President Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens, in Washington, Nov. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

President Joe Biden took office last year during one of the most turbulent times the United States had experienced in decades. Though his administration has tackled important foreign policy issues, it has also faced multiple domestic crises, so the primary focus of this first year has been on the urgent matters at home. In 2022, though, the world is likely to demand more of Biden’s attention, even as the domestic challenges remain far from resolved. Some of the foreign policy issues are expected and already evident. To start, Biden will have to work to help the entire planet, including poor […]

Public teachers shout slogans against Peruvian President Pedro Castillo to demand better labor conditions in Lima, Peru, Nov. 23, 2021 (AP photo by Guadalupe Pardo).

LIMA, Peru—Peruvian President Pedro Castillo may or may not be a socialist, but there is no denying that his political branding is rooted almost exclusively in his identification with Peru’s most marginalized citizens. His campaign slogan for the June presidential election, “No more poor people in a rich country,” was the least of it. What carried real weight with voters was his personal background as a campesino—a rural inhabitant usually with Indigenous heritage and ties to the land. For many, that made Castillo the living antithesis to the largely white Lima elites who have overseen a booming economy in a […]

A woman passes by a display showing Evergrande’s domestic commercial projects, in Beijing, China, Dec. 7, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Late in September, when stock markets around the world went into spasms of anxiety following news that Chinese real estate giant Evergrande might go bankrupt, the shockwaves reached all the way to Latin America, about as far from the Chinese mainland as one can get. In fact, South American markets dropped even more than those in the United States, even though Evergrande has had little, if any, contact with the region. That’s because Latin American economies are not just deeply entwined with China, but are increasingly dependent on its growth to sustain their own. The drama of Evergrande, with its […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media after meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Pretoria, South Africa, Nov. 23, 2021 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

If anyone was hoping for a post-pandemic renewal of international cooperation in a world still feeling the aftershocks from Brexit, Donald Trump’s presidency, trade wars and global supply chain disruptions, they would likely be disappointed today. International relations in 2020 were driven primarily by the politics of aid and mask diplomacy. The second year of the coronavirus pandemic has been all about vaccines, geopolitical competition and travel restrictions.  In a July edition of my Africa Watch newsletter, I noted that the rhetoric of renewed multilateralism heard at global summits and other international fora at the onset of the pandemic ultimately […]

Illegally cut logs lay on the bank of the Putaya River between the Ashaninka Indigenous communities of Saweto and Puerto Putaya, Peru, March 17, 2015 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

Peru’s portion of the Amazon jungle accounts for more than half the country’s land area and, at 13 percent of the Amazon’s total territory, the second-largest share of the rainforest after Brazil. While the rate of deforestation of Peru’s Amazon forests lags that of Brazil’s, it is the country’s primary source of greenhouse gas emissions. Growing concerns over both deforestation’s contribution to climate change and its impact on the region’s Indigenous peoples have now led the Peruvian government to increase its focus on combatting the phenomenon.   Though Peru is not a significant producer of greenhouse gases, it is likely to suffer immensely from climate change and has already […]

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, Dec. 11, 2021 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

What is the U.S. up to in the Middle East? How does the granular reality of developments as seen from the region square with Washington’s strategic assessment? Last week, a senior Biden administration official offered some answers to those questions in a briefing for journalists on the White House’s plan for a realistic, downsized Middle East policy. (Though the official remained anonymous, it sounds an awful lot like Brett McGurk ). Whether or not this plan will work—and I’m not so sure that it will—the administration’s description of its own approach sounds accurate, and that’s a welcome change. It does away […]

Afghans wait in front of a bank as they try to withdraw money in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

As 2021 comes to a close, the international community faces several emerging humanitarian and security catastrophes—even beyond the global pandemic that has gripped the world for two years. Ethiopia is undergoing a complex and multifaceted civil war that has spurred a humanitarian disaster of monumental proportions, with nearly 1 million people now living in conditions approaching famine. Meanwhile, Russia has been building up its military presence on its border with Ukraine, increasing tensions with the West and prompting fears that there will be yet another attack on Ukrainian sovereignty. And in the Taliban’s Afghanistan, more children are expected to die this winter from starvation than […]

A pro-democracy protester flashes the victory sign during a protest against a military coup, Khartoum, Sudan, Oct. 25, 2021 (AP photo by Ashraf Idris).

When I first joined the WPR editorial team and took over Africa Watch, I wrote an inaugural edition introducing myself and my guiding principles, as well as the trends, topics and developments you could expect to see me cover in the newsletter as well as in my other writings for WPR.  It’s now been six months since I began writing these newsletters, an experience that has been as remarkable as it has been exciting. And while the newsletter’s format has since evolved, I would like to believe that the orientation I set out in that edition has largely remained intact.  During […]

A Chinese honor guard member walks past a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping near the entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing, Sept. 18, 2021 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

China’s “coercive economic policies” took center stage at last weekend’s G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting, after an eventful week that saw Nicaragua break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of Beijing and China upping the ante in its retaliation against Lithuania, after the Baltic country permitted a Taiwanese Representative Office to open in Vilnius last month. Nicaragua announced Friday that it would sever long-standing ties with Taiwan, further reducing the number of countries that still recognize the self-governing democracy as a sovereign nation to 14. (Honduras’ incoming president, Xiomara Castro, had made a similar pledge during her campaign, though she has […]

Workers advertise their skills while looking for work outside a hardware store in a Johannesburg suburb, Feb. 26, 2020 (AP photo by Denis Farrell).

