Smoke rises during a protest after authorities raised gasoline prices, in the central city of Isfahan, Iran, Nov. 16, 2019 (AP photo).

At midnight on Nov. 15, Iran’s government announced a precipitous 300 percent hike in fuel prices. Immediate public outcries quickly escalated into nationwide protests that spread to more than 100 cities and gripped the country for 6 straight days, before the authorities effectively crushed them. Since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in August 2018 and reimposed unilateral sanctions, the Iranian economy has been charting difficult waters. President Hassan Rouhani admitted as much recently when he exhorted lawmakers to reduce fuel subsidies in the face of plummeting oil revenues, saying that “Iran is experiencing […]

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes a question from a reporter during his daily morning press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

MEXICO CITY—Some welcomed the return of the left to the height of political power in Mexico nearly a year ago as a promising new chapter in the country’s history. Yet 12 months into Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s presidency, drug violence and attacks on freedom of speech have spiraled and the economy has stagnated, adding to the sense that Mexico is floundering. While all these challenges existed before AMLO—as he is better known in Mexico—took office, the bigger concern now is the way his government is seeking to address them. There is no mistaking that this is a new era for […]

Demonstrators march during a global protest on climate change in Mexico City, Sept. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador entered office nearly a year ago promising “profound and radical” change to just about everything in Mexico. One of his main targets was the country’s energy sector, which had been overhauled and opened up to private investment for the first time in many decades by his predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, in a sweeping 2013 reform. So far AMLO, as Lopez Obrador is widely known in Mexico, has not reversed that energy market liberalization, which he strongly opposed. But he has sought to chip away at it. Those efforts could have dire implications for the expansion […]

A poster of President Bashar al-Assad, which reads in Arabic, “we have lived and we live so that Syria can live in the heart of Bashar Assad,” hangs on the ruins of a house in Ghouta, Syria, July 15, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

“Is that a warplane over us?” a doctor asks. “Yes, it is,” says another, as an airstrike rumbles overhead. “Don’t look so frightened. It will be alright.” “Don’t worry dear,” a different doctor tells one of his patients. “We don’t have anesthesia, but we have music.” They are in a town outside Damascus in the midst of a five-year military siege. Their makeshift hospital is underground, in a series of tunnels and basement shelters below the devastated streets of eastern Ghouta, pummeled by the Syrian army, including with chemical weapons, and by Russian bombers. These scenes are captured in “The […]

A transgender Ugandan poses in front of a rainbow flag during the third annual LGBT Pride celebrations in Entebbe, Uganda, Aug. 9, 2014 (AP photo by Rebecca Vassie).

KAMPALA, Uganda—Revelers at Ram Bar, a gay-friendly establishment in Kampala, were dancing and drinking beer late on a Sunday night, when the police arrived. Shouting, officers rounded up the confused crowd and took 120 people into custody. Sixty-seven of them were soon charged with “creating a common nuisance”; according to Patricia Kimera, a lawyer for the group, they could face up to a year in prison if convicted. Activists describe the arrests and subsequent charges as a direct attack on members of Uganda’s already marginalized gay community. “This is intimidation,” Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a […]

A supporter of former President Evo Morales holds a Wiphala flag, an emblem of the indigenous people of the Andes region, in front of soldiers blocking a street in downtown La Paz, Bolivia, Nov. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

LA PAZ, Bolivia—Since the head of Bolivia’s armed forces “suggested” to Evo Morales that he resign the presidency on Nov. 10, following contested elections in October that were marred by allegations of fraud, Bolivia has been in a tense limbo. Two days after the military’s nudge, Morales arrived in Mexico, where authorities had granted him political asylum. In La Paz, the conservative vice president of the Senate, Jeanine Anez, declared herself his replacement. Street clashes and crackdowns on protesters have escalated since then. Can the new government, which insists it is only transitional while acting otherwise, establish its legitimacy and […]

U.S. President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican senators meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Last week’s White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan included plenty of compliments and praise—mostly one way, from Trump to Erdogan—but it failed to resolve the most serious issues hampering U.S.-Turkey ties. Trump, as usual, created some theater by inviting five Republican senators who take a much tougher view on Turkey to press Erdogan about the recent Turkish invasion of northern Syria and attacks on Kurdish forces allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State, until Trump abandoned them. Erdogan reportedly responded by showing the senators an anti-Kurdish propaganda video on […]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a general election campaign stop in Manchester, England, Nov. 15, 2019 (pool photo by Frank Augstein of AP).

Having been thwarted three times in his attempts to call a general election, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally succeeded on his fourth try in late October. British voters are now set to elect their third government in four years when they go to the polls on Dec. 12. With Johnson’s Conservative Party enjoying an average poll lead of 12 percent, all signs currently point to a commanding victory for the Tories. Yet as the previous election in 2017 showed, poll numbers in the early weeks of a campaign should be treated with serious skepticism. Two years ago, Johnson’s predecessor, […]

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is carried by supporters during a rally after his release from prison, Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, Nov. 9, 2019 (AP photo by Nelson Antoine).

