FOCUS on Pariah Leaders: Bashar al-Assad

In early October, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a phone call from King Abdullah II of Jordan, their first since Abdullah called for Assad to step down in 2011 during the Arab Spring, according to Al Jazeera. Jordan is not alone in normalizing relations with their estranged Arab neighbor—Egypt and the UAE have both contacted the Syrian government. Jordan and the UAE have come to agreements to improve economic ties and resume trade with Syria, despite U.S. sanctions.

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Religious Tensions Flare in Northern India and Bangladesh

On October 26, Hindu nationalist mobs attacked Muslim-owned businesses, homes, and a mosque in the small northeast Indian state of Tripura, reports BBC News. Viral videos show Muslims being attacked and the mosque being set on fire. Videos also show members of the Hindu nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad marching through Muslim neighborhoods and chanting insults against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

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FOCUS on Frozen Conflicts: Israel-Palestine

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict made recent headlines in May after Israeli forces launched devastating airstrikes on Gaza. This latest Gaza war was sparked after Israeli Defense Forces raided one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Al Aqsa Mosque, during the holy month of Ramadan. Israeli forces dispersed worshippers with flashbangs and rubber bullets, wounding nearly 300 people, reports The Guardian.

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Algeria Bans France from Entering Algerian Airspace

In the latest escalation of diplomatic tensions between France and Algeria, the French military announced on October 3 that Algeria had closed its airspace to French military aircraft, reports CNN. Algeria accuses French President Emmanuel Macron of unnecessarily intervening in internal affairs and pushing false narratives about the Algerian government. The restriction comes as a blow to the French military, which regularly uses Algerian airspace to conduct military operations in the Sahel region of Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Protests Erupt After Tunisia’s President Suspends Constitution

On September 22, Tunisian President Kais Saied announced that he would suspend parts of the country’s constitution and rule by executive decree, according to The Guardian. Tunisian news site Nawaat reports that days after the President announced the suspension, thousands of Tunisians protested in downtown Tunis, calling his actions a coup and unconstitutional.

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FOCUS on Afghanistan: Women

Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country, many questions have arisen regarding women’s rights in the country. The Taliban announced that they would lead an inclusive government where women would work “shoulder to shoulder” with men, promising to govern differently than before, says Al Jazeera.

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Supreme Court Overturns Conviction of Former Brazilian President 

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court of Brazil overturned the corruption conviction of former two-term President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula), according to BBC News. The conviction was related to the massive anti-corruption investigation known as “Operation Car Wash” that exposed the largest corruption scandal in Latin America. The Supreme Court, however, ruled that Lula’s conviction was invalid because the court he was tried in lacked jurisdiction.

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Report Finds Mohammad Bin Salman Responsible for Khashoggi Murder

An unclassified report released by the Biden Administration on February 26 concludes that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), directly ordered the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, according to CNN.

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The World’s Largest Democracy in Peril: Changing Tides of Politics in India

India represents the world’s largest democracy, with an approximate population of 1.3 billion people residing in the country. Since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came into power in 2014, there has been a fundamental reshaping of Indian politics with an increasing trend towards undemocratic governance.

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