When United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon selected his predecessor Kofi Annan last week as his envoy to mediate the ongoing crisis in Syria, most observers thought it was an obvious choice. But Ban’s decision represents an important twist in a sometimes complex relationship between the two men — and a high-stakes attempt to maintain the U.N.’s role in the Middle East, where it has been active since the 1940s. Ban had reportedly looked for an Arab envoy, but divisions in the region over how to deal with Damascus made it hard to find a consensus candidate. By contrast, Annan is […]

Whether in the run-up to the Libya operation or current discussions about the merits of intervening in Syria or Iran, the debate over whether or not to go to war reveals as much about the global conversation over intervention as it does about any particular case. This special report uses WPR’s coverage of recent debates over intervention to review the terms of the debate over the eternal “next war.” Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber? Purchase this document for Kindle or as a PDF from Scribd. Or […]

Iran’s decision this week to bar International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from visiting the Parchin military base, which Tehran allegedly used to test components needed to create a nuclear weapon, may prove to be a turning point in the diplomatic standoff over the country’s nuclear program. Up to this point, the “rising democracies” — especially Turkey, India and Brazil — have been unwilling to support efforts by the United States and Europe to further isolate Iran, in part because they have a much narrower definition of what constitutes a “nuclear weapons capability,” which the U.S. says is an unacceptable […]

Sometime in the next few months, Israel may very well go to war against Iran, and it could draw the United States into the conflict. The global strategy firm Wikistrat, at which I am a senior analyst, recently laid out 10 scenarios for such a war breaking out, each plausible in its own way. Thomas P.M. Barnett wrote in a recent WPR column that he believes that war is inevitable, and even war opponents such as Peter Beinart and Bernard Finel believe that the “Iran hawks” have taken control of the debate. The case for attacking Iran relies overwhelmingly on […]

Failed Bombings in Thailand, India Indicate Weaknesses in Iranian Espionage

Six people have been named as suspects in an alleged Iranian bomb plot targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, Thailand, last week. Though the suspects mistakenly set off the explosives while inside their house, the homemade, improvised bombs matched those used in twin attacks the day before in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia. The device in New Delhi, planted on a car door, left four people wounded; the device in Georgia was defused. Israel has accused Iran of being behind the attacks, which Tehran denies. But the method used in Thailand, India and Georgia looked a lot like that used […]

Could al-Assad Regime Fall Within Months?

A prominent Syrian businessman has predicted the regime of President Bashar al-Assad will fall in the coming months as his forces continue their bombardment of the city of Homs. World News Videos by NewsLook

At first glance, the ongoing efforts to remove Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria and the unrecognized referendum held in the majority-Serbian areas of northern Kosovo would not appear to have much in common. But both are symptoms of a larger problem that has accelerated in recent years: the delegitimization of the territorially defined state. The classic definition of a state in the international system, as provided by Max Weber and incorporated into international law by the 1933 Montevideo convention, gives the national government the exclusive right to use force to secure its existence and territory. But that norm is […]

Since returning to civilian rule in April 2011, Niger has achieved a measure of political stability. In July, President Mahamadou Issoufou weathered his first major domestic crisis, a coup attempt, whose plotters were arrested by authorities soon thereafter. The president recently increased the salaries of civil servants and reduced the costs of electricity and water, moves calculated to address economic grievances. Critically for this impoverished country, external donors regard Issoufou’s administration favorably; aid suspended after the February 2010 coup that removed former President Mamadou Tandja from power has been restored or increased. Finally, a small amount of oil — around […]

Despite receiving little attention in the lengthy written testimony (.pdf) presented to the Senate and House intelligence committees’ recent hearings on threats to the United States, the question of the viability of reaching a peace agreement with the Taliban was raised repeatedly in the discusions at the two public sessions. Many in Congress are rightly concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and any nascent peace process. So it is important to understand the specific risks involved in negotiating with the Taliban before Congress’ last annual hearing on worldwide threats to national security takes place Thursday in the Senate Armed Services […]

Global Insider: China Aims for Operational Experience, Higher Profile With U.N. Peacekeeper Role

China announced last month that it will send a contingent to participate in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. In an email interview, Courtney Richardson, a research fellow at the International Security Program at Harvard University’s Belfer Center and a doctoral student at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, discussed China’s peacekeeping deployments. WPR: What is the recent history of China’s involvement in international peacekeeping missions? Courtney Richardson: From the time it assumed its seat at the United Nations Security Council in 1971 until the early 1980s, China was morally opposed to the international peacekeeping regime; it abstained on Security Council […]

Although Syria’s Kurds have a long history of opposing the central government in Damascus, they have so far refrained from widespread, proactive participation in the ongoing rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad’s Baathist regime. However, if they continue to limit themselves to being mere spectators to the unfolding drama, they may well find themselves deprived of any long-term political gains in a post-Assad Syria. The Kurds’ forbearance to date does not signal a fear of government repression or an unwillingness to make sacrifices. They have demonstrated such willingness on numerous occasions, most recently in 2004-2005, when clashes between civilian protesters and […]

While the debate over whether Israel will strike Iran ebbs and flows on an almost weekly basis now, a larger collision-course trajectory is undeniably emerging. To put it most succinctly, Iran won’t back down, while Israel won’t back off, and America will back up its two regional allies — Israel and Saudi Arabia — when the shooting finally starts. There are no other credible paths in sight: There will be no diplomatic miracles, and Iran will not be permitted to achieve a genuine nuclear deterrence. But let us also be clear about what this coming war will ultimately target: regime […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 261 2 Last