Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Who’s Who in Syria’s Civil War

Author: Zachary Laub

Syria's civil war is being fought on multiple fronts by an array of combatants whose alliances, capabilities, and in some cases motives have been in flux. This Backgrounder profiles more than a dozen of the main warring sides.

See more in Syria; Wars and Warfare

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

Sustainable Development Goals

Author: Danielle Renwick

The UN’s sweeping new development agenda aims to “provide the overarching narrative” of sustainable growth for the next fifteen years, yet critics say the Sustainable Development goals are broad, unfocused, and unrealistic. 

See more in Global; Global Governance; Development

Nicaragua's Grand Canal

Author: Danielle Renwick

Nicaragua’s proposed Grand Canal would be one of the world’s largest engineering projects. Its proponents say it could transform the country’s economy, while critics say it could be an environmental catastrophe.

See more in Nicaragua; Infrastructure; Energy and Environment