Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reviews a military honor guard during a welcome ceremony, in Ankara, Turkey, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

U.S. President Joe Biden’s recently announced trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sparked a great deal of comment and no small amount of controversy. At issue is whether a U.S. president who loudly condemned Riyadh’s human rights record during his 2020 election campaign should be instrumental in helping Saudi Arabia cast off the pariah status it has labored under since its state-sponsored murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Upon taking office, Biden talked about reorienting U.S.-Saudi relations to put greater emphasis on human rights, and he has refused to meet with the kingdom’s de facto […]

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong announce at a press conference that Wong will be the next prime minister, Singapore, April 16, 2022 (Singapore Press photo via AP Images).

When Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong named Finance Minister Lawrence Wong—his chosen successor—deputy prime minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle on June 6, he asked Singaporeans to give their “full support to this important transition.” His request spotlighted a significant inflection point for Singapore, with the country simultaneously confronting a series of domestic and global challenges while it manages a critical leadership transition that will shape its future. Singapore is deservedly heralded for its success in turning itself from a tiny so-called third-world country after the country’s independence in 1965 into a first-world city state under the leadership of its […]

Students standing behind a banner reading “Enraged Youth” hung on the facade of the Sorbonne, Paris, April 14, 2022 (Sipa photo via AP Images).

Three days after the first round of the French presidential elections in April, students occupied the Sorbonne University building in Paris. Their banners and posters displayed a recurrent slogan: “Neither Macron nor Le Pen,” referring to center-right President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who passed through to the second-round vote in a rematch of their 2017 contest. As police cleared the building after 30 hours of occupation, both presidential candidates vehemently criticized the demonstration. But the protests quickly spread, with students across France expressing their dissatisfaction at having to once again choose between candidates from the center-right and […]

Families of victims of the Ballymurphy massacre react after an inquest ruled that 10 people killed during a military operation in west Belfast 50 years ago were “entirely innocent,” Belfast, Northern Ireland, May 11, 2021 (AP photo by Peter Morrison).

BELFAST, Northern Ireland—For the past 15 years, Northern Ireland has held a special “Day of Reflection” on June 21, when people stop to remember the 3,500 people killed during “The Troubles.” That understated shorthand refers to the four decades of conflict pitting British soldiers, police and pro-British loyalist gunmen against the Irish nationalist Provisional Irish Republican Army, or PIRA—a conflict that finally ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. This year, the Day of Reflection was particularly poignant, as it marked the 50th anniversary of the Troubles’ most bloody year, 1972, when 479 people were killed in the U.K. […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa looks on during the presentation of the final report of the Zondo Commission, Pretoria, South Africa, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa rose to power five years ago pledging to pursue a policy of “radical economic transformation” and to stamp out corruption in the country’s politics. In his first speech after becoming the leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress in 2017, which preceded his accession to South Africa’s presidency the following year, he said that “corruption must be fought with the same intensity and purpose that we fight poverty, unemployment and inequality.” He further vowed to initiate his war on graft within the ANC’s ranks. But after more than four years in office as president of South […]

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone speaks during the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 2, 2021 (Reuters pool photo by Hannah McKay via AP).

When Sierra Leone released the provisional figures of its population and housing census on May 31, the numbers suggested a population increase of 6.3 percent since the last count in 2015. That’s not an unexpected rise over a six-year period, given that the country’s estimated annual growth rate was 3.2 percent during the 10 years prior. Nevertheless, the way population growth was distributed across the country has sparked ongoing debate about the credibility of the census, particularly in anticipation of general elections next year. The country’s southern and eastern districts saw significant population jumps, with the biggest increases in Kenema, with […]

U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a meeting with heads of state and government at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, June 10, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas wrapped up in Los Angeles on June 10 with decidedly mixed results. After a run-up to the summit dominated by discussions over who would attend, the event itself was a flurry of activity by hundreds of government, business and civil society participants. Those who care about outcomes were left to sort through five official accords, a slew of side agreements and several U.S. government announcements. In making sense of the summit’s outcomes, three overarching themes become clear. First, dysfunctional relations between the U.S. and many regional governments continue to hobble U.S. diplomacy in the Americas. […]

Thai crime scene investigators inspect the site of a bomb explosion in Yala, southern Thailand, March 17, 2020 (AP photo).

After a two-year hiatus in talks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first half of 2022 has seen quantifiable progress in the peace dialogue between Thailand’s government and separatist rebels based in the country’s Muslim-majority south. Since the beginning of the year, two rounds of formal negotiations have been held in Kuala Lumpur, in a Malaysia-facilitated process that has seen the government’s Peace Dialogue Panel, or PDP, meet face-to-face with leaders of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, or BRN, the most powerful rebel group in southern Thailand. The latest meeting, which concluded on April 1, led to a 40-day truce that […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, listens to Chinese President Xi Jinping during press statements at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, July 5, 2017 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a once-hesitant Germany was shocked into reorienting its national security posture. In response to Moscow’s aggression, Chancellor Olaf Scholz proceeded to announce the creation of a 100-billion-euro supplemental fund for the German military, halt the approval of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline and support international sanctions and energy embargoes against Russia. This same sensibility, in which crisis and opportunity converge, has also reinvigorated the long-standing debate in Germany over the country’s dependence on trade with China. Various factions within the Ampelkoalition, or the “traffic light coalition” government made up of […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a press conference at the Mariyinsky palace, Kyiv, Ukraine, June 16, 2022 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

