A woman with a baby entering a temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sept. 18, 2020 (AP photo by Panagiotis Balaskas).

When British Prime Minister Boris Johnson left the hospital in April 2020 after having been treated for COVID-19, he released a widely viewed video address in which he thanked the nurses that had cared for him. In singling out two for special mention—Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal—he shone a spotlight on the critical role that migrants have played during the pandemic. Throughout the world, migrants work essential jobs. Migrant women in particular play significant roles in the health care and domestic support industries, caring for patients and the elderly. Women make up nearly half of international migrants, […]

An Indian soldier looks toward the Pir Panjal mountain range from one of their forward posts at the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, Dec. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

In late February, India and Pakistan announced a cease-fire along their de facto border in the contested region of Kashmir. In a joint statement, the two countries’ military authorities said that there will be a “strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing,” while also claiming they will seek to “address each other’s core issues and concerns” to ensure sustainable peace between the two long-time enemies. The announcement essentially revives a 2003 cease-fire agreement along the Line of Control, or LoC, as the de facto border is known. It was followed on March 18 by a speech by Pakistan’s […]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Joint Helicopter Command Flying Station Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, March 12, 2021 (AP photo by Peter Morrison).

In mid-March, the British government released its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, titled, “Global Britain in a Competitive Age.” This was followed a week later by a more focused defense review. The two documents represent the end products of an exercise conducted by the government every five years, a combination of stocktaking, horizon-scanning and threat assessment, with some new policy announcements thrown in. This one began in 2020, but its completion was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The headlines surrounding the latest review have focused on the announcements that the U.K. would increase the size […]

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan waves to supporters during a rally in Yerevan, Armenia, Feb. 25, 2021 (PAN Photo by Tigran Mehrabyan via AP Images).

After facing months of pressure to resign, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced on March 18 that Armenia would hold snap parliamentary elections in June. The decision appears to be de-escalating tensions in the country, but it may not end months of political discord in which protesters have regularly taken to the streets calling for Pashinyan’s removal. They’ve been joined by all of Armenia’s former presidents, current President Armen Sarkissian, the powerful leadership of the Armenian church and the bulk of the military’s senior leadership. They all blame him for the country’s decisive loss in last autumn’s war with Azerbaijan, in […]

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, right, and Argentine President Alberto Fernandez during a ceremony marking Flag Day in Iguala, Mexico, Feb. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo).

On everything from soccer to geopolitical issues, Argentina and Mexico have enjoyed a history of close ties. But today more than ever, their warm relationship is offering Latin America an alternative pole of power and influence, based on a vision of regional autonomy and solidarity. One indication of this was Argentine President Alberto Fernandez’s three-day trip to Mexico City last month, at the invitation of his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, widely known as AMLO. The summit was marked by a flurry of private meetings, official ceremonies, news conferences and effusive mutual praise. “A friend is nothing more than […]

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a visit to Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 13, 2011 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

In mid-March, Turkey and Egypt confirmed they’d had their first diplomatic contact since breaking off relations in 2013. Though the talks were described by Egyptian sources as preliminary, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying, “Contacts at the diplomatic level have started.” The thaw comes after a decade of intense rivalry that saw the countries on opposing sides of the war in Libya, the blockade of Qatar by its neighbors and energy disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean. Relations between Ankara and Cairo quickly deteriorated after the military takeover led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general-turned-civilian president, which toppled […]

A protest condemning the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasel in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 27, 2021 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

The arrest of the Spanish rapper known as Pablo Hasel in February sparked violent protests in his native Catalonia, but also across Spain. Judging from international news coverage, Spain’s young people had erupted in anger over a lack of free speech in the country, 46 years after its post-dictatorship transition to democracy. A closer look, however, reveals a more complex story about how the Catalan independence movement drove these protests, as well as a more nuanced debate about European versus American concepts of free speech, even as Spain forges ahead with an already-promised reform to its free speech law. The […]

The French Navy ship Vendemiaire during a port call in Manila, Philippines, March 12, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

In early February, France revealed that one of its nuclear-powered attack submarines had completed a mission in the South China Sea. The rare announcement, two years after the passage of the frigate Vendemiaire through the Taiwan Strait, was a clear signal of a growing French, but also European, interest in the sensitive region. European awareness of its strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific is a slow train coming. Even for France and the U.K.—which, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and nuclear powers with a tradition of power projection, have long been interested in East Asia—there has been […]

Police charge forward to disperse protesters in Mandalay, Myanmar, Feb. 20, 2021 (AP Photos).

Since seizing power in a coup in early February, Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, has increasingly cracked down on civil society and the political opposition. In recent weeks, it has shuttered most independent media outlets; arrested many members of the former ruling party, the National League for Democracy, or NLD; declared martial law in parts of the country; and unleashed security forces on pro-democracy demonstrators. By one estimate, at least 200 people have been killed since protests began against the coup last month, and thousands of people have been detained. The real number of deaths is probably much higher, […]

United Nations peacekeepers guard the area where a U.N. convoy was attacked in Nyiragongo, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, Feb. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Justin Kabumba).

