Articles in English

In the months and year ahead, the future of Tunisia will be shaped by its regional environment and by the capacity of its leaders to enact bold reforms. While Algeria has helped its smaller neighbour confront terrorism, the country’s interplay with Libya has been altogether more complex. The impact of the Libya crisis on the Tunisian economy has not been easy to decipher but a World Bank report now allows for a better understanding of the complex interplay of economic and social factors between the two countries since 2011.

Slow progress marred by loss of finance minister

Two events characterised the domestic last August.…  Seguir leyendo »

The United Nations proclaimed Oct. 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence, a reminder that it is irrational to use violence to promote peaceful societies. It’s also a reminder of the importance of accurate data on where and why violence occurs in the world, and where the threats are on the rise.

Since April 2016, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies has tracked the levels of attacks associated with all militant Islamist groups in Africa on a quarterly basis, using data compiled from the widely used Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) Project.

In a July 21 Monkey Cage post, Salem Solomon and Casey Frechette challenged the validity of an Africa Center analysis that noted that al-Shabab had surpassed Boko Haram as Africa’s most deadly militant Islamist group.…  Seguir leyendo »

Amid the crisis in Spain this month — as Catalonia voted in an illegal referendum and threatened to declare independence, and Madrid has struggled to keep control of the situation — many people wondered: Where is the European Union?

The truth is, there is plenty of blame to go around for the Catalonia crisis, and the European Union certainly shares some of it. European Union officials did hold closed-door meetings to try to calm tensions, but they could have done much more earlier to encourage dialogue between Barcelona and Madrid before it was too late. They also should have been clearer in their condemnation of police violence against Catalan voters on Oct.…  Seguir leyendo »

“The Kurds have no friends but the mountains” — that’s what Mehmet Aksoy used to say. But Mehmet, who was killed Sept. 26 during an attack by the Islamic State in northern Syria, was my friend, and a tireless advocate of the Kurdish freedom movement.

He was working on an essay that began with those words when he died. He often used that adage to explain the plight of his people, who have long been used or mistreated by the very powers that claim to spread democracy and freedom through the world.

I first met Mehmet at a Kurdish demonstration in London, where he lived.…  Seguir leyendo »

Democracy is under attack in Poland, and in other countries as well. For several months, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has pushed for new limits on judicial independence that would greatly expand the party’s power.

Poles pushed back with mass street protests in July, and the European Union threatened to suspend Poland’s E.U. voting rights — and Polish President Andrzej Duda vetoed key portions of the reforms. In September, Duda floated a compromise plan that would force several prominent judges to retire but avoids giving PiS complete control over their replacements.

The battle over Poland’s judiciary is one chapter in the widespread struggles over the concentration of power in the hands of executives and ruling parties in countries such as Hungary, Turkey, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

“This business of ours has existed since the neolithic, and we still haven’t learned”. These are the words of a Spanish property developer who a few days ago opened a discussion group for experts to share concerns about the construction sector that aims for consensus solutions that allow the professionalisation of a trade that has been centre stage since the 2007 financial crisis and its consequences.

To be sure, the issue of housing is intrinsic to the city: cities were invented to be lived in. Later, with the creation of states, housing policies were raised to the level of national policies and the right to housing is now recognised in almost all constitutions.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the evening of October 10, Catalonia’s separatist president, Carles Puigdemont, stood before the regional parliament to deliver what was widely expected to be a unilateral declaration of independence. But he ended up offering a fudge. Despite asserting “the mandate that Catalonia become an independent state in the form of a republic,” he proposed “suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks in the coming weeks.”

The performance left more questions than answers, but that was precisely the point. Puigdemont was not addressing anti-independence protesters on the streets of Barcelona, or Spanish citizens more broadly. He was speaking to the international community.…  Seguir leyendo »

A rather capacious interpretation of the right to statehood, along with various political and economic forces, is now destabilizing many regions of the world. In just the past few weeks, the regional governments of Catalonia in Spain and Kurdistan in Iraq have held unofficial independence referendums. And in Cameroon, separatist groups in the English-speaking region of Ambazonia have unilaterally declared independence from the country’s French-speaking regions.

