U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Nov. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could not have anticipated how quickly his threats to end cooperation with Israel would be tested after he declared the Oslo Accords dead in a defiant address at the United Nations in September. With violence spiking in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, the aging Palestinian leader is seeking to constrain attacks against Israel without losing more of his legitimacy among an increasingly angry Palestinian populace. The upsurge in violence and reprisal attacks, with the latest this past Sunday, have left the Palestinian Authority (PA) with a dilemma: how to fulfill its commitments to maintain security […]

Flowers are put in a window shattered by a bullet in the Nov. 13 attacks, Paris, France, Nov. 15, 2015 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

As observers around the world watched chaos unfold in Paris on Nov. 13, many were struck by the attackers’ use of Kalashnikov assault rifles in the bloodbath. How, given France’s strict gun laws, did the attackers manage to procure military-grade weapons so easily? Where are these heavy weapons coming from? Those same questions were asked in January, when gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher killed 12 at the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and another armed with a submachine gun and an assault rifle killed four at a kosher supermarket. In 2012, Mohamed Merah […]

Belgian soldiers patrol in the center of Brussels, Nov. 20, 2015 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Only hours after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, several politicians in France and elsewhere in Europe, as well as numerous commentators, placed blame on the European Union and its open-border Schengen zone, with some even calling for a breakup of the union or their own country’s withdrawal from it. However, to contain and mitigate terrorism most effectively, France and other European countries need more bilateral and multilateral cooperation, not less, from intelligence sharing to cracking down on arms smuggling. Shortly after the Paris attacks, the head of France’s right-wing National Front party, Marine Le Pen, expressed her “concern” about […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace, Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Kayhan Ozer).

Editor’s note: Judah Grunstein is filling in for Michael A. Cohen, who is on vacation this week. The downing of a Russian bomber over the Turkish-Syrian border by Turkish fighter jets yesterday offered yet another illustration of the extraordinary complexities of the Syrian conflict and the actors involved there. Coming on the heels of the Paris attacks, and what subsequently seemed like diplomatic progress toward the framework of a broad coalition to fight against the self-declared Islamic State, the incident also highlights the degree to which the war in Syria, like all war, is characterized by the unplanned, the unexpected […]

U.S. Admiral Bill Gortney and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan during a panel at the Halifax International Security Forum, Nov. 20, 2015 (U.S. Embassy in Canada photo).

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia—The seventh annual Halifax International Security Forum, a mostly right-of-center gathering of mostly democratic states, covered the full suite of security problems confronting the world today. And whether talking about the self-proclaimed Islamic State and the nightmare of terrorism in Western capitals or the long-term challenges of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressive revanchism and China’s increasingly assertive posture in Asia, anxieties were high. Across the spectrum, there was a yearning for more robust American leadership. The Halifax Forum was created in 2009 with support from Canada’s then-Conservative government as a vehicle to ensure a high-level dialogue with Washington. […]

A World Food Programme aircraft drops bags of food supplies, Bentiu, South Sudan, Oct. 21. 2015 (U.N. photo by Isaac Billy).

Two competing narratives about the future of international conflict management are currently making the rounds at the United Nations. To simplify, one argues that military responses to security threats rarely work, and that instead we should invest more in diplomatic and economic approaches, as well as in conflict prevention, even if these only deliver results slowly. The other, roughly speaking, contends that terrorism is too pervasive now to waste time on diplomacy and development that would be better spent killing some bad guys. Nobody working in or around the U.N. would be quite so blunt in public. But last week, […]

A U.S. Marine fighter jet aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, Sept. 10, 2015 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

The conflict between the self-declared Islamic State and the civilized world has taken a chilling turn. While the extremists continue to fight both the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the government of Iraq, they now have also demonstrated a deadly commitment to transnational terrorism. In the past several weeks, the Islamic State has claimed credit for bombings in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Lebanon as well as for downing a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai. It apparently orchestrated Friday’s complex terrorist attack in Paris, attempted ones in Belgium and Germany, and has threatened to unleash terrorism in the United […]

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech during a meeting with French mayors, Paris, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Stephane de Sakutin).

In the initial hours and days after the Paris attacks, the world reacted with a moving show of support for France. The messages of solidarity came from all corners of the globe in verbal, visual and symbolic form. As diplomats and officials pledged unity with France, millions bathed their Facebook profiles in the blue, white and red “tricolore” of the French flag. Major international landmarks were also lit in the tricolore, and the stirring notes of the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, rose from teary-eyed faces in gatherings from Trafalgar Square to Madison Square Garden. We are all French, they […]

A supporter of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) outside the party headquarters, Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 1, 2015 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

Back in June, Turkish voters put President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s feet to the fire by stripping his Justice and Development Party (AKP) allies of their parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years. Many Turkey-watchers began writing Erdogan’s political obituary. But only five short months after that electoral setback, Erdogan and his AKP allies are back on top, after winning an outright majority in elections Nov. 1. In doing so, they have demonstrated their ability to swiftly and efficiently mobilize their conservative base in strategic urban areas and across the Anatolian heartland, while outmaneuvering their political adversaries at every […]