After months of political and institutional maneuvering, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s president, Felix Tshisekedi, has finally unshackled himself from his predecessor, Joseph Kabila. The two had until recently been partners in an uneasy power-sharing arrangement, but Tshisekedi now has the power to make decisions without being constrained by the man who put him in office. The key question is how he will use it. Kabila ruled the country for 18 years but agreed to step down ahead of the disputed 2018 elections, in which his preferred successor lost to Tshisekedi even as his allies gained a sizeable majority of […]

Members of the Korean K-pop group BTS attend a meeting during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Craig Ruttle).

When BTS performed its smash hit “Dynamite” for the first time at MTV’s Video Music Awards in August, the seven-member South Korean pop group was unable to fly to New York City for the ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it intended to film its part of the show outdoors, to “show everyone the scenery in Seoul,” one of its vocalists, Jin, told Vogue. But summer rain got in the way of that plan, so it ended up recording its performance in front of giant green screens. Seven months later, still unable to visit the U.S., the group finally […]

A displaced mother and her children prepare for the night inside a church in Pemba city, Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique, April 19, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Last year was a turning point for the shadowy, Islamic State-linked jihadist group that is operating in the Cabo Delgado province of northern Mozambique. First, the operational tempo of Ahlu-Sunnah Wa-Jama, or ASWJ—locally known as al-Shabab, though it has no known connection with the Somalia-based extremist group—took off dramatically. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED, the group launched 437 attacks in 2020, compared to 256 between 2017 and 2019. Second, ASWJ managed to assert control over major transportation routes. Its presence has impeded safe travel on the primary north-south road connecting the […]

Nursing staff administer COVID-19 vaccines to frontline health workers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 29, 2021 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

As wealthy Western countries carefully guard their national stockpiles of COVID-19 vaccines, raising concerns about “vaccine nationalism,” China and Russia have moved aggressively in the opposite direction—toward vaccine diplomacy. Moscow and Beijing have used their homegrown formulas as powerful diplomatic tools, enabling them to curry favor with poorer nations that have largely been left out of the race to inoculate the world. Vaccine diplomacy, however, is not the exclusive domain of major powers. Aspiring regional powers, including some smaller countries, are increasingly stepping into the ring too, garnering goodwill by selling or donating vaccine doses. The result is a global […]

Female soldiers of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic parade near Tindouf, southern Algeria, Feb. 27, 2021 (AP photo by Fateh Guidoum).

Three months after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s startling decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, President Joe Biden’s own policy regarding this long-disputed territory remains undefined. Yet he may be forced into action soon, as there are signs the conflict is heating up: Renewed fighting between Moroccan forces and the pro-independence Polisario Front broke out in November, ending a 30-year cease-fire. Washington seems to be in no hurry, given that the fighting is so far low in intensity. U.N. sources say they have so far only confirmed the deaths of two Moroccan soldiers, though neither side acknowledges any […]

An aerial view of the outlying Atoll National Park of the Dongsha Islands, southwest of Taiwan, Sept. 15, 2010 (AP photo by Peter Enav).

Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine prompted much international outrage but little meaningful action. President Vladimir Putin was able to forcefully redraw his country’s borders, shrugging off the international sanctions that the United States and European Union imposed in response. Putin’s success augmented “the belief among some that bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way,” as U.S. President Barack Obama put it at the time. Given Crimea’s location in a small country—and the complex, often ethnically tinged territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia—the world was not willing to fight for it. History may not […]

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, seated beside Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, delivers his State of the Nation speech to mark the opening session of Congress, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 1, 2021 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

In a vitriolic address to Argentina’s Congress on March 1, President Alberto Fernandez put to rest any illusions that he would be a moderating influence on his vice president and political mentor, former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. (The two are unrelated.) During his speech, the president attacked Cristina Fernandez’s traditional enemies, including the press, the judiciary and the political opposition. More surprisingly, he also criticized the International Monetary Fund, despite being in the middle of discussions to renegotiate Argentina’s $44 billion debt. In fact, the president claimed to be “in no rush” to reach an agreement with the IMF, […]

Bolivian President Luis Arce addresses the nation at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, Jan. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia—Last Sunday’s local and regional elections in Bolivia were President Luis Arce’s first political test since he took office in November. Official results are still being tabulated, as the process was delayed by a cyberattack this week on the electoral commission’s website, which authorities said came from outside the country. But exit polls, which have proven reliable in the past, indicate mixed results for Arce’s political party, the Movement for Socialism. Known in Bolivia as the MAS, the party won governorships in three states, and will head to a second-round runoff in four others. Only in the county’s […]

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