Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin after talks in the Konstantin palace outside St. Petersburg, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Turkey and Russia are patching up their troubled relationship. In early August, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in St. Petersburg, in the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders in 10 bitter months since Turkey shot down a Russian jet that was briefly in its airspace last November. But after some symbolic handshakes and photo-ops, what can be expected in concrete terms moving forward between Ankara and Moscow? Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. It’s a safe bet that state-controlled media in Russia will no longer portray Erdogan and his close entourage with […]

Turkish troops check their tanks near the Syrian border, Karkamis, Turkey, Aug. 26, 2016 (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP).

Syria’s horrific crisis is now generating new insights into the fault lines and even falsehoods of international cooperation. Diplomatic efforts to find some minimal common ground to tamp down the war have repeatedly fallen short, as the external actors care more about preventing each other’s gains than saving Syria. It reminds us that old-fashioned, formal alliances have more meaning than ad hoc coalitions. The Syrian conflict may be an outlier with its endlessly tragic dimensions. As The New York Times’ Max Fisher explained this week, Syria defies all the theories about civil wars, offering little hope for the conflict winding […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a rally of his supporters after the country’s abortive July 15 coup, Istanbul, Aug. 7, 2016 (Presidential Press Service photo by Kayhan Ozer via AP).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. Just 25 years after winning the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, the United States is facing a very different world than the one many had expected. Instead of a world of relative peace, with no proxy wars in developing countries and no major global geostrategic opponents, there is violence and terrorism around the globe, much of it […]

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos gives Senate President Mauricio Lizcano the peace deal with FARC rebels, Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Felipe Caicedo).

Here is a moral dilemma: Would you be happy to live in a world in which 80 percent of the population enjoys more or less peaceful conditions, but the remaining 20 percent are condemned to live with a worsening spiral of war and suffering? This is a useful question, because it is a rough description of the actual world we live in. Most of the planet is pretty stable these days. Last week, the cognitive scientist Stephen Pinker and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos underscored this point in an opinion piece celebrating Colombia’s peace deal with the leftist Revolutionary Armed […]

A Russian long-range Tu-22M3 bomber during an airstrike over Aleppo, in frame grab provided by Russian Defence Ministry, Aug. 16, 2016 (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service photo via AP).

When the Russian Defense Ministry announced last week that it had started launching bombing raids into Syria from a base inside Iran, the news produced a remarkable reaction, simultaneously angering both the United States and much of Iran. U.S. officials were caught unprepared and were deeply displeased by the news that Tehran and Moscow had decided to intensify their military cooperation. But it wasn’t just the Americans who were angered by the developments. In Iran, many members of parliament were furious to learn that the Russian military machine had positioned some war assets on Iranian soil. It took less than […]

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets Hillary Clinton at a U.N. Women event, U.N. headquarters, March 7, 2014 (U.N. photo by JC McIlwaine).

If Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States in November, fixing the failings of United Nations peacekeeping operations is unlikely to be one of her foreign policy priorities. Putting Russia in its place and balancing China in the Pacific will loom much larger on her to-do list. But the next administration is likely to find that crises involving blue helmets have a habit of creeping up its agenda. Clinton is presumably painfully aware of this. Her husband’s presidency was punctuated by peacekeeping failures from Somalia to Srebrenica, and the failure to give U.N. personnel effective back-up during the […]

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump during a speech on national security, Youngstown, Ohio, Aug. 15, 2016 (AP photo by Gerald Herbert).

After several disastrous weeks of gaffes and tumbling poll numbers, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump decided this week to turn his attention to what he considers a key selling point of his campaign: national security, particularly the threat from violent Islamic extremists. He used a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, to lay out his ideas on this issue. It offered an important window into Trump’s thinking and the mindset of his supporters. Unfortunately the picture that emerged was one of incoherence and complete disregard for the time-tested logic of strategy. Like most Trump speeches, this one was full of hyperbole, bluster […]

A Kashmiri protester clashes with Indian policemen during a protest, Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Dar Yasin).

On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, called on Pakistan and India to give his office access to Kashmir given “grave concerns” over alleged human rights violations there. The move comes as Jammu and Kashmir, which is administered by India but claimed by Pakistan, has seen some of its worst violence in years. On Tuesday, Indian troops shot and killed five civilians and injured at least 15 more during clashes with anti-India protesters, a day after suspected Kashmiri separatist rebels killed one Indian soldier and wounded 10 others in two separate gun battles. In […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, May 31, 2016 (AP photo by Dan Balilty).

