Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

The Islamic State

Author: Zachary Laub

With Iraq weakened and a civil war raging in Syria, it’s unclear whether local forces and a U.S.-led international coalition can roll back the self-proclaimed Islamic State, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in Terrorism; Iraq


Author: Zachary Laub

Hamas is the main Palestinian armed resistance group, but the Islamist movement has struggled with governance since assuming control of Gaza.

See more in Israel; Palestine; Terrorism

Boko Haram

Authors: Mohammed Aly Sergie and Toni Johnson

Nigeria's Islamist group Boko Haram has evolved from a local insurgency to a brutal militant group that the United States has designated a terrorist organization.

See more in Nigeria; Radicalization and Extremism

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Author: Staff

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has emerged as one of the most dangerous al-Qaeda affiliates, strengthening amid political unrest in Yemen. This Backgrounder examines the group and U.S. counterterrorism operations.

See more in Terrorism; Yemen

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Income inequality is generating high-level attention and debate in the United States, but the causes are complex and the policy remedies so far are modest, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Poverty

Foreign Policy at the Conventions

Authors: Jonathan Masters and Gopal Ratnam

Foreign policy issues regularly come to the fore at the national political conventions, especially during periods of global instability. Sometimes the events are marked by bitter disagreements within the parties, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Elections