"It will be nearly impossible for observers to do a credible job under the present conditions in Egypt. And even if the referendum goes smoothly, it is not at all clear that the vote will make a meaningful contribution to getting Egypt back onto a democratic path. Observers and foreign governments, including the United States, would do well to make sure that their engagement and statements keep the focus on the big picture of Egypt's worrisome trajectory."
"In the coming weeks, Thailand's political crisis is likely to escalate, not de-escalate, ultimately resulting in either a snap election or some kind of extraconstitutional removal of the government," writes Joshua Kurlantzick.
"Independent reports by human rights groups back Karzai's contention that there are too many civilian deaths in Afghanistan. But if they have become his rallying cry, it is also because they bring to mind the broader issue of Afghan sovereignty — the feeling Afghans have that they have become colonized subjects."
Angela Merkel's resounding electoral triumph likely means stability and continuity in Eurozone crisis management and little chance of a larger German role in global security, says CFR's Charles Kupchan.
Benn Steil's latest Forbes op-ed, co-authored with Dinah Walker, shows why Greece may turn out to be a deciding factor in the German elections. While it is widely believed that a fresh mandate for Chancellor Merkel means more robust German involvement to end the eurozone crisis, they show why the loss of her FDP coalition partner could mean the opposite.
Asked by Matthew Rodrigues, from The George Washington University
Since the 1953 death of Saudi Arabia's eponymous founder, King Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, the country has been ruled by his sons. There will eventually be a shift in power to the next generation, but despite—or perhaps because of—the turmoil spreading across the region, that shift does not appear imminent.
"A return to protracted political crisis, and possibly extensive violence, is likely, as Zimbabwe holds inadequately prepared presidential, parliamentary and local elections on 31 July. Conditions for a free and fair vote do not exist. Confidence in the process and institutions is low. The voters roll is a shambles, security forces unreformed and the media grossly imbalanced. The electoral commission is under-funded and lacked time to prepare. Concerns about rigging are pervasive, strongly disputed results highly likely."
Hardly the blow to democracy that many painted it as, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United will make American politics more competitive, less beholden to party bosses, and more responsive to the public at large. It may even help break the fiscal stalemate strangling the U.S. economy.
Asked by Michael Varacalli, from New York University
Robert Mugabe, age eighty-nine and in failing health, has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. Zimbabwe faces numerous potential scenarios once he dies or, highly unlikely, if he is defeated in the upcoming summer elections.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones, thereby creating standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.