French President Emmanuel Macron came under heavy criticism recently for suggesting that Europe must find a way to broker a settlement to the war in Ukraine that avoids “humiliating” Russia. Macron subsequently clarified that he staunchly supports Ukraine’s war efforts, which France has been actively assisting, including by providing weapons shipments. But Macron’s comments, which draw on bad historical analogies to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles and its treatment of Germany following World War I, still raised concerns. And the fact that it is not the first time he has had to clarify his remarks on the conflict revived questions […]

Afghan farmers harvest poppy in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 1, 2022 (AP photo by Abdul Khaliq).

In April, the Taliban announced a blanket ban on drug production and use in Afghanistan. There are a number of potential reasons for the move, which would cause considerable financial pain to many of the group’s core constituencies, as well as to the Taliban itself. But the timing of the announcement suggests that the ban will not go into effect immediately, and even if the Taliban are serious about implementing it, they will face obstacles in doing so. One reason for announcing the ban could be to portray the Taliban as being in a position to control the lucrative opium […]

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the launch event for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, in Tokyo, May 23, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Just before the White House launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, in Tokyo last month, Taro Kono, the former Japanese foreign and defense minister, offered a blunt recommendation: Deriding the IPEF as the “Indo-Pacific Economic whatever,” Kono urged the U.S. to “forget” it and rejoin the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. During his press conference with U.S. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcomed the IPEF but echoed Kono’s advice, stressing the strategic significance of a U.S. return to the CPTPP, which is essentially the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact that then-President Barack Obama effectively […]

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum for a meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, Feb. 16, 2022.

Back in February, when French President Emmanuel Macron announced that troops from France’s Barkhane mission as well as the European Union’s Takuba task force  would be withdrawn from Mali, Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum raised eyebrows by declaring that Niger would welcome the French and European troops on its territory. Since then, legislators in Niger passed a bill that authorizes the government to host more European troops in the country as part of the French-led regional counterterrorism operations. But the move has drawn considerable opposition from a wide array of Nigeriens, including figures from the political opposition, civil society groups and […]

Protesters chant slogans and hold placards during a protest in Istanbul, June 1, 2020.

Nine years after the Gezi Park protests erupted in Istanbul and quickly spread to many other parts of Turkey, the “culprits” behind the demonstrations were sentenced in April. Civil society leader and philanthropist Osman Kavala was convicted of having attempted to overthrow the government and sentenced to life imprisonment; seven other co-defendants received 18 years. Like many other prosecutions in Turkey these days, the Gezi case was based not on evidence, but pure conjecture. Kavala has long been a target of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. He had already been imprisoned for four years based on spurious accusations that […]

Students at the China Executive Leadership Academy listen to a classroom lecture in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province, April 9, 2021.

Discussions in Washington and Beijing about U.S.-China decoupling, both potential and actual, often focus on diplomacy, technology and trade. But while the growing tensions between the two strategic rivals are most visible in these areas, decoupling is also taking place in other, often-overlooked dimensions of the relationship, including in the academic and intellectual realm. In late May, China’s Ministry of Education and the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department jointly released an action plan to develop a distinctly Chinese approach to the academic disciplines of philosophy and the social sciences in China’s higher education. A report in the state-run People’s Daily newspaper explained that the plan […]

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou speaks during a press conference at the Executive Tower in Montevideo, Uruguay, April 7, 2021 (AP photo by Matilde Campodonico).

In the run-up to the troubled ninth Summit of the Americas taking place this week in Los Angeles, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou, whose center-right government has been one of the most consistently aligned with U.S. policies in the region, strongly criticized the Biden administration, asserting that it lacks a vision for Latin America and mistakenly sees the hemisphere’s diverse countries as all having the same problems and needs. Lacalle Pou’s candid remarks demonstrate the principled consistency of a government that is often overlooked by, but increasingly important to Washington, at a time when Latin American governments are increasingly turning to partners that are […]

Ghanaian special force soldiers taking part in the annual US.-led counterterrorism training known as Flintlock, patrol near base camp Loumbila, Jacqueville, Cote d’Ivoire, Feb. 16, 2022 (AP photo by Sylvain Cherkaoui).

Last month, Islamist fighters attacked a military post in Togo, killing eight soldiers and wounding 13 others. Benin has experienced at least nine recorded attacks attributed to Islamist militant groups in its borderlands since December 2021. And in a February incident in Benin’s northern tripoint area bordering Niger and Burkina Faso, a patrol team struck several improvised explosive devices, killing eight people, including four Beninese park rangers. The attacks point to a trend in recent years in which militant Islamist groups in the Sahel subregion of West Africa have increasingly targeted littoral countries to the south. That wasn’t supposed to happen. At the outset of the insurgencies that have undermined security in the Sahel […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 241 2 Last