Stories by Alex Kliment of GZERO Media

Sudan protests shake strongman Omar al-Bashir

Sudanese protesters at an anti-government demonstration in the capital Khartoum on Jan. 6. Photo: AFP/Getty

In recent weeks, thousands of young people across Sudan have taken to the streets in protest against strongman Omar al-Bashir, the leader of one of the world’s most repressive governments.

Why it matters: While the protests were initially sparked by economic issues — inflation in Sudan is currently running around 70% — a brutal crackdown has helped stoke broader popular demands for Bashir’s resignation. 

Far-right claims first victories in Spain since Franco era

A protest, supported by Vox, against Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. Photo: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images

After many years in the shadows, the far-right has now arrived as a force in Spanish politics. Local elections in Andalusia on Sunday gave the fiercely nationalistic and socially conservative Vox party 12 of the provincial assembly’s 105 seats.

Why it matters: That makes Vox the first Spanish far-right party to win office since the country’s dictatorship ended in the 1970s. Vox wants to slash taxes, quash Catalan autonomy, criminalize illegal immigration, build a wall on the Moroccan border, restrict the religious activities of Muslims, and radically centralize political control in Spain. Ironically: the party also wants to eliminate precisely the assembly in which it just won seats.

Political stakes high in Russia-Ukraine church split

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko meets with Patriarchate of Constantinople leaders. Photo: Mykhailo Markiv/TASS via Getty Images

Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based leader of more than 300 million Eastern Orthodox believers, last week moved to grant the Ukrainian church independence from Russia for the first time in 300 years. That led to the biggest split in the church in centuries.

Why it matters: This is a spiritual matter with distinctly worldly implications — after all, just four years ago Russia annexed Crimea and backed an insurgency that continues to grind on in Ukraine’s east. Many Ukrainians view the independence of the Ukrainian church through the lens of their country’s ongoing struggle against Russian influence.