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, was released earlier this month after more than 18 months in prison for corruption. “We are going to do a lot of fighting,” he told a crowd of cheering supporters in Sao Paulo, as he vowed that Brazil’s left would defeat far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in the 2022 election. But many questions remain, not only about Lula’s own legal woes, but about whether he can help overcome divisions among left-wing parties. One of the co-founders of the main opposition Workers’ Party, or PT, Lula is still its dominant […]

Supporters of Spain’s far-right Vox party  attend its closing election campaign event in Madrid, Spain, Nov. 8, 2019 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

It has taken four elections in as many years, but Spain’s politicians are finally coming to grips with coalition politics. Pedro Sanchez, the caretaker prime minister and leader of the center-left Socialist Party, called last Sunday’s election—the second this year—in the hopes of persuading the far-left Podemos party to accept a coalition government on his terms. Instead, with the Socialists losing seats and the far-right Vox party gaining ground, he has been forced to accept Podemos’ terms, including making its leader, Pablo Iglesias, deputy prime minister. The two left-wing parties are still short of a majority in parliament and will […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The quickly unfolding impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump has already ensnared many other people, while raising more and more questions. From the extent of Trump’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals to the culpability of prominent officials in and outside his administration in that scheme, the public hearings that started this week have set the stage for an impeachment vote that could be among the most pivotal political moments in recent American history. One of the questions swirling around this scandal is what the revelations about Trump will mean for future U.S. policy toward […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech at the start of the Paris Peace Forum, Paris, Nov. 12, 2019 (Pool photo by Ludovic Marin via AP images).

This time last year, on the centenary of the armistice that ended World War I, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed 65 heads of state and government, 10 leaders of international organizations, and some 6,000 other participants to the inaugural Paris Peace Forum. The summit had a lofty goal, according to its mission: to generate support for international cooperation and collective action at a time when “countries are turning inward.” The global political context was inauspicious, and it turned out that the timing was too, as the divide between President Donald Trump and America’s European allies was on full display during […]

A man reads a newspaper with the headline “More Difficult,” following the recent elections, Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

MADRID—Spain returned to the polls Sunday for the fourth time in four years, and just six months since its last election. After giving the center-left Socialist Party, the leftist Podemos party and center-right party Ciudadanos, or Citizens, the opportunity to form a government in April, voters punished them this time around for failing to do so. The Socialists lost three seats in parliament, again falling short of a majority despite winning the most seats. Podemos lost seven seats and Ciudadanos a jaw-dropping 47, the biggest setback yet for the centrist upstarts. While voter turnout was about 5 percent less than […]

A man paddles a boat through a flooded village in Hanoi, Vietnam, July 31, 2018 (AP photo by Manh Thang).

Rising seas will endanger more than 300 million people in the next 30 years, according to a startling new study published in late October in the journal Nature Communications. By 2050, the impact of rising sea levels will be much more severe than previously thought, “threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities” in low-lying areas from Egypt’s Nile Delta to southern and eastern China to Southeast Asia, as The New York Times put it. One of those cities is Ho Chi Minh City, the economic hub of Vietnam, which could be underwater along with the […]

Yemeni Southern Transitional Council member Nasser al-Khabji, left, and Yemen's deputy prime minister, Salem al-Khanbashi, sign a power-sharing deal in Riyadh, Nov. 5, 2019 (Saudi Royal Palace photo by Bandar Aljaloud via AP).

After months of standoffs and halting negotiations, Yemen’s internationally recognized government signed a power-sharing agreement with southern separatists that, as the International Crisis Group put it, “has averted a war within Yemen’s civil war, at least for the time being.” The deal, brokered by Saudi Arabia and signed in Riyadh on Nov. 5, lays out the terms of a cessation of hostilities between President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government and the separatist movement known as the Southern Transitional Council, or STC. Whether the agreement holds—let alone precipitates an end to Yemen’s devastating civil war and a new way forward for its […]

People walk home in the dark due to power shortages in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Two years after the military coup that removed Robert Mugabe from power, Zimbabwe has entered a new spiral of decline that threatens to take the country back to the worst days of his era. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power in that coup, had promised a “new beginning” for Zimbabwe. That initially bought him some valuable breathing space, and even goodwill from the international community, which seemed willing to give him an opportunity to make good on his pledge. It hasn’t taken long for the euphoria—always rooted more in the demise of Mugabe than in the rise of Mnangagwa—to […]

A protester flashes the victory sign overlooking a huge anti-government rally in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

“There was no order to kill, yet throughout the country protesters were shot in the head?” one activist in Baghdad exclaimed, incredulous. “How do you explain that?” A bloody crackdown on anti-government protests in Iraq has killed more than 275 demonstrators and wounded 11,000 people in recent weeks, and the death toll keeps rising. In the face of the government’s ruthlessness, the continued determination of protesters represents a turning point in Iraq’s post-2003 political order. Diverse segments of the Iraqi population—including elementary and middle-school students, oil workers in Iraq’s southern provinces and trade unions—have mobilized to join the young, mostly […]

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