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Commentary: How Saudi Arabia has overreached on Iran, Lebanon

On Nov. 19, Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo for an hours-long gripe session against Iran and its ally, Hezbollah. The Arab leaders accused Tehran and the Lebanese Shi’ite movement of destabilizing the Middle East, but they fell short of agreeing on concrete action.

Commentary: Africa’s deft handling of Zimbabwe’s ‘coup’

The sight of a civilian populace wildly cheering soldiers clinging to a tank, is the standard fare of coups d’état. In Africa, which has had a troubling tradition of the military overthrowing civilian administrations, it’s a jubilation that historically has rarely lasted for long, with the new rulers soon proving to be at least as venal and oppressive as those they have replaced.

Commentary: Britain’s gravest economic challenge isn’t Brexit

Few British budgets have mattered as much as the one that Philip Hammond will deliver to the House of Commons on Nov. 22. The chancellor of the exchequer must shore up Theresa May’s perilously shaky government ahead of a vital Brexit summit of European leaders in mid-December. At the same time Hammond has to keep a grip on the public finances. But the gravest challenge he faces is economic: Britain’s persistent productivity blight.

Commentary: Why social democrats have become irrelevant

In almost every country in Europe, parties of the center-left struggle to remain competitive in the political arena. Yet social democracy - though it can claim success in creating and developing public services which have improved the lives and health of citizens - can now rarely convince its former supporters that it’s still worth their votes.

Commentary: Lessons from Zimbabwe’s coup

The speed of events in Zimbabwe this week has taken even experienced Africa watchers by surprise. An effective army takeover; President Robert Mugabe placed under house arrest and his wife – and would-be successor – reportedly fleeing the country.

Commentary: How Trump is making it easier to exploit consumers

Richard Cordray, who has been the head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) since 2012, announced Wednesday that he will be resigning before the end of his five-year term. His interim replacement will be self-described "right-wing nutjob" Mick Mulvaney.

Commentary: The next front in the fight against sexual assault

Ever since The New York Times and The New Yorker published the accounts of dozens of women accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault, the social and political tides seem to be turning. More women (and a few men) have spoken out against Hollywood and media luminaries, business giants and, most recently, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Commentary: The truth behind the U.S. show of force in Asia

As President Donald Trump tours Asia, three U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier battle groups are exercising together in the Pacific. It’s an awesome display of U.S. military power and reach, a reminder of Washington’s unparalleled ability to project global force. At the same time, however, it’s also a sign of how stretched those forces have become.

Commentary: Britain’s mess extends beyond Brexit

Great Britain – ever ready to boast stable politics and a faultless, often-called “Rolls Royce” civil service – is in a mess. Between scandals over sex, secret meetings, political donors and the royal family, the government is melting down.

Commentary: How Dems may use election wins to re-draw voter districts

Most political observers say that Tuesday’s elections were a referendum on Donald Trump or a signal of what will happen in 2020. “The results across the country represent nothing less than a stinging repudiation of Trump on the first anniversary of his election,” wrote The Washington Post, in a typical statement of the conventional wisdom. True, the Democrats did well, picking up state legislative seats from Georgia to New Hampshire, including a massive swing of at least 15 seats in Virginia, as well as the governorships in Virginia and New Jersey.

Commentary: The Mideast war risk Trump can’t ignore

Middle East tensions are flaring – again – as Lebanon becomes the new front in the regional rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran. But while the focus of the news has shifted from the battering of Islamic State to the repercussions of the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, there’s been a remarkable silence about one of the Middle East’s most important players: Israel.

Commentary: Why Supreme Court must tell anti-gay baker his cakes aren’t art

In early December, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case, in which a conservative Christian bakery owner seeks the right to discriminate against gay couples, is the latest attempt by conservatives to carve out special exemption for business owners to civil rights laws.

Commentary: How the Catalonia vote threatens the EU

The struggles for and against independence in the Spanish province of Catalonia are emblematic of the European Union’s present strength and its future weakness. They also display the weaknesses, present and future, of the two leaders of the contending parties: Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister and Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia.

Commentary: Whose Catalonia coup is it anyway?

For the hundreds of thousands of marchers thronging the palace-lined streets of Barcelona on Sunday, there was only one answer to the question about where storied Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, really belonged. “Viva España,” they chanted, waving flags emblazoned with regal lions and banners that read “We are part of Spain!”

Commentary: NY truck attack part of Islamic State’s ‘leaderless jihad’

On Tuesday, a driver rammed a pickup truck through a crowded bike path in New York City, killing eight people and injuring 12 before he was shot by police.

Commentary: How Trump can prevent a nuclear Iran

Donald Trump has announced two important and long overdue changes to Iran policy. First, he committed to addressing the shortcomings of the Iran nuclear deal, without terminating it. Second, he called for a comprehensive strategy to counter Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East. More sanctions, however, will not be enough to accomplish either of these goals.

Commentary: U.S. loses in the Mideast even as it wins against Islamic State

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited the Middle East last weekend with two simple aims – to wrap Iraq into America’s regional axis against Iran, and persuade Saudi Arabia to end its blockade of Qatar. He failed to accomplish either.

Commentary: In Sunni North Africa, fears of Iran’s Shi’ite shadow

These are challenging times for North Africa’s Muslim governments. Even as Islamic State is ousted from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the extremist group is continuing its battle against authorities in countries like Morocco, Algeria and Egypt.

Podcast: 'At the end of the day it's geopolitics'

Columnist Peter Van Buren talks to Jamillah Knowles about regional tensions, proxy wars and how the defeats suffered by Islamic State will re-shape the Middle East.

Commentary: The unlikely – and ironic – effects of Islamic State’s fall in Iraq

Islamic State has been routed in Iraq. On October 5, the militant group lost the northern town of Hawija – its last urban stronghold after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul and Tal Afar earlier this year. The brutal battles for these cities have been well documented. Less noticed, however, has been how the near-total defeat of IS is reshaping political and sectarian alliances in the region.

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