World Politics

Post-Election Uproar in Belarus Leaves Russia Watching and Waiting

Reading Time: 5 minutesRussian President Vladimir Putin messed up neighboring Belarus. Now he can squash it.The countries resemble two conjoined twins straight out of Total Recall, a 1990 sci-fi flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. One is small and screaming: Belarus, a landlocked former Soviet republic the size of Kansas.

Rogue Russian Law Enforcement Mass-Produces ‘State Enemies’

Reading Time: 6 minutesWhen a small group of Moscow dissidents who called themselves “New Greatness” began plotting to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin, one member proved to be exceptionally resourceful.

US Seizes Cryptocurrency Amid IS Attacks in Africa

Reading Time: 2 minutesIn the largest seizure of digital currency allegedly used for terrorism, the US Justice Department announced on Thursday that it has seized millions of dollars from cryptocurrency accounts belonging to al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), and other militant groups.

A Daughter Seeks the Truth About Her Father, Espionage, and Oil

Reading Time: 6 minutesIn January 1947, Daniel Dennett seemed to have it made. Dennett, who had taught at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, during the early 1930s, was cultural attaché at the US Legation in Beirut. Dennett’s wife had just given birth to Charlotte, a beautiful baby girl.

Curtain Falls on Hong Kong Democracy

Reading Time: 5 minutes— OPINION — As America celebrates its independence, Hong Kong residents are surrendering their own. On June 30, draconian new “security” measures for the Chinese territory took effect, and a pro-democracy effort that had drawn worldwide attention quickly began to fade away.

Russian Bounties: What Did the President Know and When Did He Know it?

Reading Time: 4 minutes— OPINION —[James W. Pardew was a career US Army intelligence officer who served as deputy J-2 (intelligence) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and director of foreign intelligence for the Army.

The Captive and the Spy

Reading Time: 11 minutesJonathan Z. Larsen has led a remarkable life in journalism. Through a combination of luck and talent, he found himself repeatedly at the scene of great historical episodes. Larsen began his journalism career at the West Hartford News while still at college.

Politicians Can Be Bad for Your Health

Reading Time: 4 minutesThere are many reasons for Hong Kong’s successful public health response to COVID-19, but one important factor stands out: The citizens of Hong Kong knew what those of the US and UK are gradually realizing: in a pandemic, politicians can be very bad for your health.Last Monday, the Hong Kong’s hospital authority skipped its usual daily press briefing

Extortion and Money Laundering Land Dictator’s Daughter in Jail

Reading Time: 6 minutesTASHKENT, Uzbekistan — A president’s daughter gets an important government job, becomes an omnipresent style icon, a businesswoman (whose success depends upon rampant labor abuses among other things), and philanthropist, and looks to a future in politics. Sound familiar? 

China Vaults Past US, Russia in New ‘Great Game’

Reading Time: 5 minutesTASHKENT, Uzbekistan — To many Americans, Central Asia may seem distant and insignificant. But the region is a strategic chunk of steppes, deserts, and overpopulated valleys stretched between Russia, China, and the Caspian Sea — an aquatic treasure chest filled with some of the world’s largest untapped hydrocarbon resources. It also borders Iran and Afghanistan.

Some Clarity on Flight 752

Reading Time: 6 minutesThis week’s emergence of showing that two missiles, not one, brought down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on January 8 sheds a bit more light on a mystery that

The Lebanese Want to Fight Corruption, Not US-Iran Proxy War

Reading Time: 6 minutesBEIRUT, LEBANON — When Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a US Reaper drone strike in Iraq January 3, fear spread throughout the world that Iran might retaliate by launching proxy wars throughout the Middle East. Here in Lebanon, that dread seemed justified.

The New York Times’s Odd Plane-Strike Video

Reading Time: 3 minutesUpdate: Iran admitted on Saturday that it accidentally shot down Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752. It initially denied involvement, as reflected in this article, published on Friday.

