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.
Portuguese troops mark the 70th anniversary of NATO's founding. Photo: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images
Washington has this week been toasting NATO, which turns 70 today. Congress greeted NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg with bursts of bipartisan applause, and foreign ministers from the 29 member countries gathered today to reaffirm their mutual support.
There’s a lot to celebrate. As former Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis writes in TIME: “Perhaps NATO’s greatest accomplishment is not even its unblemished record of deterring attack against its members but rather the fact that no alliance nation has ever attacked another.”
The flipside: Despite the united front this week in D.C., there are growing schisms. Some, like trade wars or the Iran nuclear deal, are political. Others, like creeping authoritarianism and doubts over collective defense, feel more existential.
Vice President Pence nearly spoiled the birthday party yesterday, targeting Germany and Turkey with some of the Trump administration's most stinging criticisms of NATO allies so far.
Between the lines: Pence’s remarks didn’t go over well with the audience of security experts and diplomats, but they contained uncomfortable truths.
Germany’s long-standing reluctance to play a leading role on defense has been compounded by delicate coalition politics.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, is intent to show Turkey’s defenses don’t run through Washington, let alone Brussels.
The bottom line: NATO’s birthday could have been far worse. Both Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had warm words for the alliance. All was quiet on the Trump Twitter front. A 30th member, North Macedonia, is anxious to join. Overall, NATO looks pretty good for its age.
Worth noting: As Axios’ Jonathan Swan has pointed out, Pence is a central force in the Trump administration’s foreign policy and in many cases — Venezuela, China, Iran — drives hardline positions. He occasionally sets the pace on these issues, even if he does it while praising the wisdom and strength of his boss.
Netanyahu (L) and Putin balance a small painting today at the Kremlin in a ceremonial gesture of friendship (not really). Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AFP/Getty Images
1. Israel (April 9): Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the polling momentum and a last-minute boost from Russia's Vladimir Putin, whom he visited today in Moscow. He also has three indictments hanging over him.
2. India (April 11–May 19): The world's largest-ever exercise in democracy will take place over five weeks across 1 million polling places, with 879 million voters eligible to take part.
3. Indonesia (April 17): The world's third-most populous democracy will host a rematch this month between President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and the arch-nationalist former general he defeated in 2014, Prabowo Subianto.
Mark your calendars: Finland (April 14) and Spain (April 28) will also go to the polls this month. In between, Ukraine (April 21) will hold its presidential runoff. Busy days ahead!
A demonstration last month in Algiers. Photo: Dalia Ghanem/Carnegie Endowment (see bonus)
Following six weeks of massive demonstrations, Algeria's ailing president resigned yesterday after two decades in power.
What to watch: While hundreds of thousands of protestors pried open the door, it was Algeria’s top general who finally kicked Abdelaziz Bouteflika out. Gen. Ahmed Gaïd Salah belatedly backed a constitutional process to replace Bouteflika with an interim government until elections can be held (within 90 days).
Meanwhile, the protest movement lacks clear leadership and risks being divided by the coming struggle. For now, the opposition remains determined:
“If we use the same mechanisms of power and the same faces, we’ll get the same results — the same system we’ve been fighting against for weeks. Bouteflika is an important face but he isn’t the whole system — we don’t want to create another Bouteflika. We don’t want a monarchy or a military dictatorship, and the Algerian people will continue to be in the streets to show this.”— Habib Brahmia of the pro-democracy Jil Jadid party, to The Guardian.
A political obituary:
"I marched with protesters with the eyes of a political analyst but with the heart of my identity: an Algerian citizen," writes Carnegie's Dalia Ghanem of taking part in demonstrations last month in Algiers.
Ghanem writes that the protests — dubbed the “revolution of happiness" — were so peaceful that shops stayed open and parents brought along small children.
“This is the sixth Friday without one drop of blood. Algerians showed what they are capable of,” one shop owner told Ghanem.
"So ... about that vote." Trump and Suadi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last March. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images
1. "Rejecting a plank of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, the House on Thursday invoked never-before-used powers to demand that his administration withdraw support from the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The Senate passed the same resolution in March with bipartisan support," per AP.
2. The State Department says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, of "potentially devastating consequences" if Turkey takes unilateral military action against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.
Worth noting: Turkey's ruling party is challenging the results of Sunday's mayoral race in Istanbul, in which the opposition appeared to pull off a shock victory. A recount is ongoing.
China's Xinjiang region has become a prison, and not just for the up to 1 million Uighur Muslims held in re-education camps.
In this NY Times investigative interactive, Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur and Austin Ramzy capture frightening vignettes of life in the town of Kashgar. Police were ever-present in their reporting and in the lives of the town's residents.
70 years is a heck of a long time for an alliance to last, as our friends at GZERO Media point out.
My thought bubble: This is just another reminder that this era of relative stability (at least in the West) is the exception and not the rule. For a look at a time the European powers had less-friendly relations, I'd recommend the excellent Age of Napoleon podcast.
A scene from a festival celebrating Italian food and wine in Catania. Truly a cause worthy of celebration. Photo: Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images
"The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft."— Ethiopia's transport minister on the findings of an investigation into last month's fatal crash
Have a lovely weekend — see you back here on Monday evening.