Security forces at a checkpoint to enforce a curfew aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus in Algiers, Algeria, April 8, 2020 (AP photo by Toufik Doudou).

The coronavirus pandemic is challenging Algeria’s aging health care system, as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 approach 45,000, with some 1,500 deaths. Yet rather than the virus itself, it is the Algerian regime’s use of the pandemic to quell popular dissent that is pushing the country deeper into crisis. The authorities have seized on the public health emergency to arrest activists and clamp down on the flow of information, actions that will likely only worsen Algeria’s long-running political stalemate. Anti-government demonstrators calling themselves Hirak, or “movement” in Arabic, had been taking to the streets on a weekly basis […]

Graffiti written by Lebanese citizens in front of the scene of the explosion at Beirut’s port, Lebanon, Aug. 9, 2020 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

The devastating explosion that tore through Beirut earlier this month exposed the elite corruption at the heart of Lebanese governance. The blast itself, which was almost certainly caused by a stockpile of highly explosive ammonium nitrate that had sat unguarded at Beirut’s port since 2013, may not have been deliberate. But it had everything to do with Lebanon’s history of conflict and the elderly politicians, many of them former warlords, who still hold power in its dysfunctional, sectarian and clientelist political system. With the public mobilizing against the country’s kleptocracy, the survival of the status quo is in question. But […]

A nearly empty shopping street in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

South Korea, deservedly well-known for one of the world’s most successful initial responses to the coronavirus pandemic, is now seeing a dangerous spike in COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, 441 new infections were reported, the largest daily increase since March. The country has now seen triple-digit increases in new cases for 15 consecutive days, and patients have tested positive in all 17 provinces. Authorities have placed new restrictions on restaurants and ordered schools and kindergartens to close in Seoul, the bustling capital that is now the epicenter of the outbreak. The situation shows just how difficult it is to control this […]

Protesters carry Bulgarian flags during a demonstration in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 29, 2020 (AP photo by Valentina Petrova).

Karate coach, firefighter, bodyguard, Interior Ministry chief and now prime minister. Boyko Borissov has had an eclectic career, and if the protesters on the streets of Bulgarian cities have their way, he’ll soon leave the prime minister’s office for the third time. The burly, pugnacious politician is accused of presiding over a state that has been captured by a cabal of oligarchs and corrupt officials. Antigovernment demonstrators say the situation should shame the European Union, which Bulgaria has been a member of for over a decade and which provides billions of euros in development funds each year. Borissov’s time as […]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

The heads of Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook fended off tough questions from lawmakers last month at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. To help allay concerns about monopolistic business practices, each CEO sought to portray his company as representing American values and serving American interests. They all did so in part by pointing to a threat supposedly bigger than their own companies: China. “If you look at where the top technology companies come from, a decade ago the vast majority were American. Today, almost half are Chinese,” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said in his opening remarks. “There’s […]

President John Magufuli speaks at the national congress of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in Dodoma, Tanzania, July 11, 2020 (AP photo).

The last time veteran opposition leader Tundu Lissu left Tanzania, he was unconscious, aboard a medical flight to Nairobi. Unidentified gunmen had fired 16 bullets into his body outside his residence in the capital, Dodoma, in September 2017. He spent nearly three years in exile, first in Kenya, and then in Belgium, undergoing some 20 surgeries. Lissu returned to his homeland last month, greeted at the airport by cheering crowds of supporters waving green palm fronds. “I was overwhelmed by the reception I received,” he told World Politics Review in an interview. “It was absolutely thrilling and humbling at the […]

Pro-democracy protesters raise three fingers, a symbol of resistance, during a rally in Bangkok, Thailand, Aug, 16, 2020 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

Towering over a traffic circle in downtown Bangkok, the Democracy Monument has borne witness to Thailand’s tumultuous political history. Built over eight decades ago, it features arching white wings that stand seven stories tall. At their base are militaristic images commemorating the country’s bloodless revolution of 1932, which ended the absolute monarchy and began a rocky transition to democracy. Since then, Thailand has gone through 18 constitutions and 13 coups. Along the way, the Democracy Monument has become a site of frequent popular protest—and violent suppression. In 1973, for example, security forces killed dozens of protesters who had gathered near […]

A man and a boy walk past graffiti against AFPs, Chile’s pension system, in Santiago, July 22, 2020 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

The coronavirus pandemic will likely push Latin America into its worst-ever recession, with the region’s economy expected to shrink by more than 9 percent in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund. But in a part of the world with few economic bright spots, Chile is forecast to perform relatively well, with a 7.5 percent contraction this year and growth of 5 percent in 2021, which would be one of Latin America’s more vigorous economic recoveries. At first glance, this is surprising, as Chile is among the most open economies in the region and is sensitive to volatility in commodity […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the NASREC Expo Center in Johannesburg, April 24, 2020 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

When Cyril Ramaphosa became president of South Africa in February 2018, many South Africans saw it as a “new dawn” for their country. In the aftermath of Jacob Zuma’s corruption-plagued presidency, Ramaphosa seemed to offer the hope of competent leadership and accountable government. Commentators spoke of “Ramaphoria,” as the new president sought to revive the spirit of idealism that informed the early days of post-apartheid South Africa in the 1990s, and to engineer a definitive break with what he acknowledged were “nine wasted years” under Zuma. Ramaphosa promised more than just a change in the political atmospherics, however. His administration […]

