The Twitter page of Elon Musk is seen on the screen of a computer in Sausalito, Calif., April 25, 2022 (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

Two developments in the past week conspired to put the polarized debate over free speech and government regulation of social media in sharp focus. Last Saturday, the European Union reached a final deal on its Digital Services Act, which will hold the major social media platforms operating in the bloc responsible for removing illegal content and disinformation. And on Monday, Twitter reached a deal with Elon Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” to purchase the publicly traded platform and take it private. The EU legislation responds to the growing popular unease with the unintended effects social media has had on […]

Displaced people watch a helicopter carrying U.N. Undersecretary-General for Peace Operations Jean Pierre Lacroix land in Bunia, eastern Congo, Feb. 22, 2022 (AP photo by Moses Sawasawa).

The seven member states of the East African Community have agreed to create a regional military force to be deployed to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The bloc’s leaders announced the decision at a special meeting on Congo held last week in Nairobi at the request of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who currently serves at the EAC’s rotating chairperson. The bloc also appealed to the African Union and the United Nations for support for the initiative, which is designed to end decades of bloodshed caused by militant activity and bring peace and stability to eastern Congo, a call the two bodies appear to […]

President of the European Council Charles Michel, left, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrive for a press conference in Versailles, March 11, 2022 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

Many in Brussels are breathing a sigh of relief this week following French President Emmanuel Macron’s reelection in Sunday’s presidential runoff. But now that fears of a Marine Le Pen presidency can be put to rest, eyes are quickly turning to the French legislative elections scheduled for June. The result of those polls will determine just how powerful Macron will be at the European Union level over the next five years. But one thing is clear: The French president currently faces little competition for the title of the EU’s most influential leader. Since France took over the EU’s six-month rotating […]

A worker in a protective suit swabs a woman for a COVID-19 test at a testing site in Beijing, April 27, 2022 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Wary of the high transmissibility of the omicron variant, officials in Beijing ordered 20 million residents across nearly a dozen districts to undergo mass testing earlier this week, after dozens of new coronavirus cases were detected in the Chinese capital. Though authorities have stopped short of confining residents to their homes for now, fears of an impending lockdown like the one imposed in Shanghai have prompted a wave of panic buying across the city. City residents have stocked up on food and other essential supplies, stripping the shelves of supermarkets bare. “My colleagues in Shanghai learned the lesson the hard way—they are […]

An anti-government protester waves a Lebanese flag in front of a burning barricade on a road leading to the parliament building, Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

The events of recent years have made it increasingly clear that the assault on human rights and democracy in the West and the Middle East are not merely parallel phenomena—they are directly connected. As both regions experience an intense surge of authoritarianism as well as the resulting popular resistance to it, it’s imperative for sound analysis and policymaking to identify the dynamics linking today’s crises across national borders and geographic regions. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the problems with exceptionalism and the limitations of regional frameworks, after decades of writing about the Middle East and U.S. policy there. And […]

People walk across a makeshift bridge over a river, after a bridge was swept away in Ntuzuma, outside Durban, South Africa, April 12, 2022. (AP photo).

South Africa is grappling with one of the most devastating floods in the country’s history. Several days of heavy rainfall in the coastal city of Durban and its surrounding KwaZulu-Natal province have left more than 400 people dead, 4,000 homes destroyed and 40,000 people displaced, according to local officials. Many locals have gone missing, while the damage to property and infrastructure continues to run into the billions. President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster and deployed troops to help rebuild collapsed roads and bridges and to manage search and rescue efforts, including the delivery of food, water and clothing […]

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen arrives at a television recording studio for a debate with President Emmanuel Macron in La Plaine-Saint-Denis, outside Paris, April 20, 2022 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Many in Brussels continue to anxiously observe events in France in anticipation of what this Sunday’s presidential runoff election will bring. President Emmanuel Macron has widened his lead over his far-right challenger, Marine Le Pen, since the first round earlier this month, with the latest polls showing him with a 10-point lead. But this gap is considered too close for comfort and is a smaller margin than Macron’s 33-point victory over Le Pen in 2017. A Le Pen victory on Sunday would undoubtedly present an existential crisis for the European Union, a notion highlighted by Macron in last night’s presidential debate, in which […]

A worker in PPE disinfects the neighborhood in Shanghai, China Friday, April 08, 2022 (FeatureChina via AP Images).

This time last year, China appeared to be bouncing back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and leading the world’s economic recovery after a pandemic-induced slowdown. But after a recent spike in infections that confined an estimated 50 million people to lockdown, the “Zero COVID” policy that initially kept the worst of the coronavirus at bay is now the biggest threat to China’s economic growth. China’s economy exceeded market expectations in the first quarter of 2022, growing 4.8 percent, according to data released Monday by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. The figure is a decline from the previous year’s 8.1 percent […]

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the foundations of Europe’s security order, but also its economic order. The sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union and its Western partners suggest that an economic decoupling has begun. The implications of such a decoupling in the context of an integrated global economy are significant, but also murky and complex. Clearly, the war highlights a weakness in the logic that had long underpinned globalization as an economic but also a normative project: that economic interdependence among states would make the costs of conflict prohibitive. Longstanding dissatisfaction with China’s unfair trade practices, combined […]

British Home Secretary Priti Patel shakes hands with Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta after signing what the two countries called an “economic development partnership” in Kigali, Rwanda, April 14, 2022 (AP Photo by Muhizi Olivier).

