Foreign affairs

John Paul Rathbone

After changing the constitution so he could run again, Evo Morales has just won another term as president of Bolivia – his third – in a landslide vote. The former union leader won majority control of the Congress and the Senate. He also dominates the judiciary. He now has consolidated control of the country. Any successes or failures over the next five years will therefore be Morales’ alone. The biggest question is if this will be it – or, in five years time, if he will seek a fourth term. 

Gideon Rachman

I suspect that many people’s first reactions to the news that Malala Yousafzai has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize will have been similar to mine: joy that Malala had got the award, but slight puzzlement that it has been given to her jointly with Kailash Satyarthi, a much less-famous Indian campaigner. 

David Gardner

For a country that so recently harboured ambitions as a great regional power, Turkey is offering an unedifyingly feeble spectacle on its border with Syria, as the merciless fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) close in on the besieged Kurdish town of Kobani. This could be a defining moment for the Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the man who has dominated its politics like no other since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who forged the republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

Despite President Erdogan’s regional swagger, and Turkey’s possession of the second largest army in Nato, the country’s neo-Islamist leadership appear unwilling or unable to prevent a bloodbath at Kobani happening within sight of their tanks. This refusal to act could also sabotage an Erdogan legacy project of a peace settlement with Turkey’s large Kurdish minority, a probable casualty of Kobani as Kurds rise across the region in fury that Ankara is not just watching the town’s defenders being massacred by the jihadi fanatics of Isis but obstructing others trying to aid them. 

Jeremy Grant

The similarities are many: a former British colony, a population ruled by a political party that’s been in power for about half a century, a postage-stamp sized land mass and a big Asian financial centre that is attracting global capital.

Singapore and Hong Kong share much in common. But this weekend the big difference is that Singapore’s streets are quiet, with traffic flowing as normal, while Hong Kong is on edge as the Occupy movement mobilises masses of protesters against widely unpopular electoral arrangements foisted on its people by Beijing.

Singapore, a tightly governed island nation, has been watching closely what has been happening over the past week in Hong Kong. 

David Gardner

Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the Turkish parliament

Turkey’s parliament has just voted to authorise the army to use force in Syria and Iraq, the dismembered countries to its south where the jihadi extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) have declared a caliphate that is menacing Turkish borders.

Criticised abroad for sitting on the sidelines of the emerging coalition against Isis, and at home for a neo-Ottoman foreign policy that has placed Turkey at loggerheads with almost all its neighbours, Thursday’s vote is being hailed by some as a watershed – Ankara’s return to the bosom of Nato, with which Turkey has been allied for more than six decades.

Yet, rather than a clear-cut decision, this looks like more of a complicated juggling act by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who became Turkey’s first directly elected president in August after being prime minister for more than a decade, during which he has left a clear but messy imprint on Turkish policy in the Middle East. 

The 115 members of the International Olympics Committee, the self-appointed “supreme authority” of the Olympic movement, seem to leave nothing to chance when it comes to their own personal comfort.

Should Norway have been chosen to host the 2022 Winter Games, IOC executives were expecting a formal reception on the runway at Oslo airport, then to be whisked along dedicated lanes through a city in which locals had been “encouraged to take a vacation” to limit the traffic, say local media. 

Abubakar Shekau has been killed and resurrected so many times now he is using up his proverbial nine lives .

The leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremists appeared on Thursday in a fresh video released to the French news agency AFP, declaring the border areas with Cameroon as “Muslim territory” and boasting that only Allah could take his breath away. 

 

Gideon Rachman

The news that a patient with the Ebola virus is receiving treatment in an American hospital is making headlines in the US. But, even before the Dallas case was revealed, there was growing alarm in western capitals, about the implications of the virus for Africa.

When President Obama gave his speech to the UN last week, it was his remarks about war in the Middle East that made the news. But what the president had to say about Ebola was also striking. He warned that it was a disease that “could kill hundreds of thousands, inflict horrific suffering, destablise economies.”