People cheer as they watch a news broadcast announcing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's order to test-fire a newly developed inter-continental ballistic missile, Pyongyang, North Korea, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

After a two-month lull in activity, North Korea on Tuesday successfully tested its largest and most powerful missile to date, which it claims puts the entire U.S. mainland in range. Washington responded by calling for all countries to sever diplomatic and economic ties with Pyongyang, and vowed to further ramp up sanctions. Amid fears that the U.S. and North Korea are inching closer to war, WPR has collected 10 articles examining what options remain on the table—and if any can lead to a way out of the crisis. Purchase this special report as a Kindle e-book. Kim Builds an Arsenal […]

French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, and Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, center left, wave during a visit to a school in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Nov. 28 , 2017 (AP photo by Ahmed Yempabou Ouoba).

After a first six months spent focused on matters domestic and European, French President Emmanuel Macron has begun to travel farther afield. He is in West Africa this week, having arrived yesterday in Burkina Faso and continuing on to Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Earlier this month he traveled to the Persian Gulf for a planned visit to the United Arab Emirates, making an unplanned stopover in Saudi Arabia on his way back to Paris. In West Africa, Macron will try, as all new French presidents must, to reset a relationship burdened by the historical legacy of colonial exploitation and postcolonial […]

Rubble clutters a traffic roundabout in Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. The only sound in the video from Raqqa is the howl of the wind and the hum of a pickup truck passing through block after obliterated city block. “Drive around Raqqa for hours and all you will see is destruction,” the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville wrote on Twitter, where he posted the video. “The pictures say enough.” The buildings that weren’t flattened by airstrikes don’t have many of their walls or any windows left. […]

A member of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces walks inside a prison built by Islamic State fighters, Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. What does the future of the Islamic State look like in the wake of its battlefield setbacks in Iraq and Syria, from the fall of Mosul last summer to Raqqa last month? Will it revert to a low-level insurgency, or lash out with the kinds of terrorist attacks more associated with its predecessors, like al-Qaida? Can it sustain itself as a movement drawing in sympathizers and recruits from around the world? Writing for […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledges his supporters during an appearance in parliament, Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 21, 2017 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. The Syrian civil war is drawing to a close, at least in the way that the traditional conflict dynamics have been understood since 2011. The rebel opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in disarray and confined to relatively small patches of disconnected territory across the country, while the self-proclaimed Islamic State is on its last breath, pushed out of its base in the city of Raqqa and squeezed in eastern Syria. Only […]

Women who lost family members at Srebrenica react as they watch a TV broadcast of the sentencing of Radovan Karadzic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Tuzla, Bosnia, March 24, 2016 (AP photo by Amel Emric).

BELGRADE, Serbia—The first war crimes tribunal to be established since the military court in Nuremberg after World War II will close its doors at the end of the year, and with it, a chapter of international criminal justice will end. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established by the United Nations in May 1993 while the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were raging. It would adjudicate the worst crimes seen in Europe in half a century. The jurisprudence set since then has paved the way for other countries to adjudicate similar crimes, and for the […]

Demobilized ELN rebels wait in line to surrender their weapons at a military base, Tumaco, Colombia, April 3, 2009 (AP photo by William Fernando Martinez).

MEDELLIN, Colombia—The seven men arrived in the tiny hamlet of Carra, in the western Colombian state of Choco, just as darkness was falling on the evening of March 25. They were dressed in camouflage and were armed with rifles. According to witnesses, on their arms they wore bands bearing three letters: ELN, which stands for Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional, the National Liberation Army. Witnesses described how they shouted, threatened, smashed up boats and kicked over tables. They called the terrified residents “paracos”—slang for paramilitaries—as they searched the houses. And then they raised their rifles and opened fire. Four people died […]

Russian Deputy U.N. Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov raises his hand to vote against a resolution condemning Syria’s use of chemical weapons, U.N. headquarters, New York, April 12, 2017 (AP photo by Bebeto Matthews).

It is Cold War time at the United Nations again. Last week, Russia caused diplomatic uproar by vetoing not one, but two Security Council resolutions extending a U.N. investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Moscow is angry with the investigators for accusing the Syrian regime of using sarin gas and chlorine bombs. Russia has now used its veto 11 times to block resolutions over the Syrian war since 2011, four of them this year. Every veto sparks a ritualistic bout of outrage in the Security Council. All sides seemed especially tetchy last week. Nikki Haley, the U.S. […]

A robot in Parliament Square as part of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, London, April 23, 2013 (Press Association via AP Images).