As 2021 comes to a close, a wide range of commentators—including international financial organizations, regional development banks, credit agencies, consulting firms and media organizations—have begun rolling out their forecasts for the coming year’s global economic outlook. Figuring centrally in all these projections is how the global economy will recover from the stop-and-start effects of the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years.  But for the approximately 1.4 billion people in Africa’s 54 countries, the overwhelming majority of whom remain unvaccinated, the question isn’t just how to build back better from a pandemic that plunged the continent into its first recession […]

An Afghan man walks at the Afghanistan-Iran border crossing of Islam Qala, Nov. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

More than 22 million Afghans, many of them children, are at risk of starvation and exposure to cold this winter, The New York Times reported this week. Afghanistan was already experiencing food insecurity prior to the United States’ withdrawal, due to drought and harvest failure, but now, according to the United Nations Development Program, more than 8 million are facing famine.  Poor governance by the Taliban and their restrictions on women have contributed to general insecurity. But the country’s dire economic situation—which saw millions of dollars of foreign aid, constituting 43 percent of its gross domestic product, disappear overnight—has also dramatically worsened due to three […]

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the White House during the opening of the Democracy Summit, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, looks on, Washington, Dec. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Leaders from government, civil society, journalism and the private sector in 17 African countries have been invited by U.S. President Joe Biden to join their counterparts from nearly 100 other nations at a two-day virtual summit on democracy. While campaigning for his party’s presidential nomination, Biden made the defense and promotion of democracy at home and abroad a cornerstone of his agenda. In particular, Biden pledged to host a summit for democracy in his first year in office, a promise this gathering fulfills.  Biden administration officials described the summit as offering an “affirmative agenda for democratic renewal” focused on three […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his ministers pose for a photo after the first Cabinet meeting of the new German government at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 8, 2021 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Olaf Scholz of the center-left Social Democratic Party, or SPD, was sworn in yesterday as Germany’s ninth chancellor, ending the 16-year tenure of Angela Merkel and her center-right Christian Democratic Union, or CDU. But while in other countries a swing from the right to the left might herald significant change politically, this is unlikely to be the case in Germany, which is known for its preference for pragmatic, consensus-oriented political leadership. A key point to note is that Scholz was a member of the previous government, serving as vice chancellor and finance minister in Merkel’s fourth and final Cabinet, as […]

Senegalese President Macky Sall, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, inspect the honor guard during a state visit in Dakar, Senegal, July 21, 2018 (AP photo by Xaume Olleros).

A few days before last week’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Dakar, Senegal, the Ugandan newspaper Daily Monitor published a story claiming that China was on the verge of taking over Uganda’s Entebbe Airport, the country’s main international airport, due to an inability to service a $200 million loan from China incurred in expanding the airport. Almost immediately, the story went viral on Twitter and other social media. On Facebook, several posts making the same claim as the original Daily Monitor story, including many with a digitally altered AFP photo giving the impression that the airport had already been seized […]

Iran’s national security adviser, Ali Shamkhani, and the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, shake hands prior to their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 6, 2021 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

High-level diplomacy has intensified among competing Middle East regional powers, a flurry of bilateral talks that increasingly suggests what a “Plan B” would look like if, as seems likely, the U.S. and Iran fail to revive the deal that briefly constrained Tehran’s nuclear program. The pace of contacts and meetings between the region’s prime movers has stepped up a notch in recent weeks, in a tangible sign that governments in the Middle East are responding to what they see as a clear downsizing of Washington’s role in the region. The most visible example of this adjustment was a meeting that […]

President Joe Biden meets with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Nov. 18, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

After five years and a nearly 20-month border shutdown, the heads of government of Mexico, Canada and the United States gave a sense of restored normalcy to trilateral relations last month, when they joined up in Washington for the first summit of its kind since a 2016 gathering—featuring a famously awkward handshake—in Ottawa. Then again, by the time Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, met with U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on the sidelines of what has been dubbed the Three Amigos Summit, they were already capping off a period filled with renewed, high-level bilateral […]

Oil derricks are busy pumping as the moon rises near the La Paloma Generating Station in McKittrick, Calif, June 8, 2017 (AP photo by Gary Kazanjian).

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change contains a curious omission: The phrase “fossil fuels,” which appears nowhere in the nearly 7,200-word document. Nor do the terms “coal,” “oil” or “natural gas,” despite these resources being responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. That lacuna was no accident. It reflects the decision by national governments, reinforced by industry lobbyists, to focus emissions reduction efforts on reducing the demand for fossil fuels, rather than limiting fossil fuel supply by discouraging or even prohibiting their extraction in the first place.  In other words, as climate activist Tzeporah Berman points out in a powerful […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 201 2 Last