Staff operate at the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability technical center, at NATO’s military headquarters, SHAPE, in Mons, southwestern Belgium, Dec. 10, 2013 (AP photo by Yves Logghe).

As NATO’s relations with Russia seem to be hitting a post-Cold War low, numerous experts argue that the West is already in a state of conflict with Moscow in three domains: intelligence, information warfare and cyber. In particular, Russia’s increasingly hostile actions in the cyber domain have lent new urgency to the debate over cybersecurity in the West, including within NATO. The recent Russian plot to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, discovered and thwarted by the Netherlands, is yet more proof that complacency over Russian cyber operations will prove costly. Russia has decided to adopt a […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Shuhei Yokoyama for Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images).

In December 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Japan and got a lavish welcome. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received Putin at a hot springs resort in his ancestral hometown of Nagato, in southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture. He referred to Putin by his first name in public appearances, a rare personal touch in the formal world of Japanese diplomacy. During the run-up to the visit, Japanese officials even reached out to the Kremlin with an offer for a dog, a prized Akita breed, intended as a male companion to Yume, the female Akita that was sent to Putin as a Japanese gift […]

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).

The changing alliances in Syria’s civil war have pitted militaries and militias against each other, drawing Turkey progressively deeper into the conflict. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). In January 2018, Turkish forces attacked Afrin, a Kurdish-controlled enclave in northwestern Syria, putting both American and Russian plans for Syria to the test. Most of Afrin’s original inhabitants are Kurds belonging to the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The YPG is a Syrian appendage of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, which has been locked in conflict with the Turkish government since the 1970s. The YPG […]

Houthi representative Mohammed Abdulsalam, right, and Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yaman, left, with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at peace talks in Rimbo, Sweden, Dec. 13, 2018 (TT News Agency photo via AP).

What happened in the multilateral system in 2018? Looking back over the year, it is possible to identify three strategic trends and a last-minute political surprise that may resonate in the future. The big trends in multilateralism included a hardening of the Trump administration’s opposition to international cooperation, a concomitant increase in China’s efforts to influence bodies like the United Nations, and worrying signs of European splits over the value of internationalism. The surprise was an unexpected, and arguably almost accidental, revitalization of humanitarian politics over Yemen. Let’s start with the trends. By the end of 2017, it was clear […]

Georgia National Guard troops with the 108th Cavalry Regiment at a send-off ceremony before deploying to Afghanistan, Dalton, Ga., Nov. 26, 2018 (Photo by Curtis Compton for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP Images).

A new report argues U.S. adversaries may go beyond the "gray zone" aggression of fracturing American alliances and deploy a strategy of rapidly inflicting unacceptable losses on U.S. and partner military forces. Is this vision of future conflict based on false strategic and political assumptions? Last week the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command released a new report entitled, “The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028.” The title might seem to suggest that the document would only interest die-hard military geeks. But despite its complex and arcane phrasing, the report is actually a fascinating window into how the Army sees […]

A woman prepares to perform Friday prayers in the courtyard of Zitouna Mosque, the oldest mosque in Tunisia, Tunis, Oct. 23, 2015 (AP photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, discuss British Prime Minister Theresa May’s week of humiliations on the shambolic road to Brexit. For the Report, Frederic Wehrey talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the growing power and influence of the “quietist” current of Salafism in the Maghreb and what that means for the region. 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 […]

Congolese President Joseph Kabila speaks during an interview with foreign journalists, Kinshasa, Dec. 9, 2018 (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. The scene did not inspire much confidence in the credibility of upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Thursday morning, residents of the Central African country’s capital, Kinshasa, awoke to smoke billowing out of a warehouse where ballot boxes and voting machines were being stored. The election commission reported that at least 8,000 voting machines had been destroyed, but said the elections, scheduled for Dec. 23, would go ahead as planned. The immediate reaction to the fire, […]

Members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces walk inside the stadium that was the site of Islamic State fighters’ last stand in the city of Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

This week’s attack against a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, by a radicalized French Muslim illustrates that jihadis, or militant Islamists, still pose a serious threat to national security in the U.S. and Europe. But since late 2013, jihadis have also become a threat to other jihadis, regularly killing each other on battlefields across the Middle East in numbers that have observers talking about a jihadi civil war. In Syria, armed rebels affiliated with al-Qaida and the so-called Islamic State continue to fight each other, while the most potent force battling the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan is the Taliban. […]

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil leaves a stadium after a tour organized for diplomats and journalists, Beirut, Oct. 1, 2018 (Photo by Marwan Naamani for dpa via AP Images).

