Mozambique's President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, Sept. 28, 2015 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

Dialogue between the government of Mozambique and the Renamo opposition movement continued to advance this week, with the ruling Frelimo party naming its final negotiating team after three rounds of preparatory talks. Renamo had already announced its expanded team of negotiators last week for the talks, which are to take place under international mediation in an effort to bring an end to a surge in attacks by Renamo followers on road and rail cargo. The agreement to begin negotiations, and to allow international observers to mediate them, represented a major concession by the government and follows a significant increase in […]

An Emirati gunner aboard a Chinook military helicopter, Yemen, Sept. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Adam Schreck).

Earlier this month the minister of state for foreign affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash, announced that the tiny federation of Persian Gulf emirates had declared an end to combat operations in Yemen, where it is part of a Saudi-led military coalition. In a June 15 speech, Gargash was quoted as saying that the Yemen war “is over for our troops,” and that the UAE was now focused on monitoring the political situation and “empowering Yemenis in liberated areas.” The speech was valedictory in tone, reiterating the oft-made point that the Emirati military has exceeded expectations in the […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference during the World Humanitarian Summit, Istanbul, May 24, 2016 (OCHA photo by Berk Özkan).

The cycle of violence between the Turkish state and insurgents of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is reaching proportions not seen since the 1990s. The fighting has left approximately 11,000 homes destroyed, leading The Financial Times to declare Turkey “the most dangerous country in Europe” and others to begin speaking of the “Syrianization” of the country’s southeastern region, where the brunt of the conflict has taken place. The fighting in the provinces of Diyarbakir, Sirnak, Hakkari, Van and Bingol has taken a heavy toll on civilians. About 1.3 million people have been impacted, with tens of thousands forced to flee […]

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila, New York, April 23, 2016 (U.N. photo by Evan Schneider).

When there is a major crisis in the international system, it is often followed by a host of small crises that pop up in its wake and start escalating out of control. The 2008 financial crisis set the stage for the current rash of conflicts and confrontations in the Arab world, Ukraine and the Asia-Pacific. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union could have a similar effect. The 2008 recession emboldened China and Russia to challenge the U.S., contributed to economic fragility in the Arab world, and discouraged Western policymakers from investing heavily in international conflict management. Relatively light-footprint options, […]

Bahraini anti-government protesters hold posters of top Shiite cleric Sheik Isa Qassim, Karrana, Bahrain, May 17, 2013 (AP photo by Hasan Jamali).

Last week, authorities in Bahrain stripped Sheikh Isa Qassim, the country’s most prominent Shiite cleric, of his citizenship. His crime: “Serving foreign interests” and spreading sectarian discord. The move wasn’t in isolation. One week prior, a Bahraini court suspended the activities of al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group, on charges of terrorism, extremism and violence. Days before, Bahraini police detained Najeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, during a raid on his home. Zainab al-Khawaja, a political dissident, also fled the country earlier this month after being released from prison. In May, an appeals court extended the […]

President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before a policy address at the State Department, Washington, May 19, 2011 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Last week, New York Times reporter Mark Landler compared the foreign policy statements of a candidate for president, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, with those of the actual U.S. president, Barack Obama, in regard to the Orlando terrorist attack. His conclusion, which unsurprisingly matches that of his most recent book on the allegedly contrasting foreign policy perspectives of Clinton and Obama, is that Clinton has shown herself to be the more hawkish of the two. Clinton, he argues, is more solicitous of military force and harsher in characterizing the terrorist threat facing America. It’s the kind of comparison that immediately […]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressing the newly-elected parliament, Damascus, June 7, 2016 (Syrian Arab News Agency photo via AP).

In his defiant speech to Syria’s parliament earlier this month, President Bashar al-Assad, as he always has, cast all of Syria’s rebels as terrorists. “Just like we liberated Palmyra and many other areas before it, we are going to liberate each and every inch of Syria from their hands,” he said. The speech struck a decidedly different chord from Assad’s last national address, in July 2015, when he admitted that his army was tired, running out of soldiers, and had given up territory. A little over a month after that speech, Russia intervened in Syria, propping up Assad through airstrikes […]

U.N. peacekeepers from China at a U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali camp, Gao, Mali, Jan. 27, 2014 (U.N. photo by Marco Dormino).

China is becoming an important military player in Africa. It has sent combat troops to bolster the United Nations operation in South Sudan, is opening a naval station in Djibouti, and has promised to invest in African Union peace operations. Is this evidence of Beijing’s creeping bid for superpower status, as pessimistic Western observers fear, or a positive sign that it is can contribute more to global stability? As Mathieu Duchatel, Manuel Lafont Rapnouil and I argue in a new report from the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), it would be odd if China did not take a greater […]

A U.S. Army officer and Afghan National Army trainers, Kandahar, Afghanistan, Jan. 23, 2008 (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek).

