Chinese President Xi Jinping is received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president of the United Arab Emirates, after his arrival in Abu Dhabi, July 19, 2018 (Photo by Mohamed Al Hammadi for Emirates News Agency via AP Images).

As dusk fell in Abu Dhabi on July 20, the LED screen affixed to the face of the 65-story headquarters of the emirate’s national oil company presented a peculiar sight: a photograph of Chinese President Xi Jinping stretching over 1,000 feet high, looming over the Persian Gulf. In nearby Dubai, the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, was lit from top to bottom in the colors of the Chinese flag. Even by the standards of a country with little use for subtlety, the United Arab Emirates went all out to mark Xi’s state visit. At a time when China seems […]

Chinese naval officials stand in front of the ship Daqing, San Diego, Calif., Dec. 7, 2016 (AP photo by Gregory Bull).

While the United States Navy struggles to figure out if, how and when it can expand the size of its combat fleet by 47 ships—a 15 percent increase—China continues to crank out around a dozen new large warships a year. In May, the busy shipyard in the port city Dalian put to sea China’s second aircraft carrier, following up on that milestone two months later by simultaneously launching two Type 055-class cruisers. With the U.S. Navy being the only other fleet to operate a large number of vessels of such size and capability, the pace and scale of production at […]

Syrian refugees prepare to cross into Syria from Arsal, Lebanon, June 28, 2018 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

What should international peacemakers read this summer? There are lots of new studies of conflict out there, but I would start with the classic folk story, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Most readers will be familiar with the tale, in which the young girl Goldilocks stumbles into a bear’s house while the bears are out and finds three bowls of porridge on the breakfast table. One is too hot, and another too cold. But the third is “just right,” so she eats it. This leaves the bears quite miffed upon their return. Academics often refer to a “Goldilocks Principle” to […]

Malian presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse gestures during a campaign rally in Yanfolila, Mali, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Baba Ahmed).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. It was a turbulent home stretch for Mali’s presidential campaign, which formally ended Friday. Though voting was still two days away, the credibility of the results had already been called into question. That’s because some members of the opposition spent the past week taking issue with the voters’ roll, reportedly raising objections after the election commission published an online version that differed from the version that had been vetted by international monitors. Officials from the election commission attributed the […]

A woman holds hands with her daughter at the Zamzam camp for internally displaced people in North Darfur, Sudan, June 11, 2014 (Photo by Albert Gonzalez Farran for UNAMID via AP).

Ten years ago, stories about endemic violence in the Darfur region of Sudan often made headlines in the West. The conflict there continues sporadically but is all but forgotten today. This month, the Security Council agreed to slash the number of peacekeepers in the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, by almost half, with a view to closing the mission entirely in 2020. The decision created barely a ripple beyond the council. Nonetheless, the drawdown of UNAMID potentially marks a turning point for U.N. peacekeeping operations. As I have previously noted, the mission is one of five […]

Ethiopians wave during the visit of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 15, 2018 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

The visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to Washington later this month presents President Donald Trump with a chance to make his first meaningful diplomatic contribution in Africa, a continent that appears to rank dead last in his global priorities. Trump can seize the opportunity by extending a White House invitation to his counterpart, who is in the United States for meetings with diaspora groups. By doing so, he would lend the weight of his office to a recent peace deal ending the war between Ethiopia and its neighbor Eritrea. The conflict lasted from 1998-2000 and cost tens of […]

Iraqi riot police prevent protesters from storming the provincial council building during a demonstration in Basra, Iraq, July 15, 2018 (AP photo).

In what is becoming a summer ritual in southern Iraq, protesters took to the streets to voice their grievances amid scorching heat over the course of the past several weeks. Their government’s inability to provide basic services, namely electricity and water, makes the harsh summer unbearable to many Iraqis. The high unemployment rate means that many cannot afford a basic standard of living. Reflecting a heightened mood of desperation, the latest round of protests turned more violent than in previous years. In nine Iraqi provinces, protesters stormed government buildings and infrastructure as well as political party offices, at times setting […]

Congolese President Joseph Kabila during an independence day celebration, Kindu, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 30, 2016 (AP photo by John Bompengo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Not for the first time, those hoping that a public appearance by Congolese President Joseph Kabila would shed light on his political future were left disappointed this week. On Thursday, Kabila delivered his state-of-the-nation address to lawmakers, vowing to stick to the current timeline of holding long-delayed elections in December. But he did not say whether he would be a presidential candidate, opting instead to keep the country in suspense. “It’s what the Congolese people have come to expect […]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari arrives at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria, Aug. 19, 2017 (Photo by Sunday Aghaeze for the Nigerian State House via AP).