Autonomous weapons are on the agenda in Geneva this week. The Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, which has members and observers drawn from national governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society, is holding its first meeting since it was established last year under the auspices of the U.N. Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, or CCW. On the table for discussion are the technical, legal, military and ethical dimensions of machines capable of making battlefield decisions without human oversight. The stakes are high. Autonomous weapons have, in recent years, catapulted into the defense and security strategies of the […]

A Russian military policeman, left, rests in the lobby of a hospital in the city of Deir el-Zour, Syria, Sept. 15, 2017 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. In Syria, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, was always treated as a problem with an essentially military solution. At least for the U.S.-led international coalition, there was no positive end state or program of political change that could be joined to the military campaign against the jihadi group. The general repulsiveness of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad meant that, unlike in neighboring Iraq, Washington and its allies could not simply invest […]

U.N. forces from Rwanda patrol the streets of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 12, 2016 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

On Nov. 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to decide on the fate of the U.N. mission in Central African Republic, known by its acronym MINUSCA. In stark contrast to the debate over the U.N. mission in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, which the U.S. pushed to reduce last April after citing its ineffectiveness and cost, few in New York expect cuts to the Central African Republic (CAR) mission. To the contrary, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited CAR at the end of October and called for increasing the mission’s authorized troop ceiling, currently just over 12,000, by […]

U.S. Intelligence Faces Challenges From Tech, Bad Actors—and the President

Three recent stories about U.S. intelligence offer insights into how the massive effort to collect and interpret data about threats to the United States has performed over the past few years, and how that effort must increasingly deal with challenges from technology, bad actors and even from political leaders. The first story is about the planned release of old U.S. intelligence documents, which are straightforward enough. The second is the publicly acknowledged damage done to American signals intelligence from hacking or leaking. The third, and perhaps most troubling, is President Donald Trump’s startling statement while overseas in Asia that he […]

New recruits of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan train at their base, Koya, Iraq, Sept. 21, 2016 (AP photo by Maya Alleruzzo).

In late September, the Kurds of Iraq seemed to have moved one step closer to realizing their historic goal of gaining independence, when nearly 93 percent of voters backed a referendum to formally secede from Baghdad. Masoud Barzani, the former guerrilla leader who had served as president of the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, since 2005, went ahead with the poll despite fierce opposition from the governments of Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and mild opposition from the United States. When the results came in, Kurds took to the streets of Irbil, the regional capital, in celebration. It soon became […]

United Nations peacekeepers from Niger patrol the streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Jan. 10, 2011 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

United Nations peacekeepers have a branding problem. The blue helmets, once much-admired symbols of international cooperation, are now routinely associated with venality and incompetence. Regular allegations of sexual abuse have tarnished their reputation, and U.N. forces have struggled to manage surges of violence in trouble spots such as South Sudan. The U.N. has not yet properly come to terms with well-attested claims that Nepali peacekeepers introduced cholera to Haiti, killing thousands. As a result, media reports about peacekeepers now start from the presumption that U.N. personnel are a problem rather than a solution to major crises. U.N. officials wearily note […]

Iraqis from the Yazidi community rebuild temples destroyed by Islamic State fighters, Bashiqa, Iraq, Oct. 18, 2017 (AP photo Khalid Mohammed).

Late last month, in an unexpected political maneuver after Iraqi Kurdish officials went ahead with their controversial referendum on independence, Iraq’s central government restored its dominance over most of the so-called disputed territories in the north of the country. Even though they fall outside the jurisdiction of the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, these areas had effectively been controlled by the KRG for the past three years, amid the chaos created by the self-proclaimed Islamic State and the retreat of Iraqi forces. Iraqi forces swept through the key, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, as well as Sinjar and much of the Nineveh […]

A Houthi sniper keeps watch over a rally to mark the third anniversary of the Houthis’ takeover of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, Sept. 21, 2017 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

Now that the self-described Islamic State has all but lost its caliphate in Iraq and Syria, leaving the term “state” as a relic in its name, many people may be breathing a sigh of relief, anticipating a reduction in the gruesome violence that inundated social media and occupied global strategists in recent years. But those hopes could be dashed. There is a high probability that even more violence is ahead. The drums of war are pounding in the Middle East and beyond, and the chance that a new war will start in the near future is far from negligible. For […]

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a joint news conference at the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 7, 2017 (AP photo Andrew Harnik).

North Korea looms large on U.S. President Donald Trump’s agenda during his nearly two weeks in Asia. Compared to discussions on trade and economics, and Trump’s handling of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a now-likely one with Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats have the gravest consequence for regional and global security. With Trump, the North Korea crisis appears to be playing out on several, sometimes-contradictory levels. His national security officials hold out proposals for diplomatic contact, or military options short of full-scale war, while the president opts for brash messages to intimidate […]

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