In a recent article for Defense One, national security expert Stephen Biddle argued that much of the debate on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan focuses on the wrong thing—the timetable for withdrawal—rather than on America’s ultimate strategic goals. The real objective, Biddle wrote, “is to end the war on terms Americans and Afghans can live with. But calendar deadlines and fixed withdrawal schedules make this almost impossible.” The only alternative to the collapse of the Afghan government and a likely victory by the Taliban, Biddle continued, is a negotiated settlement. This conclusion is solidly grounded in the long, bloody history of […]

Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, May 15, 2016, Jiddah, Saudi Arabia (Saudi Press Agency via AP).

When Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, delivered her first speech after the weekend massacre at an Orlando LGBT nightclub, she listed a predictable collection of problems contributing to the killings, from the availability of assault rifles in the U.S. to the proliferation of extremist ideologies emanating from the Middle East. Then she delivered a surprisingly blunt message to America’s Arab allies: It is “long past time,” she declared, for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations, as well as from “supporting radical schools and mosques” that send young people into extremism. The […]

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the foreign ministry, Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).

United Nations officials currently find themselves in a position similar to that of members of a religious cult who, having expected the messiah to appear in the near future, begin to grasp that there is no savior after all. For almost a decade, they have labored unhappily under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. They believe that he is too cautious and too loyal to the U.S. and other big powers. But with Ban leaving office at the end of this year, U.N. staffers have hoped and prayed that a far more decisive and independent leader will take his place in 2017. Their […]

Navy Rear Adm. Mat Winter, left, and Navy Adm. Jonathan Greenert with the Navy-sponsored Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, Washington, Feb. 4, 2015 (Department of Defense photo).

“Fifteen years after a drone first fired missiles in combat,” journalist Josh Smith recently wrote from Afghanistan, “the U.S. military’s drone program has expanded far beyond specific strikes to become an everyday part of the war machine.” Important as this is, it is only a first step in a much bigger process. As a report co-authored in January 2014 by Robert Work and Shawn Brimley put it, “a move to an entirely new war-fighting regime in which unmanned and autonomous systems play central roles” has begun. Where this ultimately will lead is unclear. Work, who went to become the deputy […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a joint news conference, Ankara, Turkey, April 16, 2016 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Last week, a Turkish energy firm signed a $4.2 billion deal for the construction of seven natural gas power plants in Iran, the largest investment deal in Iran since international sanctions over its nuclear program were lifted. In an email interview, Nader Habibi, the Henry J. Leir professor of economics of the Middle East in Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies, discussed the evolution of Turkish-Iranian ties. WPR: What were the main areas of political, economic and energy cooperation between Turkey and Iran pre-2011, and what impact did international sanctions on Iran and the Syrian conflict subsequently have […]

Chad's former dictator, Hissene Habre, during the proceedings of the Extraordinary African Chambers, Dakar, Senegal, May 30, 2016 (AP photo by Carley Petesch).

The conviction last week of Chad’s former president, Hissene Habre, for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture is a significant victory for the civil society campaign that has fought tirelessly for more than 20 years to bring him to justice. In a Senegalese courtroom last Monday, Habre was sentenced to life in prison for his ultimate responsibility, as Chad’s head of state from 1982 to 1990, for thousands of cases of torture in secret prisons, along with killings, rapes and waves of repression against communities that opposed his rule. Delivering his verdict, the head of the specially created Extraordinary […]

A convoy of aid vehicles loaded with food and other supplies travels to Madaya, Syria, Jan. 11, 2016 (AP photo).

When the United Nations Security Council tries to micromanage a conflict, as some of its members are poised to do with regard to Syria’s civil war, it is a pretty good bet that the situation will very soon get worse. The council offers a useful, if often malfunctioning, mechanism for creating diplomatic frameworks to handle crises. When it is united, it can bring pressure to bear on warring parties. Yet when the council gets into the operational details of conflict management, such as how to protect specific cities from attack or to deliver aid, it is liable to wade out […]

Supporters of the Podemos party, Madrid, Dec. 20, 2015 (AP photo by Daniel Ochoa de Olza).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the United States’ relationship with Pakistan, evolving U.S. strategic partnerships, and the possibilities for unrest in the run-up to Kenya’s presidential elections next year. For the Report, Jan-Werner Müller joins us to talk about the growth of populism and the role it plays in European politics. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: High Hopes, Great Disappointments: U.S.-Pakistan Relations Under Obama Are the Winds of Change Blowing for U.S. Strategic Partnerships? Protests and Clashes Likely Just the Start of Political Unrest in […]

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin, Athens, Greece, May 27, 2016 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

Last Friday, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic made an unannounced visit to Moscow. The trip came amid reports of Russian concern with Serbia’s overtures to the West, including taking steps toward joining the European Union. Later that day, Russian President Vladimir Putin headed to Greece, where he discussed energy cooperation and investment with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, before visiting the male-only Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos with the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church. The trip was Putin’s first to an EU country this year, as the debate heats up in Brussels over renewing EU sanctions against Russia […]

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