5 Top Reads

The World This Weekend

Iran’s saber-rattling falls flat, and Alabama’s anti-abortion law echos Romania’s past.

An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade on the occasion of the country's annual army day on April 18, 2018, in Tehran.
An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade on the occasion of the country's annual army day on April 18, 2018, in Tehran. ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

This week, Iran antagonized its allies and adversaries alike through outspoken contempt for U.S. sanctions and the remnants of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, in the United States, lawmakers in Alabama embraced a near-ban on abortion. For decades, communist Romania was a real-life test case of what can happen when a country outlaws abortion entirely, and the results were devastating, Foreign Policy’s Amy Mackinnon writes.

And in Sudan, talks between civilians and the military to determine what comes next for the country ground to a halt following a violent week in Khartoum, where protesters were shot in the streets.

Here are Foreign Policy’s top five weekend reads.


U.S. President Donald Trump is flanked by National Security Advisor John Bolton as he speaks at the White House on April 9, 2018.Mark Wilson/Getty Images

1. More Democrats Accuse Trump of Inflating Iran Intelligence

Four U.S. lawmakers have sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump expressing their concerns that his administration’s approach to Iran is reflective of a broader pattern that involves “inflating threats and bending intelligence to justify dangerous, predetermined policies,” Foreign Policy’s Robbie Gramer reports.


Gen. Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagalo, the deputy head of Sudan’s military council, speaks at a news conference in Khartoum on April 30. Associated Press

The Man Who Terrorized Darfur Is Leading Sudan’s Supposed Transition

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known by the nickname “Hemeti”—a former warlord and head of the janjaweed militia—has accused Sudan’s protesters of being drug addicts and expressed frustration that they have been “blocking the streets.” As second-in-command of the country’s military council, he could be the central threat to the country’s hopes for a democratic transition, Jérôme Tubiana writes.


Romanian orphans in a Bucharest orphanage shortly after the December Revolution in 1989.Kevin Weaver/Getty Images

What Actually Happens When a Country Bans Abortion

Romania’s dystopian anti-abortion policies during its communist years under Nicolae Ceausescu should serve as a warning to any country looking to place reproductive health care out of the reach of women, Foreign Policy’s Amy Mackinnon writes.


Afghan National Army commandos, seen April 1, line the outpost that was struck by one or more airstrikes attributed to U.S. forces on March 22 during a firefight that involved several sources of fire. At center is the grave of one of the slain commandos, Gulab Shah. Andrew Quilty for Foreign Policy

U.S. Raises the Stakes in Afghanistan From the Air

Washington and its Afghan allies are trying to keep a desperate foothold in major Afghan population centers such as Kunduz city—while ceding much of the rest of the country to the Taliban—in hopes of forcing concessions at the peace talks in faraway Doha, Qatar, Andrew Quilty reports.


Ambazonia Military Forces General John, who says he commands thousands of rebel soldiers in Ambazonia, poses with his bodyguards in Borrere, Cameroon, with the Ambazonian flag hanging behind them, on Feb. 13.

Cameroon’s Separatist Movement Is Going International

Fragmented but determined Cameroonian armed groups such as the Ambazonia Military Forces are slipping across the border into Nigeria and leveraging the fundraising power of the Cameroonian diaspora to fuel their fight for a breakaway state, Gareth Browne reports.

Jefcoate O'Donnell is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @brjodonnell

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