Demonstrators shout slogans and wave Nicaraguan flags during a protest against the Nicaraguan government in front of the Nicaraguan Embassy in Madrid, Spain, Jan. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Andrea Comas).

On Monday, the Nicaraguan government announced it was implementing the very reforms that triggered widespread protests last year and led to a brutal government crackdown. A move of economic necessity, it also appeared to be another sign of President Daniel Ortega’s renewed confidence in power, despite international outcries over his government’s repression, which has resulted in 325 confirmed deaths and the arrests of more than 600 dissidents since last spring, among other abuses. Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have fled into exile. The unpopular fiscal reforms will address the country’s deficit-wracked pension system, increasing both employer and worker contributions and […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a press conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

If Donald Trump ends up being the catalyst that leads to the fall of the Chavista regime in Venezuela, it would be further proof that history has a sense of humor, if a dark one. Over the past week, the Trump administration has ratcheted up the pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s government, recognizing the opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president, imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company and its assets, and turning over control of the country’s U.S. bank accounts to Guaido. Through it all, the administration has refused to rule out a military intervention, repeating its refrain […]

Malian troops stand with former rebels before a joint patrol in Gao, Mali, Feb. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Baba Ahmed).

Ethnic violence in central Mali is the latest manifestation of the chronic insecurity that has prevailed for the better part of a decade. But even as bullets continue to fly, officials have backed a range of initiatives—from disarmament to criminal trials—to move on from the Malian conflict. BAMAKO—On a Monday morning last June, toward the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Amadou Barry, a 55-year-old cattle herder and member of the Fulani ethnic group, noticed smoke coming out of a nearby village. It wasn’t long before he registered the sound of gunshots—a telltale sign that a militia attack was […]

Zimbabweans who were arrested during protests over the hike in fuel prices are taken to a court appearance, Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

The military coup that ended the ruinous 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe was greeted with genuine enthusiasm both in Zimbabwe and abroad. Any skepticism of Emmerson Mnangagwa was drowned out by the new president’s calming rhetoric about unity and reconciliation and his commitment to a “new beginning.” It seemed churlish, amid such optimism, to deny the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe their moment of hope. Yet that spirit has been dashed recently as Mnangagwa’s reforms have been exposed as cosmetic, at best. Instead of a new Zimbabwe, it is the same old state within the narrow parameters imposed by the ruling […]

People stand behind burnt out cars after a suicide bombing in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria, Feb. 17, 2017 (AP photo by Hamza Suleiman).

How has Nigeria responded to a resurgent Biafran separatist movement, and how is it dealing with its other security challenges? Learn more with a subscription to World Politics Review. Fifty years after the Biafran war, a new separatist movement has taken shape in the Nigerian province. In response, the Nigerian government has used a repressive approach to snuff out the movement, arresting activists en masse. The movement’s self-declared leader, Nnmadi Kanu, was at home when Nigerian soldiers stormed his compound. More than 20 people were either killed during the attack or disappeared after it. Kanu himself has not been seen […]

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha hold a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2019 (Yomiuri Shimbun photo via AP Images).

Japan and South Korea are mired in a heated military spat over an encounter at sea last month between a South Korean warship and a Japanese maritime patrol plane. Tokyo claims that its aircraft was threatened by the South Korean ship’s targeting radar for surface-to-air weapons, a charge that Seoul flatly denies. Instead, it accuses the Japanese military of provocatively flying its planes at low altitudes. The escalating feud is further straining an already tense bilateral relationship, as the two sides struggle to resolve difficult historical issues over Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea that have resurfaced in recent months. The […]

An Iraqi soldier watches smoke rise after an airstrike by U.S.-led coalition warplanes against ISIS, on the border between Syria and Iraq in Qaim, Anbar province, Iraq, Nov. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

During the 2016 U.S. presidential race, then-candidate Donald Trump didn’t talk much about the specifics of foreign and national security policy, with one exception: a pledge to defeat the Islamic State. Once elected, Trump ramped up the anti-ISIS military campaign that President Barack Obama had begun and increased support to local militias in Syria, including many Syrian Kurds, and security forces in Iraq. Eventually, this paid off. Through a grueling campaign led by the militias and the Iraqis, the Islamic State lost most of the territory it controlled in both Iraq and Syria. A month ago, Trump declared victory. “We […]

Pedestrians walk past a campaign poster showing Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the ruling party’s launch of its election manifesto, Harare, May 4, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.A year ago, Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was riding high as he traveled to Davos, Switzerland, to declare at the World Economic Forum that his country was “open for business.” It was a message he had delivered many times since coming to power in November 2017, after longtime President Robert Mugabe was forced out in a military intervention, and would continue to deliver at seemingly every opportunity. As Alex T. Magaisa, a Zimbabwean analyst, put it last year, the new […]

The U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sails past the Opera House in Sydney, Australia, July 4, 2011 (AP photo by Rob Griffith).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The United States and the United Kingdom conducted joint naval exercises in the South China Sea last week, their first such drills in the area since 2010. The operations were intended to push back on China’s assertive behavior in the region, including its militarization of nearby artificial islands, but analysts are skeptical that they will have much of an impact. The U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll practiced division tactics and […]

Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader, takes part in a demonstration against President Nicolas Maduro, Caracas, Jan. 16, 2019 (dpa photo by Rayner Pena via AP Images).

