French President Francois Hollande and Iraqi President Fouad Massoum during the opening of a conference on strategy against the Islamic State group, Paris, Sept. 15, 2014 (AP photo by Brendan Smialowski).

France has suddenly and shockingly found itself in the middle of the Iraq maelstrom that it had managed up until now to avoid. With its armed forces engaged in the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State group and a French citizen killed by the group’s sympathizers in retaliation, Paris’ policy in Iraq and the region beyond is being put to the test. In a recent statement, as succinct as it was scathing, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State group (also known as ISIS), called on the group’s recruits and supporters to target France and its citizens […]

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 4, 2014, to attend the U.S.-Africa Summit (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

Last month, senior diplomats from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo met to discuss bilateral relations, specifically a $10 billion fine the International Court of Justice levied on Uganda in 2005 over its incursions into the DRC. In an email interview, Gaaki Kigambo, a journalist in Uganda, discussed current efforts to improve relations between Uganda and the DRC. WPR: What is the history of Uganda’s intervention in the DRC’s wars since the 1990s? Gaaki Kigambo: Uganda first entered the Democratic Republic of Congo—then called Zaire—in 1996, apparently in hot pursuit of rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) who […]

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Andrew Dacey reviews security checkpoints with Iraqi soldiers in the city of Abu Ghraib, Iraq, March 31, 2009 (U.S. Army photo).

Soon after the George W. Bush administration toppled Saddam Hussein, it became clear that Iraq was headed for a bitter conflict driven by Saddam’s politicization of sectarian and ethnic divisions and the lingering pathologies of his parasitic dictatorship. Thus, for the U.S., getting out of Iraq required the rebuilding of an Iraqi army that could maintain internal security. The U.S. military embraced this challenge, lavishing money and effort to create a new Iraqi army designed for the sort of effectiveness and apolitical professionalism that characterizes America’s armed forces. The raw material that U.S. military advisers and trainers had to work […]

Protester at the talk with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, New York, Sept. 24, 2014 (photo by David Klion).

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke yesterday at an event sponsored by the New America Foundation at the New York Hilton. The event was well attended and the audience included many journalists, although only New America board member Fareed Zakaria had the opportunity to ask Rouhani questions. Rouhani began his prepared remarks by noting that he used to run the Center for Strategic Research and called for more interaction between U.S. and Iranian think tanks. He then turned to the Middle East, where the forces of the Islamic State group—which Rouhani, through his translator, described variously as extremists, terrorists, or using […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014 (State Department photo).

Before it recessed to focus on the midterm election campaign, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on draft legislation that would recognize Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova as “non-NATO allies” of the United States. Indeed, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s government had made such a request of Washington earlier this summer, although U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration declined to act on this matter, much to the disappointment of some Ukrainians and their supporters in Congress. Assuming that the legislation passes the full Senate and is also adopted by the House, it is highly unlikely that Obama would risk a veto of the […]

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy Jiangkai-class frigate Linyi moors alongside the Luhu-class destroyer Qingdao, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 6, 2013 (U.S. Navy photo by Daniel Barker).

This month, the heads of the world’s navies and coast guards converged on the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, for the International Seapower Symposium (ISS). ISS assembles distinguished international naval leaders to enhance common bonds of friendship and to discuss challenges and opportunities, this time under the theme of “Global Solutions to Common Maritime Challenges.” This was the 21st iteration of ISS, which was first held in 1969. It was the first with Chinese attendance. After years of invitations that Beijing did not accept, coupled with last year’s cancellation of the event due to sequestration, the head of […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry poses with his Arab counterparts after a meeting with them in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 11, 2014 (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool).

In a Sept. 13 speech, President Barack Obama unveiled his strategy for dealing with the Islamic State group. “We will degrade and ultimately destroy” it, Obama said, “through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.” The strategy he outlined in the speech includes three components: U.S. airstrikes; increased support for militias and national militaries directly fighting the Islamic State group; and efforts to prevent the group from undertaking terrorist attacks against the U.S. or other nations. As always, Obama was careful, cautious and restrained, seeking an indirect and supporting role rather than the leading one. He ruled out large-scale American involvement […]

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, center left, arrive at the Hall of Knights, The Hague, Netherlands, Sept. 16, 2014 (AP photo by Jasper Juinen).

AMSTERDAM—The annual event known as Prince’s Day in the Netherlands brings an uncommon dose of pomp to the decidedly informal Dutch landscape. Tens of thousands of people gathered on Tuesday to watch King Willem-Alexander and his superstar wife Queen Maxima travel in their golden carriage to the Hall of Knights for the opening of Parliament. The crowds come for the pageantry, but the day contains a large dose of serious substance. The main event is the king’s speech, which offers important clues to emerging priorities for the Netherlands, and usually for much of Europe. This year marked the 200th occasion […]

President Barack Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

When President Barack Obama announced plans for calibrated U.S. air strikes in Iraq last week, he set off heated debates about the wisdom and chances for success of his strategy to “degrade, and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State group operating there and in neighboring Syria. This week, the White House announced another military deployment that, despite involving not air strikes but some 3,000 American boots on the ground, evinced barely a second glance: the medical humanitarian mission to West Africa to contain the ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus there. The reason for the contrast in reactions is of course […]

South Korean army soldiers patrol along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Cheorwon, South Korea, May 13, 2014 (AP photo by Lim Byung-shik).

