An anti-government protester waves a Chilean flag in Santiago, Oct. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

Chile witnessed the largest protests in its history last weekend, with more than 1 million people filling the streets of Santiago to demand the government deal with economic inequality and the high cost of living—and to express their outrage over the authorities’ repression of an initial wave of protests earlier this month. For a moment, the massive demonstrations seemed like the climax to a movement that began two weeks ago in response to a subway fare hike, and that had seemed to be on the cusp of fizzling out. Instead, protests have continued this week, and more are planned for […]

The Capitol building at sunset in Washington, Jan. 24, 2019 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

Election Day is more than a year away, but foreign interference is already a daily headline, amid the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Many observers see Trump’s actions as an abuse of power and a blatant request for foreign election interference. But as this all plays out in Washington, undeterred foreign actors are planning more of their own disinformation campaigns on social media ahead of November 2020, again looking to divide the American electorate […]

Women walk beneath an election banner for the ruling Frelimo party in Maputo, Mozambique, Oct. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Ferhat Momade).

The stakes were high when Mozambique voted in general elections on Oct. 15, its sixth poll since 1994, when the country’s first multiparty elections began what has been a shaky transition from 16 years of civil war. But rather than ease tensions, this month’s vote has inflamed new ones amid charges of voter fraud and electoral violence. When fighting between the government and Renamo, the former rebel group and now main opposition party, flared up in 2013, there were fears of a slide back into open warfare. Although a cease-fire allowed general elections to go forward in 2014, this month’s […]

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone, in the village of Panmunjom, June 30, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Earlier this month, American and North Korean officials gathered in Stockholm for a closely watched round of talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. The State Department’s official readout was upbeat: Over more than eight hours of “good discussions,” negotiators “discussed the importance of more intensive engagement.” The U.S. delegation “previewed a number of new initiatives” and accepted an invitation from Sweden to reconvene in two weeks. By contrast, North Korea’s interpretation of the meeting sounded like it came from a parallel universe. Kim Myong Gil, Pyongyang’s chief nuclear negotiator, said in remarks after the meeting that he was “very displeased” […]

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s Law and Justice party, at a rally after voting closed in the nation’s parliamentary elections, Warsaw, Oct. 13, 2019 (AP photo).

Was it a populist triumph or a thinly veiled setback? The victory of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, known as PiS, in parliamentary elections earlier this month has been called both. The verdict should become clearer in the months ahead, as the PiS-dominated government comes to terms with an upper house of parliament that is now narrowly controlled by the opposition Civic Coalition. The first test will come next year, when President Andrzej Duda, who is backed by PiS, faces a potentially tough reelection. PiS can perhaps claim a strong mandate, having retained a majority in the lower house […]

Daniel Martinez, the candidate for the ruling Broad Front coalition, left, and Luis Lacalle Pou, the candidate for the center-right National Party, right, at a televised debate in Montevideo, Uruguay, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Santiago Mazzarovich).

Given everything else around it—from political turmoil in Brazil under President Jair Bolsonaro and sudden street protests in Chile to a fiercely contested election in Bolivia and a likely change of government in Argentina’s upcoming polls—Uruguay’s general elections Sunday may easily pass under the radar. Yet the vote on Oct. 27, set to be Uruguay’s closest in 15 years, could end a long period of leftist governance in this famously liberal country of 3.5 million people, further tilting South America to the right. Conducted under a shadow of rising violent crime and sluggish GDP growth, the elections also coincide with […]

Clouds of smoke from burning cars mar the skyline of Culiacan, Mexico, Oct. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Hector Parra).

The city of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state in northern Mexico, looked like a war zone last week as heavily armed members of the notorious Sinaloa cartel attacked Mexican security forces trying to arrest Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a son of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Residents dodged bullets and burning buses as gunmen besieged the city. Guzman Lopez has helped lead the Sinaloa cartel since his father’s arrest in 2016. The brazen attack in broad daylight left at least eight people dead, including a member of Mexico’s National Guard, and injured dozens more. Outmanned and outgunned, […]

Anti-government protesters wave Lebanese flags and shout slogans against the Lebanese government during a protest in Beirut, Oct. 21, 2019 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Historic anti-government protests in Lebanon have shut down the country over the past week, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in Beirut and far beyond to demand the government’s resignation. Prime Minister Saad Hariri addressed the nation on Oct. 18, promising immediate reforms, but his words ultimately rang hollow as Lebanese continued to demonstrate in growing numbers. The Lebanese Forces, a prominent Christian political party, has already resigned its Cabinet members. The initial demonstrations in downtown Beirut late last week were a response to reports that the government would impose a $6 fee on the use […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mamallapuram, India, Oct. 12, 2019 (Indian prime minister’s office photo via AP Images).

