Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul-malik al-Mekhlafi for talks in Moscow, Russia, Jan. 22, 2018 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In late January, Yemen’s foreign minister, Abdul-malik al-Mekhlafi, traveled to Moscow where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. As they discussed the implementation of an elusive peace settlement in Yemen, Lavrov emphasized Russia’s willingness to mediate between rival Yemeni factions. Lavrov’s somewhat surprising announcement was followed up days later by a statement from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offering to broker talks in the burgeoning conflict between separatists in southern Yemen and the forces of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, whose president is in exile in Saudi Arabia. Until recently, Russia has maintained a diplomatic presence in Yemen’s […]

Diosdado Cabello, center, the chief of Venezuela’s ruling party, attends a parade marking the anniversary of a 1992 failed coup, Feb. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Earlier this month, before leaving for a five-country trip in Latin America, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speculated about a potential way out of the economic and political chaos in Venezuela. Perhaps, he suggested, the best solution was a military coup d’état. “In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is oftentimes that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people,” he told an audience at the University of Texas. President Donald Trump first introduced the notion of prioritizing bullets over ballots in Venezuela […]

Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, at the opening ceremony of the G20 Summit, Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

On Monday, a spokesman for a civil society group in Chad called Iyina became the latest government critic to be detained by security forces. According to police, Alain Kembah Didah was caught with a bottle of gasoline in his hand, preparing to burn a tire as part of an anti-government protest. Didah has disputed this account, but that didn’t stop Chadian authorities from taking him into custody and, according to Amnesty International, beating him to the point where he could barely stand. In Chadian Arabic, the name Iyina means “We’re fed up.” Its members aren’t the only ones who’ve been […]

United Nations peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix is welcomed by U.N peacekeepers upon his arrival in eastern Congo, Dec. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro).

Editor’s note: This is a special Wednesday edition of Diplomatic Fallout. Judah Grunstein will return with Balance of Power next week. There is a long history of bold ideas for peacekeeping missions that never quite took off. In 1936, British officials considered deploying 10,000 peacekeepers to the Rhineland as a buffer force between France and an increasingly aggressive Nazi Germany. In 1969, the Irish foreign minister called for a United Nations force to counter mounting sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland. London said no. In January 2009, in one of its very last foreign policy initiatives, the outgoing George W. Bush […]

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the donor conference for Iraq, Kuwait City, Kuwait, Feb. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell).

The recent international conference in Kuwait to help Iraq rebuild after its war against the Islamic State provided stark and surprising insights into which countries are most invested in Iraqi stability. While the United Nations and the World Bank led the launch of a new recovery and resilience program for the country, it was the neighboring Gulf states and Turkey that stepped up to the plate with new pledges. Given heightened regional tensions over Iran and Syria, the commitment to help Iraq recuperate looks like a positive development for the Middle East. Perhaps with some trepidation and ambivalence, its neighbors […]

Britain's then-Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping at The Plough pub, Casden, England, Oct. 22, 2015 (AP Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth).

When he was British prime minister, David Cameron promised that his country would become China’s “best partner” in the West. His recent decision to accept a leadership role in a new joint Sino-British investment fund—part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road development initiative, no less—shows that, even after his retirement from frontline politics, Cameron is still dedicated to making good on that commitment. Last month, as part of his new job, he had a personal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, where he expressed hope for a new “golden era” of U.K.-China relations, echoing what he said when […]

Thousands of employees of UNRWA, the U.N agency for Palestinian refugees demonstrate in support of their organization following U.S. funding cuts, Gaza City, Jan. 29, 2018 (AP photo by Khalil Hamra).

Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address last week may have been mild by his standards. But while generally lacking in inflammatory rhetoric, the speech wasn’t devoid of it altogether. In a moment that deserves more attention than it received, Trump referred to a vast swath of countries, including many U.S. allies, as “enemies of America.” Those three words, which did not appear in the prepared text released by the White House before Trump’s address, were directed at the 128 countries that backed a December resolution at the United Nations General Assembly condemning the Trump administration’s unilateral decision to […]

A worker walks on the site of the China-financed reconstruction of a railway line, Belgrade, Serbia, Nov. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

BELGRADE, Serbia—Is China building a Trojan horse in a divided Europe? The diplomatic initiative between China and 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, known as the 16+1, has become more controversial since its launch in 2012 at a summit in Poland. Critics worry that it may undermine the European Union’s unified approach to Beijing, weaken transparency in economic and diplomatic engagement, and give a secretive regime with an increasingly muscular foreign policy a foothold in Europe. The 16 European countries are all ex-communist states, and all but five are EU members. In January, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the EU’s ambassador […]