Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Sudan's Fractured Internal Politics

Authors: Toni Johnson and Stephanie Hanson

Experts say instability in south Sudan should be looked at in tandem with the crisis in Darfur, and some call for addressing Sudan's problems in a more unified way to help forestall an escalation of violence.

See more in Sudan; South Sudan; Peacekeeping

Afghanistan's National Security Forces

Author: Greg Bruno

The growth and strengthening of Afghanistan's domestic security forces is seen as key to an eventual U.S. exit, but some analysts caution that progress will remain slow.

See more in Afghanistan; NATO

U.S. Drone Activities in Pakistan

Author: Greg Bruno

The reliance on unmanned drones to target terror suspects in Pakistan has been quietly lauded by U.S. officials. But the covert program, which has so far gotten little public scrutiny, is facing mounting legal and ethical concerns.

See more in Defense Strategy; United States; Pakistan

China-Pakistan Relations

Authors: Jamal Afridi and Jayshree Bajoria

As the United States and India move toward cementing their warmest relationship ever, India's rival, Pakistan, is broadening its ties with its own powerful ally: China.

See more in Pakistan; China

Pakistan's Constitution

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

Pakistan's constitution continues to be the focus of political struggle, with the nation's prime minister, president, regional governments, and army vying for advantage.

See more in Pakistan; Rule of Law; Elections

State Sponsors: Cuba

The U.S. State Department continues to list Cuba as a state sponsor of terror, though most experts say the country no longer poses a threat to U.S. national security.

See more in State Sponsors of Terrorism; Cuba

Iran's Nuclear Program

Author: Greg Bruno

Iran's nuclear program is believed to have steadily progressed, despite sharply increased concerns over its intentions and sanctions over its lack of transparency.

See more in Iran; Proliferation