Things have never looked brighter for the Israeli right’s political prospects. Israel’s current government is widely acknowledged as the most right-wing in the country’s history. The opposition is so weak and fragmented that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is practically leading the country unopposed. The decades-old project of expanding Jewish settlements into the West Bank has lured more than 300,000 Israelis into the West Bank, threatening to render the two-state solution obsolete. Yet scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find that neither Netanyahu nor his allies on the religious right know what to do with this power. In fact, as its […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference in the Konstantin palace, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

If Vladimir Putin ever loses interest in running Russia, he should set up a diplomatic academy. The British journalist and wit David Frost once defined diplomacy as “the art of letting somebody else have your way.” Through a mix of hard bargaining, guile and simple force, the Russian president has often shown that he knows how to do just that. His skills were on ample display last week. Putin welcomed his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to St. Petersburg to bury their tensions over Syria. He then ignited a new crisis with Kiev over an alleged shoot-out between Ukrainian and […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their economic summit, Baku, Aug. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Geo-economics dominated the agenda of two critical meetings this week: a trilateral economic summit in Baku between Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, followed by a bilateral summit in St. Petersburg between Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While matters of war and peace were also on the agenda—the stalemated conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and the ongoing fighting in Syria—both summits’ main focus was on ensuring connectivity to the global economy. Let’s start with Iran. In the year since Iran acceded to the terms of the nuclear agreement it signed with the group of world […]

Russian Lt.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoi speaks to the media as a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry shows a target hit in an airstrike on screen, Moscow, Russia, Aug. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

Fierce urban fighting alongside Machiavellian political maneuvering is nothing new to the Syrian conflict. But the past few days have brought a new twist in the upheaval with lasting, if opaque, repercussions for Syria’s civil war and the many actors involved in it directly or by proxy. The key center of the new convoluted and deadly developments is Aleppo, Syria’s prewar commercial capital, now a rubble-strewn ruin at the heart of the five-year-old conflict. After several days of intensified battles and curious political moves, a new crop of winners and losers is emerging. But identifying who they are, or who […]

A portrait of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, outside a police station seized by gunmen in Yerevan, July 23, 2016 (PAN photo by Vahan Stepanyan via AP).

An armed standoff and the eruption of protests in July may be Armenia’s most serious political crisis since 2008, when thousands took to the streets against alleged voter fraud in the presidential election that year. Last month’s unrest, which marked the country’s fourth summer in a row of turmoil, has exposed the cross-cutting, often contradictory fissures within Armenian politics and society. But this time, it also potentially represents a turning point for Armenia’s frustrated population. With internal crises looming over both state legitimacy and settlement talks with Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia is as divided as ever […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally, Aug. 9, 2016, Fayetteville, N.C. (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

On Monday, 50 Republicans signed a letter denouncing the party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, as a “risk” to America’s “national security and well-being.” These aren’t any ordinary Republicans. They are some of the party’s leading national security and foreign policy voices, people like Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, who both served as secretary of homeland security under former President George W. Bush; Michael Hayden, who previously headed both the CIA and National Security Agency; Eric Edelman, who worked for former Vice President Dick Cheney; and Richard Fontaine, who was a foreign policy adviser to Sen. John McCain. They were merciless […]

Zambians protest over the closure of The Post newspaper, Lusaka, Zambia, June 22, 2016 (AP photo by Moses Mwape).

Zambia goes to the polls tomorrow, Aug. 11, in an increasingly tense climate marked by protests, violence and the government’s targeted attacks on the opposition. The crackdown launched by President Edgar Lungu is a worrying trend toward further democratic backsliding in the long-stable country. Lungu was elected in January 2015 following the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata. For many Zambians, Lungu’s admittedly short time in office has left much to be desired, particularly on the the economy. Lungu and his party, the Patriotic Front, are facing mounting criticism from the country’s main opposition movement, the United Party for National […]

A fighter loyal to the Libyan armed forces preparing for clashes with ISIS militants west of Benghazi, March 7, 2016 (AP photo by Mohammed el-Shaiky).

Last week, the United States significantly expanded airstrikes in Libya against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, upping its military involvement in a country mired in civil war since a NATO-led intervention helped topple dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Libya’s United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, known as the Government of National Accord, or GNA, requested the airstrikes. They have centered on the coastal city of Sirte, where Libyan forces aligned with the unity government have been engaged in fierce street battles with the Islamic State. The strikes have reportedly come from jets launched from a U.S. amphibious assault ship in the Mediterranean […]

President Barack Obama during a news conference following the G-20 Summit, Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has punctuated his campaign with foolish and frankly dangerous comments on foreign affairs. He has made recurrent gaffes about nuclear weapons and U.S. alliances. But just occasionally he says something almost sensible. Last month, a journalist asked Trump how he would persuade Turkey to focus on fighting the so-called Islamic State rather than armed Kurdish groups in the country’s southeastern region. “Meetings,” he replied. “If I ever have the opportunity to do it, meaning if we win, we will have meetings, we will have meetings very early on.” Foreign policy experts wrote this off as […]

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