The Congo Basin rainforests, the world’s second largest, form the planet’s single greatest “carbon sink,” absorbing the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is overheating our planet. Yet this crucial front line against climate change is threatened by illegal and industrial logging, mining, oil and gas concessions and ongoing warfare in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). To save the rich and unique ecosystems of the Congo Basin forests, policies are needed to stop destructive resource exploitation and ongoing violence. This includes devising more effective, holistic approaches to upholding conservation laws in national parks and other protected areas.
Amid the harsh Ukrainian winter, Russia has launched a slate of rocket attacks targeting Ukrainian cities. “They can’t win … so they’re just going to attack civilian targets and hope that it weakens the resolve of the Ukrainian people,” says USIP’s Donald Jensen. “But there’s no sign that’s happening.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says he expects a credible election to choose his successor in just 10 weeks. A credible, publicly accepted result and a peaceful transfer of power could help consolidate democracy in Africa’s most populous country following democratic setbacks in the region, notably seven coups in 26 months in the Sahel and West Africa. Buhari, first elected in 2015, is completing his second term in office, the constitutional maximum, and is to hand power to his elected successor in May — an extension of democracy that Buhari has said he wants to ensure as part of his legacy to the country.
On December 9, hundreds of Indian and Chinese forces clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the roughly 2,100 miles contested boundary that separates northern India from China. Neither side used firearms, and no deaths were reported, but both Indian and Chinese forces sustained injuries. The skirmish was the worst since the summer of 2020, when deadly fighting in the Galwan Valley led to the most significant border escalation in over four decades. In the wake of those 2020 clashes, India and China held 17 rounds of military talks — but have been unable to reach terms for disengagement across key areas of the disputed border.
Japan released on Friday a new, robust national security strategy and complementary defense planning documents. The strategy is Japan’s first in nearly 10 years and only its second ever. The strategy navigates the country’s response to significant changes in the regional and global security environment, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and reflect Japan’s growing sense of vulnerability vis-à-vis its immediate neighbors. USIP’s Mirna Galic looks at the new strategy and what it means for the region.
Gulf states have proven to be a dependable port in a storm for China’s oil producers and traders. For the past two decades, the region has consistently supplied China — the world’s largest single crude oil importer — with roughly half of its crude oil imports from overseas. By contrast, it seems China’s oil interests in every other region of the world have been battered by gale force winds.
As part of its ambitious “Total Peace” agenda, the new Colombian government recently restarted peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), marking the first new negotiations since January 2019. And while this cycle of talks adopted the same agenda and process framework as the previous efforts, current President Gustavo Petro appointed a diverse and broad negotiations team in the hopes of generating early momentum and support. Petro intends to advance on partial accords as quickly as possible — building up to a comprehensive agreement before his brief four-year term in office is complete.
From Israel’s turbulent electoral politics and Palestinian political dysfunction to the cycle of intercommunal violence in the West Bank and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, it’s rare for much good news to come out of the Israeli-Palestinian context these days. But this June, a hopeful story emerged from the impoverished Gaza Strip when its Mediterranean beaches were deemed safe for swimming for the first time in decades.
Myanmar’s women have assumed an unprecedented leadership role in the pro-democracy resistance since the 2021 coup. From nonviolent protest movements to fighting in People’s Defense Forces (PDF) to the National Unity Government (NUG), women have been instrumental in the fight against the ruling junta’s brutality and oppression. But as Myanmar’s network of resistance groups slowly weakens the junta’s grip, resistance leaders are now faced with a daunting task: How do you re-establish security and stability in a country long plagued by civil conflict?
Chinese leader Xi Jinping made a long-rumored trip to Saudi Arabia last week, enhancing ties between his country, the world’s top oil importer, and the leading oil exporting country. Xi and Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) inked a number of deals on oil, technology, infrastructure and security, and also made an agreement to avoid interference in each other’s domestic affairs. Xi also met with leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a broader group of Arab leaders. The China-Saudi summit comes amid frosty U.S.-Saudi ties and a perception among Arab leaders that Washington is pulling back from its traditional role in the Middle East, leading to some speculation of a larger geopolitical shift in the region amid the intensifying U.S-China rivalry.