Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

Juan Guaido is on tour and looking presidential, visiting some of the more than 50 countries around the world that have recognized him as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president. In the past two weeks, the 36-year-old opposition leader made an official state visit to Colombia; met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London; addressed the European Parliament in Brussels and met with the EU’s new foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell; held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris; chatted with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European officials on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; […]

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a sermon during Friday prayers at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 17, 2020 (Photo by the Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP Images).

In three weeks, Iranians will go to the polls to choose a new parliament. For President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate and ardent supporter of the now-moribund international agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear program, the parliamentary vote on Feb. 21 could be the first note in his political swan song. With some 90 percent of Iran’s reform candidates disqualified in a decision issued by the hard-line Guardian Council this week and reformists threatening an election boycott, it seems highly unlikely that Iran’s pro-reform bloc will be able to stitch together much of a showing at the polls. That’s bad news for […]

President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House, Washington, Jan. 28, 2020 (Photo by Oliver Contreras for Sipa via AP Images).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about the Trump administration’s long-anticipated Israel-Palestine peace plan, which after numerous delays was rolled out this week, and why it is a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right. They also discuss how the deal reflects the shifting dynamics of regional geopolitics, and the options available to the Palestinian leadership moving forward. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, center, and Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Hau Dinh).

With China-Vietnam relations deteriorating as a result of Beijing's provocations, Hanoi has signaled a possible shift in alliances. Whether Vietnam actually follows through, though, likely depends on who takes over the ruling Communist Party during next year's National Congress. In a major new defense white paper, its first in 10 years, Vietnam has begun signaling that it could abandon its long-standing foreign policy strategy of hedging between major powers like China and the United States and move more definitively into Washington’s orbit. These documents are generally full of turgid jargon, but this one, released late last year, is unusually blunt, […]

The British headquarters of Huawei in Reading, United Kingdom, June 12, 2018 (Photo by Steve Parsons for Press Association via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The European Union on Wednesday recommended its member states limit the involvement of “high-risk” 5G vendors like Huawei in their telecommunications infrastructure, but it did not suggest banning the Chinese company outright. The EU’s new guidelines come a day after the United Kingdom announced it would not ban Huawei from its 5G network, a serious blow to the U.S. pressure campaign against China’s telecom giant. In a package of recommendations it refers to as its “5G toolbox,” the European […]

President Donald Trump listens as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He speaks during a press conference at the White House, in Washington, Jan. 15, 2020 (SIPA photo by Oliver Contreras via AP Images).

Two weeks after it was signed, President Donald Trump’s phase-one trade deal with China, which the White House typically hyped as a “landmark” and “historic agreement,” is looking more suspect. There were always questions about what was left out of the deal—especially industrial subsidies in China and continued tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports from China. But now there is growing skepticism about the value of what is actually in the deal. What happened to the $40 billion to $50 billion in additional sales that Trump promised American farmers? Can Beijing really deliver on its commitment to […]

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at a campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa, Jan. 26, 2020 (AP photo by John Locher).

Bernie Sanders’ remarkable staying power in the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries—including narrow leads in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, and now a slight edge over former Vice President Joe Biden in a recent national poll—has unsettled the U.S. political establishment. His revived presidential campaign increases the possibility that Democrats will select, and Americans elect, a left-wing nominee who could upend America’s global role, but in a very different way than President Donald Trump. In contrast to his 2016 presidential run, which treated foreign policy as an afterthought, the Vermont senator’s 2020 campaign has been actively challenging longstanding shibboleths of […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Sept. 25, 2019 (Pool photo by Sergei Chirikov via AP).

When a wave of popular protests erupted across South America last year, a number of officials in the region claimed the unrest was being promoted by a “foreign hand.” No one argued that the protest movements, from Chile to Colombia, were created entirely or even ignited by outside powers, but leaders like Chilean President Sebastian Pinera suggested the possibility that someone outside the region was pouring fuel on the fire. Now, analysts at the U.S. State Department say they have reviewed the evidence and found that Russia was engaging in an incendiary and divisive disinformation campaign in Latin America waged […]

A protest against President Jimmy Morales' decision to end the work of a U.N. anti-corruption commission, Guatemala City, Sept. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

