Supporters of Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and allies of the Houthis at a rally against the Saudi-led intervention, Sanaa, Yemen, March 26, 2016 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

Good news has been in desperately short supply in Yemen over the past year. So reports of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire and peace talks aimed at bringing an end to a civil war that has devastated what was already the Arab world’s poorest country should have been well received. Instead, they were met with skepticism, and with good reason. After a year of brutal war, Yemen is hardly ripe for peace. Last week in New York, the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the “parties to the conflict” had agreed to a countrywide cease-fire, due to […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally, Janesville, Wis., March 29, 2016 (The Janesville Gazette photo by Anthony Wahl via AP).

When it comes to foreign policy and the U.S. presidential campaign, everything seems to have turned upside down this year. Neoconservative, Republican hawks, from Max Boot to Bill Kristol, are apoplectic over the rise of Donald Trump, particularly his lack of ardor for military intervention, his supposed opposition to the Iraq War, and his calls for the U.S to pull back from its global security responsibilities. Some, like Boot, have gone so far as to say they won’t vote for the GOP frontrunner, while others have suggested that Trump’s focus on burden-sharing and having U.S. allies take on more global […]

The United Nations Security Council during a meeting on North Korea, New York, March 24, 2016 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Jim Della-Giacoma is filling in for Richard Gowan, who is on leave until early April. The first time I heard the German word “zwangsoptimist” was in a meeting to discuss ways to improve how the international system functions. Meaning “someone who feels compelled to be an optimist,” the word not only succinctly sums up my work for and alongside the U.N. over the past 27 years, but could also be a one-word job description for the organization’s next secretary-general. Not everyone sees the world, or the U.N., this way. In his recent op-ed in The New […]

Ugandans queue to cast their votes, Kampala, Uganda Feb. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the United Nation’s road-trip diplomacy, efforts to save cultural heritage during conflicts, and the growing threat against human rights activists in Latin America. For the Report, Peter talks about the recent elections in Uganda and shifting views of longtime President Yoweri Museveni. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: U.N. Security Council Should Make Better Use of ‘Road-Trip Diplomacy’ The Next Monuments Men? How Militaries Could Protect Culture in Conflict Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Times of War Activists’ Murders Show Human Rights Under […]

People watch a TV screen showing footage of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, Seoul, South Korea, March 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

This week, all eyes are focused on the twin bombings in Brussels linked to the self-declared Islamic State. But despite the death toll there, and in the Paris attacks last November, a bigger risk to the world’s stability lurks in East Asia. The Islamic State may no longer be the ‘junior varsity’ of terrorism, as President Barack Obama once referred to the group, but it remains the junior varsity of global threats. North Korea is the varsity, and the danger it poses far exceeds the sociopathic but small-scale killing that the Islamic State can pull off or inspire. Now under […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace, Ankara, Turkey, March 16, 2016 (Pool photo by Murat Cetinmuhurdar).

The cease-fire brokered by Russia and the U.S. in Syria late last month could not have come at better time for Turkey. A few months before the cease-fire took effect, the momentum of the Syrian civil war had dramatically shifted in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor. The Syrian army and its allies on the ground, supported by Russian air power, were making significant gains across the country. Rebels were on their heels: Their defensive lines were gradually collapsing; their supply routes were thinning out; and they found themselves outflanked on multiple fronts. Even worse for Turkey, the United States has […]

A soldier holds the Polisario Front flag as a U.N. helicopter flies over the Smara refugees camp, Tindouf, Algeria, March 5, 2016 (AP photo by Toufik Doudou).

The conflict over Western Sahara has lasted well over 40 years—25 under the oversight of the United Nations Security Council since it brokered a cease-fire in 1991—but it suffered the latest and perhaps worst of its many setbacks earlier this month, thanks to none other than U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban caused an uproar in Morocco by calling its presence in Western Sahara an “occupation,” while he was visiting a refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria, near the border with the disputed territory. Ban’s comments came during a larger visit to North Africa that did not include Morocco, the key player […]

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a campaign rally, Seattle, Washington, March 22, 2016 (AP photo by Ted S. Warren).

With yet another European city touched by the scourge of jihadi terrorism, the focus of the U.S. presidential campaign quickly turned to the best way to protect America from the same threat. Not surprisingly, the responses of the Democratic and Republican frontrunners could not be more different. Hillary Clinton warned that “terrorists seek to undermine the democratic values that are the foundation of our alliance and our way of life.” She sounded resolute in arguing that “they will never succeed.” The response of Donald Trump, on the other hand, suggests that the terrorists already have. Calling the Brussels attack “just […]

Afghan migrants during an anti-EU rally, Athens, Greece, March 19, 2016 (AP photo by Yorgos Karahalis).

