dictators

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma arrive at the Elysee palace on July 14, 2008 in Paris.

The War Has Arrived Inside the Assad Family


Syria’s dictator crushed an uprising—but the ground may be crumbling beneath his feet.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

Autocrats Are Finding Democratic Facades Hard to Keep Up

The pandemic is making dictatorship clearer as faking credible elections gets harder.

Canan Kaftancioglu

A Motorcycle-Riding Leftist Feminist Is Coming for Erdogan

Canan Kaftancioglu has fueled the rise of Turkey’s increasingly effective opposition—and earned the president’s ire.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

5 Things to Know If Kim Jong Un Dies

Hereditary dictatorships rarely last past three generations, and collapse may be in the cards for North Korea.

U.S. President Donald Trump

The United States Is Getting Infected With Dictatorship

The coronavirus pandemic has provided an opening for Donald Trump to attack transparency, voting rights, and accountability.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Sisi and Erdogan Are Accomplices of the Coronavirus

By killing the Middle East’s sense of community, the region’s dictators have helped the pandemic on its death march.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin Wants the World to Keep Guessing

The Russian president’s goal isn’t necessarily to be president for life. Unless it is.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2020 U.S. presidential candidate, speaks during the "We The People" Summit at the Warner Theater in Washington on April 1, 2019.

Grow Up About Dictators, America!

The Democrats’ presidential primary has exposed the pathological moral obsessions of U.S. foreign policy.

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during an event to unveil changes to the National Environmental Policy Act at the White House in Washington on Jan. 9.

Trump Is Failing His Dictatorship Test

After impeachment, the president has been passing most of the checkpoints on the way to authoritarianism.

Robert Mugabe gives a speech in Harare, Zimbabwe, in March 1980.

Mugabe’s Promise

A transcript of the late leader’s address to the nation on March 4, 1980.

Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, Imam Talib Shareef, and Rev. Traci Blackmon speak at a rally at the White House on June 30, 2018.

To Protect Human Rights Abroad, Preach to Trump Voters

Religious leaders can help convince the most ethnocentric and authoritarian U.S. voters to oppose Washington’s backing of abusive dictators.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov presents a Alabai shepherd dog to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during a meeting in Sochi, Russia, on Oct. 11, 2017.

Weekend at Berdi’s

The president of Turkmenistan is probably alive. But as with so much else in the country, it’s hard to tell.

A Saudi fan holds a scarf with portraits of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during a friendly football match between Saudi Arabia and Iraq for the "Superclassico" championship at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on Oct. 15, 2018.

Mohammed bin Salman’s Fake Anti-Extremist Campaign

The Saudi crown prince vowed to crack down on radical clerics—but the victims have mostly been advocates for moderate Islam.

Donald Trump speaks at the NRA-ILA's Leadership Forum at the 146th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 28, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Loving Dictators Is as American as Apple Pie

Trump has embraced yet another strongman, this time in Libya. But it’s not just a personal failing—it’s a national tradition.

Omar al-Bashir appears during a rally with his supporters in the Green Square in Khartoum on Jan. 9, 2019. (Sharaf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

It Takes a Village to Make a Monster

Omar al-Bashir is gone—but he was never the key to Sudan’s oppression to begin with.

President Omar al-Bashir appears at a rally with his supporters in Khartoum on Jan. 9, 2019. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

This Is the Uprising Sudan’s Genocidal Dictator Always Feared

The country’s current protests include all sections of society—and may soon topple Omar al-Bashir’s entire regime.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends a military ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris on Oct. 24, 2017.  CHARLES PLATIAU (Charles Platiau/AFP/Getty Images)

Sisi Isn’t Mubarak. He’s Much Worse.

Egypt faced terrible repression during the Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak eras, but nothing like today’s sustained cruelty.

A supporter of Brazil's far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro takes part in a rally in Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 21. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s Not Just the Right That’s Voting for Bolsonaro. It’s Everyone.

Brazil’s populist firebrand is relying on conservative values, fear of crime, anger about corruption, and rampant fake news to gain support from across the political spectrum.

People make the fascist salute at La Basilica The Valley of Fallen in San Lorenzo del Escorial near Madrid on July 15, 2018, as they protest against the removal of Franco's remains from The Valley of Fallen. (JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Spain’s Dictator Is Dead, but the Debate About Him Lives On

Francisco Franco ran Spain with an iron fist for decades—and created myths about his rule that are only now starting to come undone.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting on November 14, 2017, in Riyadh. (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Strongmen Are Weaker Than They Look

Authoritarians are on the rise around the world, but history shows they’re mostly helpless.