An anti-government protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

From Lebanon and Iraq to Ecuador and Chile, popular protests have shaken governments and captured the imagination of pundits worldwide in the past few weeks. Combined with the mass demonstrations that forced regimes in Algeria and Sudan to cast aside longtime leaders earlier this year, as well as the Yellow Vest movement that stunned France from December 2018 through the late spring, some observers are wondering whether we are witnessing a revolutionary moment of global proportions. Has popular dissatisfaction with the unfair distribution of globalization’s spoils reached a tipping point? Or are these protests locally driven, offering little or no […]

Afghan security forces stand guard in front of an election poster for President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Anyone following the ongoing controversies over Afghanistan’s recent presidential election will understandably have a sense of déjà vu. Nearly a month after Afghans voted on Sept. 28, not only is there no clear winner, there is not even any word on when preliminary results will be announced. Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani remains in office while Abdullah Abdullah, the national unity government’s chief executive and Ghani’s leading challenger, is once again crying foul over allegations of polling fraud. Officials at the Independent Election Commission, or IEC, are struggling to sort out how many voters actually turned out, after suspicions surfaced that […]

Demonstrators during a rally to support political prisoners in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 29, 2019 (AP Photo by Dmitri Lovetsky).

Despite the much-lamented global democratic recession, recent protests in Hong Kong, Russia and elsewhere testify to the innate human desire for freedom and dignity. The question of when and how to support such movements can create excruciating dilemmas for external actors, state and nonstate alike. In a provocative new report, “Preventing Mass Atrocities: From a Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) to a Right to Assist (RtoA) Campaigns of Civil Resistance,” Peter Ackerman and Hardy Merriman of the Washington-based International Center on Non-Violent Conflict, or ICNC, set out the dos and don’ts for those who would assist local struggles against authoritarian rule. […]

Cover photo: A Syrian national flag with the picture of the President Bashar al-Assad hangs at an army checkpoint in the town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, July 15, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

After more than seven years of civil war that gutted Syria, the endgame is here. But there are more questions than ever. Download your FREE copy of What Is the Endgame in Syria? to learn more today. What does victory on President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal terms look like? How has the rise and fall of the Islamic State changed Syria’s political map? How will U.S. President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and the subsequent Turkish invasion of the area change the situation?And what about reconstruction, let alone reconciliation? This WPR report provides a comprehensive look at […]

Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, who along with Michael Kremer were awarded this year's Nobel Prize in economics, at a news conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oct. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Michael Dwyer).

The winners of the Nobel Prize in economics usually toil in relative obscurity, renowned among their academic peers while carrying out work whose benefit may be elusive to everyone else. By comparison, the work of other Nobel laureates usually seems much more concrete and easier to grasp, especially for the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, whose impact is so clear-cut that they often become global superstars. Even in other scientific fields, the winners’ work can elicit popular nods of agreement with the Nobel Committee. Take this year’s winners of the chemistry prize, who helped develop rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which […]

Relatives and villagers gather around the coffin of Balkisun Mandal Khatwe, a Nepalese migrant worker who died while working on a Qatari construction project, Belhi, Nepal, Nov. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

DOHA, Qatar—More than a year later, the workers living in Building 14 of Labour City, a migrant workers’ camp in Doha, remember the gasps and screams that woke them one night in May 2018. As lights flicked on, they heard shouting in the halls. Bhupendra Magar, a 35-year-old plumber from Nepal, was struggling to breathe. Magar’s roommates tried to revive him and called for help. Soon, an ambulance arrived, and medics rushed him across the city to Qatar’s largest hospital, but he didn’t survive the night. Magar had been in Doha for 16 months working on the Al Wakrah stadium, […]

Workers pack Lebanese fruits for export from Lebanon to the Gulf and other Arab countries, at a warehouse in Bar Elias town, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Oct. 31, 2018 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

Recent signs of increased economic cooperation in the Levant, especially among Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, are sparking hope that past failed efforts to establish a regional free trade agreement may soon be revived. A bilateral trade deal between Jordan and Iraq signed in February, as well as a trilateral leaders’ summit held in Egypt earlier this year, suggest that these countries are looking to diversify their economic portfolios, deepen regional cooperation and get a leg up on post-ISIS reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Syria. However, a number of obstacles remain before these recent developments could conceivably catalyze the resurrection of […]

Activists participate in a global protest on climate change, in La Paz, Bolivia, Sept. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

When wildfires started raging out of control in the Amazon in September, the entire world took notice of Brazil and the refusal of its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, to accept international assistance to put out the blazes. But a similar disaster may end up having a greater political impact in neighboring Bolivia, where fires have consumed some 10 million acres in the past few months. Socialist President Evo Morales’ tepid response has infuriated Bolivians, just days before a controversial presidential election. The magnitude of the anger became palpable Friday, when Bolivians turned out in huge numbers to protest against Morales’ […]

The evening gala at Tiananmen Square for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

When the Chinese Communist Party recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of its rule, it predictably pulled out all the stops. These included stepped up censorship of already tightly controlled domestic media for weeks before the event, extraordinary security measures in Beijing designed to prevent even the slightest disturbance, and the largest military parade in the country’s history. Responses to China’s celebrations have been equally predictable, too, and although they fall into two broad and opposing camps, there is no real contradiction between them. On one hand, some observers focus on China’s achievements since the early 1980s, starting with the rapid […]

From left, Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Croat President Zeljko Komsic and Muslim Bosniak President Sefik Dzaferovic after their meeting in Brussels, Jan. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unique and often unstable tripartite presidency missed its deadline to form part of its national government in early September, almost a year after general elections, amid continued disagreements on whether to proceed with long-in-the-works plans to join NATO. With its leaders deadlocked, the country’s path toward both the Western military alliance and membership in the European Union is as uncertain as ever. Twenty-five years after the end of the brutal war that killed over 100,000 people and left millions displaced, Bosnia’s dysfunctional political system continues to hamper its long recovery. The country is still reliant on international […]

Maka indigenous leader-in-training Tsiweyenki, or Gloria Elizeche in Spanish, handles a copy of the Bible translated into her native language, in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay, April 17, 2019 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

Seven thousand indigenous languages are spoken around the world today, and four in 10 of them are in danger of going extinct, a recent United Nations study warned. After its release in August, U.N. experts called for a series of steps, including new laws and international commitments, to reverse what they described as the “historic destruction” of indigenous languages. Researchers like the linguist Frank Seifart of Berlin’s Leibniz Center for General Linguistics, whose work includes a study of Carabayo, a language of indigenous people in the Colombian Amazon, have found that older speakers of a range of indigenous languages are […]

Tita and Emet Comodas with their young children, shortly before the birth of their fifth child, in the late 1970s (photo courtesy of Jason DeParle).

In 1987, a 40-year-old mother of five named Tita Comodas received a strange request. Comodas, a resident of a sprawling slum district in Manila, had just been asked by an acquaintance if a young American journalist named Jason DeParle could rent space in her already cramped dwelling. She somewhat reluctantly agreed, and DeParle stayed for eight months, kicking off what became a lifelong friendship. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by DeParle, now a senior writer at The New York Times, for a discussion on his new book, “A Good Provider Is One Who […]