The World Fears Trump More Than It Fears Iran

Reading Time: 4 minutesIn the aftermath of the drone strike — unilaterally ordered by President Donald Trump — that killed Iran’s powerful Quds force general Qassem Soleimani, WhoWhatWhy’s weekly series surveys world opinion and its impression of the dramatic escalation of the bloody struggle for influence in the Middle East.On Wednesday evening Iran retaliated by attacki

How Will Iran Respond After US Killing of Top General?

Reading Time: 14 minutesSix months ago, WhoWhatWhy presented a cast of characters that could trigger a war between the US and Iran. Now that Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani has been assassinated in an American drone strike in Baghdad, that list is shorter… but the possibility of another armed conflict in the Middle East is much higher. 

China’s Repression of Hong Kong and the Uighur Muslims: Two Becomes One?

Reading Time: 5 minutesHONG KONG &; An armed riot policeman aims his revolver directly at the face of a terrified female protester who is holding only a flimsy political poster which reads “heaven will destroy the CCP [Chinese Communist Party].” The moment, cap

Boris Johnson, Brexit and the UK Election — What the US Thinks

Reading Time: 3 minutesIn the UK’s general election, the Conservative party, led by right-wing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, won a landslide victory. His mantra of “get Brexit done” cut through with voters.

Trump, Impeachment and the 2020 Election — What the World Thinks

Reading Time: 3 minutesAs the House of Representatives moved closer to impeaching President Donald Trump this week and the 2020 election looms large in the American psyche, WhoWhatWhy’s weekly series surveys world opinion of momentous events.

Saudi Military Base Shooter and the Unexplained 9/11 Connection

Reading Time: 22 minutesThe alleged gunman in the fatal shooting Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, in which at least three were killed and others wounded, is a Saudi national who had been assigned to the base for the past two years.The training of the suspected shooter, Mohammed Alshamrani, was paid for by the Saudi government.

How the World Views Trump, Impeachment and the 2020 Election

Reading Time: 4 minutesAs the impeachment of President Donald Trump and the forthcoming presidential election monopolizes the American conversation, WhoWhatWhy launches a weekly series looking at how the world views these historic events. This week Trump was in London for the 70th anniversary summit of NATO.

Chaos in Hong Kong: Election Candidates Stabbed and Beaten

Reading Time: 4 minutesHONG KONG — Kneeling on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind his back and his eyes streaming with tears, a gray-haired, middle-aged man is clearly in acute distress.Police officers have just pepper-sprayed Richard Chan in the face, violently wrestled him to the ground, broken his spectacles, and arrested him. With less than two weeks remaining befo

Does Location of ISIS Leader’s Death Hint at Turkish Help?

Reading Time: 2 minutesAbu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the secretive Islamic State leader, died during a US raid in northeastern Syria last night, President Donald Trump announced on Sunday morning.

Erdogan Risks Syria Becoming Turkey’s ‘Vietnam’

Reading Time: 4 minutesTurkey has now embarked on its grand plan of taking over northern Syria, crushing a fragile that US allies have been building there and resettling the area wi

Portugal’s No-Drama Election Offers Respite From Trump Chaos

Reading Time: 6 minutesAs a full-blown impeachment inquiry ramps up in the US, Britain comes ever closer to a chaotic departure from the European Union, and nationalism breeds mutual distrust among nations across the globe, it’s time for a break. Let’s visit Portugal. 

Trump Call Transcript: No Laughing Matter for Zelensky

Reading Time: 3 minutesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky starred in the “performance of his life” during a phone call with President Donald Trump and their subsequent meeting in New York, the Kyiv Post commented on Thursday. But while Trump faces an impeachment inquiry, Zelensky will likely get away with an epic loss of face, experts say.

With Afghan Peace Talks Faltering, Can Taliban Reintegrate Into Society?