Rwanda has announced an agreement with the United Kingdom to take in some asylum-seekers for processing in the East African country. Having pledged to control the country’s borders during the successful “Brexit” campaign to leave the European Union, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced a crackdown on migrant crossings via routes across the English Channel, saying that migrants who do not meet strict asylum criteria will be flown more than 4,000 miles to Rwanda for processing and possible resettlement there. British Home Secretary Priti Patel traveled to Kigali, the capital, to sign the deal, which includes £120 million—approximately $160 million—in aid to […]

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin at a joint press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, April 13, 2022 (SIPA photo via AP Images).

Sweden and Finland both took a major step toward joining NATO this week. Finland will make its decision on whether to apply for membership in “weeks rather than months,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin said yesterday in a joint press conference in Stockholm alongside her Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson. Sweden will reportedly wait until after Finland makes a final decision, but Swedish media are reporting that Andersson’s Social Democrats are already sold on the idea and have decided to push for Sweden’s NATO membership. The bombshell announcement makes for yet another groundbreaking development in European security policy since Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the invasion of Ukraine in February. Finland has historically steered […]

Customers look through empty shelves at a supermarket in Shanghai, China, March 30, 2022 (AP photo by Chen Si).

Shanghai is gradually easing the draconian lockdown it implemented since late March following the largest nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. The extended shutdown led to widespread shortages of food and supplies across China, triggering an uproar against the country’s “Zero-COVID” policy. But with the number of daily infections topping 20,000 this week and the virus spreading to other provinces across the country, China is far from out of the woods. The two-phase lockdown was originally supposed to last four days each for Pudong and then Puxi, which comprise the city on either side of the Huangpu River. But it […]

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 22, 2021 (Saudi Press Agency photo via AP).

April has been quite a dramatic month in Yemen, with the first major cease-fire reached between the government, the Houthis and other smaller combatant parties since the early stages of the war in 2015. Combined with a change in leadership among the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, the quieting of the guns, though temporary, could open a window of opportunity for resolving the conflict. But both developments also underscore the difficulty of ending a war that has resisted efforts to do so for years, with no relief in sight for the long-suffering civilians who are bearing most of its deadly cost. The […]

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during a presidential campaign news conference in Aubervilliers, France, March 17, 2022 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose reelection bid seemed to be a lock just several weeks ago, is suddenly facing a tightened race ahead of tomorrow’s first-round voting. Macron is almost certain to make it through to the second round on April 24, where he will in all likelihood face far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in a rematch of their 2017 face-off. Five years ago, Macron defeated Le Pen in a landslide, with two-thirds of the vote. This year, however, the latest polls show a much closer head-to-head contest, with Macron ahead by just several percentage points—within the margin of error—in […]

Bank customers hold up a defaced poster of Central Bank chief Riad Salameh, right, reading, “Stole my future,” in Arabic, during a protest in front of the Central Bank, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 6, 2021 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

The lack of accountability can explain a lot of the worst behavior of state actors around the world. This is especially true in the Middle East, where elite impunity has been an ongoing driver of the cycles of conflict and destruction that have eviscerated the region in recent decades. And rarely is the connection between impunity and harm done by the state as clear as it is in Lebanon’s ongoing, epic economic meltdown. Since February, the symbol of that meltdown has been the head of Lebanon’s central bank, Riad Salameh, who is currently on the lam, fleeing the criminal charges […]

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi attends a press conference during the G-20 Compact with Africa, August 27, 2021 (DPA photo via AP Images).

At a virtual summit held Tuesday, the leaders of the East African Community’s member states approved the Democratic Republic of Congo’s admission into the bloc. Congo joins Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda as the trade bloc’s seventh member, giving a significant boost to the country’s trade and security prospects, as well as to regional and continental integration efforts. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who serves as the EAC’s rotating chairperson, described the occasion as “historic” for the bloc and the continent at large, pointing to its potential to increase trade and investment opportunities for the EAC’s citizens, while providing its […]

Snow and ice accumulate on a blooming cherry tree in Washington, March 12, 2022 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

“You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.” It’s a testament to Samuel Beckett’s genius for making existential angst utterly comedic that, when that line is first spoken in his play, “Endgame,” audiences invariably laugh. As an observation, it takes on added resonance today, after a two-year period in which we have all been sick, not just collectively, but also often simultaneously. The climate crisis, too, contributes an additional level of meaning, in that not only is there no cure for us for being on Earth, there is also no cure for Earth for having us on it. Beckett’s portrayal […]