Readings

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Offensive on Hodeida

This week, a Saudi-led coalition began an assault on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, and many experts are worried about what this will mean for those suffering through the world's "most dire" humanitarian crisis. Hodeida is the "lifeline of the country," a UN official tells The Washington Post's Sudarsan Raghavan. "If you cut that port off, we have a catastrophe on our hands.”

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Neighbour vs. neighbour

In this New York Times feature, Guy Lawson goes inside the campaign waged by Justin Trudeau’s government to prevent an all-out trade war with the United States. Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney give their thoughts on how to combat US President Donald Trump's "evident animosity and imperviousness to facts."

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Secret operations

Does the killing of Canadians abroad — deemed 'enemy combatants' — present the government with an ethical or political dilemma? In this exclusive investigation, Stewart Bell and Andrew Russell of Global News reveal that three Canadians were targets of the anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria — raising questions not only about how combatants are identified but also the secrecy that surrounds military actions themselves.

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Uneasy peace

In the 1990s, four years of fighting tore apart the Balkans, and 100,000 people were left dead. For the past 23 years in Bosnia-Herzegovina, peace has held, but with Europe distracted, Moscow meddling and a US president seemingly paying no attention, divisions are re-surfacing, and a Serb mini-state is looking to break away. The Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon reports from Sarajevo. 

The New Yorker

Diplomatic exodus

"Many diplomats have been dismayed by the Trump Administration; since the Inauguration, sixty per cent of the State Department’s highest-ranking diplomats have left," writes Jon Lee Anderson in The New Yorker. John Feeley, the former US ambassador to Panama, is one of them, but unlike his peers, he isn't holding back when it comes to sharing his reasoning. “My values were not his values,” he says of the US president.

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Escaping Venezuela

In a widely-condemned election, President Nicolas Maduro has been re-elected for a second term, amid an economic crisis that has been driving hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans to nearby countries. In Brazil, an average of 800 arrive every day, looking for work and a new chance at life. Jill Langlois speaks with a few of these Venezuelans for the LA Times.

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Monsoon season

The hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees living in overcrowded Bangladeshi camps fled one crisis but are facing another, writes Sophie Cousins, as monsoon season — just weeks away — threatens to bring with it disease, landslides, flooding and death. Building stronger structures might make sense — except that in an election year, the Bangladeshi government doesn't want to signal that the Rohingya are there to stay. For Foreign Policy.

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Russian reset

Shortly after taking office, Barack Obama initiated a "reset" strategy towards Russia, hoping to improve relations. But by 2011, things had gone south. As former US ambassador Michael McFaul describes it, he was sent to Moscow at the time to advance the reset, but instead "presided over its demise." In this Washington Post essay, he recounts his personal experience being the target of a Kremlin disinformation campaign.

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Lebanon's election

This week, Hezbollah declared victory in Lebanon's first parliamentary election since 2009. In this Atlantic piece, David Kenner delves into what's behind the Iran-backed militant Shia group's success. "There are pressures in certain ways, people rely on various parties for their livelihood," explains one former mayor. "So we have this statelet within a state, but in fact the statelet is much stronger than the state."

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Trans-Atlantic tension

The split between Donald Trump and his European allies around efforts to preserve the Iran deal was on full display this week. As The New York TimesSteven Erlanger reports, there are signs that patience is wearing thin when it comes to tumultuous American foreign policymaking. Asks one former French ambassador: “How do we make it work with a US leadership that doesn't want to play the role of leader?"

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The Dubai of the Balkans

In this New York Times piece, Barbara Surk looks into the Belgrade Waterfront, an "extravagant and controversial" project at the heart of a plan by Serbia’s governing elite to transform the country — with the help of billions of dollars from the UAE. Critics say the Serbian government has resorted to strong-arm tactics, literally bulldozing its way to the future. 

The Star

Canada's dual role

The Canadian government has given $65 million in aid to war-torn Yemen. But it has also given $284 million worth of weapons and military goods to the countries bombing Yemen. "It's a bit like helping pay for somebody's crutches after you've helped break their legs," one interviewee tells Brendan Kennedy and Michelle Shephard, who lay out the government's seemingly contradictory stance in The Toronto Star.

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Early elections

Last week, catching the country's opposition — and mostly everybody — off guard, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that presidential and parliamentary elections will be taking place in June, more than a year ahead of schedule. In Foreign PolicyBorzou Daragahi lays out the economic factors underpinning Erdogan's decision, and how his opponents are already rallying to take him down.

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Food and facts in bottles

North Korea’s Kim family has remained in power for seven decades partly by shutting off all information from the outside world and convincing citizens they live in a social paradise, writes Anna Fifield in The Washington Post. But what happens when this is exposed as a lie? Fifield reports on the effort to do just that, via water bottles set adrift filled with rice, health supplies and USB keys.

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A witness in Douma

Communications officer with the UN's World Food Programme Marwa Awad reports for The Nation on what she saw on a recent trip to Eastern Ghouta, Syria, just before the city of Douma fell into government hands. "'Please, won’t you take me and my daughter out? We are going to die here,'" a woman told Awad as she delivered food aid. "'What is the point of food and drink if after it we will die?'"

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A political experiment

For The Walrus, Joseph Rosen spent a year talking to men on the right in an attempt to find his "political doppelgängers" and understand where Donald Trump's support comes from, even in Canada. "Yes, some people are fuelled by hate, but the values that others act on are often not that different from my own," he writes. "Some are against economic disparity; others want to repair a sense of community."

The New Yorker

Remaking the Middle East

In The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins delves into what's driving Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's most influential figure. Is MBS trying to modernize Saudi Arabia and rid it of extremism? Or is he simply consolidating his power? And how does his relationship with the Trump White House explain recent events in the Middle East? 

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The ISIS files

Over more than a year, The New York Times' Rukmini Callimachi made five trips to Iraq, recovering more than 15,000 pages of documents left behind by Islamic State militants as their hold on territory gave way. "The world knows the Islamic State for its brutality," Callimachi writes, "but the militants did not rule by the sword alone. They wielded power through two complementary tools: brutality and bureaucracy."

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Ukraine's famine

'Red Famine,' a book by Pulitzer-prize winning historian Anne Applebaum on the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine, is this year’s winner of the Lionel Gelber Prize. In this excerpt in The Globe and Mail, Applebaum traces the history of the description of the famine — once people were allowed to describe it — and how that ties in to Ukraine’s fight for a separate national history.

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Yemeni refugees

For The WalrusKamal Al-Solaylee reports on the Yemeni refugees who have fled their war-torn homeland and made it to Kuala Lumpur. Among those Al-Solaylee meets, Justin Trudeau "has acquired a near-biblical status as the liberator of the oppressed and destitute." But Canada has not announced any major resettlement plan in response to the crisis in Yemen, which begs the question: do some refugees matter more to Canadians?