U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman meets with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Pyongyang, North Korea, Dec. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

Great-power war is back on the global agenda. What can international peacemakers do about it? The Pentagon’s recently released National Defense Strategy declares that the U.S. should concentrate more on strategic competition with China and Russia than on terrorism. The latest edition of The Economist, a bellwether of liberal internationalist thought, focuses on the risk of a major-power war. False nuclear alerts sparked panic in Hawaii and Japan earlier this month. Western military types fear that they are out of sync with these threats. U.S. commanders are telling their troops to get ready for a big war. Their European allies […]

Turkish army tanks head for the Syrian border town of Afrin, an enclave in northwestern Syria controlled by Kurdish fighters, Hassa, Turkey, Jan. 22, 2018 (AP photo).

On Jan. 20, Turkish forces attacked Afrin, a Kurdish-controlled enclave in northwestern Syria. As airstrikes rain down on Afrin’s mountain towns, the conflict is putting both American and Russian plans for Syria to the test. Most of Afrin’s original inhabitants are Kurds, though the population, now estimated at 323,000, has swelled with civilians displaced from other parts of Syria and also includes Arab towns seized by Kurdish forces. Apart from government-controlled Aleppo to the southeast, Afrin is entirely surrounded by Turkish territory and Turkey-backed rebels. A previous Turkish intervention in October set up military outposts all along Afrin’s southern border. […]

Visitors hang ribbons and unification flags on a fence near the border with North Korea, Paju, South Korea, Jan. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

At some point, the brutal and parasitic Kim family dictatorship in North Korea must end, but it is impossible to tell whether it will happen sooner or later. Many predictions that the regime would fall have proven false, but it simply cannot last forever. Whether by internal conflict or by provoking a war with South Korea and the United States, the Kim regime eventually will go. Stressing that “Korean unification is a Korean affair,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in is convinced that whenever reunification comes, it should be under the leadership of the democratic and economically vigorous south, rather than […]

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh during the 17th African Union Summit, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 30, 2011 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. It’s been a year since former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh fled into exile, and speculation is starting to pick up about his potential return to the country to face charges for crimes committed during his more than two decades in power. In January 2017, as West African troops entered Gambian territory, Jammeh announced he was leaving so Adama Barrow could take office, flying to Guinea before ultimately settling in Equatorial Guinea, where he remains today. Barrow defeated Jammeh in […]

Pakistani police officers stand guard to stop Shiite Muslims from advancing toward the presidency to protest twin bombings in Parachinar, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Islamabad, June 28, 2017 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Earlier this month, the United States suspended security assistance to Pakistan, following through on a threat from President Donald Trump. The move was meant to signify Washington’s frustration with what it describes as Islamabad’s refusal to crack down on sanctuaries used by terrorists that target American soldiers across the border in Afghanistan. Current tensions in U.S.-Pakistan relations—which flow from the aid freeze and from the Trump administration’s new Afghanistan strategy, and which have spawned increasingly angry rhetoric on both sides—all boil down to a fundamental dispute over this sanctuary issue. It’s a dispute unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. That’s […]

French President Emmanuel Macron and the heads of state of the G5 Sahel countries attend a summit launching the regional force, Bamako, Mali, July 2, 2017 (AP photo by Baba Ahmed).

It seems that everyone wants to send soldiers to the Sahel these days. Last week, the Italian Parliament approved plans to send nearly 500 troops to fight migrant-traffickers in Niger. British Prime Minister Theresa May offered to send transport helicopters to support French forces fighting terrorists in Mali. While the Italian and British deployments may be limited, they will add to an increasingly complex patchwork of peacekeeping and counterinsurgency operations across the Sahel. Once a geopolitical backwater where France called the shots, the region has become an unwieldy mash-up of crisis-management missions. United Nations peacekeepers patrol Mali, where French troops […]

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In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency ahead of the anniversary of his inauguration. For the Report, Philip Kleinfeld talks with Andrew Green about how efforts by President Joseph Kabila to hold onto power in the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than a year after the end of his presidential term, is driving a resurgence of militia violence. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our […]

People watch a TV news program showing the Twitter post in which U.S. President Donald Trump boasted about the size of his  “nuclear button,” Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 3, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

In the coming weeks, President Donald Trump is expected to unveil the latest Nuclear Posture Review, outlining his administration’s thinking about U.S. nuclear policy and detailing plans for the future of the American arsenal. According to a draft leaked to The Huffington Post last week, the review, which reportedly has been sent to Trump for his approval, will mark a considerable shift in policy, overturning much of the thinking that has underpinned American nuclear strategy since the end of the Cold War. The Trump administration may well be ushering in a more dangerous, more expensive and more worrying nuclear era. […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos shake hands as they pose for photos at the presidential palace, Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Last weekend, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres traveled to Colombia to try to invigorate the 2016 peace agreement ending a relentless guerrilla insurgency that had become a painful relic of the Cold War. The longest-running armed conflict in the Western hemisphere pitted the state against the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the largest of two Marxist guerrilla groups that battled Colombian forces for more than half a century. But in contrast to the international acclaim and optimism that greeted the peace deal, which culminated in Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos receiving the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, Guterres’ […]

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to French troops at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Dec. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Fay Abuelgasim).

