There have already been many military maneuvers, political pivots and plot twists since the U.S. inked a peace deal with the Taliban late last month. But the one development that could finally bring a measure of clarity to Afghanistan in the long term is the International Criminal Court’s decision on March 5 to approve opening a full investigation into allegations that U.S., Taliban and Afghan government forces committed systematic abuses during the nearly 20-year-long war.
Anti-government protesters in Iraq have spent more than four months calling for political and economic reforms and venting their anger at the failure of successive governments to provide better living standards and economic opportunities. Security forces, caught off-guard by the strength and resilience of the youth-driven protest movement, have responded with a campaign of repression that has killed more than 600 people and wounded tens of thousands more across the country. But the crackdown has only intensified the crisis, as Iraqis continue to take to the streets demanding justice for slain demonstrators and reforms of the political system.
Sajad Jiyad is the managing director of Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies, an independent think tank based in Baghdad. Follow him on Twitter @SajadJiyad.
For the first time in Syria’s nine-year war, the Turkish military this week launched direct attacks on the Syrian army. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that he ordered howitzers and F-16 fighter jets to hit President Bashar al-Assad’s forces near the Turkish border in response to the killing of eight Turkish soldiers in Idlib province in northwestern Syria.
Aron Lund is a fellow with The Century Foundation. In 2018–2020, his work on Syria is supported by a research grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.
Two weeks after it was signed, President Donald Trump’s phase-one trade deal with China, which the White House typically hyped as a “landmark” and “historic agreement,” is looking more suspect. There were always questions about what was left out of the deal—especially industrial subsidies in China and continued tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports from China. But now there is growing skepticism about the value of what is actually in the deal.
Kimberly Ann Elliott is a visiting scholar at the George Washington University Institute for International Economic Policy, and a visiting fellow with the Center for Global Development.
Bernie Sanders’ remarkable staying power in the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries—including narrow leads in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, and now a slight edge over former Vice President Joe Biden in a recent national poll—has unsettled the U.S. political establishment. His revived presidential campaign increases the possibility that Democrats will select, and Americans elect, a left-wing nominee who could upend America’s global role, but in a very different way than President Donald Trump.
Stewart Patrick is the James H. Binger senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of “The Sovereignty Wars: Reconciling America with the World” (Brookings Press: 2018)
A recently released trove of more than 700,000 leaked documents illuminate the shocking extent of corruption and kleptocracy in Angola. The files, known as the Luanda Leaks and published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and dozens of partner media outlets, detail how the country’s former first daughter, Isabel dos Santos, abused her power for personal gain, amassing a fortune estimated at $2.2 billion and earning her the title of “Africa’s richest woman.” Dos Santos, who splits her time mostly between London and Dubai, allegedly exploited positions of influence given to her by her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, before he finally stepped down as president in 2017 after nearly four decades in power.
Soren Kirk Jensen is the director of Independent Policy Analysis (IPA), an independent consultancy specializing in public financial management and political economy issues in Lusophone Africa
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s new Cabinet was sworn in last week, marking the official start of Spain’s first coalition government since its democratic transition in the 1970s. Sanchez’s Socialist Party won a general election in November but failed to secure an outright majority in the legislature. After weeks of negotiations, the lower house of Spain’s parliament earlier this month narrowly approved Sanchez’s proposal for a coalition with the far-left Podemos party, by 167 votes to 165, with 18 abstentions.
Alana Moceri is an international relations analyst, writer and professor at the European University of Madrid and the IE School of Global and Public Affairs.
When Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s conservative political boy wonder, and Green Party leader Werner Kogler stepped in front of the nation’s TV cameras to announce an unlikely new coalition government in early January, after months of talks, neither seemed very excited. The gaps between their parties were still wide, and the compromises many. Nevertheless, in the end, they had agreed on a governing program that emphasizes restrictions on migration and more border security, including a much-criticized ban on headscarves for girls under the age of 14 and preemptive detention for migrants who have not committed any crimes. There is also an ambitious if discordant goal to make Austria climate neutral by 2040.
Denise Hruby is a journalist based in Vienna, Austria, who covers politics, environmental and social issues. Her reporting has appeared in National Geographic, CNN, the BBC, the Guardian and The Washington Post. She’s a National Geographic Explorer and International Women’s Media Foundation fellow.
The stunning allegation this week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked the phone of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, according to a report by United Nations investigators, may come as a shock to some. But for most people tracking the rise of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler over the past five years, it’s business as usual. From his disastrous proxy war in Yemen to the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, the young crown prince, known as MBS, has demonstrated time and again his hubristic belief that there are no limits to his power.
Candace Rondeaux is a senior fellow and professor of practice at the Center on the Future of War, a joint initiative of New America and Arizona State University.
As the United States girds for highly contentious and consequential elections later this year, federal agencies and local officials remain woefully unprepared to deal with the high likelihood of foreign interference. The House of Representatives has passed three bills to address election-related vulnerabilities, but none has been taken up by the Senate, leaving gaping deficiencies in election infrastructure and the balloting process. A congressional appropriation of $425 million for election security, enacted last month as part of a broader spending package, will help local officials with urgent needs, but it comes late in the cycle and fails to create a permanent mechanism to fund election security. This means election administrators will most likely spend the money on quick fixes, like updates to existing software, rather than on long-term solutions.
Michael Carpenter is managing director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Pentagon, as a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, and as director for Russia at the White House National Security Council.