Editor's note

US President Donald Trump has it wrong when he argues the US would be “foolish” to use arms sales as leverage with Saudi Arabia, claiming they could just get their tanks and fighter jets from other countries. In fact it’s one of the best bargaining chips he has with the kingdom, argues Terrence Guay. For his part David Mednicoff posits that continuing question marks over who is responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s death is the consequence of Trump’s disregard for democratic politics and human rights in other countries. By abandoning support for democracy and civil rights the administration is hurting the interests of Middle Easterners as well as Americans.

Teachers across Iran went on strike earlier this month, citing unsafe and overpopulated classrooms, the embezzlement of public assets and discrimination. The government has hit back by arresting members of the teachers’ union, but the protest has received widespread support. In fact, argues Omid Shams, their brave stand could herald a new era of dissent.

More than half of Kenya’s urban population lives in slums, in extremely poor quality housing with little access to basic amenities. Yet, comparatively, they pay high rentals. Debabrata Talukdar explains that, because there’s a huge demand for low-cost housing, tenants are paying a high price for these bad conditions.

Caroline Southey


Top Stories

American-made F-15 warplanes fly over Riyadh. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia give Trump all the leverage he needs in Khashoggi affair

Terrence Guay, Pennsylvania State University

Trump claimed that 'we would be punishing ourselves' by using US arms sales to Saudi Arabia as a bargaining chip over the disappearance of Khashoggi. A look at the arms trade shows why he's wrong.

Robert Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists on Oct. 18 appealed to the U.N. to investigate the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Jamal Khashoggi: Casualty of the Trump administration’s disregard for democracy and civil rights in the Middle East?

David Mednicoff, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The Trump administration’s abandonment of support for democracy and civil rights abroad may be behind the sort of attacks on individual freedom that likely claimed journalist Jamal Khashoggi's life.

Politics + Society

Iran: national teachers’ strike could herald new era of dissent

Omid Shams, University of Portsmouth

Corruption, economic woes and oppression are driving many civil servants to the edge.

How Syrian architects can start to rebuild – even in the devastation of war

Ammar Azzouz, University of Cambridge

Work to preserve the country's heritage is already happening.

Business + Economy

Nairobi’s slum residents pay a high price for low quality services

Debabrata Talukdar, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

The rental housing market in Nairobi’s informal settlements offers its tenant households a perverse market outcome of higher prices for lower quality products

Why Ramaphosa’s “new dawn” will break slowly for South Africa’s finances

Seán Mfundza Muller, University of Johannesburg

The damage done during the preceding decade will have a negative effect on South Africa's public finances and the economy for some time to come.

Science + Technology

From peaceful coexistence to potential peril: the bacteria that live in and on us

Mark Blaskovich, The University of Queensland

Millions of bacteria live on our skin without making us sick. It's when they manage to get through that they can be dangerous – particularly if they're resistant to antibiotics.

Chimps like to copy human visitors to the zoo – Ig Nobel Prize

Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, Lund University; Tomas Persson, Lund University

An Ig Nobel Prize-winning study suggests we need to rethink why imitation evolved.