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The Burmese police force march at the Grand Military Display Parade on January 3, 2015 in Napyidaw, Burma.

- AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Myanmar has undergone significant political and economic transformation since 2010, but 2015 could witness an unraveling of these reforms.

2014 closed with a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims, surprise military attacks against ethnic armed cadets, and the fatal shooting of a woman protesting land confiscation near Letpadaung copper mine.

The general election to be this fall is already fraught with controversy over the government’s refusal to allow Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), to run for president.

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A Mass in Juba on December 15, 2014 commemorated one year since the outbreak of the South Sudan civil war. From a 14-month-old toddler to a 105-year-old grandmother, the first names of some of the tens of thousands killed in South Sudan since civil war began a year ago were released on December 15, 2014. With no official toll, South Sudanese civil society volunteers have spent months collecting, cross checking and confirming the names of those killed.

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WASHINGTON — The first anniversary of the conflict in South Sudan was an occasion to be marked with sadness last month. While it is the responsibility of South Sudan’s leaders to put down their weapons and commit to a political solution, there is more that the international community can do to promote peace and avert an even deeper humanitarian disaster in this young country.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles during the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, on December 23, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts counterparts from Belarus, Kazakhstan and other ex-Soviet allies in a regional security bloc meant to mirror NATO.

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DENVER — For the first time since the end of World War II, the leading global actor is no longer the United States. The country that led the Western coalition to victory in World War II, that created NATO, the IMF, the World Bank and the Marshall Plan, that backed the creation of the European Union, that dominated the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and much of Asia for so many decades, is no longer globally dominant.

Who is replacing the United States? Russia. And surprisingly so because it is no longer a superpower but a modest declining power.

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An Egyptian Salafist waves a Saudi flag as hundreds gather for a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Cairo to demand that Sharia be the basis for legislation in a new constitution on Nov. 9, 2012.

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PORTLAND, Oregon — The astonishing recent confession of a serving American commander that “[w]e do not understand the [Islamist] movement” calls for a revisit of an old problem.

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Sombath Somphone (second from left) with the other winners of the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award, which he won for community leadership.

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BANGKOK — It has been two years since the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone, a renowned civil society leader in Laos and 2005 Magsaysay Award winner. He vanished at a police checkpoint in Vientiane on December 15, 2012. Despite the efforts of his wife, human rights monitors, and his many friends in the international community, the Lao government has yet to offer a credible explanation of Sombath’s whereabouts.

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An actor wearing a mask depicting Russian president Vladimir Putin performs the living nativity scene during the Orthodox Christmas Eve show in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lviv on January 6, 2014. Putin represented King Herod.

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KIEV, Ukraine — The sanctions against Russia and cuts in oil prices have finally worked. They are destroying the Russian economy.

The ruble has collapsed, losing 60 percent of its value since President Putin’s invasions of Ukraine began. But that's little solace for Ukraine, whose economy has collapsed even faster; the value of its currency, the hryvna, has lost 60 percent of its value since February.

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Internally displaced persons cross the Nile river to get to Minkamman, on March 1, 2014. Khartoum dispatched reinforcements to its front lines on Feb. 27 as government and rebel delegations gathered in the Ethiopian capital to resume talks to end fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The African Union-mediated negotiations aim to end the nearly three-year-old war in the two restive states, which aid groups say has left 1.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

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MABAN COUNTY, South Sudan — Asir, a 49 year-old farmer from Blue Nile in Sudan, had just completed a grueling eight-day trip, walking through tall grass, mud and rain, often at night, leading a group of men, women and children to safety in a sprawling refugee camp in neighboring South Sudan. He had only the clothes on his back.

While the vast majority of Blue Nile residents had previously fled to refugee camps, many thousands stayed behind in government-controlled territory. Far from finding refuge, these communities have endured horrific abuses at the hands of government soldiers and armed militia.

Three years on, a steady stream of civilians is risking the treacherous journey to South Sudan. Asir, whose name was changed for this story, is among them.

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Mourners pray during a ceremony held to commemorate victims of the December 2004 tsunami at Peraliya village in southern Sri Lanka on December 26, 2012, on the eighth anniversary of the disaster. Some 31,000 people on the island died during the 2004 Asian tsunami and one million were initially left homeless.

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TUCSON, Arizona — Last year, I watched children running in and out of the waves on Sri Lanka’s southern shore. Life felt almost normal, almost as if the tsunami that claimed some 230,000 lives from Thailand to Madagascar 10 years ago had never happened.

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Demonstrators march to protest police abuse on December 7, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The protest was one of many that have take place nationwide after grand juries investigating the deaths of Michal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York failed to indict the police officers involved in both incidents.

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EVANSTON, Illinois — The decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson came several days after Russian President Vladimir Putin walked out of the G20 summit in Australia to show his irritation with Western leaders regarding Russian aggression towards Ukraine, and the downing of flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine.

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(L-R) Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott shakes hands with Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit on Nov. 16, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. Next year's summit is set to be held in Istanbul.

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WASHINGTON — 2014 was supposed to be a triumphant year, with the first ever election of a popularly elected president and renewed attention on Turkey’s strategic importance for a Middle East in turmoil.

Unfortunately, the rollercoaster of conflict throughout the region has only exacerbated myriad internal tensions that have further polarized Turkish society and its international friends.

Last year’s Gezi Park protests; allegations of corruption that led to crackdowns, including banning Twitter temporarily; more tensions with the Kurds; attacks on US sailors in Istanbul; and, most recently, President Erdogan’s public claim that Muslims first discovered America, have left the West scratching its head. Is this the “new” Turkey its leadership promised?

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