Explainers

In Briefs

Succinct rundowns on the world’s most important developments, produced by CFR’s scholars and editorial team. 

In Brief Filters and Cards

United States
Why U.S. Imports From Mexico Surpassed Those From China
New U.S. Census Bureau data shows the United States importing more goods from Mexico than from China. Will the shift change the global trading landscape?
Ukraine
A Resilient Ukraine Faces Defeat if U.S. Aid Falters
A failure by the United States to continue military aid to Ukraine would spell disaster for Ukraine and its Western allies while emboldening Russia and other potential aggressors.
China
Does Evergrande’s Collapse Threaten China’s Economy?
A court in Hong Kong has ordered the liquidation of Chinese property developer Evergrande Group, once the world’s largest real estate company. The failure could pose obstacles to China’s economic recovery.
Indonesia
Indonesia’s Presidential Election: The Old Guard Faces the New
The February 14 election marks a potential turning point in Southeast Asia’s most powerful state, likely determining its future relations with China and the United States, and the fate of the country’s own democracy.
Russia
What Tucker Carlson’s Putin Interview Means for the War in Ukraine
In last week’s rare interview with a Western media figure, Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to combine a more reasonable tone with endless reminders of why Western governments think he’s not really interested in negotiating an end to the war with Ukraine.
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The Israel-Hamas War: The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
International calls for a cease-fire are mounting as the humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorates rapidly amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
Israel
Has Diplomacy Run Its Course in the Israel-Hamas War?
Continuing efforts to broker a deal throughout the Middle East still could succeed, despite the latest failed effort to pause the fighting in the Gaza Strip and secure a hostage release.
West Africa
ECOWAS Split Spells Trouble for Democracy in West Africa
Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have left the most important West African regional bloc due to escalating tensions over their democratic decline, leaving room for Russia to assert itself in the region.
Pakistan
Pakistan Is on Edge Ahead of 2024 Elections
Pakistan’s military is set to again play kingmaker in elections that will determine how the nuclear-armed country grapples with an economic crisis, political upheaval aggravated by the arrest of Imran Khan, and escalating terrorism.
Iran
Drone Strike Risks Dangerous U.S.-Iran Escalation
An attack from Iran-aligned forces that killed U.S. service members near Jordan’s border with Syria risks direct U.S.-Iran conflict in a region already embroiled in widening violence.  
Supply Chains
How Houthi Attacks in the Red Sea Threaten Global Shipping
Houthi attacks against commercial ships in the Red Sea have upended global shipping. The disruptions could soon ripple through the global economy.
Pakistan
Why Pakistan Is Deporting Afghan Migrants
Pakistan’s decision to deport undocumented migrants over perceived security risks is poised to affect almost two million Afghans. 
Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo Holds Tense Elections: What to Know
Congo’s elections on December 20 are unlikely to deliver meaningful change to address massive insecurity in the east, corruption scandals, and persistent poverty.
Netherlands
What Do the Dutch Elections Mean for Europe?
Far-right candidate Geert Wilders emerged as the biggest political force in Dutch politics in November’s general elections. What does his win mean for the Netherlands and Europe?
Israel
Israel Seeing Military Progress Against Hamas Amid Mounting Civilian Toll
Israel’s forces have moved to control the northern Gaza Strip but face challenges in tracking Hamas fighters into tunnels. Meanwhile, the costs for Palestinian civilians are intensifying pressure on Israeli leaders.