Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks at U.N. headquarters in New York, Jan. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

Editor’s Note: You can find all of our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here. If you would like to help support our work, please consider taking advantage of our subscription offer here. Six months in, it is tempting to think the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is past. Hard-hit cities are breathing easier and many countries are already in the advanced stages of reopening their societies and economies. But even as a second wave looms, COVID-19’s first wave isn’t done. Globally, the contagion is accelerating as the pandemic’s epicenter shifts. The increase from 8 million to 9 million cases took […]

A young boy walks past a mural depicting the U.S. peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 5, 2020 (AP Photo by Rahmat Gul).

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ appeal in March for a global cease-fire amid the coronavirus pandemic made no impression on the Taliban. Through April, the militant group’s commanders seemed generally dismissive of the risks posed by COVID-19 as they ramped up their annual spring offensive. The disease had yet to make much inroads into Afghanistan and Pakistan at the time. Many Taliban members happily promoted the idea that true believers had nothing to fear, and that the pandemic was only a problem for the decadent West. Accordingly, Taliban officials continued meeting each other normally and, during Ramadan in May, many […]

A youth waits to enter the San Nicolas Tolentino cemetery in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, April 30, 2020 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

While the health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have been primarily endured by elderly populations, there is increasing recognition that young people will disproportionately absorb the economic and social impacts. One study, conducted in April and released last month by the International Labor Organization, found that the pandemic had caused one in six young people to lose their jobs, as well as a 23 percent average reduction in working hours for those still employed. Within this “lockdown generation,” as the ILO calls them, the situation is especially dire for women, ethnic minorities and migrant workers. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general […]

A woman walks past army vehicles as soldiers stand guard in La Paz, Bolivia, May 11, 2020 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

When preliminary results in Bolivia’s election last October showed that longtime President Evo Morales had narrowly won a controversial fourth term in office, it provoked a national outcry. The tabulation of the vote count, which initially showed a dead heat, had been halted on Election Day, only to resume a day later with Morales having jumped into the lead. The Organization of American States quickly issued a statement denouncing the “inexplicable change” in results that “drastically modifies the fate of the election and generates a loss of confidence in the electoral process.” Violent mass protests then erupted, fueled in part […]

Prisoners stand outside the federal correctional institution in Englewood, Colorado, Feb. 18, 2020 (AP photo by David Zalubowski).

Democratic backsliding and encroachments on the rule of law by autocratic governments have justifiably received significant attention in recent years. Yet troubling and dangerous as these trends are, there is another, often-overlooked threat encroaching on the rule of law in countries around the world: mass incarceration. In many nations, imprisonment has become the default criminal punishment. Pretrial arrest and detention are also commonplace, with millions of people in jail awaiting trial around the world, sometimes for years. A recent report, Global Prison Trends 2020, published by the criminal justice advocacy group Penal Reform International and the Thailand Institute of Justice, […]

Security officers keep guard during lockdown in Jammu, India, March 27, 2020 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting global politics at a time when democracy was already “under assault” around the world, according to the watchdog organization Freedom House. From the United States to Hungary to the Philippines, governments have used the pandemic to consolidate power, curb individual liberties and restrict the space for civil society organizations and freedom of expression. Democratic and authoritarian societies alike are ramping up surveillance of their citizens as part of their attempts to stop the spread of the virus. The state of human rights and freedom in the world’s largest democracy has worsened as well. As the […]

Tires burn during a demonstration to commemorate the first anniversary of a deadly crackdown carried out by security forces on protesters, in Khartoum, Sudan, June 3, 2020 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

More than a year after the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir’s regime, the coronavirus pandemic is hitting Sudan’s still-fragile democratic transition. Differences between the civilian and military leaders in the transitional, power-sharing government are growing, as the military consolidates its authority due to restrictive security measures that went into effect in April, including a ban on public gatherings and protests around the country, with particularly harsh restrictions in effect in the capital, Khartoum. COVID-19 has also brought chaos to Sudan’s troubled economy, damaging the transitional government’s credibility and popularity. The road had not been smooth since last August, when Sudan’s […]

A Russian soldier stands guard near a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system before a military parade, in central Moscow, May 9, 2020 (Sputnik photo by Evgeny Odinokov via AP).

For the first time ever, the Russian government has publicly released a document laying out the logic and principles underpinning its approach to nuclear deterrence. Formally titled “Fundamentals of Russian State Nuclear Deterrence Policy,” the report was approved by President Vladimir Putin and posted on the government’s official information web portal on June 2. Previous iterations of Russia’s deterrence policy, such as the one associated with the updated military doctrine it unveiled in 2010, were alluded to in public, but never published. Why did Russia decide to publish its deterrence policy now? In part, it could be to dispel alleged […]

European Council President Charles Michel, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a media conference following an EU-China summit, in video conference format, in Brussels, June 22, 2020 (pool photo by Yves Herman via AP).