Last week, Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, split, with several parliamentarians and former allies of President Muhammadu Buhari breaking away to form the Reformed-All Progressives Congress, or R-APC. “The APC has run a rudderless, inept and incompetent government that has failed to deliver good governance to the Nigerian people,” the national chairman of the new rival faction, Buba Galadima, a former Buhari confidant, declared. In a sense, the schism merely formalized tensions within the APC that go back years. On one level, it reflects some northern Nigerian politicians’ impatience with waiting their turn for the presidency and with […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during their bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO summit, Brussels, July 11, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

As Hastings Ismay, NATO’s first secretary-general, famously put it, the alliance’s purpose in Europe was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down. By all indications, U.S. President Donald Trump, who arrived in Brussels yesterday for his second NATO summit, is dead set on reversing all three elements of Ismay’s formula. Having already proposed that Russia be invited back into the Group of Seven forum of advanced economies, it would surprise no one at this point if Trump suggests that Russia play a greater role in European security when he meets President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki […]

Ambassadors to the U.N. including Nikki Haley of the U.S. and Vassily Nebenzia of Russia and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pose for a World Cup-themed photo, U.N. headquarters, New York, June 14, 2018 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Can big ideas, big data and even bigger academic books save the global system? It is now conventional wisdom that international institutions are facing an almost existential crisis. The U.S. president regularly disparages multilateral mechanisms. China and Russia want to roll back many liberal norms. This is a bleak scenario for academics and pundits who believe in international cooperation. Under the circumstances, bright scholars of foreign policy would seem well advised to study realpolitik and interstate war, not how countries can get along better. Yet counterintuitively, the current political crisis in global cooperation is coinciding with a small surge in […]

President Donald Trump and John Bolton, the national security adviser, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Washington, April 9, 2018 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Recent American history is full of mistakes in security policy, and yet for some reason, policymakers in Washington are chronically bad at learning from them. Too often, the United States is burned by a deeply flawed policy in some part of the world and resists repeating it for a few years, only to later try the same thing somewhere else. This propensity to forget strategic lessons may be infecting the Trump administration today. Take the belief that second-tier adversaries can be cowed into submission by economic sanctions and the threat or actual use of U.S. military power, even when they […]

Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses a crowd celebrating Hungary’s national day, Budapest, March 15, 2018 (MTI photo by Tamas Soki via AP).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the resurgence of nationalism in global politics, the factors driving it and the implications for the liberal policy consensus in international affairs that dominated the preceding two decades. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview article every day of the week, plus three more complimentary articles in our weekly roundup every Friday. […]

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference ahead of a meeting of G5 Sahel heads of state, Nouakchott, Mauritania, July 2, 2018 (AP photo by Ludovic Marin).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.It’s been a rough few weeks for the G5 Sahel Joint Force, a counterterrorism initiative involving five West African countries that launched its first deployments last November. A series of recent setbacks have exposed indiscipline within the force’s ranks, the severity of the security challenges it faces and a lack of political will to ensure it succeeds. First, the U.N. mission in Mali, where the G5 Sahel is headquartered, reported last week that Malian members of the force “summarily and/or […]

French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed at the airport on Ouvea Island, New Caledonia, May 5, 2018 (AP photo by Theo Rouby).

NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA—In early May, French President Emmanuel Macron touched down in the tropical archipelago of New Caledonia following a two-day visit to Australia, the islands’ closest major neighbor, some 750 miles west across the South Pacific. Macron was more than 10,000 miles from the Elysee Palace in Paris. Famed for its diving sites along an expansive barrier reef, New Caledonia is a French overseas territory that has enjoyed a special, semi-autonomous status for the past two decades, with certain powers gradually being transferred from France to local officials. Yet Paris retains control over critical governance areas such as foreign […]

A supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during celebrations outside the ruling party headquarters, Istanbul, June 24, 2018 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

In the end, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan easily defeated his electoral challengers last week, winning re-election outright in the first round of voting on June 24. By taking nearly 53 percent of the vote, he even narrowly bested his performance in the 2014 presidential elections, when Erdogan was seeking the newly empowered office of the presidency after more than a decade as Turkey’s prime minister. Perhaps even more impressive, his electoral alliance—made up of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and the hard-right Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP—managed to win a majority in Parliament, defying many predictions as […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Moscow, June 21, 2018 (Photo by Dmitry Lebedev for Sipa via AP).

In a period of heightened tensions at the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, diplomats are spending a lot of time arguing about truth and facts. Last week, representatives to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, debated a British motion that the body should not merely probe technical aspects of incidents involving chemical weapons use but also identify perpetrators. The proposal passed with support from three-quarters of the organization’s members. But Russia resisted the idea, and powers including China and India also opposed it. Moscow does not want international investigators blaming its allies in Syria for […]