Hugo Chávez died as he lived: shrouded in mystery, creating chaos and commotion, and leaving an indelible mark. His death leaves a void in the hearts of his many followers, but it also leaves his opponents in a daze. Chávez has been such a central part of our lives, of my life, that this is a blow to us as well.
Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
Civil war has plagued Burma for over sixty years now. At a number of times throughout that period, the ethnic rebel groups fighting for autonomy from the central government attempted to join forces. But their common foe, the Burmese military, consistently refused to have any dealings with alliances that tried to bring together all the restive minorities into a common front. The reason for this was simple: The generals always understood that ethnic rebels tend to be a fractious bunch, and that it's only too easy to incite defections by playing to a particular group's sectional interests (whether it be the offer of a favorable deal or the threat of a harsh crackdown). As a result, the Burmese army developed considerable expertise in the subtleties of divide and rule.
Ye Aung Thu/AFP/GettyImages
Sixty years after the death of the Soviet dictator, Masha Lipman reports on the complex legacy of Joseph Stalin in today's Russia.
Jeffrey Gedmin explains why -- contrary to the claims of some Washington officials -- the fact that Iranians can vote in elections doesn't make their country a democracy.
Just in time for Kenya's general election this week, Daniel Branch explores the contradictions of a place that combines a booming economy with political dysfunction. Seema Shah reports on Kenya's new electoral commission, the key institution in the election.
Tom Pepinsky contends that Indonesia's experience of political transition actually doesn't offer relevant lessons for Egypt or Tunisia.
In his column, DemLab editor Christian Caryl examines the centrality of land disputes in political conflicts around the world -- and why the people in rich countries often fail to notice.
Neha Paliwal wonders whether Bangladesh's Shahbag Square protest is about receiving justice or getting revenge.
Mohamed Eljarh looks at Libyan society's controversial efforts to purge the people of the old regime.
Visiting Morocco, Mohamed El Dahshan offers an update on the travails of that country's pro-democracy movement.
And Robert Looney weighs in on the pros and cons of Evo Morales' populist economic agenda in Bolivia.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
Joshua Kurlantzick, writing in Foreign Policy, argues that democracy around the world is receding -- and explains who's responsible.
Hernando de Soto reminds readers in The Wall Street Journal of the centrality of the economic frustrations that fueled the Arab Spring.
Writing in Your Middle East, Musa al-Gharbi explains why the international community should develop flexible policies toward transitional countries where voters don't necessarily embrace democracy.
The Irrawaddy examines Washington's dealings with a Burmese business tycoon who's still on a U.S. sanctions blacklist -- underlining the ambiguities of the West's relationship with the regime.
Reuters reports on a museum opened by Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to document his rule.
Democracy Digest introduces a book by veteran journalist Carolyn Robinson on her experiences training journalists in post-revolutionary Libya.
The Council on Foreign Relation's Tom Bollyky explains why the use of big data is crucial to combating the non-communicable diseases that still account for the world's biggest health problems.
Challenging conventional wisdom, Juan Cole analyzes a backlash against the "Muslim religious right" in various parts of the Islamic world.
Sign up to get the Weekly Brief emailed to you every Monday.
Photo by SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images
The March 4 general election in Kenya is being touted as a potentially transformative moment. The violence that killed over 1,000 people in the wake of the country's last election in 2007 shocked the world, confirming, for many outsiders, the stereotype of an incurably dysfunctional Africa. Now many will be watching to see whether the spate of sweeping reforms undertaken since 2007 can carry Kenyans peacefully through this historic poll and reaffirm the country's position as the region's most stable state.
Photo by CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
On Thursday, a Bangladeshi tribunal found Delwar Hossain Sayeedi guilty of crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. The tribunal condemned him to death -- in stark divergence from their ruling in the case of his political colleague, Abdul Quader Mollah, who received a life sentence from the same court. In response to the Sayeedi verdict, Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamist party in which both Sayeedi and Mollah hold prominent positions, stepped up its protests against the tribunals. The result was a spate of violence that has now left more than fifty people dead.
Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images
Libya is approaching yet another important threshold in its efforts to come to terms with the legacy of the Muammar Qaddafi dictatorship. Next week, Libya's interim legislature is preparing to vote on the draft of a law designed to ban politicians and officials who had close links with the old regime from high public office in the new Libya.
Photo by AMR NABIL/AFP/GettyImages
RABAT, Morocco – Yegor Talikov, a street musician, was playing his saxophone on the Hotel Balima plaza in Rabat. Some passersby slowed down without stopping, but a few did gather around, occasionally making song requests that the musician was happy to oblige.
Photo by Mohamed El Dahshan
Javier El-Hage and Thor Halvorssen profile Guillermo Cochez, the former Panama ambassador to the Organization of American States, whose outspokenness on human rights issue led to his premature departure.
In our latest Lab Report, Phil Gunson offers an in-depth analysis of the Venezuela that Chávez built, and wonders whether the construction can survive its founder. Reporting from Caracas, Juan Nagel shows what it's like to live through a currency devaluation.
In his weekly column, DemLab editor Christian Caryl explains why the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites is likely to dominate the news for decades to come.
Anna Nemtsova takes a skeptical look at Vladimir Putin's new campaign against corruption.
Sarah Kendzior explains why stability has been a raw deal for Central Asia.
Mohamed Eljarh sets out a to-do list for Libya in the coming year.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
Writing for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Deana Kjuka offers examples of authoritarian leaders who are embracing social media.
Syed Zain Al-Mahmood reports for The Guardian on the ongoing protests and clashes between Islamists and "athiests" in Dhaka's Shahbag Square following the recent war crimes tribunal. (The photo above shows a protest on February 22.)
The Boroumand Foundation presents a report on a little-noted agreement between the governments of Iran and Argentina to create a truth commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.
Robert Kagan and Michele Dunn argue in The Washington Post that it's time for the United States to start showing Egypt some tough love.
At TEDxWomen, 22-year-old teacher Shabana Basij-Rasikh tells of the dangers and the opportunities that confront girls and young women as they seek education in today's Afghanistan. In her TED talk, Libyan activist Zahra Langhi explains how smart feminist politics can yet make a mark on the next stage of Libya's revolution.
Al Jazeera profiles Martha Karua, Kenya's former minister of justice and a very unique candidate in that country's presidential race. James Verini provides a pithy overview of the recent Kenyan presidential debate in The New Yorker.
Dan Glazeman, writing in Al-Ahram, contends that the West's military interventions in the Sahel and Sahara are self-serving efforts to gain access to cheap raw resources and minerals.
In a new in-depth report, the Transnational Institute makes a plea for "people-centered development" in Burma. And Burma Partnership explains why the country's transition continues to be dogged by the inadequacies of an outmoded constitution.
Sarah Leah Witson of Human Rights Watch writes a public letter to the Egyptian Justice Minister on the problematic provisions included in the draft law on demonstrations.
David Trilling reports for EurasiaNet on World Bank support for the hydropower project that is the center of a Tajikistan-Uzbekistan feud.
Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images
Transitions is the group blog of the Democracy Lab channel, a collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Legatum Institute.