Reading Time: 3 minutesEfforts to integrate former Taliban fighters back into Afghan society are doomed without a peace agreement, yet no sustainable peace can come about without the successful return of combatants to civilian life.This is how John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, outlined a key dilemma facing the US in its longest war to date at a US Ins

Hong Kong Government’s Concession Unlikely to Mollify Protesters

Reading Time: 5 minutesHONG KONG — Almost everything in Hong Kong has changed over the last 13 weeks, as the city has been torn apart by what is being called the “hard hat revolution.” Chief Executive Carrie Lam is now officially withdrawing the controversial extradition bill that triggered the unrest, but it’s highly unlikely everything will just return to normal overnight.The much-criticized legislation tha

Iran-US Crisis: The Six Angry Men Who Could Trigger War

Reading Time: 14 minutesFor Americans, the Fourth of July is a day filled with fun, family barbeques, poolside parties, fireworks, and overt displays of patriotism.

Trump’s China Tantrum

Reading Time: 4 minutesIf you believe President Donald Trump, Beijing has opened a devious new front in the US-China trade war by manipulating its currency to make Chinese exports more competitive and retaliate for the damage inflicted by US tariffs.

What Will Erdogan Do After Losing Key Election?

Reading Time: 4 minutesEarly on Sunday evening, two hours after polls closed, people in Istanbul rubbed their eyes as the pro-government candidate, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, conceded the race for mayor of the city.Jubilation quickly spread on the streets and onto social media, though observers fear further chaos.

Patriot Games — Chinese Consumers Protect Huawei From Trump’s Attacks

Reading Time: 6 minutes(BEIJING) — With a series of attacks, President Donald Trump tried to make Chinese electronics giant Huawei one of the casualties in the trade war between the US and the Asian superpower.

Nuclear Disarmament: A Solution Not Being Offered

Reading Time: 5 minutesIran’s decision to stop complying with parts of a landmark nuclear deal, and North Korea’s new round of missile tests have the world talking about the possibility of nuclear war again.In light of the devastation these weapons cause, it defies logic that such a war is ever a possibility.

Russia’s Secret Tools for Killing, Torturing, Spying

Manhattan is the kind of place where you can find just about anything. But it seems like the most improbable location in the world for a KGB Espionage Museum. Yet such a place has opened in a storefront at 245 West 14th Street, Manhattan — right in the heart of former enemy territory. (At least I hope it’s “former.”)

Deportation Looms for Mexican Journalist Seeking Asylum

Emilio Gutierrez once had a stable career, home, and family in Mexico. That was before the journalist began to write his investigative reports about crimes committed by members of the military in Chihuahua, Mexico. After death threats started coming, Gutierrez and his teenage son fled Mexico in 2008, seeking asylum in the US.

Michael Cohen’s Murky Backstory Warrants More Scrutiny

This week, it’s wall-to-wall Michael Cohen on Capitol Hill. Cohen, testifying both behind closed doors and in public to not one, not two, but three committees, is revealing new things, some extraordinarily newsworthy, explosive, consequential, even profound. Notwithstanding that, there is no indication that Donald Trump’s former “enforcer” is telling all.

Saudi Arabia’s Double Standard on International Justice

In August 2018, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador in Riyadh, halted direct flights to Toronto, suspended new trade deals, and threatened to relocate thousands of Saudis studying in Canada. The diplomatic fallout was all because Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted her concern for a Saudi activist, Samar Badawi, who was arrested for her human rights advocacy in the Kingdom.

Are US Tax Dollars Wasted on Afghan Helicopters Nobody Will Fly?

In yet another example illustrating the waste of taxpayer funds in Afghanistan, the US plans to go ahead with the delivery of 159 expensive Black Hawk helicopters — even though there may not be enough pilots to fly them or ground crews to maintain them.

The Silver Lining of Trump’s Syria Withdrawal

The Syrian government, having perpetrated numerous over the past six years of civil war, is likely the biggest winner of President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull US troops out of Syria.

Let Them Drown? Italy’s Trump Closes Ports to Refugees

Channeling Donald Trump, Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has proclaimed a “zero-landing” Mediterranean, where no one fleeing war, persecution, or famine will be allowed to reach Europe by sea.