On Dec. 7, French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Qatar for a short yet very profitable visit. It took place in the wake of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s own trip to Paris in September. During his eight-hour stay in Doha, Macron visited al-Udeid Air Base—the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East—where France also has a contingent of soldiers. He was then received at Sheikh Tamim’s administrative office, the Emiri Diwan, to discuss several matters of bilateral interest, as well as the diplomatic standoff in the Gulf, before flying back to Paris. Macron and Sheikh […]

Congolese boys take part in a protest against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 31, 2017 (AP photo by John Bompengo).

UVIRA, Democratic Republic of Congo—When the rebels attacked, some of them arrived on motorized wooden boats, toting rocket-propelled grenades. Others streamed down the lush hills that surround this city, perched on the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika, East Africa’s second-largest lake. Civilians fled in their wake. Members of the group, called the National People’s Coalition for the Sovereignty of Congo, had one simple aim, according to Alemasi Musoshi, a 26-year-old rebel who took part in the attack on Uvira last September. “All we ask is for Kabila to leave power,” he says. Congo’s embattled president, Joseph Kabila, has managed, despite […]

Libyan men displaced from Tawergha pray at a makeshift mosque at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya, Nov. 26, 2013 (AP photo by Manu Brabo).

At the end of December, Libya’s prime minister in Tripoli, Fayez Serraj, announced that Libyan families displaced from the town of Tawergha since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011 could return home. The people of Tawergha allegedly fought on the side of deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Their return to Tawergha, in western Libya, will mark one of the first successful reconciliation efforts between embattled communities in the country. In an email interview, Jalel Harchaoui, a doctoral candidate in geopolitics at Paris 8 University focusing on Libya, discusses the ongoing obstacles to communal reconciliation. WPR: What has […]

Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili addresses servicemen participating in the Noble Partner 2017 joint multinational military exercises outside Tbilisi, Georgia, Aug. 1, 2017 (AP photo by Shakh Aivazov).

In late November, the U.S. State Department gave its seal of approval for the sale of advanced Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia. Long coveted by the aspiring NATO member, the weapons appear to offer a boon to Tbilisi’s defense capabilities. Yet any added military value is still modest compared to the overwhelming military superiority of Russia, Georgia’s chief external threat. Since fighting a brief war with Russia in 2008, Georgia has faced a security dilemma in how it should deal with Moscow, balancing diplomacy and talks with military reforms and defense spending. How Georgia deploys the new weapons—and how that […]

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso is greeted by Mohamed Larbi Ould Khelifa, president of the lower house of Algeria’s parliament, Algiers, March 27, 2017 (Sipa photo by Billal Bensalem via AP).

For well over a year, information coming out of the Republic of Congo’s southeastern Pool region, though limited, has pointed to a brutal armed conflict with grave humanitarian consequences. In its crackdown on the Ntsiloulou rebel group, also known as the “Ninjas,” the government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso has been accused of carrying out torture, mass evictions, arbitrary arrests and even aerial bombardments against civilians. Grisly violence has also been attributed to the rebels, including attacks on rail lines connecting the region to the rest of the country. The conflict in Pool started immediately after Sassou Nguesso was named […]

Ban Ki-moon hugs his successor as U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, at Guterres’ swearing-in ceremony, Dec. 12, 2016 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

The festive season may be over, but if you still have any leftover champagne lying about, pop the cork. This column, Diplomatic Fallout, is five years old today. Or, to be more precise, five years and a day: The first edition appeared on Jan. 7, 2013. Since then, occasionally pausing for bouts of paternity leave and public holidays, I have churned out just over 200 pieces—very roughly 200,000 words—for World Politics Review. That’s about the same as Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” in terms of the quantity of words involved, if not necessarily the quality. The column has at times strayed […]

An Afghan vendor of lapis lazuli waits for customers, Kabul, Afghanistan, March 28, 2016 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Afghanistan has some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, but extracting them has proven difficult amid years of instability and war. There were modest signs of improvement in 2017, most notably the Afghan government’s ability to manage and report its earnings from mining royalties and taxes, which it couldn’t do much at all a few years ago. But challenges remain to attract more meaningful foreign investment and capitalize on the country’s resources. The Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum reported earning approximately $86 million in revenues in 2017, $19 million more than it reported earning in 2016. Yet […]

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for photographers at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, May 16, 2017 (Pool photo by Damir Sagolj via AP).

HONG KONG—There are few winners from the crisis in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, where thousands of ethnic Rohingyas have lost their lives in an ongoing military crackdown and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced. But one exception is China, whose diplomats have skillfully exploited the turmoil to advance Beijing’s interests. In August, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an insurgent group claiming to represent Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, attacked a series of security installations, provoking a murderous reaction from the military. Doctors Without Borders reported that at least 6,700 Rohingyas were killed in the first month of violence, while over […]

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