Nurses wait in the corridor of a vaccination center where Algerians get the COVID-19 vaccine, Algiers, Feb.3, 2021 (AP photo by Fateh Guidoum).

Many countries across the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA, region have faced critical challenges in ensuring the effective and equitable vaccination of their citizens against COVID-19. With a few exceptions, like Morocco, Israel and several Gulf states, countries in the region have faced difficulties in securing sufficient doses due to logistical constraints, poor planning and vaccine hesitancy. As of mid-August, only 21 percent of the region’s population had received at least one dose, and less than 13 percent were fully vaccinated. This puts the region far behind the developing country average of 36 percent with at least one […]

People demonstrate in defense of media freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 10, 2021 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

In mid-August, Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice party, or PiS, introduced a bill that would ban non-European ownership of Polish media properties. Detractors saw a blatant attack on TVN, the biggest independent television news source in the country and frequent PiS critic, which is owned by U.S. media conglomerate Discovery. Despite the opposition, PiS pushed the bill through the lower chamber of parliament with the help of some dubious procedural maneuvers and the votes of several MPs from an allied party, sparking widespread—and at times colorful—accusations of political corruption. The resulting political maelstrom leaves Poland with its freedom of […]

A Dongfeng-41 intercontinental strategic nuclear missiles group formation marches to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, Oct. 1 2019 (Imaginechina photo via AP Images).

Satellite photos recently obtained by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the Federation of American Scientists, and others appear to show that China is building vast fields of new missile silos in its sparsely populated western region. That has prompted fears that Beijing may be well on its way to possessing a much larger nuclear arsenal than anyone had expected and aspiring to rival the United States and Russia, the two countries that have traditionally dominated the global nuclear order. If this comes to pass, tripolarity will for the first time become the primary feature of that order, with […]

President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and others watch as the remains of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, are returned to Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 29, 2021 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

At first glance, the tenacity of vaccine nationalism and the shambolic U.S. departure from Afghanistan appear to be completely unrelated. And yet they both expose the moral costs of a world dominated by sovereign states that consistently place narrow national interest above the ethical imperative of alleviating the suffering of strangers.  This is hardly a news flash. The question of how governments should square their duties to their own citizens with their obligations to those in other countries is an inherent and recurrent ethical quandary in international relations. It is at the heart of debates over humanitarian intervention, foreign aid, […]

A destroyed tank by the side of the road in western Tigray, Ethiopia, May 1, 2021 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Millions of people in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region are currently at risk of famine, a situation brought on by the government’s invasion of the region last fall after a long-running political dispute, as well as an unofficial blockade imposed on Tigray since June by federal troops, allied Eritrean forces and ethnic militias. Throughout the conflict, reports of unspeakable atrocities have been a near-daily occurrence, and the warring parties appear more resolved than ever to seek victory on the battlefield.  With no end in sight to the fighting, it’s time for the U.S. to accept that its efforts to coax the […]

Mercy Wambua, center, the CEO of the Law Society of Kenya and other lawyers march to protest the Kenyan government’s deportation of an opposition politician, Feb. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

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. Last Friday, Kenya’s Court of Appeal upheld a May judgment by the High Court blocking a government bid to make fundamental changes to the country’s constitution. The ruling marks a setback to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy-building project and is certain to shift the political landscape […]

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the terror attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., August 26, 2021 (Photo by Oliver Contreras for Sipa USA via AP Images).

Debacle. That is the only right and proper way to describe President Joe Biden’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden lost every point he’s dropped in national polling this week entirely of his own accord, and history will not be any kinder to his foreign policy legacy. Most Americans might agree with the White House decision to exit Afghanistan. Regardless, August 2021 will remain an indelible stain on the United States’ reputation.  That was already the case before yesterday’s horrific suicide bombing outside Kabul’s international airport, which left at least 100 dead, including 13 U.S. servicemembers, and 150 injured, according to the latest […]

Students wearing Haitian national flags wait for the start of a parade marking Flag Day, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 18, 2019 (AP photo by ).

