Smoke and fire from an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, July 29, 2014 (AP photo by Hatem Moussa).

In the wake of the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, Israel remains in the spotlight for the civilian casualties and widescale destruction of civilian areas caused by its attacks on Gaza. Like most democracies whose air wars kill large numbers of civilians, Israel claims the moral high ground. Though acknowledging that the harm caused to civilians was regrettable, Israel argues that its armed forces took all feasible precautions to avoid it, while taking care to aim their strikes at Hamas military targets. By contrast, according to Israel, Hamas was targeting Israeli civilians directly and intentionally. But this […]

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, talks to reporters in Manila, the Philippines, Feb. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Two years into the three-year mandate of a transitional authority tasked with governing a long-troubled corner of the southern Philippines, its chief minister, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, is pushing to extend the term of his interim administration. The transitional authority’s 80 members were appointed to lead the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, in 2019, as part of a peace deal the Philippine government signed with Muslim rebels fighting for independence in Mindanao. The extension, if approved, would postpone a scheduled vote for the region’s first democratically elected parliament from May 2022, as originally foreseen by the transition […]

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets virtually with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, seen on screen at left, in Washington, April 26, 2021 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

President Joe Biden’s administration is ramping up its diplomatic efforts to address what it calls the “root causes” of Central America’s migration crisis. Early next month, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Guatemala—part of a two-country trip that also includes a stop in Mexico—in hopes of making progress on efforts to address the poverty, violence and corruption that force Central Americans to flee the region. But while the administration’s approach to Central America has some promising elements overall, it faces stiff headwinds in the region. Last week, Congress released a list of 16 current and former Central American […]

Security forces in Bamako, Mali, Aug. 22, 2020 (AP Photo).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The military officer who overthrew Mali’s elected government last year, Col. Assimi Goita, this week deposed the civilian president and prime minister of the transitional authority he helped install in the aftermath of the coup, creating a new political crisis in the West […]

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses his supporters in Minsk, Belarus, Aug. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Dmitri Lovetsky).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. For decades, the president of Belarus, known as “Europe’s last dictator,” has been a thorn in the side of the continent’s democracies. But the threat Alexander Lukashenko poses to European security suddenly grew more serious Sunday, when his security forces—with the help of a transparently false cover […]

A woman hands money to a vegetable vendor at a market in Kohima, India, June 30, 2020 (AP photo by Yirmiyan Arthur).

In many parts of the world, particularly in emerging markets, women are at a stark disadvantage when it comes to obtaining a loan. Studies have shown that expanding access to credit for women would spur economic growth, yet the financial gender gap remains stubbornly wide. In fact, there are more than 70 countries where women cannot even open a bank account. According to Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of the nonprofit Women’s World Banking, emerging financial technologies, or fintech, have the potential to revolutionize access to credit for women in low-income countries by allowing them to receive loans from […]

Belarusian police detain journalist and activist Roman Protasevich, center, in Minsk, Belarus, March 26, 2017 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

When a Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet forced a Ryanair flight filled with civilians to divert from its Athens-to-Vilnius route and land in Minsk on Sunday so that the regime could arrest one of its leading critics, it justifiably triggered international outrage. It was, indeed, a brazen violation of international norms. But this new transgression by the Belarusian dictator, President Alexander Lukashenko, was not an isolated event. It was part of an increasingly common practice by repressive regimes across the globe, one so common that it now has a name: transnational repression. Lukashenko personally ordered the military aircraft to scramble into […]

Hamas supporters protest against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to postpone Palestinian elections, in Jebaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip, April 30, 2021 (AP photo by Adel Hana).

The cease-fire that entered into force last Friday brought an end to 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, leaving behind at least 248 Palestinian and 12 Israeli dead, as well as untold destruction in Gaza. Yet even as the fragile truce is holding thus far, the power struggle between the two largest Palestinian parties—Hamas and its rival, Fatah—seems poised to only intensify. The most recent round of violence was the fourth since 2007, when Hamas violently wrested control of Gaza after winning elections the previous year. It took place against the backdrop of an intense political crisis triggered […]

A U.S. soldier walks past parked armored vehicles and tanks of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, as they are unloaded in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

