The agreement, which was cancelled by Paraguay and Brazil on Aug. 1 as the […]

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