Haiti was already mired in a deep political crisis and humanitarian emergency before a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck earlier this month, killing at least 2,200 people and injuring and displacing thousands more. The country’s acting president and prime minister, Ariel Henry, had been in office for less than a month when the disaster occurred, having assumed power in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7. Moise had been facing mass protests and widespread demands for his resignation due to rampant corruption and mismanagement of the economy under his administration. Amid the turmoil, a coalition of Haitian […]

Protesters hold a rally to mark the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule by a statue symbolizing a wartime “comfort woman” near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, March 1, 2021 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

For East Asia analysts, writing about the long-tortured relationship between Japan and South Korea presents a certain descriptive challenge. How often can stock phrases like “all-time low” or “worst-ever” be re-used? Is it possible to be “at a nadir” more than once? And how, given the protracted downward spiral in ties between the two U.S. allies over the past three years, are we to know when things have truly “hit rock bottom”? If a recent South Korean court ruling is any indication, we may be about to find out. Last week, lawyers representing a group of South Koreans who say […]

President Joe Biden pauses as he listens to a question about the bombings at the Kabul airport that killed at least 13 U.S. service members, Washington, Aug. 26, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which gives a rundown of the week’s top stories on WPR. 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. By now, the shock of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has begun to wear off. But the outrage over the Biden administration’s handling of the evacuation of Western civilians and Afghan nationals at risk of Taliban retaliation seems to have only risen this week, even as the airlift gathered pace. That outrage turned to horror Thursday, when […]

A woman holds a poster demanding the evacuation of people out of Afghanistan during a demonstration in Berlin, Germany, Aug. 17, 2021 (photo by Markus Schreiber).

The abrupt collapse of Afghanistan’s NATO-backed government in the wake of the departure of U.S. forces cast a sharp, critical spotlight on U.S. President Joe Biden. But the American president was not the only Western leader who came under enormous political pressure as the scenes of mayhem outside of Kabul’s international airport played out live on television around the world. The fall of Kabul has already riled the waters across Europe, where multiple governments are struggling to defend themselves against waves of criticism. In the Netherlands, currently still governed by a caretaker coalition months after the most recent elections, there […]

Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso holds the “Baston de Mando,” or baton of authority, during an Indigenous ceremony in Tamboloma, Ecuador, May 26, 2021 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

At his swearing-in ceremony as Ecuador’s new president in late May, Guillermo Lasso promised to usher in a new political era in the South American nation ravaged by COVID-19, an economic slump and autocratic hyper-partisanship. “I have not come to satisfy the hate of a few but the hunger of many,” the conservative former banker and Coca-Cola executive told the National Assembly, in a message clearly aimed at healing and unifying the country. “My strength will not come from how much I raise my voice to shout but rather from how much I listen to the people before I speak.” Since then, Lasso, 65, […]

Sunbathers on the beach in Barcelona, Spain, July 9, 2021 (AP photo by Joan Mateu).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox.  The island of Malta is known as a tourist destination for its scenic views. Perhaps less recognized is that it now has the world’s highest coronavirus vaccination rate, with 80 percent of the total population, including children, and 90 percent of people over the age of 12 fully vaccinated. It […]

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye is inaugurated in Gitega, Burundi, June 18, 2020 (AP photo by Berthier Mugiraneza).

On July 1, Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente visited Burundi to mark the country’s Independence Day—the first high-level visit between the two neighbors in years. Apparently seeking to turn the page on years of sometimes violent tensions, Ngirente said, “This is the right time for Burundi and Rwanda to build on our existing strong foundation of historical and cultural linkages in order to achieve prosperity and development.” Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimeye issued a similarly forward-looking statement in response: “Let us leave the past behind, and open a new chapter.”  Only a year ago, few observers of the region would have […]

The Kigali Convention Center in Kigali, Rwanda, Jan. 30, 2021 (photo by Reaching the Last Mile, via AP Images).

The extraordinary demographic change currently sweeping Africa is one of the most important challenges facing humankind over the remainder of this century. United Nations projections predict that from its present population of nearly 1.4 billion people, the continent’s population will approach 4.5 billion people by 2100, which is the staggering equivalent in population terms of two Chinas and one India. Other carefully considered efforts to project global population trends, such as a recent study published in the Lancet, predict an even larger African population two generations hence. Demographic growth on such a scale will affect nearly every human question one […]

A passenger wearing a facemask exiting the arrival hall at the Hong Kong International Airport terminal, Hong Kong, Oct. 24, 2020 (Sipa photo by Miguel Candela 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.  A quarantine waiver granted by authorities in Hong Kong to Hollywood star Nicole Kidman has drawn outrage and charges of double standards by local residents. But a bigger problem underlies the saga: The city is caught between two different COVID-19 strategies, with no way out.  Kidman, who arrived in […]

A man searches for his passport among the wreckage of his grandmother’s collapsed house, in Maniche, Haiti, Aug. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

Relief efforts are continuing in Haiti following the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit the country on Aug. 14, causing widespread destruction in the southern peninsula, near the quake’s epicenter. The death toll has surpassed 2,200, with 344 people still missing, according to the Haitian Civil Protection Agency. More than 12,000 people have been injured and nearly 53,000 houses destroyed. The disaster occurred during a deep political crisis in Haiti, which took a tragic and unexpected turn when President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7. Before that, Moise had been governing mainly through executive orders due to his failure to organize […]

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