Meanwhile, Scotland has been weighing whether to hold another independence referendum, so that it can remain in the European Union after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the bloc. And dozens of other regions with powerful secessionist forces – including Flanders in Belgium, Biafra in Nigeria, and Québec in Canada – are watching events closely from the sidelines.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the last two weeks of September, Azerbaijani police launched a violent campaign of “arresting and torturing men presumed to be gay or bisexual, as well as transgender women,” according to Human Rights Watch and local advocacy organizations. On Oct. 2, by all accounts, police released all the detainees, officially acknowledging that 83 had been detained. Local advocacy organizations claim that beatings, electroshock, coercion, blackmail and other abuses were carried out based entirely on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Azerbaijan is “the worst place to be gay in Europe,” the 2015 and 2016 Rainbow Europe reports by ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) concluded.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont rose to speak about his region’s vote in the referendum to secede from Spain, few knew what he planned to say.

As recently as two weeks ago, Catalan secessionists faced a steep legal route to justifying independence.

However, attacks by Spanish police on unarmed participants of this region’s October 1 vote allowed Puigdemont’s secessionists to win the moral argument, shifting the debate from the referendum’s constitutionality — Spain’s supreme court had prohibited it — to whether Catalans had a fundamental right to speech, assembly and self-determination.

Puigdemont rose to speak knowing the debate was no longer over Catalonia’s right to independence.…  Seguir leyendo »

In cases of workplace sexual harassment, we are ready to blame almost anybody except the perpetrator. Why didn’t others in the industry blow the whistle? Why didn’t somebody stand up to him? And most of all, the common narrative goes, why didn’t the women do something?

In the wake of a series of allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against film executive Harvey Weinstein, all the usual questions have been directed at his victims. Commentators have questioned their stories, their motives, their timing, their responses, their actions, their inaction, their silence and even their clothing.

This is exactly why most women don’t report workplace sexual harassment.…  Seguir leyendo »

At the end of April, my mom to old age. At the end of May, my brother Rick to cancer. In mid-June, our next-door neighbor to a heart attack. So grief comes sometimes as the clouds do here, almost every day. Gray wisps descend and curl around the trees and before long I am engulfed in fog.

My wife and daughters and I arrived here in early August to hike the senderos, the trails of the refuges and reserves, and learn what we can of this place and its people. Most mornings, we admire the hummingbirds, little bejeweled creatures that whir and rush and rest at our feeder.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I was a schoolboy in Britain studying history, one of my classmates asked our teacher to nominate the most incompetent British politician of modern times. Without a moment’s hesitation, he named Lord George Germain, who was from November 1775 until February 1782 the secretary of state for the colonies in the government of Lord North, and so the high official most responsible for the conduct of the War of Independence on the British side. Germain’s hazy knowledge of North American geography, combined with his attempts to micromanage the prosecution of the war from London, contributed heavily to the defeat at Yorktown in 1781, and so to the loss of the war and of the thirteen colonies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia’s crafty campaign to hack the 2016 election may seem unprecedented, but in a way it’s not. Sure, secret agents and front groups have hacked email systems, dumped documents on WikiLeaks, paid an army of internet trolls and spent thousands buying political ads on social media. It all seems new because the technologies are new. But it’s not the first time a government tried to mess with our heads by manipulating our media.

In fact, for more than two decades during the Cold War, the public was bombarded by an enormous publicity campaign to shape American views of Russia and its foreign policy.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Germany’s federal election last month, the Liberals (FDP) more than doubled their vote share to 10.7 percent. Post-election analysis has focused primarily on the losses of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the rise of the anti-immigration, new national conservative party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).

There’s another story here — the CDU actually lost more voters to the Liberals than the AfD, and the FDP was also a clear winner in this election. What does this tell us about shifting party loyalties, and what happens now? Our research gives some clues.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which had its worst electoral result in postwar German history, quickly announced that it would not be part of another Grand Coalition with CDU.…  Seguir leyendo »