The Trump administration is due to soon formally release its findings from a review of U.S. foreign assistance programs, aimed at “realigning” them for “a new era of great-power competition,” which critics have described as an effort to curb foreign aid overall. Given this context, aid and development organizations must be prepared to show how their work serves America’s strategic interests. Anti-corruption efforts do just that by striking at the heart of what keeps leaders of adversaries like China and Russia in power. Both countries are increasingly weaponizing corruption by using flows of illicit money and opaque deals to gain […]

President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He shake hands after signing the “phase one” trade agreement in the East Room of the White House, Washington, Jan. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about the “phase one” trade deal signed by the U.S. and China this week, and whether it lives up to President Donald Trump’s pronouncements. They also discuss what the surprise resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reveals about President Vladimir Putin’s plans after his current term expires in 2024. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter […]

U.S. and Nigerien flags raised side by side at the base camp for air forces and other personnel supporting the construction of Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger, April 16, 2018 (AP photo by Carley Petesch).

Last month, The New York Times reported that the U.S. Department of Defense was considering “a major reduction—or even a complete pullout—of American forces from West Africa.” The proposal is part of a worldwide review of overseas U.S. deployments, based on the Trump administration’s strategic framework of refocusing resources away from counterterrorism missions and toward competition with adversarial great powers like China and Russia. But for many observers, it was just the latest troubling sign of American disengagement from Africa. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, journalist Peter Tinti joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman for a conversation about the on-the-ground […]

President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He hold up the signed “phase one” trade deal in the East Room of the White House, Washington, Jan. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. With the signing of a “phase one” trade deal Wednesday, the United States and China have finally pressed pause on their protracted trade war. At a White House signing ceremony that was attended by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, President Donald Trump called the pact a “sea change in international trade.” But what does it actually accomplish? At the center of the agreement are commitments from China to purchase an additional $200 billion in American goods and services over […]

Lebanese marine special forces soldiers march during a military parade to mark the 76th anniversary of Lebanon's independence, at the Lebanese Defense Ministry, Beirut, Nov. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

The Trump administration created yet another stir in Washington last fall when it mysteriously froze $105 million in military aid to Lebanon for several months. While the hold was quietly lifted on Dec. 2 after pressure from members of Congress, it ignited a debate over how the United States should engage with Lebanon amid an ongoing revolutionary protest movement that has already forced one prime minister in Beirut to resign. There are also signs that Lebanon views the U.S. as an increasingly unreliable security partner, allowing Russia to gain influence in this small but strategically important country in the Middle […]

A worker walks past cranes at the container port in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, Jan. 14, 2020 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

Unless President Donald Trump decides to blow things up, a “phase one” trade deal between the United States and China will finally be signed this week. The agreement has remained somewhat up in the air because its text still hasn’t been released and Chinese officials have been unwilling to confirm key elements that the White House asserts are in it. Assuming that things do go as planned, though, this is far from the end of the story. Trump and his advisers insist there will be a “phase two” deal that addresses the big, structural issues in China’s economic policies, from […]

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the White House on the ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing U.S. troops, Washington, Jan. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about the latest developments in the standoff between the U.S. and Iran, following the U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s retaliatory ballistic missile strike against two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed. Did the U.S. reestablish deterrence, as the Trump administration claims? Or will Iran take further covert action to avenge Soleimani’s death? And what impact will the U.S. political calendar have on how both sides manage tensions moving forward? Judah and Freddy discuss those topics and more […]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, left, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Damascus, Jan. 7, 2020 (pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin of Sputnik via AP Images).

The assassination of Iran’s top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, raises a lot of questions about what an all-out war between the United States and Iran might look like. The simple answer is that it will be bad, but how bad may depend as much on Russia as it does on the U.S. and Iran. If there is one player in the dangerous drama unfolding in the Middle East with the ability to flip the script, it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin. Five years ago, Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, dismissed Russia as a “regional power” capable at most of menacing […]

A woman walks past a mural depicting members of Iran’s Basij paramilitary force, Tehran, Jan. 3, 2018 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Though President Donald Trump appears to have backed away from further military conflict with Iran, the Middle East is still on edge. Amid fears of heightened conflict, what is really driving Iran’s behavior? Download your FREE copy of Iran Sanctions: The View From Iran to learn more today. The ballistic missiles that Iran fired at two military bases in Iraq housing American troops could only be the start of Tehran’s retaliation. Many observers worry that more blowback could come in the form of Iran’s favored tactic of asymmetric warfare waged through its proxies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and pro-Iranian […]

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