Articles

Bottom Line Up Front: 

• On April 28 and 30 the Nigerian military rescued hundreds of female hostages from Boko Haram’s stronghold in the northern Sambisa Forest

• The origins of the freed kidnap victims are unknown, but the military has announced that most of them are not the schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok in April 2014

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The visit of China's President Xi Jing Ping to Islamabad and the promised commitment of some $45 billion to develop a new "silk road" through Pakistan could be a stunning geopolitical as well as economic development Of course, Pakistan and China have enjoyed a long-standing relationship in part impelled by India's role as a rival and threat to both. It was President Yahya Khan who lubricated the Nixon opening to China in the early 1970's serving as the very silent matchmaker between Beijing and Washington.

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After four weeks of pounding one of the poorest and most dysfunctional places on earth, Saudi Arabia has wisely reduced its bombing campaign in Yemen.

While Saudi officials proclaimed "Operation Decisive Storm" a victory against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the campaign weakened but did not dislodge the Houthis and expanded the power of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

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For months now, Russia has been a constructive member of the international consortium negotiating with Iran, often proposing creative fixes to technical hurdles.

But this week, just as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was taking up sensitive Iran-related legislation, Russia announced that it was going forward with an old contract to sell Iran an air defense missile system that could make it less vulnerable to foreign attack.

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WHAT SEEMS lost in the furious, partisan debate about the Iran nuclear deal is just how long it took the United States to actually get back to a negotiating table with the Iranian government — nearly 35 years.

The talks have already achieved something tangible and rare: The United States and Iran are talking again, after decades of a bitter divorce and near total isolation from each other.

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Even as Iran has applied the brakes to its nuclear program over the past 18 months and provisionally agreed last week to a deal lasting more than a decade, it has continued to advance its prowess in the field of cyber-attacks, experts say.

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In this month’s Spotlight, we ask: What will be the top headlines at the VII Summit of the Americas?

The Summit of the Americas on April 10-11 is generating an unprecedented amount of attention, thanks in large part to the dramatic changes in the US-Cuba relationship. Though historic, the novelty of seeing Cuban President Raúl Castro and US President Barack Obama at the same table is sure to wear off after the first photo, and the region's attention will quickly turn to other pressing matters.

pdfRead the Spotlight (PDF)

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There is much work to be done and much that can still go awry, but April 2, 2015 will go down in history as the day when the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States finally got to yes.

After 36 years of mutual demonization, proxy wars and occasional direct conflict, the two old adversaries, joined by negotiators from other major world powers, agreed in Lausanne, Switzerland on a framework for a long-term deal curbing Iran's nuclear program and potentially doing much more.

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Last month when Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu made his ill-advised plea to Congress to scuttle the nuclear negotiations with Iran, fringe Republican elements in Congress, along with right wing fellow travelers, called Bibi the 21st century's version of Winston Churchill. Clearly they must have been referring to Churchill's flip-flops to and from the Conservative Party as Netanyahu would do vis a vis opposing the two state solution. Possibly they may have been referring to Churchill's tenure as First Lord of the Admiralty and the disastrous Gallipoli assault he initiated in 1915 or his five years as Chancellor of the Exchequer after World War I and the monumental economic blunder he made returning the pound sterling to the gold standard.

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Bottom Line Up Front: 

• On Tuesday, retired military dictator General Muhammadu Buhari surged to victory over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria’s most hotly contested presidential contest since the end of military rule

• Buhari’s win stunned observers: it is the first time that an incumbent has been defeated in Nigeria’s history

• Perhaps more surprising still, the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, preempted a much-feared round of violent protests by quickly and gracefully conceding victory

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