Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
Relatives of a victim weep after identifying the body. Photo: Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
At least 290 people are dead and hundreds more wounded following a string of suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, which targeted Christians and foreigners on Easter Sunday.
The big picture: "This is by far the largest and most ambitious attack that's ever taken place in Sri Lankan history," says Robert Blake, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka from 2006–2009 and now a senior director at McLarty Associates.
The latest: Warnings of an impending attack from U.S. and Indian intelligence appear to have gone unheeded. That's led to a political blame game in Sri Lanka, where the president and prime minister were already bitterly divided.
Michael Morell, the former CIA deputy director and host of the Intelligence Matters podcast, emails: "The group blamed by the Sri Lankan government for the attack, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, was not publicly known in the West."
Alyssa Ayres of the Council on Foreign Relations writes for Axios Expert Voices that the "attacks targeting Christian worshippers suggest a new front in the annals of violence in Sri Lanka." She continues...
Axios media reporter Sara Fischer notes that shutting down social media, or even the internet altogether, is an increasingly frequent response to violent incidents. However, research suggests it can actually make the situation more dangerous.
What to watch: Blake says the immediate challenge for Sri Lanka's government is to identify all the perpetrators and determine whether an outside actor — like al-Qaeda or ISIS — was involved. But the longer-term challenges of reconciliation, accountability and good governance also demand action.
Zelensky celebrates at his campaign headquarters in Kiev. Photo: Xinhua/Sergey via Getty Images
TV star Volodymyr Zelensky won nearly three-quarters of the vote in Ukraine's presidential runoff yesterday.
Pompeo during today's press conference. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images.
The Trump administration dramatically escalated its "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran today, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing there will be no further waivers to allow countries to import Iranian oil beyond May 1.
What to watch: It remains uncertain "whether Iran's main remaining customers ... will bow to U.S. demands," Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council writes for Axios Expert Voices.
A sandstorm hits the city of Aral in Xinjiang earlier this month. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images
There are upwards of 1 million Uighur Muslims detained in China's Xinjiang region — yet the leaders of Pakistan, Indonesia and, most recently, Volkswagen (which has a factory in Xinjiang) claim they don't know anything about it.
Between the lines: "This is a difficult issue to address precisely because China has the world's second-largest economy" and is "ruthless" when challenged, says John Herbst, a former longtime diplomat now at the Atlantic Council.
The big picture: China has long waged a campaign of "assimilation and cultural destruction" in Xinjiang, but under President Xi Jinping it has "dramatically escalated," said Omer Kanat, a prominent Uighur activist.
What to watch: "Xinjiang is an important link in China’s Belt and Road Initiative," the CFR report notes. "Beijing hopes to eradicate any possibility of separatist activity to continue its development of Xinjiang, which is home to China’s largest coal and natural gas reserves."
Speaking of Belt and Road... some 40 world leaders are expected in Beijing this week for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Two takes on how we should view China's massive web of infrastructure projects:
Watch the Axios stream for more on the forum coming this week.
A friendly greeting committee outside a polling place in Cairo. Photo: Islam Safwat/NurPhoto via Getty Images
1. A referendum in Egypt today is all but certain to clear the way for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to rule through 2030. The only real wildcard was turnout.
2. President Trump's apparent endorsement of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar appeared to contradict Pentagon and State Department positions that there is "no military solution" to Libya's civil war.
3. Sudan's military has ordered protestors to remove barricades in the capital, Khartoum, two weeks after a sit-in began outside military headquarters, and 11 days after longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir was forced from office.
4. In Morocco, thousands marched on Sunday demanding the release of activists jailed for organizing anti-poverty demonstrations in 2016 and 2017.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Argentine President Mauricio Macri came to office as a pragmatic businessman who was going to save Argentina's government and economy from socialism.
What's happening: As this year's presidential election approaches, investors are beginning to fear the worst — that Macri will lose to former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who defaulted on the country's sovereign debt in 2014, Axios markets editor Dion Rabouin writes.
The state of the Macrisis...
Flashback: Argentina was an investor darling when Macri came to office in 2015, reaching a settlement with creditors and levering the country up with new debt, including a 100-year bond investors said was issued largely out of hubris.
What to watch: A recent poll from Synopsis has Macri losing in all 3 likely election matchups by at least 7 points.
Gender equality and diversity are on the rise around the world, according to respondents across 27 countries sampled by Pew.
With the exceptions of Indonesia and the Philippines, they also tend to believe family ties have grown weaker, Axios' Stef Kight points out.
Somewhat surprisingly, pluralities in 23 of the 27 countries say the increased diversity in their countries is a good thing.
Worth noting: One odd finding is that younger people are more likely to favor increased gender equality in every country except South Korea, where 18-29 year olds are actually less likely to want greater equality (though a majority is still in favor).
Residents perform the Passion of the Christ on Good Friday in Boac, Marinduque, in the Philippines. Jes Aznar/Getty Images.
“Spoke to President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka yesterday to inform him that the United States stands by him and his country in the fight against terrorism."— President Trump on Twitter. The message was later deleted and replaced with a corrected statement indicating Trump actually spoke with Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Thanks for reading — see you on Thursday!