Thanks to its comprehensive democratization and its “Miracle on the Han,” which transformed the Republic of Korea into a developed country, South Korea has realized its aspirations to become a major international player. Nonetheless, the persistent threat from a perennially belligerent North Korea, along with the challenge of having three of the world’s most powerful countries as neighbors, continues to constrain South Korea’s global opportunities. Foreign Policy Although South Korean foreign policy cannot ignore its northern neighbor, the absence of any real movement in bilateral ties has meant that Seoul’s relations with Washington, Beijing and Tokyo have seen the most […]

French President Francois Hollande and Iraqi President Fouad Massoum during the opening of a conference on strategy against the Islamic State group, Paris, Sept. 15, 2014 (AP photo by Brendan Smialowski).

Much of the discussion around the strategy unveiled this past week by President Barack Obama to combat the Islamic State has focused on whether or not the administration will be able to successfully forge a “core coalition” of states to participate in the fight, and whether that grouping will be substantive or a largely ceremonial equivalent of the “coalition of the willing” assembled by George W. Bush prior to the invasion of Iraq. But the main proposition is largely accepted as a given: The United States can supply air power, intelligence assets and even training and equipment, but other coalition […]

Spanish Marine Sgt. Cole Mulbah Ruiz watches as members of Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion practice their marksmanships skills, April 6, 2009 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Elsa Portillo).

As Boko Haram increasingly devastates northeastern Nigeria and crosses into Nigeria’s neighbors, Cameroon has attracted more international attention, both positive and negative. The International Crisis Group recently wrote that “Cameroon’s apparent stability and recent government reforms can no longer hide its vulnerabilities.” The report assesses the political risks of President Paul Biya’s apparent desire to remain in power indefinitely, despite his advanced age and lack of a clear succession plan. Alongside these medium-term risks are two short-term problems that deserve special scrutiny: the potential for destructive escalation in Cameroon’s fight with Boko Haram and the ambiguous effects of an aggressive […]

In this undated file picture released Nov. 29, 2013, posted on the Facebook page of a militant group, members of Ahrar al-Sham brigade exercise in a training camp at unknown place in Syria (AP photo).

Last week, on Sept. 9, the entire leadership of one of Syria’s strongest rebel groups, Ahrar al-Sham, was killed in a blast during a secret meeting in Idlib, in northern Syria. A dozen of the deeply conservative Salafi movement’s leaders died in the attack, which some sources claim was a suicide bombing and others an airstrike by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. As the United States mobilizes an international coalition against the militants of the Islamic State group, with plans to train 5,000 moderate Syrian rebels, the attack could have domino effects across the conflict, especially among often-shifting rebel alliances. The killing […]

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter stands guard atop an armored vehicle at a combat outpost on the outskirts of Makhmour, Sept. 6, 2014 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

IRBIL, Iraq—As the United States is moving to broaden its war against militants of the so-called Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), perhaps its most important ally is the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq. The reasons are clear: In a region where states have either imploded or where stability flows largely from dynastic rule, the KRG is stable, its politics are in the main moderate and pro-Western and it holds regular elections. Yet the KRG has its own strategic agenda, some of which is potentially problematic. And under its democratic facade, […]

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter takes his position behind dirt barriers built along the front line with militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State, Mariam Bek village, Iraq, June 30, 2014 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces, armed and trained by NATO countries and backed by U.S. air support, form the vanguard of the international coalition’s ground operations in Iraq against the militants of the so-called Islamic State. But the Western support comes amid growing concern that the Kurds could use these arms and newly gained military know-how to secede from Iraq by force and form an independent Kurdish state once the Islamic State—also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—is defeated. NATO countries have explicitly conditioned their military support on the Kurds remaining in Iraq and cooperating with the […]

A man sits alone near the road between the Dakhla Refugee Camp and Awsaard Refugee Camp, June 24, 2003 (UN photo by Evan Schneider).

The Western Sahara conflict is fast approaching its 40th anniversary with no end in sight. A web of geopolitical interests keeps the conflict in a permanent state of limbo. At the heart of this web is the U.N. Security Council, which has managed the conflict since the late 1980s. The council has been historically reticent to take dramatic action to resolve the dispute and remains so today. Though there has been “peace” in Western Sahara since 1991 when a cease-fire came into effect, all efforts to reconcile Morocco’s claim of sovereignty against the local population’s right to self-determination have failed. […]

President Barack Obama salutes as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 12, 2014 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Upon first taking office, Barack Obama promised that his presidency would be all about hope. He made this offer to foreigners as well as Americans. “The most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the hope of human beings,” he told the United Nations in 2009, arguing for “the confidence that conflicts can end and a new day can begin.” Five years on, Obama is fighting conflicts that stubbornly refuse to end, but he still has a potent diplomatic weapon. It is not hope, but fear. This might seem counterintuitive, since Obama is not perceived to be an especially frightening president. […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 271 2 Last