Friday, February 24, 2017
Iraq’s grinding war to dislodge the Islamic State from its last Iraqi strongholds has obscured a simmering — and in some respects equally important — political battle in Baghdad. At stake is Iranian influence in Iraq and how it might be used by Tehran to counter any increased pressure from the new U.S. administration in Washington. The latest maneuvers involve murky motives, foreign influence and multiple leaders of divergent constituencies.
A Washington D.C. taxi driver from Somalia reflected the mixture of relief and trepidation among his countrymen back home and other observers the day after the country’s latest momentous election last week. “My heart is smiling,” he told me after I’d greeted him with some of the few words of Somali that I know. But our conversation soon turned, naturally, to the hurdles yet to come for a strategic but struggling coastal sliver along the Horn of Africa.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington tomorrow is likely to produce at least a few initial signs of next steps in a decades-long conflict—and equally long efforts to resolve it. It’s unclear how President Trump will engage on the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but he has indicated his interest in “making the ultimate deal.” He also recently issued a statement on the unhelpful nature of settlements, and affirmed his commitment to the two-state solution.
After three years of exploratory talks, the Colombian government and the country’s largest remaining insurgency, the National Liberation Army (ELN), are due to open formal negotiations tomorrow in Quito, Ecuador. The beginning of the long-delayed talks represents another significant breakthrough in prospects for peace in Colombia, even as the government starts implementing the terms of its agreement last year with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP). The ELN talks also offer a new kind of opportunity for public participation in peace processes.
As U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis visits Seoul and Tokyo this week, the region and the world are searching for signals about what President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy means for Asia. In a region that values stability above all, there is a growing uncertainty and nervousness about America’s commitment to its continued peace and prosperity.
Last month, police arrested 25 people for allegedly planning synchronized terrorist attacks in Kosovo and Albania, including against the Israeli national soccer team and its fans during a match. Authorities said the foiled attacks had been ordered and coordinated by ISIS commanders from Kosovo fighting in Syria and Iraq. The case underscores the accelerating risk for terror attacks outside Iraq and Syria, as ISIS loses ground, its foreign fighters return home or fresh recruits get stuck in th...
Eastern Aleppo’s last traumatized residents waited prayerfully this weekend for bus rides to join the most massive refugee population ever recorded—about 65 million people on the planet, most uprooted by war. If those forced from their homes formed a nation, it would rank about 20th most populous in the world. At the core of this unprecedented upheaval are nine civil wars, from Libya to Afghanistan, exploited by groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. Less than a month before President-elect Donald...
While the people of Afghanistan are more disillusioned than ever with their government amid the country’s crises, public sympathy for the Taliban and their allies is eroding, according to the biggest annual survey of Afghans’ opinions. For the second straight year support is growing, if still narrow, for women’s rights to education and jobs outside the home.
Last month, two female suicide bombers killed 24 people in northeast Nigeria. In September, Paris police arrested three women for plotting a terrorist attack on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS). The same month, in Kenya, police killed three women who attacked the main police station in Mombasa. In a headline fairly typical of the news and commentary in such cases, the Daily Beast reported that “ISIS is turning women into cannon fodder.” But the findings of more than 80 interviews we conduct...