Mauricio Claver-Carone, the Trump administration’s nominee for president of the Inter-American Development Bank, speaks to the press in La Paz, Bolivia, Jan. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, traveled to Bogota this week, ostensibly to announce up to $5 billion in financing under the White House’s new United States-Colombia Growth Initiative. The money had been pledged months ago by the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, and it is contingent on investment-worthy projects, in any case. But the timing of the visit was hardly a coincidence. One of the officials traveling with O’Brien was Mauricio Claver-Carone, the White House’s point man on Latin America, who is making an audacious bid to lead the Inter-American Development Bank, or IDB. In remarks following his […]

Palestinians burn pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest in Nablus, West Bank, Aug. 14, 2020 (AP photo by Majdi Mohammed).

The surprise deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, in which they agreed to normalize diplomatic relations in exchange for Israel suspending its plans to annex parts of the West Bank, has not been well-received by Palestinians. The so-called “Abraham Accord” makes the UAE only the third country in the Arab world, after Egypt and Jordan, to recognize the state of Israel, and more could soon follow. Many Palestinians see it as a betrayal. “It is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people,” Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s central committee, told WPR. He […]

A CZ-5 rocket, carrying China’s first Mars explorer, lifts off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan province, southern China, July 23, 2020 (FeatureChina photo by Yi Wei via AP).

On July 23, the Tianwen-1 spacecraft lifted off from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, in southern China, bound for Mars. If all goes according to plan, the probe is scheduled to reach the red planet in February 2021. That would make China just the third country in history to land on Mars, after the United States and the Soviet Union. While Tianwen-1 is focused on scientific exploration, the decision for any country to invest in such an ambitious endeavor is always deeply political. And while analysts often emphasize the security motives driving China’s pursuit of advanced space […]

A railway bridge over the Mekong River under construction in the suburbs of Luang Prabang, Laos, March 11, 2020 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

Five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, East Asian countries like Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea have garnered widespread praise for their effective handling of the coronavirus. Nearby Laos, with just 22 confirmed cases and no deaths, has gone largely unnoticed. While the World Health Organization has praised Laos’ prevention measures as “exemplary,” the mountainous Southeast Asian nation’s sparse rural population, limited transportation system and dearth of major cities have aided its response. But while Laos has so far weathered the public health effects of the pandemic, the economic impacts are starting to bite. In May, the World Bank cautioned that […]

Demonstrators opposed to President Alassane Ouattara running for a third term confront riot police in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Aug. 13, 2020 (AP photo by Diomande Ble Blonde).

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—Daleba Nahounou was a university student in Abidjan, the largest city in Cote d’Ivoire, when a disputed presidential election in 2010 sent rival militias onto the streets.* The ensuing months of violence claimed 3,000 lives across the country and led to an international war crimes tribunal. “It was tragic,” Nahounou, who now helps lead a civil society organization called the Coalition of the Indignant of Cote d’Ivoire, told World Politics Review. “We have the same feeling that it could happen today.” Tensions are high in the country after President Alassane Ouattara, the opposition candidate and eventual victor in […]

A guard stands watch outside the entrance to death row at San Quentin State Prison, in San Quentin, California, Aug. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

At 8:07 a.m. on July 14, Daniel Lewis Lee was pronounced dead after being injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital. It marked the first time in 17 years that the U.S. government had carried out a federal death sentence, and was followed in quick succession by two more federal executions in the subsequent days. They took place almost a year after Attorney General William Barr announced that the Trump administration planned to restart capital punishment. Following a protracted legal battle and stays of execution by lower court judges, the Supreme Court vacated those orders last month, removing the final […]

A shale gas well drilling site in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania, March 12, 2020 (AP photo by Keith Srakocic).

The past year has been a perfect storm for America’s shale gas companies, on both the domestic and international fronts. Record-setting levels of American gas production and consumption in 2019 masked the fact that the industry was already under siege, as years of insufficient returns pushed investors away from financing new drilling and exploration. Meanwhile, newly commissioned projects aimed at exporting liquified natural gas, or LNG, faced headwinds on international markets due to a global supply glut. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues, as it further depressed domestic and international demand for natural gas. The collapse in oil prices as […]

Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, and the new prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, at the Carthage Palace outside Tunis, Tunisia, July 25, 2020 (Photo by Slim Abid for Tunisian Presidency via AP Images).

Following the resignation of Elyes Fakhfakh as prime minister of Tunisia in mid-July, amid corruption allegations and after just five months in office, President Kais Saied designated one of his own advisers, Hichem Mechichi, as the new prime minister. Mechichi has until Aug. 25 to form a government that can win parliamentary approval. Should he fail, Saied has the constitutional right to call for new elections—an arduous task, particularly as Tunisia struggles with a deepening economic crisis and a spike in COVID-19 cases triggered by reopening the country’s borders in late June. Before he even takes office, Mechichi faces several […]

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