Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil women sit holding placards with portraits of their missing relatives as they protest outside a railway station in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 6, 2015 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

JAFFNA, Sri Lanka—More than eight years have passed since Sri Lanka declared the end of its nearly three-decade long civil war. Since then, the small island-nation in the Indian Ocean has made significant progress. The country has remained mostly peaceful; tourists have started arriving in droves; and investors, especially from China, have started pouring billions into Sri Lanka, given its strategic location. And yet Sri Lanka’s march toward a stable, peaceful and prosperous future is threatened by two closely related problems: its hesitant approach to dealing with the events of the past, and its reluctance to tackle emerging tensions. In […]

Vietnam’s trade minister, Tran Tuan Anh, left, and Japan’s minister of economic revitalization, Toshimitsu Motegi, shake hands at a press conference, Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

On the sidelines of the leaders’ summit for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC, earlier this month in Vietnam, the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the mega-regional free trade pact that includes Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei—agreed on most elements of a deal to salvage it in the form of a new, so-called TPP-11. In late January, in one of the first moves after taking office as U.S. president, Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from what had been Barack Obama’s signature economic achievement […]

African and European leaders gather for a group photo at an EU-Africa summit, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Last April, the International Organization for Migration released a report documenting “shocking events on North African migrant routes.” Interviews with West Africans trying to reach Europe revealed that migrants were being kidnapped, beaten, raped and “sold as slaves” in public squares and garages in Libya. A spokesman for the agency went so far as to describe Libya as a “torture archipelago.” The findings generated a fair amount of news coverage, but before long they were folded into the broader story about the dangers of trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea—a story that has been on the world’s radar for several […]

Peruvian President Pedro Kuczynski welcomes Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the opening session of the 2016 APEC summit, Lima, Peru, Nov. 20, 2016 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

On Nov. 10, Australia and Peru concluded a free trade agreement while leaders of both countries were attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. Free trade negotiations between the two countries began in May following the U.S. decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the major multilateral free trade deal that involved 11 other Pacific Rim countries, including Australia and Peru. In an email interview, John Edwards, a nonresident fellow at the Lowy Institute and adjunct professor with the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy at Curtin University, explains why Australia and Peru moved forward with their own free trade […]

A member of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces walks inside a prison built by Islamic State fighters, Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. What does the future of the Islamic State look like in the wake of its battlefield setbacks in Iraq and Syria, from the fall of Mosul last summer to Raqqa last month? Will it revert to a low-level insurgency, or lash out with the kinds of terrorist attacks more associated with its predecessors, like al-Qaida? Can it sustain itself as a movement drawing in sympathizers and recruits from around the world? Writing for […]

French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, and Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, center left, wave during a visit to a school in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Nov. 28 , 2017 (AP photo by Ahmed Yempabou Ouoba).

After a first six months spent focused on matters domestic and European, French President Emmanuel Macron has begun to travel farther afield. He is in West Africa this week, having arrived yesterday in Burkina Faso and continuing on to Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Earlier this month he traveled to the Persian Gulf for a planned visit to the United Arab Emirates, making an unplanned stopover in Saudi Arabia on his way back to Paris. In West Africa, Macron will try, as all new French presidents must, to reset a relationship burdened by the historical legacy of colonial exploitation and postcolonial […]

Rubble clutters a traffic roundabout in Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. The only sound in the video from Raqqa is the howl of the wind and the hum of a pickup truck passing through block after obliterated city block. “Drive around Raqqa for hours and all you will see is destruction,” the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville wrote on Twitter, where he posted the video. “The pictures say enough.” The buildings that weren’t flattened by airstrikes don’t have many of their walls or any windows left. […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during a press conference, Jerusalem, July 10, 2016 (AP photo by Dan Balilty).

The Arab League’s economic boycott of Israel stretches back to the state’s founding in 1948. Today, only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, have formal relations with Israel as a result of peace treaties, while the Arab League’s boycott remains in place for its other members. Yet backdoor cooperation with Israel is growing among some Arab states, creating the prospect of more economic and trade relations. The king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, reportedly even called for an end to the boycott of Israel in September. In an email interview, Paul Rivlin, an economist and senior research fellow […]

Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, center, during the party’s annual conference, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Nov. 25, 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images).