The cynical deal struck between the European Union and Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe is a sign of desperation. It is flawed on several levels, and is likely to do harm to Europe’s image as a champion of international norms and Western values. Ironically, it will also probably do more harm than good to any hopes Turkey may still harbor for EU membership. But for all its shortcomings, the deal is better than doing nothing, and its effective implementation will help restore Europe’s self-confidence and Turkey’s role as a regional problem-solver. The deal finalized Friday […]

Uganda’s longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, in his well-known hat at a rally of supporters, Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

KAMPALA, Uganda — Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, was eerily quiet on Saturday, Feb. 20, the day the Ugandan Electoral Commission announced the results of the presidential election held two days before. Even in Kabalagala, a lively district where people are usually partying at any time of day, the streets were empty. A few dozen young men sat huddled around a TV in a betting parlor, but they weren’t waiting for the election results; instead, a soccer game of the English Premier League flickered on the screen. “We know already who will win the elections,” one of them said. “We are […]

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, Gitega, Burundi, Jan. 22, 2016 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Jim Della-Giacoma is filling in for Richard Gowan, who is on leave until early April. A United Nations Security Council debate can feel like traveling in an airplane at cruising altitude: a quick continental overflight in a rarefied atmosphere, far above the dirty reality of the conflict below. The debate can be driven by factors that may have little to do with what may be happening on the ground. But from time to time, council members come back to earth and get dust on their shoes when they engage in road-trip diplomacy. In January members went […]

Burning oil jets from a well set ablaze by FARC rebels in rural Puerto Asis, Putumayo, Colombia Aug. 13, 2003 (AP photo by Javier Galeano).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Earlier this month, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced he was cutting the national budget by 3 percent due to falling oil prices. In an email interview, Christian Gómez, an international development professional, discussed the impact of falling commodities prices on Colombia’s economy. WPR: How has the relative significance of oil and commodities exports to Colombia’s economy evolved in the recent past, and what effect have falling commodities prices had on the economy and public spending and […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin inside the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, March 17, 2016 (Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik via AP).

Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped a bombshell this week, announcing that he was pulling his military forces out of Syria less than six months after his equally surprising decision to send them there in the first place. While it remains to be seen whether Putin will carry through on his promise, security experts are busily scrambling to figure out his motives. Did he attain what he intended, or is he simply washing his hands of a lost cause? There is agreement, though, on one thing: Putin’s move caught Washington by surprise and at least seemed to once again keep him […]

Kuwait from above, Dec. 24, 2008 (Flickr photo by lin84 licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0).

In 2016, Kuwait faces a combination of domestic and regional challenges arising from looming uncertainty over succession, the decline in international oil prices and the threat from radical groups such as the so-called Islamic State. Each of those issues has the potential to bring an end to the relative political stability that Kuwait has enjoyed since its most recent legislative election in July 2013. The risk for Kuwait’s ruling officials is that the intervening years of political calm have masked, but not resolved, many of the underlying socio-political and economic triggers of discontent that surfaced in 2011 and 2012 and […]

Iraqi workers are seen at the Rumaila oil refinery, near Basra, Iraq, Dec. 13, 2009 (AP photo by Nabil al-Jurani).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Plunging oil prices have put Iraq in an economic bind, and according to The New York Times, “much tougher economic times are ahead.” In an email interview, Frank Gunter, a professor of economics at Lehigh University and author of “Political Economy of Iraq: Restoring Balance in a Post-Conflict Society,” discussed the impact on Iraq of low oil prices. WPR: How important is oil for Iraq’s economy and government revenues, and what impact have falling oil prices had […]

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing, Feb. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Wu Hong).

“The future Australian Defence Force will be more capable of operations to deter and defeat threats to Australia,” declares the 2016 Defense White Paper, released in late February. The ambitious strategic document backs up this assertion with extravagant promises to raise defense spending to 2 percent of GDP in just a few years; to double the size of Australia’s submarine fleet from 6 to 12; and to develop a maritime force with formidable anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The paper boasts that it “sets out the most ambitious plan to regenerate the Royal Australian Navy since the Second World War.” And yet, […]

Royal Saudi Land Forces and units of Special Forces of the Pakistani army during a joint military exercise, Shamrakh field, north of Baha region, Saudi Arabia, March 30, 2015 (AP photo/Saudi Press Agency).

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Saudi Arabia last week for the closing ceremonies of a multinational military exercise, following recent tensions in relations. In an email interview, Shehzad H. Qazi, managing director at CBB International and a geopolitical analyst specializing in emerging and frontier markets, discussed Pakistan’s relations with Middle East nations. WPR: Who are Pakistan’s main partners in the Middle East, and what are their main areas of cooperation? Shehzad Qazi: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey are three of Pakistan’s main partners in the Middle East. Pakistan and […]

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