In late September 2020, the long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan boiled over into full-blown war. As Azerbaijani tanks and drones advanced into territory held by Armenian forces, commentators around the world warned of the possibility of regional instability or even a wider conflict between Turkey and Russia, which supported opposite sides in the fighting. The heart of the conflict was the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an obscure province in the South Caucasus that most Americans have never heard of—even fewer can muster an opinion as to which former Soviet republic it should belong to. Its relationship to U.S. security […]

Members of the District of Columbia Army National Guard at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, June 3, 2020 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, numerous reports emerged indicating that a significant number of rioters had connections to the military. A study released in April by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University and the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point found that 43 of the 357 individuals—12 percent—who had been charged at that point in federal court for their role in the Capitol Hill attack had some form of military experience. They included two reservists, two National Guard members and one active-duty Marine Corps officer. (Since then, the number of people charged with crimes […]

President Joe Biden listens during a tour of the Ford Rouge EV Center in Dearborn, Mich., May 18, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In last week’s episode of “America Competing with a Rising China,” the geopolitical equivalent of a TV series, Joe Biden took the wheel of a Ford truck and all but burned rubber as he pulled away from reporters who had come to witness the stunt. Biden’s visit came on the eve of Ford’s announcement of a new, all-electric version of its model F-150, the most popular motor vehicle in the United States, and he used it to enlist the automaker’s innovations in his ongoing campaign to prove not just that “America is Back,” whatever that means, but that the country […]

European Council President Charles Michel speaks at the conclusion of an EU-China summit, in video conference format, at the European Council in Brussels, June 22, 2020 (Pool photo by Yves Herman via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to freeze a massive investment deal with China that had taken seven years to negotiate. The Guardian reported that the resolution suspended “any consideration of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), as well as any discussion on ratification” […]

A woman carries vegetables outside a wholesale market in Jammu, India, May 2, 2020 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

In 2015, a report from the McKinsey Global Institute found that up to $28 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 if women were allowed to achieve their full economic potential. Yet according to the World Economic Forum, there are more than 70 countries where women are not allowed to open bank accounts or obtain credit. The gender gap in financial account penetration tends to be widest in certain emerging markets, like South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East. Even when financial services are available to them, women often face bias and discrimination at various […]

A man sends brain-computer interface commands to a robotic computer during Science Conference at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2011 (AP photo by Jose Luis Magan).

Technology has blurred all sorts of boundaries we used to take for granted—between work and leisure, between being alone and being with others, between private and public spaces. One boundary we still generally treat as sacrosanct, though, is the one around our own minds, which allows us to think for ourselves and to keep those thoughts private, whether they are rebellious, impolite or simply irrelevant. After all, the power to make up our own minds is an essential part of what makes us individuals. Technology may now be challenging this mental independence, too, and some of its applications could threaten […]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, center, and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

As U.S. troops begin what may be their final withdrawal from Afghanistan, no third country will be affected by their departure as much as Pakistan, which shares a long, porous border with Afghanistan, hosts much of the Taliban leadership as well as millions of Afghan refugees, and faces threats from Pakistani militants based there. For Pakistan, America has been both a partner and a strategic competitor in Afghanistan. Notionally, the U.S. exit presents Islamabad with an opportunity to proactively shape Kabul’s political future in its favor. But in reality, a post-withdrawal Afghanistan without an internationally backed, intra-Afghan accord offers far […]

A TV news program showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Joe Biden, at the Suseo Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 26, 2021 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

The Biden administration is using an outdated script to justify doing very little about North Korea. As a consequence, it’s blowing a unique opportunity to avoid a future crisis, stabilize the Korean Peninsula for the long term and rectify one of America’s longest-running foreign policy mistakes. On April 30, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the White House had concluded its months-long policy review on North Korea. There was no official rollout or fanfare, no glossy document with a government logo—just a brief verbal statement to reporters aboard Air Force One. In this case, the low-key reveal was […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address to Parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 2021 (pool photo by Esa Alexander via AP).

Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to the South African presidency in 2018 generated considerable optimism that his leadership would bring a more enlightened approach to policy, both domestic and foreign. His talk of a “new dawn” and his calls for a return to the values of Nelson Mandela represented an implicit repudiation of his two immediate predecessors, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In the case of the latter, Ramaphosa also promised an end to the rampant corruption and state capture that characterized Zuma’s decade in office. Human rights organizations viewed Ramaphosa’s presidency as an opportunity for a policy reset, and they encouraged […]

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