At their second informal summit in as many years, China’s Xi Jinping and India’s Narendra Modi, arguably the two most powerful leaders in Asia, eschewed confrontation for the sake of plodding along. While they hobnobbed in the seaside town of Mamallapuram in southern India earlier this month, they did little to resolve underlying border tensions and other contentious issues. Instead, Modi and Xi agreed on a few maxims—to be “factors for stability in the current international landscape” and to prevent “differences on any issue to become disputes.” While there was an emphasis on optics over substance, it is still encouraging […]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during a meeting with President Donald Trump at the InterContinental Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The protests may have ended, but the past few weeks in Egypt have indicated that, rather than a model of authoritarian stability, the regime that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has built is one of authoritarian fragility. And the regime’s actions make clear that it knows it. On Sept. 20, nationwide political protests broke out in Egypt for the first time since a brutal crackdown on demonstrators following the 2013 coup d’etat against President Mohamed Morsi that brought Sisi to power. The protests were sparked by a series of viral videos by an Egyptian actor and contractor named Mohamed Ali, who […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his meeting with President Donald Trump during a working breakfast on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Saudi Arabia’s oil sector has probably never seen developments as jarring as the ones since late August. An unprecedented shakeup in the Ministry of Energy, with a member of the royal family appointed energy minister for the first time, was followed by the stunningly precise attacks on oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia in the early hours of Sept. 14. Once-inconceivable questions are now being asked about the extent of U.S. commitments to the kingdom’s security, which have formed the backbone of Saudi policy for decades. How will the kingdom react? The removal of Khalid al-Falih as both energy minister […]

Armenian soldiers after shooting practice at the Mataghis army base in Armenian-controlled Karabakh, May 11, 2018 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

The honeymoon is over for Armenia’s popular prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan. In addition to a series of problems at home, he has no choice but to deal with a perennial headache: the three-decades-old conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which dates back to the last years of the Soviet Union in 1988. Pashinyan came to office suddenly and unexpectedly in April 2018 on a wave of popular protests that swept away the previous government, which had monopolized power and was tainted by corruption. That peaceful revolution transformed Armenia overnight, briefly put it on the world’s television screens […]

An anti-government protester waves a national flag in Quito, Ecuador, Oct. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

After nearly two weeks of paralyzing and deadly protests in Ecuador, the streets of Quito rang out in celebration Sunday night. The demonstrations, led by indigenous groups, had succeeded in pressuring President Lenin Moreno to reinstate a popular fuel subsidy he had removed on Oct. 2 as part of an austerity package backed by the International Monetary Fund. “Victory for the popular struggle!” wrote Jaime Vargas, the head of the country’s largest indigenous coalition, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONAIE, on Twitter. Moreno said the subsidy cuts were necessary under the requirements of a $4.2 billion loan […]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, left, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, center, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, right, outside a conference hall in Mombasa, Kenya, Aug. 28, 2013 (AP photo by Gideon Maundu).

KAMPALA, Uganda—When a young Yoweri Museveni launched his rebellion to seize Uganda’s presidency in 1981, he found a vital ally in an exiled Rwandan soldier named Paul Kagame. The former guerilla leaders have been presidents of their respective countries for 33 and 19 years now, but their relationship has soured since those early days during Uganda’s Bush War. Tensions escalated sharply earlier this year, as both men hurled accusations of sabotage, and Rwanda sealed its border with Uganda, halting trade and issuing a travel advisory. In August, Kagame and Museveni met in Luanda, Angola to sign a memorandum of understanding […]

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn is carried on a palanquin through the streets outside the Grand Palace during the second day of his coronation ceremony in Bangkok, May 5, 2019 (AP photo by Wason Wanichorn).

Since ascending to the throne in 2016, the Thai king has taken several actions to expand his influence over Thailand’s politics, military affairs and economy. Will his maneuvering backfire? Two weeks ago, the Thai king issued a royal decree placing two army units under his direct control, rather than under the normal military hierarchy. The decree claims the change was made necessary by an emergency, but there is no obvious emergency that justifies such a decision. In reality, taking personal control of the military units is just the latest move by King Maha Vajiralongkorn to expand his influence over Thailand’s […]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, left, stands with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at a welcoming ceremony in Pretoria, South Africa, Oct. 3, 2019 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari traveled to Pretoria in early October to meet his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, just weeks after the latest outbreak of attacks against foreigners—including Nigerians—in South Africa in September. The visit was intended to smooth over bilateral relations between Africa’s two largest economies, which have been bumpy in recent years, in part because of periodic episodes of xenophobic violence in South Africa. Xenophobic violence has been a problem in South Africa for years, with recent peaks in 2008 and 2015 prior to the most recent attacks in September. Analysts have pointed to numerous causes, notably a […]

Workers pack Lebanese fruits for export from Lebanon to the Gulf and other Arab countries, at a warehouse in Bar Elias town, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Oct. 31, 2018 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

Recent signs of increased economic cooperation in the Levant, especially among Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, are sparking hope that past failed efforts to establish a regional free trade agreement may soon be revived. A bilateral trade deal between Jordan and Iraq signed in February, as well as a trilateral leaders’ summit held in Egypt earlier this year, suggest that these countries are looking to diversify their economic portfolios, deepen regional cooperation and get a leg up on post-ISIS reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Syria. However, a number of obstacles remain before these recent developments could conceivably catalyze the resurrection of […]

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