5 Top Reads
Our Top Weekend Reads
Russia’s growing presence in Syria, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns, and dubious election fraud claims in Malawi.
Russia and Turkey have brokered a cease-fire in Syria—but violence in the country’s north has continued, and armed groups are likely to return to the fight in the near-term. The deal underscored Russia’s newfound role as a power broker in the Middle East.
With the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, protesters there have now achieved one of their chief aims. The country is now wrestling with what happens next, but protests show no signs of abating.
Meanwhile, widespread accusations of election fraud led to mass demonstrations across Malawi against President Peter Mutharika, but Luke Tyburski argues in Foreign Policy that those accusations were greatly exaggerated.
Here are Foreign Policy’s top weekend reads.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria threw the United States’ Middle East policy into disarray. The outlook remains muddled, and Russia is capitalizing on the uncertainty by expanding its geopolitical footprint, Reese Erlich writes.
Protesters took to the streets of Lebanon in the country’s largest anti-government demonstrations in over a decade. The protests lack a clear leadership structure, but some protesters are happy with that arrangement. It reflects their disdain for the leaders of their government, Rebecca Collard writes.
Nepal is sandwiched between India and China, but its economy has long been dependent on New Delhi. As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing plans to invest in an ambitious railway project cutting across Nepal, diversifying the country’s economic options but curtailing India’s regional power, Arun Budhathoki writes.
Myanmar’s Rakhine state is a hotbed for anti-government resentment. The country captured global headlines in 2016 and 2017 after the army cracked down on its Rohingya Muslim minority. Now the military is turning toward Rakhine Buddhists, and another humanitarian crisis looms, Jonathan Gorvett writes.
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika was reelected by a slim plurality in May. Opposition leaders pointed to procedural irregularities that might have handed Mutharika a victory. But elections in the country have above-average levels of transparency, and Luke Tyburski suggests that the use of white-out to nullify votes was neither sinister nor widespread.