What the Arab Spring’s largest failure can teach us about the developing crisis in the Southeast Asian nation.

A protestor posting online as “MM” shows his progression from student to armed rebel | via @theboysinmyanmar

Recent comparisons between the evolving situation in Myanmar and the conflict in Syria have been numerous. Most notably, the U.N.’s top human right’s official, Michelle Bachelet, warned:

“There are clear echoes of Syria in 2011. There too, we saw peaceful protests met with unnecessary and clearly disproportionate force… The state’s brutal, persistent repression of its own people led to some individuals taking up arms, followed by a downward and rapidly expanding spiral of violence all across the country.”

The comparison between the…

The pullout of U.S. troops will cast a long shadow on America’s other “forever wars.”

Photo by Diego González on Unsplash

The Biden administration has made its first major foreign policy move, deciding it is time to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. During President Biden’s speech addressing the withdrawal he implicitly acknowledged that the ongoing mission in Afghanistan has significantly changed in comparison to the war’s original objective:

We went to Afghanistan in 2001 to root out al Qaeda, to prevent future terrorist attacks against the United States planned from Afghanistan. Our objective was clear. The cause was just. Our NATO Allies and partners rallied beside…

Only .01 percent of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in low-income countries. That needs to change, and fast.

Vaccines from the WHO’s COVAX facility arrive in Mali. | UNICEF Mali

As the United States is ramping up its daily vaccination rates to around 900 shots per 100,000 people, a large portion of the world has been utterly left behind. Data assembled by the New York Times shows not a single low-income country has been able to attain a vaccination rate of at least 10 doses per 100 people, and only a single lower-middle-income country — Morocco — has met that mark. There is a myriad of reasons why these countries are lagging…

When it comes to the JCPOA, bipartisan is not synonymous with better.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken | Carolyn Caster/AP

A key takeaway from Joe Biden’s first few months as president is his redefinition of bipartisanship. For the White House, bi-partisanship is no longer only synonymous with agreement on Capitol Hill. Instead, the Biden administration has sought to sell its priorities and accomplishments as having bipartisan popular approval among the American people. The most significant example of this is the COVID-19 stimulus package which recently passed in Congress and was signed by the president. …

Kataib Hezbollah attending the funeral of their leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was killed in the same airstrike that targeted IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani | Reuters

The recent tit-for-tat attacks between Iran-backed proxy militias and the U.S. highlight a key challenge for the Biden administration: What to do about Iraq.

The latest flareup started due to the U.S. assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Gen. Qassem Soleimani back in January 2020. A litany of rocket attacks on U.S. diplomatic and armed forces targets from Iran-backed militias throughout the rest of the year followed, resulting in 17 civilian casualties in total, but crucially, no U.S. fatalities. This changed in early 2021 when rocket attacks on Arbil Airport and Balad Air Base killed two civilian contractors and…

A camp in Afrin, Syria | Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

As the tenth anniversary of Syria’s civil uprising approaches, Joe Biden is the third U.S. president who will need to tackle the intractable conflict. No political or military solution is in sight, as 6.7 million internally displaced Syrians — a third of whom lack adequate shelter — face another brutal winter while dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is too early to say what the Biden administration’s Syria policy will be, and the myriad of stakeholders, armed groups, and foreign powers involved in the conflict will make charting a course incredibly difficult. Contentious debates about lifting sanctions

A protest in Sana, Yemen. Credit: Yahya Arhab/EPA

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, Antony Blinken was questioned on the international challenges facing the Biden administration. Unsurprisingly, China and Iran loomed large in the conversation, but peppered throughout the testimony was also a slew of crises and potential inflection points that will undoubtedly keep now Secretary Blinken and his team up at night. Turkey, Russia, and Iran are feuding over the fate of Syria while U.S. troops and partner forces quash ISIS remnants. The conflict in Yemen rages on while 24.3 million people — 80% of the country’s population — require…

Americans deserve a nuanced debate on Afghanistan. Russian bounties give ammo to a president uninterested in complexities.

The 506th Infantry Regiment on a joint patrol with Afghan National Army Forces. Staff Sgt. Todd Christopherson/US Army

The recent controversy over whether Russian intelligence operatives in the GRU offered bounties to Taliban-backed militants to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and if the president knew about the operation, is certainly disturbing — but it’s not the whole story.

There is no doubt that Russia wants the US out of Afghanistan, looking for increased leverage in a region where the lines between economic connectivity and security competition are continually blurred. Russia has not been shy about seizing the vacuum left by rocky US-Afghan relations, including inviting a Taliban delegation to Moscow and offering to act as a guarantor of…

Kristopher Kaliher

Foreign policy & conflict. Views here are personal and do not represent those of my employer.

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