BELFAST, Northern Ireland—The deadlocked political situation in Northern Ireland shows no sign of ending, at least this side of Christmas. The region’s two main parties—the conservative Democratic Unionist Party, or DUP, and left-wing, nationalist Sinn Fein—still cannot reach an agreement to restore a devolved power-sharing government, which was brought down by a domestic scandal in January. The crisis has been deepened considerably by the prospects of a British exit from the European Union that calls into question the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that ended three decades of violence between nationalists and unionists. That deal, which has […]

The sun sets near the town of Flic en Flac, Mauritius, April 8, 2008 (dpa photo by Lars Halbauer via AP images).

Radical Islam has traditionally held little appeal for the multiethnic and multicultural population of Mauritius, though there are signs Islamist extremism it is making some inroads. A review of the government’s response offers lessons for countries where political power is divided explicitly along ethnic or religious lines. In late 2014, Mauritian intelligence services discovered that a handful of Muslims from Mauritius had traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Many of those jihadi recruits were swayed and enabled by a small yet troubling network of ideologues in the tropical island nation, which is located in […]

Students sit in their classroom at the Uere special needs school in the Mare slum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 5, 2017 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about education policy in various countries around the world. In late September, Brazil’s Supreme Court narrowly ruled in favor of allowing religious education in public schools to be taught by people promoting their own faith, testing the country’s secular public education system. In an email interview, Simon Schwartzman, a Brazilian social scientist who has written extensively on the country’s education system and who serves on the board of the Institute for the Study of Labor and Society (IETS) in Rio de Janeiro, discusses the Supreme Court’s decision, the state of […]

Soccer fans in Saudi Arabia cheer as they hold up pictures of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a 2018 World Cup qualifying match in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 5, 2017 (AP photo).

The drama surrounding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to captivate policy communities around the world. Is MBS, as the upstart royal is known, a genuine reformer or a reckless and ambitious young leader who has more power than he has wisdom? He is strongly identified with Saudi Arabia’s costly war in neighboring Yemen, the nearly six-month diplomatic standoff with Qatar and the geopolitical struggle with Iran. At home, he has spearheaded ambitious plans to open up social space, reinvent the political system and adapt the kingdom’s economic strategies for a changing world energy landscape. The rise of MBS […]

The United Nations Security Council votes to pass a new sanctions resolution against North Korea during a meeting at U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Jason DeCrow).

Some political battles seem so obviously over and done with that you can forget that the losing side’s grievances are still important. I discovered this because of a comment I made in a recent interview for a German website: that “discussions of Security Council reform are dead” at the United Nations. This is not quite true, technically speaking. Diplomats do continue to hold periodic meetings on ideas to change the council’s composition and rules. But nobody actually believes that these are going anywhere, so it seemed safe to write off the whole process almost in passing. Once the interview was […]

A young girl marches during a military parade at the inauguration of new Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

As Zimbabwe finally enters the post-Robert Mugabe era, neighboring South Africa has an opportunity to play a constructive role in helping put in place a democratic roadmap. Despite being the dominant regional power and current chair of the 16-nation Southern African Development Community, or SADC, South Africa has, for too long, essentially endorsed the disastrous status quo in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s unexpected ouster by the military should push South Africa to change course, making its Zimbabwe policy more in line with the values that underpin the South African constitution and inform the founding charters of the African Union and the SADC—though […]

Canisters containing missiles are displayed in Kim Il Sung Square, Pyongyang, North Korea, April 12, 2017 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about the production and trade of arms around the world. Earlier this year, a ship from North Korea laden with 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades was seized off the coast of Egypt. The United Nations called it the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” In an email interview, Andrew C. Winner, chair of the Strategic and Operational Research Department and a professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College, discusses the nature of North Korea’s arms industry and efforts to curb […]

A man takes pictures of blood stains of victims after masked gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Coptic Christians to a monastery, Maghagha, Egypt, May 27, 2017 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

On Thursday, an assault on a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killed 305 worshippers in what officials have called the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Egyptian history. The staggering number of victims was a sign of the shifting nature of violence in which Egypt has been mired for nearly five years. Militants in Sinai who have waged an insurgency against the government are expanding their campaign to include not just agents of the state, but a rapidly growing number of civilians. The ongoing violence has weakened the position of the military-led regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledges his supporters during an appearance in parliament, Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 21, 2017 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. The Syrian civil war is drawing to a close, at least in the way that the traditional conflict dynamics have been understood since 2011. The rebel opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in disarray and confined to relatively small patches of disconnected territory across the country, while the self-proclaimed Islamic State is on its last breath, pushed out of its base in the city of Raqqa and squeezed in eastern Syria. Only […]

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