Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

In promoting the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised it would yield impressive economic dividends for the general population. But those never materialized. Instead, the economic situation has deteriorated considerably since U.S. President Donald Trump took office and embraced hard-line policies toward Iran. In January, Rouhani said the country was facing its worst economic crisis since the 1979 revolution. In this week’s in-depth report for WPR, Jasmin Ramsey, the communications director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, examines how Iranians are coping with their […]

A group of Iranians listen to President Hassan Rouhani during a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. In the picture, a woman raises her left fist while using her right hand to shield her face from a cloud of tear gas. She’s standing behind a barrier outside the University of Tehran, with spindly trees visible in the background. The scene dates to December 2017, when Iranian authorities attempted to quash protests that were initially sparked by economic woes but quickly evolved to channel broader political grievances. Some 5,000 people […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 14, 2019 (Pool photo by Andrew Cabellero-Reynolds via AP Images).

For many decades, shared fears of common enemies—from the Soviets to the Iranians, Saddam Hussein and extremist movements like al-Qaida and the Islamic State—pushed America and Saudi Arabia into an uneasy embrace. But today that calculus is no longer enough to sustain their alliance. For the United States, the strategic costs of the Saudi relationship have come to outweigh the benefits, as the tensions and unnaturalness of the partnership make it increasingly intolerable. The U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia can be traced back to the 1930s, when the kingdom first began producing petroleum. By the 1970s, Saudi Arabia was an […]

Activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold a candlelight vigil outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Saudi Arabia has lately been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It has been widely condemned for a disastrous war in Yemen that has forced over 3 million civilians to flee and left over 15 million people on the brink of famine. The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul—allegedly on orders from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—is a story that refuses to go away. More recently, the Saudi government finds itself responding to alarming allegations regarding the detention, torture and impending trial of many prominent female activists in the kingdom. On March […]

A soldier stands guard outside a hotel after an attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The gunmen often arrive on market day, surrounding civilians who gather in northern Burkina Faso to buy and sell goods. After detaining groups of men—up to 14 at a time—they drive off. Within minutes, they execute the men, often on the side of the road, close enough for those back at the market to hear the gunshots. It’s a scenario that has played out at least nine times in Burkina Faso in recent months, according to a report released […]

Cybersecurity experts take part in a test at a conference in Lille, France, Jan. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Michel Spingler).

Elizabeth Warren, one of the 13 candidates in an already crowded field of Democrats running for U.S. president in 2020, wants to break up tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Twitter by legally designating them as “platform utilities,” she said recently, in order to “keep that marketplace competitive and not let a giant who has an incredible competitive advantage snuff that out.” Amy Klobuchar, another senator seeking the Democratic nomination, says flatly that she doesn’t trust tech companies. She doesn’t want to break them up, but instead has proposed new regulations in the form of antitrust laws, new […]

Syrian authorities distribute bread, vegetables and pasta to residents of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, April 16, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Ten years ago, the Sri Lankan military carried out a violent final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a rebel group with a long history of atrocities. The offensive, which ultimately resulted in the end of the war, involved the brutal killings of thousands of civilians—acts that were documented in real time by journalists and United Nations officials. Back in New York, however, the U.N.’s leaders failed to muster a meaningful response to mitigate the bloodshed, and Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general at the time, soon came under heavy criticism. As Richard Gowan writes in this week’s in-depth report, […]

A woman prays at a beach in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, March 11, 2019 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

Last week, Japan marked the eighth anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in 2011, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or unaccounted for and triggering the Fukushima nuclear disaster, one of the worst nuclear accidents in modern history. A moment of silence was observed across the country at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, the time the earthquake struck. Sports teams interrupted their practice to pray for the souls of those who perished. “We must never let the valuable lessons that we have learned from the enormous damage caused by the disaster to fade away,” Prime […]

A health worker from the World Health Organization gives an Ebola vaccination to a front-line aid worker, Mbandaka, Congo, May 30, 2018 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).

Amid widespread criticism of its response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa five years ago, the World Health Organization took stock of what went wrong. In a report released in 2015 before the outbreak had even ended, its Ebola Interim Assessment Panel urged the WHO to “re-establish its pre-eminence as the guardian of global public health” and to “undergo significant transformation in order to better perform.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus vowed to act on these recommendations when he ran to become the WHO’s new director-general in 2017, during its first-ever open election campaign, in which the director-general was selected in […]

Sri Lankan protesters wave flags and burn an effigy of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outside the U.N. office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 6, 2010 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Ten years ago this month, senior United Nations officials were hard at work equivocating over a crisis. A cynic might say that the U.N. exists in a constant state of equivocation. But in March 2009, its leaders were mired in an especially grim political mess—and handling it badly. The cause of their troubles lay in northern Sri Lanka. After decades of civil war, the Sri Lankan military was carrying out a final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a rebel group with a long history of atrocities. As the decisive battle wore on, U.N. officials and journalists in […]

French President Emmanuel Macron receives Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, April 10, 2018 (Sipa USA photo via AP Images).