After seven years of civil war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad looks set to emerge victorious thanks to the support he received from Russia, from his patrons in Iran and from Iran’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah. The war is not over, but the focus on what comes next is already underway, and one change is now plainly visible: Iran, Damascus and Hezbollah are pivoting their attention to Lebanon’s future—and so is Israel. In recent days, a flurry of military and political activity has shifted to Lebanon, confirming that the tiny country—which has for so long been caught in the vice of regional […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, New York, Sept. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

As 2018 draws to a close, U.S. President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, are sounding remarkably optimistic about the future of the Korean Peninsula, a marked contrast to the hostile rhetoric of potential “fire and fury” that reflected heightened tensions following a series of nuclear and missile tests by North Korea just one year ago. Most experts and analysts, however, are skeptical that the current approach will yield the positive outcomes the two leaders predict, noting that no concrete actions toward denuclearization, much less the process by which they might be taken, have been discussed with […]

A man shouts anti-government slogans during a demonstration organized by Salafists, Tunis, Tunisia, Nov. 6, 2012 (AP photo by Amine Landoulsi).

Adherents of Salafism, the literalist, Saudi-inspired current of Islamism, are growing in influence across North Africa. This is especially true for the so-called quietist current, which theoretically eschews overt political activism but is increasingly asserting itself in the political and social spheres. In some states in the Maghreb, authoritarian regimes are partly responsible for the quietist salafists' rise. BENGHAZI—The young fighters huddled on lawn chairs in the nighttime shadows of the militia camp, smoking and drinking coffee. Around them in a courtyard sat the machinery of war: howitzers, tanks and truck-mounted recoilless rifles. Artillery and rockets boomed in the distance. […]

From left to right, South Sudanese refugee Thomas Wani, his brother Peter Lemi, his mother Rose Sunday and his father Julius Lezu enter Uganda at the Busia crossing, near Kuluba, northern Uganda, June 8, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Uganda has been praised for its open-door policy to refugees fleeing South Sudan’s civil war. But new evidence indicates that response was marred by lapses in accountability and disregard for institutional safeguards. The international community has long lauded Uganda for its response to the massive influx of South Sudanese refugees who have fled across the border since the start of that country’s conflict in 2013. As the number of arrivals climbed into the hundreds of thousands, Kampala maintained an open-door policy and committed increasing amounts of land for agencies to construct temporary settlements and for refugees to build permanent shelters. […]

Protesters speak out against the coup attempt in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Sept. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Theo Renaut).

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 two decades since the body of Norbert Zongo, an investigative journalist in Burkina Faso, was found in his car on a road south of the capital, Ouagadougou. He appeared to have been shot and badly burned, as had his brother, his driver and a colleague, all of whom were killed alongside him. Suspicion immediately fell on Francois Compaore, the younger brother of longtime President Blaise Compaore. Zongo had reported aggressively on the killing of Francois Compaore’s driver, […]

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, center, leaves the parliament building in Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 2, 2018 (AP photo by Karim Kadim).

In May 2018, Iraqis went to the polls to vote for their new government. The vote was significant in some ways, in particular due to poor turnout. Iraqis seemed to be sending a message to the country’s political elite that it was time to turn the page on Iraq’s party and government system put in place for the past 15 years. But the elections were inconclusive in terms of delivering a parliamentary majority to any single party or bloc, and represented more than anything else an indictment of the political elite that has governed Iraq since the fall of Saddam […]