Last Sunday, masked men intercepted a white van carrying Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to a political meeting outside Caracas. They shoved Guaido into an SUV and sped away, taking into custody the man spearheading a bold and risky new strategy to try and reverse the country’s calamitous decline under President Nicolas Maduro. Authorities freed Guaido after a short detention, perhaps because the incident was only meant to intimidate him, or maybe because the government is still unsure about how to deal with Guaido, who is raising the stakes in a way Maduro has not seen until now. A week […]

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir greets his supporters at a rally in Khartoum, Sudan, Jan. 9, 2019 (AP photo by Mahmoud Hjaj).

Omar al-Bashir’s long rule in Sudan has been defined by a criminal and abject failure to govern. But he has also shown unmistakable staying power as the leader of a vast, hard-to-manage country. That is now being tested to its limits as weeks of anti-government demonstrations show no sign of dissipating, even in the face of killings and mass arrests carried out by his security forces. Since seizing power in 1989, Sudan’s president has somehow navigated his way through a permanent state of national crisis, albeit a crisis largely created and sustained by his own actions. Bashir survived a crippling […]

Gen. Robert Abrams, the top U.S. commander in Korea, right, and outgoing commander Gen. Vincent Brooks, second from right, during a change-of-command ceremony at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Nov. 8, 2018 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

Amid the ongoing U.S. government shutdown, soon to be the longest in American history, another recent lapse in funding has received far less attention but could be just as consequential. On Jan. 1, an important cost-sharing defense agreement, dictating how much money the South Korean government pays to support the U.S. military presence in the country, expired. No replacement text has been agreed to and negotiations are reportedly deadlocked due to President Donald Trump’s demands that Seoul shoulder a much larger portion of the stationing costs. The situation casts uncertainty on the future of the 28,500 U.S. troops in South […]

Supporters of presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi wait for election results to be released, Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 9, 2019 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. For the past several years, political debate in the Democratic Republic of Congo has revolved around a simple phrase: “Kabila must go.” Opposition politicians, security analysts, human rights campaigners and rebels all embraced this position, contending that the country would not accept any extension of President Joseph Kabila’s rule, which began in 2001, despite his continued attempts to subvert the constitution. As Mvemba Phezo Dizolele wrote in a piece about a year ago for African Arguments, “The longer he […]

A soldier patrols in the Chapadao complex of favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dec. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

BOGOTA, Colombia—On the surface, the future looks bleak for Latin America. In an era of slow economic growth, with deeply polarized societies and increasingly entrenched violence, the continent’s leaders face some daunting challenges. Latin America is grappling with a surge in homicide, which has made it the world’s most dangerous region. The illicit drug trade is booming, organized crime is proving to be more agile than most states, and anti-corruption efforts have been rolled back across the continent, undermining democracy. There are, however, glimmers of hope if you look closer. Amid the carnage, solutions and experiments are emerging that could […]

A group of children walk on top of a small hill of dirt in the United Nations protection of civilians site in Bentiu, South Sudan, Dec. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).

South Sudan’s five-year civil war was supposed to end with the signing of a revitalized peace deal last year, but violence continues and the humanitarian situation remains bleak. The government and opposition now have five months to implement the agreement and form a transitional government, or risk another unraveling. On paper, the peace deal signed by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former Vice President-turned-armed opposition leader Riek Machar on Sept. 12 halted a conflict that has claimed an estimated 383,000 lives and left most of the population facing malnutrition and severe food insecurity. However, a very similar peace deal […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and James Mattis, then the secretary of defense, during a reception in the East Room at the White House, Washington, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

During the Cold War, America’s global strategy was based on two pillars: leadership and security partnerships. First applied only to Europe, this strategy later expanded to the Pacific and, by the 1970s, to the Middle East, which became and remain the most important regions in American foreign policy. Global leadership placed economic and military burdens on the United States, but most Americans believed that the benefits justified the costs. While there were always debates over precisely how and where to implement the strategy, there was broad agreement on the two core pillars. The political right and left, Republicans and Democrats, […]

Security agents stand next to a large photograph of Senegalese President Macky Sall at the start of a campaign rally, Dakar, Senegal, March 23, 2012 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Some 27 candidates initially threw their hats in the ring to challenge Senegalese President Macky Sall in the West African nation’s upcoming election, which is scheduled for Feb. 24. Seven weeks out from voting, however, it looks like the actual number of contenders will be considerably lower. On Wednesday, Senegal’s Constitutional Council ruled that 19 candidacy registrations had been rejected outright, while three others were still under review. Only five registrations, Sall’s included, had been approved. As Jeune Afrique […]

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