Russia and China are good friends these days. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Moscow last week and, by signing a bundle of economic agreements, demonstrated Beijing’s disregard for Western sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. Early in the Ukrainian conflict, American and European officials hoped that Beijing would take steps to penalize Russia over its annexation of Crimea. But it has confined itself to token complaints, while reinforcing its trade relations with its northern neighbor.
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was inaugurated as president of Afghanistan on Sept. 29, 2014, after a three-month-long dispute over the outcome of the June 14 runoff election. A Sept. 21 agreement between Ghani and runner-up Abdullah Abdullah provided for the establishment of a national unity government and created a new position: chief executive officer, held by Abdullah. It also contained long-term provisions to allow for permanently establishing the office of executive prime minister, institutionalizing the role created for Abdullah by decree.
Across Africa and the Middle East, governments and international organizations are paying the price for responding to crises too late. Last week, the continuing spread of Ebola in West Africa vied for global attention with new advances and atrocities in Syria and Iraq by the so-called Islamic State (IS). These were arguably both avoidable disasters.
Throughout the Ukrainian crisis, Russia has demonstrated a keen appetite for both territory and power. While Moscow has largely kept the United Nations out of the conflict, it has permitted the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the situation on the ground.
After months of waiting through a contested election, the U.S. has settled with Afghanistan’s new leadership on a security agreement for the transition toward Afghan security self-reliance. Former State Department official Barnett Rubin talks to Jeffrey Brown about whether President Ashraf Ghani will prove a reliable ally, as well as what we’ve learned from American involvement in Afghanistan.