Bolivian President Evo Morales at a press conference at the government palace, La Paz, Bolivia, Feb. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

On Sunday, Feb. 21, Bolivians rejected a referendum that would have allowed long-serving President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term in office, continuing a recent trend across Latin America of citizens voting for change. As the country’s first president of indigenous descent in a nation where between 40 percent and 62 percent of the citizenry self-identify as indigenous, Morales remains popular but is term-limited and must leave office in 2019. The president anticipated victory. What he did not factor in, apparently, was being overtaken by Latin America’s anti-incumbency wave. Since his first election in 2006, Morales has assiduously […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the COP21 U.N. climate talks, Paris, France, Nov. 30, 2015 (Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP).

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has canceled a March trip to Australia in order to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow instead. In an email interview, Michael Koplow, a policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, discussed Israel-Russia relations and the impact of the Syrian conflict. WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of Israel-Russia political, economic and security ties? Michael Koplow: The recent trajectory of Israel-Russia ties has been on the upswing. Vladimir Putin was the first Russian president to visit Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cultivated ties with Russia for a number of reasons. Israel […]

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during the inaugural session of parliament, Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Feb. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo).

Earlier this month, on Feb. 1, Myanmar’s first democratically elected parliament in more than half a century held its first session since landmark elections last November. Dominated by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and longtime democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which won nearly 80 percent of its seats, the parliament faces a host a challenges, from internal ethnic conflicts to the plight of the minority Rohingya Muslims. But when it comes to international affairs, no issue is perhaps more delicate and consequential than dealing with Myanmar’s powerful neighbor and patron, China. Beijing signaled its interest […]

U.S. President Barack Obama at the U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders summit, Rancho Mirage, Calif., Feb. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

The growing closeness between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sends some very mixed messages. The California venue for last week’s first-ever U.S.-hosted summit with ASEAN heads of state—the Sunnylands Resort at Rancho Mirage—seemed to illustrate the essential confusion: Is the relationship bright and hopeful, or just illusory? Prior to the summit, U.S. State Department officials were at pains to declare that it was “not about China,” which became more difficult to maintain with the revelation, late in the summit’s proceedings, that Beijing had placed surface-to-air missiles on an island in the South China Sea. […]

A locked iPhone, Washington, Feb. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

The standoff this past week between the U.S. government and the global tech behemoth Apple underscores an enduring condition of our age: Technological innovation is at once a powerful tool to enhance our security, but maximizing its consumer benefits requires resisting government regulation and control. The private sector and government will have to find a more satisfactory partnership if they are to achieve the necessary but difficult balance that entails. The fascinating struggle between the U.S. national security establishment and Apple over unlocking the cellphone of Syed Rizwan Farook—the San Bernadino, California, terrorist—captures many of the dilemmas of the fraught […]

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny addressing the staff of Paypal at Xerox Technology Park, Dundalk, Ireland, Feb. 16, 2016 (Press Association photo by Niall Carson via AP).

Facing a March deadline for new elections, Ireland’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, leader of the center-right Fine Gael party, dissolved parliament earlier this month and called a general election for Feb. 26. Opinion polls deem it unlikely that the current government will be returned to office. But the fragmentation of Ireland’s post-recovery political landscape, in particular the working-class vote, and the losses likely to be sustained by the left-wing Labour Party, which is in a coalition with Fine Gael, make it difficult to predict the complexion of the government that will emerge from Friday’s general election. Five years ago, in […]

President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro before a bilateral meeting, United Nations headquarters, New York, Sept. 29, 2015 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

On Thursday, the White House announced that President Barack Obama will visit Cuba next month, the first trip there by an American president since 1928. Obama will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and members of civil society, including dissidents who have criticized Cuba’s human rights record. U.S.-Cuba relations began to thaw in December 2014, when Obama and Castro announced the launch of a normalization process that would break decades of hostility. Last April, the Obama administration removed Cuba from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism List, and in July, the Cuban flag was raised over the embassy in Washington […]

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces budget revisions, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan. 28, 2016 (AP photo by Joshua Paul).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Last month, Malaysia cut its 2016 growth forecast and slashed spending plans as the economy continues to suffer from falling oil prices. In an email interview, Joshua Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed Malaysia’s economy and the impact of the commodities slump. WPR: How important are oil and commodities for Malaysia’s economy, and what impact have falling oil and commodities prices had on domestic politics? Joshua Kurlantzick: Oil and commodities […]

Chinese performers participate in a cultural dance at Ditan Park to mark the first day of the Lunar New Year, Beijing, Feb. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

In this special edition of the Trend Lines podcast, WPR Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein and host Peter Dörrie talk about China’s rise as an economic and political power and the implications for Asia and the rest of the world. The discussion coincides with a panel WPR is sponsoring on China’snaval, economic and cyber ambitionsand the implications for the U.S. at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs on Feb. 19. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: The Challenge of China’s Bid for Cyber Suzerainty China’s Naval Modernization: Where Is It Headed? Do China’s Global Economic Ambitions Really Threaten […]

Filling up at a gas station, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy).

