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.
Changing of the guard? A military officer stands before a crowd of opposition supporters. Photo: Alexis Huguet/AFP/Getty Images
The Democratic Republic of the Congo will go to the polls on Sunday in what should be the country’s first ever peaceful transfer of power.
Why it matters: The DRC is a massive country at the heart of Africa. It’s already facing an Ebola epidemic and dozens of armed rebel groups. And as Congolese officials have told me, every election carries the risk of war.
The latest: In recent days, an apparent arson attack destroyed 80% of the voting machines that were to be used in the capital, Kinshasa, and police reportedly killed two opposition supporters and injured 40 more. The electoral commission says elections will go ahead.
Catch up quick ...
In an interview with Foreign Affairs, Kabila said his biggest success as president has been keeping the country from splitting apart. Asked about human rights abuses, Kabila was defiant: “I am not going to say that I regret any of that.”
The man tasked with overseeing the elections, Corneille Nangaa, is less confident.
What to watch, per the Economist:
As of last year, more people have been forced by violence and conflict to flee their homes than live in the U.K. or France.
Reykjavik. Photo: T.Seeliger/snapshot-photography/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Iceland is the world's most gender-equal country, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum that considers "economic opportunity; political empowerment; educational attainment; and health and survival."
Thanks Vlad! Venezuela's defense minister in the cockpit of a Russian bomber. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images
By sending two nuclear-capable bombers to Caracas for a week of “joint operational flights” with the Venezuelan air force, Vladimir Putin awarded Nicolás Maduro a propaganda victory and irked the U.S. with a new incursion into the Western Hemisphere, American University's Michael McCarthy writes for Axios Expert Voices.
Why it matters: Maduro is set to be sworn in for a new term next month. With Western democracies not planning to recognize his new mandate and to take further diplomatic actions, Maduro needs all the international support he can get.
Between the lines: Putin's assertive gesture pushes back against Washington and creates uncertainty about the limits of Moscow’s action on behalf of a U.S. adversary.
Where it stands: Recent yet unconfirmed media reports of Russian interest in hosting its bombers at an airfield on Venezuela’s La Orchila island have created new suspicions about the Kremlin’s intentions to establish a more permanent military presence in the Caribbean.
A constitutional crisis seems to have come to a dramatic end in Sri Lanka, with President Maithripala Sirisena reinstating Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whom he ousted seven weeks ago.
What's next: Sri Lanka's democratic institutions seem to have withstood a perilous test in overturning Sirisena's power grab. However, Oxford Analytica's Joydeep Sen predicts that Wickremesinghe's government will be unstable and "struggle to muster majorities to implement its agenda." New elections could be forthcoming.
Cotton heads to a Intelligence Committee meeting. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has President Trump's ear and may well end up in his administration.
In an hour-long conversation with former acting CIA Director Michael Morell on Friday at the Atlantic Council's annual forum, the hawkish Army veteran praised Trump's approach (particularly on Iran), while differing on a few points.
On Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, held in Canada on charges related to U.S. sanctions, Cotton said: "I want to see her extradited, I want to see her face the full force of U.S. law." He said letting trade influence things (as Trump suggested) would send the "wrong signal" to China and U.S. allies.
One surprising thing: Asked whom he admires most in the history of U.S. foreign policy, Cotton chose John Quincy Adams, for shaping the Monroe Doctrine.
A Euroskeptic American in Paris. Photo: Francois Mori/AFP/Getty Images
Susan Glasser writes in the New Yorker about President Trump's hostility toward German Chancellor Angela Merkel — criticizing her publicly, privately and in his meetings with other world leaders — and Europe as a whole.
Some key excerpts:
"It took Germany the longest of all partners to come to terms with someone like Trump becoming President. We were very emotional, because our relationship with America is so emotional — it’s more of a son-father relationship — and we didn’t recognize our father anymore and realized he might beat us."— Senior German official
What to watch ...
"Don't worry, Mrs. May. I sent my letter of no confidence to Santa." Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images
"... if it is impossible to stop it, it should be taken over and navigated in a particular way."— Vladimir Putin, on rap music
Thanks for stopping by — catch you Thursday evening!