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, […]

A pedestrian crosses a bridge over a new 30-mile highway that was built by three Chinese companies and financed by the African Development Bank and the Exim Bank of China, leading north of Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 10, 2012 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Far more than they appeared to at first glance, two news stories in recent days have framed America’s position in the world at the outset of Joe Biden’s presidency in unusually stark and powerful ways. The first trumpeted a $400 billion investment agreement between Beijing and Tehran, with China vastly increasing its trade with Iran. It comes at a moment when the United States is hoping to force the Iranian government back to the negotiating table to reinstate and even broaden the international agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The Trump administration withdrew from that deal, reimposing […]

An H&M clothing store at a shopping mall in Beijing, March 26, 2021 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Rachel Cheung and Assistant Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week. The Chinese government has long denied any human rights abuses in Xinjiang province, even as an increasing number of reports shed light on its brutal repression of mostly Muslim Uyghurs there. But in the face of mounting international pressure and now sanctions, Beijing is going on the offensive to silence critics of all stripes. Shortly after the United States, United Kingdom, European Union […]

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 […]

A sign asks people to stay 2 meters apart to reduce the spread of COVID-19, London, June 22, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

There were grim anniversaries last week, a year since the first coronavirus lockdown in the United Kingdom. This time last year, I had developed a strange, breathless cough that didn’t go away for eight weeks. But I was one of the lucky ones. More than 127,000 people in the U.K. didn’t make it. The U.K. may have been overtaken more recently by other European countries, like the Czech Republic and Hungary, for the unhappy distinction of having the highest COVID-19 death rate per capita in the world, but it’s still close to the top spot, as is the United States. […]

Supporters of India’s main opposition party protest Narendra Modi’s government in front of huge cut-outs of their leaders, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, in New Delhi, Dec. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

For more than four months, tens of thousands of Indian farmers have gathered on the outskirts of New Delhi to protest a slate of new agricultural laws passed in September. Farmers say the new measures, which remove price guarantees for certain crops, will leave them at the mercy of large corporations, while at the same time removing paths for legal redress for land disputes. The protests are some of the largest that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, have faced since winning their parliamentary majority in 2014. What’s more, the protesters come from […]

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 […]

A health worker pauses in the ICU unit for COVID-19 patients at the Hospital das Clinicas in Porto Alegre, Brazil, March 19, 2021 (AP Photo by Jefferson Bernardes).

As COVID-19 starts to loosen its grip on the world, it makes sense to ask what we’ve learned from this punishing experience, so that we can be better prepared when the next pandemic strikes—which it will. Although it will take years to absorb the plague’s many lessons, here are four insights from the past year that should inform multilateral pandemic preparedness in the months and years ahead. The planet is out of balance, endangering human health. This pandemic has been severe, but it should not have come as a surprise. The past half-century has seen a surge in zoonoses, or […]

The Ever Given blocks the Suez Canal almost a week after it got stuck sideways in the crucial waterway, March 29, 2021 (AP photo by Mohamed Elshahed).

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week. Everyone, it seems, has been searching for meaning in the gigantic container ship stuck in the Suez Canal—which was finally freed Monday, six days after blocking one of the most vital shipping routes in the world. For all the memes that have proliferated online, there is also some analysis: for example, that this is a “warning […]

U.S. soldiers patrol on the outskirts of Spin Boldak, near the border with Pakistan, about 63 miles southeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan, Aug. 9, 2009 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Have know-nothing civilian bureaucrats, lily-livered humanitarian do-gooders and misguided academics tied the military’s hands with increasingly restrictive norms that don’t correspond to the laws of war, let alone the rigors of battle and requirements of victory? That’s the premise of a new article in Military Review by Army Lt. Gen. Charles Pede and Col. Peter Hayden. Pede and Hayden write derisively of the three-decades-old shift in U.S. military doctrine toward enhanced civilian protection, exemplified by the population-centric counterinsurgency approach to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a danger, they argue, since troops trained in restraint and respect for […]

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 […]

Election posters featuring opposition presidential candidate Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, right, and President Denis Sassou N'Guesso, left, in Brazzaville, Congo, Friday March 12, 2021.

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week. Extending a presidency that has lasted more than 36 years, Denis Sassou Nguesso won reelection in the Republic of Congo with nearly 90 percent of the vote, according to provisional results from Sunday’s ballot. His victory was overshadowed by the death of his main opposition opponent, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, who died on Election Day from COVID-19. Sassou Nguesso’s resounding victory underscores the near-absolute control he maintains over […]

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 […]

Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks with the media on the day of the Netherlands’ general election, The Hague, Netherlands, March 17, 2021 (pool photo by Eva Plevier via AP Images).

Dutch voters went to the polls last week and the results were, well, a bit muddled. Anyone claiming to have detected a dramatic and unequivocal message from the Netherlands is guilty of, at the very least, exaggerating the significance of an outcome that really was a mixed bag. Headlines like the one in The Washington Post—where, full disclosure, I’m a contributing columnist—declaring that the Dutch elections add to evidence of “the far right’s global retreat” betray wishful thinking. There’s a good chance that the far right is in an initial phase of a global retreat, but that was not in […]

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 […]

China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, center, and foreign minister, Wang Yi, second from left, speak at the opening session of U.S.-China talks in Anchorage, Alaska, March 18, 2021 (pool photo by Frederic J. Brown via AP Images).

If anyone was still holding out any hopes that the change of administrations in Washington would cool down tensions with China, last week’s first meeting between the Biden administration’s two top foreign policy officials and their Chinese counterparts should put them to rest. In a no-holds-barred exchange of remarks in front of reporters before the private discussions began, both sides lambasted each other with a litany of grievances, perceived slights and criticisms. The Chinese delegation’s willingness to forcefully challenge the American side in such a public forum serves as further confirmation, if any were still needed, that the days when […]

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