For the first time, Saudi Arabia’s budget this year includes measures to gradually reduce subsidies on gasoline and other fuel, in response to declining oil revenue from the slump in global energy prices. The move, replicated in other Arab Gulf states, represents a fundamental challenge to the assumptions on which the region’s economy and political structure are based. Since the beginning of the year, millions of Saudis have found it more expensive to drive to and from work each day. To people living outside the Gulf, the burden may not seem onerous. The cost at the pumps of higher-grade gasoline […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inaugural ceremony of 'Make in India' week, Mumbai, India, Feb. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Rajanish Kakade).

For more than six decades following India’s independence in 1947, urbanization remained an afterthought for policymakers, who hardly recognized the positive relationship between urban expansion and economic development. It wasn’t until 1984, when Rajiv Gandhi became India’s youngest prime minister and brought with him a new, young brigade of leaders, that those in power began to acknowledge that urbanization could serve India’s economy. Gandhi’s initiatives on urbanization, while new, were nonetheless hesitant. Through the 1990s and the early 2000s, analysts increasingly spoke of India’s “urban turn” and hinted at the beginnings of a serious investment in urban infrastructure and connectivity. […]

Protesters hold posters of Edward Snowden in front of the German parliament, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 18, 2013 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

This week on the Trend Lines podcast, WPR Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein talks to host Peter Dörrie about the future of the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers, President Barack Obama’s nuclear nonproliferation legacy, what declining oil prices mean for Equatorial Guinea’s stability, and other stories from around the world. For the Report, Abraham Newman joins us to explain the politics that led to the nullification of the Safe Harbor agreement between the United States and the European Union and how a new regime to protect digital privacy could be structured. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: What Does […]

Equatorial Guinea's president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, during the India Africa Forum Summit, New Delhi, India, Oct. 29, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Africa’s longest-serving head of state, appears poised to formally extend his rule over oil-rich Equatorial Guinea later this year. The septuagenarian strongman has confirmed his intention to run in November’s presidential election, a contest no one expects him to lose, since the political opposition is marginalized and the state is firmly under the control of Obiang and his family. Though the election results already look certain, volatile energy revenues and Obiang’s ongoing efforts to position his son as the heir apparent threaten to jeopardize the regime’s future stability. The oil slump undermines Obiang’s long-established strategy of […]

Judges preside over a case at the European Court of Justice, Luxembourg, Oct. 6, 2015 (AP Photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Depending on whom you talk to and what month it is, the United States and the European Union are either on the brink of a digital trade war or reaching a historic e-commerce deal. EU-U.S. cooperation over the trans-Atlantic digital economy seemed to first fall apart in October 2015, when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck down a critical data-sharing deal known as the Safe Harbor Agreement. In doing so, Europe’s highest court put major companies such as Facebook and IBM at risk of breaching EU privacy law by simply conducting their day-to-day business operations. National data-privacy authorities have […]

Trade delegates after signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Auckland, New Zealand, Feb. 4, 2016 (SNPA photo by David Rowland via AP).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential impact on members’ economies. To be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was formally signed last week and now faces national ratification among member states, Vietnam accepted a side agreement outlining various compliance measures for the deal’s labor rights standards. In an email interview, Adam Fforde, professorial fellow at Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, in Melbourne, Australia, discusses the TPP’s likely impact on Vietnam’s political economy. WPR: What are the expected economic benefits for Vietnam from the TPP, and […]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the inaugural meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Beijing, Jan. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s note: This article is one of three briefings on China’s rise and its implications for U.S. regional and global interests, coinciding with an upcoming panel, in collaboration with WPR, at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs on Feb. 17-19 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The second, on China’s naval modernization, will appear Wednesday; the third, on China’s cyber strategy, will appear Friday. Over the course of the past decade, China has been steadily laying the foundation of an international financial and monetary system centered on the yuan. While progress was initially slow, it picked up considerable steam in the […]

Delegates raise up their membership cards during the closing ceremony of the Vietnam Communist Party's 12th National Congress, Hanoi, Jan. 28, 2016 (Pool photo by Hoang Dinh Nam).

PHNOM PENH—Conservative forces have strengthened their grip in Vietnam after the ruling Communist Party, late last month, elected its incumbent general-secretary to a second five-year term in the country’s top political office. Analysts say the reappointment of Nguyen Phu Trong, 71, will put a brake on political and economic reforms, but it is unlikely to significantly alter the balance of the country’s crucial relationships with China and the United States. The decision also spelled an end to the ambitions of the reformist Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who mounted a short-lived challenge for the Community Party’s top post before its […]

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