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference, Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Like most people, watching the reports coming out of Paris on Friday night filled me with an ever-escalating set of emotions: shock, horror, revulsion and finally anger. It seems, however, that among the pundit class, one emotion above all is dominating: panic. And it’s creating a set of myths about what actually happened in Paris, and what the attacks mean, that could keep us from learning the necessary lessons from Friday’s horrors. Myth No. 1: America Is Next From the pages of Politico to the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” this argument has been made repeatedly since Friday night, and […]

A candlelight vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks, Molenbeek, Belgium, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

As French police and detectives tried to make sense of the coordinated attacks that rocked Paris on Friday, eyewitnesses reported to have seen black-clad men emerging from cars with Belgian license plates. That led detectives to search a car with foreign license plates parked near the Bataclan theater, where at least 89 concertgoers were murdered. Upon searching the car, they found a discarded parking ticket, issued in Molenbeek, an impoverished district of Brussels. That, as part of a larger investigation, led French authorities to identify the alleged organizer of the Paris attacks: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian who had fought […]

Airmen prepare a MQ-9 Reaper during an exercise at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., May 15, 2014 (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nadine Barclay).

Immediately after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, French President Francois Hollande declared the coordinated attacks as “an act of war.” France did not need such a provocation, however. It had already been involved in U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria against the self-proclaimed Islamic State for six weeks, and in Iraq since September 2014. The question now is where and how it might escalate its involvement militarily. The United States stated that it stands by France and will assist in whatever way necessary. That raises the question of whether U.S. assistance will include arming France’s unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, and […]

European leaders observe a minute of silence at the G-20 Summit, Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 16, 2015 (photo from the office of the U.K. Prime Minister).

World leaders from the 20 top economies as well as observer states met Sunday and Monday in southern Turkey for the annual G-20 summit. The gathering had been set to focus on an ambitious agenda to promote inclusive economic growth and global trade and investment. The terrorist attacks in Paris, however, overshadowed the meetings and raised hard questions about whether such summits can ever really grapple with the inequalities that lead to radicalization and despair. The G-20 was created in 1999 but really swung into action during the 2008 global financial crisis. At the time it was seen as a […]

Protesting youths outside the Masjid Musa Mosque, Mombasa, Kenya, Oct. 25, 2013 (AP photo).

Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city and historical center of commerce, has long been something of a paradox. As a hub of Indian Ocean trade for more than a millennium, the city of 1.2 million has a deeply cosmopolitan past that’s visible in its diversity of ethnicities, religions, fashions and architectural styles. Today, a short stroll from Fort Jesus, the imposing seaside garrison built by the Portuguese in 1596, leads into an old town shaped by Arab, Indian, British and Swahili influences. Here, the narrow, winding streets, amid houses adorned with intricately carved doors and balconies, are filled with men in ankle-length […]

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron hosts the first Community Engagement Forum, London, Oct. 1 3, 2015 (photo from the office of the U.K. Prime Minister).

Last month, the U.K. announced new measures designed to prevent the radicalization of Muslim youth in Britain, a move that has taken on new meaning in the wake of Friday’s attacks in Paris. In an email interview, Christopher Baker-Beall, a senior lecturer in international relations at Nottingham Trent University and co-editor of “Counter-Radicalisation: Critical Perspectives,” discussed the U.K.’s counterterrorism and counter-extremism policies. WPR: How has the U.K.’s counterterrorism policy evolved since it was first introduced, and what explains the new emphasis on counter-radicalization to this policy? Christopher Baker-Beall: Since the terrorist attacks in London in July 2005, the U.K. government […]

French soldiers patrol the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

PARIS—The multiple coordinated attacks that struck Paris on Friday mark a new operational phase of France’s war, as part of the U.S.-led coalition, against the self-declared Islamic State. Nevertheless, the same local and geopolitical obstacles to a broader consensus on the conflict in Syria continue to hamper efforts to craft a new strategic approach for eradicating the group there. As a consequence, France and its European partners must brace their populations against the likelihood of similar attacks in the future, even as they adopt a more pro-active and transnational approach to preventing them. The major differences between Friday’s attacks and […]

A woman carrying flowers in front of the Carillon cafe and Petit Cambodge restaurant, Paris, France, Nov. 14, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Killing sprees at six locations in Paris on Friday left at least 129 people dead and many more injured, with the city reeling after its second terrorist attack of 2015. The self-proclaimed Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the massacre, which it declared was in retaliation for the French air-strike campaign against the group in Syria. President Francois Hollande vowed to be “unforgiving with the barbarians” of the group, and French jets bombed the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa. The United States also upped its military campaign in Syria, attacking hundreds of trucks used to smuggle crude oil, […]

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