For the first time since it was founded in 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this month rebuked Saudi Arabia for its human rights record. In a rare show of unity, the council’s statement, which condemned the kingdom’s “continuing arrests and arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders,” was co-signed by all 28 members of the European Union. But that move coincided with another unanimous decision by EU member states: to prevent Saudi Arabia from being added to an EU blacklist of countries with insufficient controls on money laundering and terrorism financing. In an interview with WPR, Julien Barnes-Dacey, […]

A woman walks in front of a police cordon in front of the police headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia, March 17, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

Serbia’s protests have been hard to miss even if you don’t follow news and politics out of the Balkans. For more than three months, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Belgrade and other Serbian cities to demand free and fair elections, an end to violent attacks against politicians and journalists and investigations into them, and more independent and unbiased reporting in the country. Why is that last demand so central to protesters? Serbia’s media environment has been suffering from several long-standing problems, but things took a turn for the worse after President Aleksandar Vucic and his Serbian […]

High school students face riot police officers as they protest in Algiers, Algeria, March 12, 2019 (AP photo by Toufik Doudou).

In any other country, the news that peaceful demonstrations had forced the incumbent president to drop his unpopular re-election bid would have been a startling announcement. But given Algeria’s political system, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s move to withdraw his candidacy for a fifth presidential term and postpone April’s elections, made public on Monday, was welcomed by protesters as only a good start. Amid a growing protest movement, Algerians are being cautious about Bouteflika’s announcement because of what they call le pouvoir—the shadowy “power” that rules Algeria, made up of an assortment of aging army generals, secret service operatives and party apparatchiks. […]

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes questions from journalists at his daily press conference at the National Palace, Mexico City, March 8, 2019 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

MERIDA, Mexico—When Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was elected president of Mexico last July, his victory was seen as a break with the stagnant and corrupt two-party system that had dominated high-level Mexican politics for nearly 90 years. Most observers expected AMLO—as the veteran leftist is known in Mexico—and his Morena party to shake up Mexican politics through populist policies, such as a rejection of the free-market consensus that had taken hold in Mexico City in recent years. Domestically, AMLO has indeed been extremely active since taking office, tackling issues as diverse as gas theft and nursery school funding. On foreign […]

View of the Kutadi Bandar with the Tata Mundra power plant in the background, Mundra, India, Oct. 8, 2014 (flickr photo by Sami Siva).

The shallow waters of the Gulf of Kutch, an inlet of the Arabian Sea along the northwestern coast of India, are ideal for fishing, with coral reefs and mangrove forests that provide breeding grounds for a diverse array of marine life. On the gulf’s northern coast, near the town of Mundra, the gently sloping seabed and calm tides make it easy to catch local delicacies like prawns, pomfret and a type of lizardfish known colloquially as “Bombay duck.” The Waghers, a Muslim minority group, have fished these waters for generations. They maintain permanent inland villages, but from September until May, […]

Mourners bury the body of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale in Accra, Ghana, Jan. 18, 2019 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. The first documented slaying of a journalist this year took place in Ghana when Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a member of the highly regarded investigative outlet Tiger Eye P.I., was gunned down near his family home in Accra on Jan. 16. Police believe he was assassinated for his journalistic work. In an interview with WPR, Vivian Affoah, a program manager at the Media Foundation for West Africa in Accra, discusses Hussein-Suale’s case, the obstacles that Ghanaian journalists face in their work […]

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent patrols on the U.S. side of a razor-wire-covered border wall that separates Nogales, Mexico from Nogales, Ariz., March 2, 2019 (AP photo by Charlie Riedel).

There has been much to criticize about President Donald Trump’s handling of America’s national security, including his recent declaration of a national emergency on the southern border. But while that declaration might be misguided, Trump has been right about one thing: The United States has never developed an effective strategy for the actual security challenges south of the border. Since the United States became a global power in the 20th century, it has used a sequenced method for addressing emerging threats—first building an understanding of them, then developing a working consensus among security experts and political leaders, and then relying […]

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