Supporters of Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and allies of the Houthis at a rally against the Saudi-led intervention, Sanaa, Yemen, March 26, 2016 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

Good news has been in desperately short supply in Yemen over the past year. So reports of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire and peace talks aimed at bringing an end to a civil war that has devastated what was already the Arab world’s poorest country should have been well received. Instead, they were met with skepticism, and with good reason. After a year of brutal war, Yemen is hardly ripe for peace. Last week in New York, the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the “parties to the conflict” had agreed to a countrywide cease-fire, due to […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally, Janesville, Wis., March 29, 2016 (The Janesville Gazette photo by Anthony Wahl via AP).

When it comes to foreign policy and the U.S. presidential campaign, everything seems to have turned upside down this year. Neoconservative, Republican hawks, from Max Boot to Bill Kristol, are apoplectic over the rise of Donald Trump, particularly his lack of ardor for military intervention, his supposed opposition to the Iraq War, and his calls for the U.S to pull back from its global security responsibilities. Some, like Boot, have gone so far as to say they won’t vote for the GOP frontrunner, while others have suggested that Trump’s focus on burden-sharing and having U.S. allies take on more global […]

A masked Somali pirate near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore, Hobyo, Somalia, Sept. 23, 2012 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) decided to widen its definition of official development assistance to include certain security and defense costs, including measures to prevent violent extremism and provide limited military training. The redefinition of aid expanded the relationship between security and development. Several leading international development players, like Sweden, balk at the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee’s change and view it as the militarization of aid. Helen Clark, the United Nations’ development chief, has suggested that this redefinition could undermine fragile states, since any aid channeled to security and peacekeeping programs would reduce the amount […]

People watch a TV screen showing footage of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, Seoul, South Korea, March 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

This week, all eyes are focused on the twin bombings in Brussels linked to the self-declared Islamic State. But despite the death toll there, and in the Paris attacks last November, a bigger risk to the world’s stability lurks in East Asia. The Islamic State may no longer be the ‘junior varsity’ of terrorism, as President Barack Obama once referred to the group, but it remains the junior varsity of global threats. North Korea is the varsity, and the danger it poses far exceeds the sociopathic but small-scale killing that the Islamic State can pull off or inspire. Now under […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace, Ankara, Turkey, March 16, 2016 (Pool photo by Murat Cetinmuhurdar).

The cease-fire brokered by Russia and the U.S. in Syria late last month could not have come at better time for Turkey. A few months before the cease-fire took effect, the momentum of the Syrian civil war had dramatically shifted in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor. The Syrian army and its allies on the ground, supported by Russian air power, were making significant gains across the country. Rebels were on their heels: Their defensive lines were gradually collapsing; their supply routes were thinning out; and they found themselves outflanked on multiple fronts. Even worse for Turkey, the United States has […]

Recovered antiquities displayed at the Iraqi National Museum, Baghdad, Iraq, July 8, 2015 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

Last month, the government of Italy and UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, signed two agreements that aim to protect cultural heritage in conflict areas. One of these agreements will lead to the creation of a training center in Turin. The other agreement formalized the Italian government’s intent to create a task force, supported by UNESCO, for dealing with and safeguarding cultural property and heritage during times of crisis. According to UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, this so-called United for Heritage task force would bring together cultural heritage experts and members of Italy’s national police, the Carabinieri, which have a long […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo gives the keynote address at the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, San Francisco, Feb. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Jeff Chiu).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries’ approaches to addressing them. Last weekend, a Chinese coast guard vessel intervened to free a Chinese fishing boat being towed by Indonesian maritime authorities. It had been caught fishing illegally in waters claimed by Indonesia as part of its exclusive economic zone surrounding the Natuna Islands. In an email interview, Brian Harding, director for East and Southeast Asia at the Center for American Progress, discusses Indonesia’s role in the South China Sea disputes. WPR: How have Jakarta […]

Uganda’s longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, in his well-known hat at a rally of supporters, Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

KAMPALA, Uganda — Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, was eerily quiet on Saturday, Feb. 20, the day the Ugandan Electoral Commission announced the results of the presidential election held two days before. Even in Kabalagala, a lively district where people are usually partying at any time of day, the streets were empty. A few dozen young men sat huddled around a TV in a betting parlor, but they weren’t waiting for the election results; instead, a soccer game of the English Premier League flickered on the screen. “We know already who will win the elections,” one of them said. “We are […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin inside the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, March 17, 2016 (Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik via AP).

Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped a bombshell this week, announcing that he was pulling his military forces out of Syria less than six months after his equally surprising decision to send them there in the first place. While it remains to be seen whether Putin will carry through on his promise, security experts are busily scrambling to figure out his motives. Did he attain what he intended, or is he simply washing his hands of a lost cause? There is agreement, though, on one thing: Putin’s move caught Washington by surprise and at least seemed to once again keep him […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as Type 99A2 Chinese battle tanks roll across during a military parade, Sept. 3, 2015 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, South Africa’s rapprochement with Nigeria and U.S.-Cuba ties. For the Report, Richard Weitz of the Hudson Institute joins us to talk about China’s ongoing military reforms. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Punitive Saudi Moves in Lebanon Isolate Sunnis, Benefiting Hezbollah Middle East’s Sectarian Tensions Play Out in Sudan-Iran Relations Limited Détente: The Challenges to Repairing South Africa-Nigeria Ties Down Havana Way: The Promise of Obama’s Cuba Visit PLA Military Reforms: Defense Power With Chinese Characteristics […]

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing, Feb. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Wu Hong).

“The future Australian Defence Force will be more capable of operations to deter and defeat threats to Australia,” declares the 2016 Defense White Paper, released in late February. The ambitious strategic document backs up this assertion with extravagant promises to raise defense spending to 2 percent of GDP in just a few years; to double the size of Australia’s submarine fleet from 6 to 12; and to develop a maritime force with formidable anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The paper boasts that it “sets out the most ambitious plan to regenerate the Royal Australian Navy since the Second World War.” And yet, […]

Royal Saudi Land Forces and units of Special Forces of the Pakistani army during a joint military exercise, Shamrakh field, north of Baha region, Saudi Arabia, March 30, 2015 (AP photo/Saudi Press Agency).

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Saudi Arabia last week for the closing ceremonies of a multinational military exercise, following recent tensions in relations. In an email interview, Shehzad H. Qazi, managing director at CBB International and a geopolitical analyst specializing in emerging and frontier markets, discussed Pakistan’s relations with Middle East nations. WPR: Who are Pakistan’s main partners in the Middle East, and what are their main areas of cooperation? Shehzad Qazi: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey are three of Pakistan’s main partners in the Middle East. Pakistan and […]

Chinese soldiers during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II, Beijing, Sept. 3, 2015 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

At China’s annual military parade last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to make large troop cuts and significant structural changes to China’s armed forces, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Indeed, over the past year, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has launched major reforms to the PLA’s size, structure and missions. Though many details remain undecided or unknown, reform measures have included the creation of a new PLA headquarters, as well as realignments of its operational theaters and support functions. The reforms in some respects resemble those adopted by other major military powers, such as Russia and […]

President Barack Obama after hosting a National Security Council meeting at the State Department, Washington, Feb. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

In last week’s column, I discussed two of the four enduring challenges that American strategists face: unrealistic expectations and a ponderous system for strategy formulation. This week’s column will take a look at the other two: the American public’s deep belief in “silver bullets,” and impatience. The American public’s trust in the idea of “silver bullets,” or the existence of a single solution to a complex problem, reflects the ingrained optimism of the American national culture. As children Americans are told that they “can be anything they want” if they try hard enough. While this kind of optimism is demonstrably […]

Muslims pray outside the newly restored Moscow Cathedral Mosque during celebrations of Eid al-Adha, Moscow, Russia, Sept. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the elections in Iran, South Korea’s missile defense program and the Colombian government’s peace talks with the FARC. For the report, Robert Crews, the director of the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University, joins us to explain how Russia’s Muslim population fits into President Vladimir Putin’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Iran’s Election Results Show Pendulum Swinging Away From Hard-Liners North Korea’s Provocations Revive U.S. Missile Shield in South Korea Santos […]

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos answers a question during an interview at the Presidential Palace in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 28, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Colombian peace negotiators and their counterparts from the country’s largest guerrilla group are working against the clock, with less than two weeks remaining before the March 23 deadline for a peace deal set by President Juan Manuel Santos and leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). But while the calendar says peace is only days away, the reality on the ground suggests that reaching a permanent agreement could be more difficult now than it appeared only a few months ago. Colombians, who will ultimately vote on whether or not to accept the final deal, are growing increasingly skeptical […]

Tunisian police officers search for attackers still at large, Ben Guerdane, Tunisia, March 8, 2016 (AP photo by Feres Najar).

Clashes erupted in the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane on Monday when Islamist fighters attacked military and police posts. Scores were killed, including seven civilians, 13 security officers and 46 militants. Many observers have characterized the assault, which occurred just 20 miles from the Libyan border, as the latest example of the Libyan conflict’s dangerous spillover across a porous border. But the attack also reveals that, even as the self-proclaimed Islamic State gains ground in Libya, the most significant threat to Tunisia’s security resides within its borders. That’s because the militants, who claimed to be taking over the town as […]

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