Wednesday 1 July 2015
June 24, 2015
U.S., Russian Military Bases Abroad
The United States operates significant military bases in more than a dozen countries around the world, ranging from major troop stations in Germany to logistics facilities in Singapore. Russia, by comparison, has bases in nine countries -- eight former Soviet republics (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) plus a naval facility in Syria. Click and drag the slider to compare.
June 11, 2015
Nations Contributing To The NATO Mission In Afghanistan
With about 880 soldiers currently serving in NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, Georgia is making the second-largest contribution after the United States. Here's a breakdown of all of the nations that are making contributions to the NATO mission there.
June 09, 2015
Many Former Soviet States Lag In LGBT Rights
ILGA-Europe publishes its Rainbow Europe review each year in order to assess the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender atmosphere in each European country. The overall score is based on the following: laws and policies against discrimination, family recognition, protection against hate crimes, legal gender recognition, and freedom of expression.
June 08, 2015
The Changing Monuments Of A Personality Cult
On May 25, Turkmenistan’s authorities revealed a new statue, 21 meters tall of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov riding a horse atop a marble pedestal. The regime, frequently listed among the world’s worst in terms of human rights, press freedom, religious expression, and political dissent, is marked by its emphasis on the cult of the president. These personality cults additionally bring extensive material change through the construction, and deconstruction of monuments and buildings, as well as ordinary people’s homes. Below in the infographic you can see some of the monuments in Ashgabat built by Berdymukhammedov’s predecessor, Saparamurat Niyazov, and the alterations which have taken place since his death in 2006.
May 28, 2015
Laws Regarding Same-Sex Marriage And Homosexuality
Ireland and Greenland have become the latest countries to adopt legislation allowing same-sex marriages. Voters in a national referendum in Ireland and lawmakers in Greenland's parliament both overwhelming approved the changes. Here's a look at similar laws around the world, as well as global attitudes toward homosexuality.
May 13, 2015
In the years after the collapse of the Taliban regime, following the resolution of a conflict between rival factions of Afghanistan's former Northern Alliance, "relatively calm" was commonly used to describe the situation in the country's north. The label no longer fits, however, as widespread fighting and an influx of foreign militants have drastically altered the scene. A number of factors have contributed to the new reality in the north, but one of the biggest is the security vacuum caused by the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 and the handover of responsibility to Afghanistan's fledgling security forces and military. The region has become a desirable destination for undesirables as a result. The arrival of the annual Taliban spring offensive in April 2015 revealed the north as a major battleground between government troops and Taliban forces, fighting that in years past had centered primarily on the Pashtun centers of southern and eastern Afghanistan. And there were also reports of new arrivals: Central Asian militants, loyal to the Islamic State group, who were flushed out of their safe havens in Pakistan's tribal regions by a Pakistani military offensive. Pakistan's restive border region (including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and North Waziristan and other Federally Administered Tribal Areas) has for years harbored militants from the Pakistani Taliban, Central Asia, Arab countries, and Chechnya. Reports from locals in northern Afghanistan that "foreign faces" were being seen in increasing numbers led officials to look to northwestern Pakistan as a source. This raised the prospect that representatives of a number of militant groups known to have taken refuge in Pakistan could be among the arrivals. They include various factions from the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (the umbrella group known as the Pakistani Taliban); Al-Qaeda-linked groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU, a primarily Uzbek group known by Afghans as Jundullah); and Jamaat Ansarullah (a Tajik splinter group of the IMU). Announcements by leaders of the IMU that they had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) leadership raised fears of a dangerous new brand of extremism in Afghanistan. There have been numerous cases of fighters swapping the Taliban's flag for IS's black flag, claims by Afghan officials that the IS was indeed operating on Afghan soil, evident recruiting efforts, and signs of a brewing rivalry between the Taliban and IS. But to this point it is unclear what level of penetration, if any, the Arab leadership of IS has on the ground in Afghanistan. A June 2015 Pentagon report concluded that Islamic State's "presence and influence in Afghanistan remains in the initial exploratory phase." The report also said that while the IMU had publicly expressed support for Islamic State "as the leader of the global jihad," it was worth noting that the Afghan Taliban has "declared that it will not allow [IS] in Afghanistan." Meanwhile, more sightings of foreign militants in northern Afghanistan have also led to suggestions that Central Asian fighters could be positioning themselves in northern Afghanistan to cross back into bordering Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
May 04, 2015
Berlin: Then And Now
It is 70 years since the end of World War II in Europe. The German leadership signed the unconditional surrender after a final battle that flattened Berlin. Some 600,000 apartments were destroyed, along with many public buildings. Much of the damage remained visible for decades to come, particularly along the route of the Berlin Wall that divided the city between East and West. But there has been substantial redevelopment since German reunification in 1990, and today many parts of the city are utterly unrecognizable.
April 22, 2015
Ottoman Lands: 100 Years Ago And Now
The Ottoman Empire arose from the ashes of Byzantine Europe in the mid-15th century and grew to dominate not just the Anatolian peninsula, but large swaths of Southeastern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, the Caucasus, and Middle East. It was twice halted in battle at the gates of Vienna, in the 16th and 17th centuries, sparing then-Christian Europe from near-certain defeat. By the 19th century, though, the empire had entered into terminal decline and was frequently referred to as the "sick man of Europe." Following defeat in World War I, it was formally abolished in 1922. More than a dozen independent countries emerged from territories the Ottoman sultans once ruled.