South Korean middle school students march in a rally against Japan in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Youg-joon).

Over the past half century, the United States and its two key allies in Northeast Asia, South Korea and Japan, have established a limited yet effective framework for trilateral defense cooperation. That system has largely remained intact despite a history of bad blood between Seoul and Tokyo, specifically over Japan’s brutal occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 until 1945. But regional observers are now increasingly worried that this edifice is beginning to crumble. The latest sign of trouble was South Korea’s decision last month to scrap a 2016 intelligence-sharing pact with Japan. The General Security of Military Information Agreement, […]

League party leader Matteo Salvini leaves after meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, in Rome, Aug. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Alessandra Tarantino).

Members of Italy’s new Cabinet were sworn in this week, but questions are already swirling about the government’s staying power. The two new coalition partners—the center-left Democratic Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, widely known as the M5S—have a history of animosity and a slew of disagreements on key policy issues. The government must also contend with Matteo Salvini, the head of the far-right League party whose failed bid to force snap elections toppled the previous coalition between the League and the M5S last month. Salvini, who now effectively leads the opposition, can put pressure on the new government […]

A man runs away from tear gas after making off with goods from a store in Germiston, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 3, 2019 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. A week of riots in South Africa targeting foreign-owned businesses has left at least 10 people dead and dozens of shops destroyed across Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria. The attacks shut down entire neighborhoods, as South Africans, enraged by the perception that foreigners are taking their jobs, looted shops and set them ablaze. This latest eruption of xenophobia comes amid deepening inequality in Africa’s second-largest economy, where more than a quarter of people are unemployed. South Africa has wrestled with xenophobia since […]

An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter provides security from above while CH-47 Chinooks drop off supplies to U.S. soldiers at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan, June 10, 2017 (Photo by Sgt. Justin Updegraff for U.S. Marine Corps via AP Images).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about the tentative deal for a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan announced this week. They also discuss the latest setback for Colombia’s peace process with the FARC insurgency and Boris Johnson’s bruising Brexit humiliation in the U.K. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview article every day of the week, plus three […]

A young boy and a soldier watch demonstrators climb onto a container used as a barricade in the Cibitoke neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 19, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

BUJUMBURA, Burundi—Four years after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term, leading to widespread protests and a government crackdown that killed more than 1,200 people and forced 400,000 to flee, this small East African country is still in the throes of political turmoil. With new elections less than a year away, tensions are rising as the government tightens its grip. In a report released Wednesday, United Nations investigators warned of another wave of possible atrocities ahead of the election amid “a general climate of impunity” in Burundi, where Nkurunziza’s supporters portray him as a “divine” leader. […]

Former FARC chief Rodrigo Londono, now the head of its political party, speaking at a press conference the day after a cadre of hard-line FARC leaders announced they will take up arms again, Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

A week ago, Colombians faced a sudden, unwelcome reminder of the bad old days. In a video message that spread rapidly throughout the country, well-known former guerrilla leaders announced their rejection of the 2016 peace agreement between the state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC. The men, dressed in the olive-green fatigues they had worn for decades waging a self-proclaimed Marxist revolution, blamed the government, which they accused of betraying them and the deal they reached in Havana three years ago. That hard-fought peace accord, the result of four years of negotiations, had won then-Colombian […]

A man watches the television as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam makes an announcement on the extradition bill, in Hong Kong, Sept. 4, 2019 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Hoping to “allay public concerns,” Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday announced the full withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill that sparked months of protests in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. Despite meeting this key demand of the protesters, Lam’s retreat was received with skepticism by the city’s pro-democracy activists and lawmakers, suggesting that Hong Kong’s embattled leader is not yet out of the woods. Lam’s concession came just days after Reuters published details of remarks she made […]

Italian Deputy Prime Ministers Matteo Salvini, right, and Luigi Di Maio during question time at the Chamber of Deputies, in Rome, Feb. 13, 2019 (ANSA photo by Fabio Frustaci via AP Images).

After weeks of political turmoil, Italy is set to have a new government, as the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, widely known as the M5S, has agreed to form a coalition with the center-left Democratic Party. The previous government, a partnership between the M5S and the far-right, anti-immigrant League party, collapsed last month after League leader Matteo Salvini filed a no-confidence motion in his own government in an effort to trigger new elections and take advantage of his rising popularity in opinion polls. The gambit backfired, however, when the M5S agreed to join together with the Democratic Party under the continued […]

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the Law and Justice party, addressing party members after the results of the European Parliament election were announced, in Warsaw, Poland, May 26, 2019 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

If the Law and Justice party wins the Polish elections for parliament in October, it will be harder for observers to dismiss its success as a blip in Poland’s post-communist history. What is behind the continued appeal of a party that merges nationalism with populism in a country once seen as a model of liberal democracy? With most of the votes counted, Jaroslaw Kaczynski took the stage and declared victory. “Today is a very important day,” he told a packed room of members of his populist Law and Justice party in Warsaw. PiS, as the party is known by its […]

Demonstrators hold upside down portraits of French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest through the streets of Bayonne, France, Aug. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Bob Edme).

Anti-government protesters have vandalized the offices of French officials aligned with President Emmanuel Macron in recent weeks, part of an ongoing backlash against the recent approval of a free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, was ratified by the French legislature in late July, prompting farmers and environmental groups to target the offices of legislators and local officials who belong to Macron’s Republic on the Move party. In an email interview with WPR, Gerry Alons, an assistant professor of international relations and a trade policy expert at Radboud University in […]

Stella Nyanzi, a women’s rights activist and government critic, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for cyber harassment of President Yoweri Museveni, in court in Kampala, Uganda, Aug. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Ronald Kabuubi).

KAMPALA, Uganda—Pastor Joseph Kabuleta was arrested while drinking coffee in a Kampala shopping center, shoved in the back of a car and blindfolded. Held in police detention for several days in July, Kabuleta said he was tortured by officers, who beat him and drenched him in freezing water. His only crime was a Facebook post criticizing a senior military official, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the son of President Yoweri Museveni. Kabuleta’s case is not unique in Uganda, where Museveni has held onto power for decades by almost any means necessary. The pastor’s arrest was another example of how Ugandans are using […]

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