Earlier this month, Germany announced that a landmark summit between the European Union and China, planned for September in Leipzig, would be postponed. It was initially slated to be the first-ever meeting between China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and all 27 of his counterparts from EU member states. Officials had hoped to make progress at the meeting on a key investment treaty, but have now decided to delay it, ostensibly due to travel difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Many analysts aren’t buying that excuse, though. Relations between Europe and China have deteriorated of late in part because of a disinformation […]

The demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office building in Kaesong, North Korea, June 16, 2020 (Korean Central News Agency photo via AP Images).

What a difference two years makes. The spring and summer of 2018 saw an extraordinary rapprochement between the two Koreas, as their leaders held successive face-to-face meetings, culminating in a landmark visit by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang. The flurry of diplomacy produced a number of joint declarations, agreements, hotlines and other confidence-building measures, including an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, just 6 miles into North Korean territory from the Demilitarized Zone. It was the first full-time communication channel and served as a de facto embassy between the two sides, which are technically still at war having not […]

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai displays the flag of India to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the United Arab Emirates, Feb. 10, 2018 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell).

One of India’s foreign policy success stories under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the country’s deepening relations with Gulf Arab states. Building on previous Indian governments’ engagement with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council—namely Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates—Modi has zeroed in on common economic and security interests to cement strong ties with GCC countries during his time in office. The coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest disruption in years to these partnerships. For starters, prominent voices in the Gulf have spoken out against rising Islamophobia in India and among some members of the […]

Remains of posters of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on a wall in an ethnic Serb-dominated part of Mitrovica, Kosovo, Oct. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

Voters in Serbia are set to go to the polls this Sunday for parliamentary elections that were originally scheduled for April, before the coronavirus pandemic forced their postponement. President Aleksandar Vucic’s government has generally fared well against the virus so far, recording over 12,500 confirmed cases and 257 deaths as of June 17. It eased lockdown restrictions back in early May, after imposing some of the most draconian containment measures in Europe. But Serbia’s success against COVID-19 belies a long-term political record that is far less impressive. Last month, in its annual “Nations in Transit” report, the democracy watchdog Freedom […]

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Old City of Aleppo, Sept. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

It might seem like an all-too familiar story: With its economy cratered by civil war, and new pockets of anti-regime resistance, Syria is on the verge of state collapse. President Bashar al-Assad isn’t just on the back foot; he is weaker than ever. Is he about to fall? You might have read this before—back in 2015, perhaps, before Russia intervened to save Assad. Indeed, in May 2015, I wrote about just that, as Syria’s army showed more signs of fracturing and the economy sank further. The value of Syria’s currency that month had hit a record low against the U.S. […]

Motorists pass an anti-Brexit poster close to the Irish border, near the town of Newry, Northern Ireland, Feb. 1, 2020 (AP photo by Peter Morrison).

DUBLIN—As the world braces for a prolonged economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Kingdom and Ireland may have to face this crisis alongside another, partly self-inflicted one: a no-deal Brexit. The U.K. officially left the European Union in January and is currently in a transition period that is scheduled to end on Dec. 31. During that time, EU rules remain in effect, and London and Brussels are supposed to hammer out the details of their future trading relationship before the end of the year. Yet so far, there has been little progress. “We should be very concerned,” […]

Utah National Guard soldiers face off with demonstrators who had gathered to protest the death of George Floyd, near the White House, Washington, June 3, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

The past two weeks may have marked a turning point in American civil-military relations. President Donald Trump threatened to deploy active-duty troops to subdue domestic political protests; the secretary of defense suggested governors should “dominate the battlespace” of major U.S. cities, only to later walk back his remarks; and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, the country’s highest-ranking military officer, appeared alongside Trump at a photo-op near the White House after National Guard troops had helped forcibly clear the area of protesters. Milley later apologized, saying he “should not have been there.” Although these events […]

Malian soldiers, working with French forces, battle jihadist insurgents in Gao, Mali, Feb. 21, 2013 (AP photo).

France announced earlier this month that its armed forces had killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, the emir of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, during a June 3 military operation in northern Mali. The operation, carried out by French troops with the help of intelligence and surveillance aircraft provided by the United States, represents a rare, quantifiable victory for France and its counterterrorism partners in the region as they struggle to contain a bloody insurgency by jihadist groups. A veteran of Algeria’s brutal civil war in the 1990s, Droukdel’s rise and fall in many ways mirrors the fortunes of the organization […]

A man wearing a face mask leaves one of the markets in the old Habous district of Casablanca, Morocco, May 23, 2020 (AP photo by Abdeljalil Bounhar).

MADRID—In late March, about 100 Moroccan migrants living in Spain paid smugglers 5,400 euros each—roughly $6,100—to make the treacherous journey home in inflatable rafts. In a curious case of reverse migration, they desperately fled a wealthy country that had been crippled by the coronavirus and could not offer them work for the foreseeable future. Yet when they finally reached the beaches of Larache, on Morocco’s western coast, they were hunted by the Moroccan authorities, who were concerned that the migrants would spread the coronavirus. Police conducted a door-to-door search, and at least one migrant was found hiding in a clay […]

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