Troops ride in a vehicle near central Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, March 2, 2018 (AP photo by Ludivine Laniepce).

On May 12, unknown attackers killed a Catholic priest and five worshippers in northern Burkina Faso, before burning the church. Two days later, four Catholics were killed in a separate attack in the region. It was the third attack on Christians in Burkina Faso in just three weeks. Then, two weeks later, gunmen raided another church in the region and shot four people dead. The targeting of both Catholics and Protestants in the country comes amid a wider unraveling of security that has killed and displaced Muslims and Christians alike. In this rising crisis, the escalation is outpacing the government’s […]

The funeral service of murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 24, 2019 (Press Association photo by Liam McBurney via AP Images).

Last month, journalist Lyra McKee was fatally shot during a riot in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. A group calling itself the New Irish Republican Army took responsibility for the killing, a troubling reminder of the three decades of political violence known as the Troubles. That conflict, in which Catholic republicans seeking a united Ireland fought with Protestant unionists who wanted to remain a part of the United Kingdom, was brought to an end by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. But now, the looming specter of Brexit threatens to reverse many of the gains made in the peace process. In an […]

Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard commanders in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 18, 2016 (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP Images).

In the high-stakes game between Tehran and Washington, it is often hard to tell who is really bluffing. This week, President Donald Trump threatened that a war would be “the official end of Iran,” responding in part to reports that Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, had urged leaders of Iranian-backed militias across the Middle East to “prepare for proxy war.” For those counting cards, however, Iran may already have tipped its hand. The recent return to Iran of a wave of fighters from Liwa Fatemiyoun, an Iranian-backed militia made up of ethnic […]

Ugandan soldiers patrol through the Central African jungle during an operation to hunt notorious Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, April 19, 2012 (Photo by Yannick Tylle for dpa via AP Images).

GULU, Uganda—On a Monday morning in March, dozens of people gathered outside the courthouse in this hot, dusty city in northern Uganda. They sipped passion fruit juice as they prepared to watch legal proceedings projected on a canvas screen, which had been set up in the shade. Inside and up three flights of stairs, journalists and representatives of various development organizations pressed together on wooden benches in the courtroom. Lawyers, dressed in black robes, made small talk, though their easy laughter clashed with the gravity of the matter at hand. The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo was about to begin. Kwoyelo, […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 28, 2019 (Pool photo by Madoka Ikegami via AP Images).

QUETTA, Pakistan—In the early hours of April 18, a group of militants in southwestern Pakistan blocked the coastal highway that connects the port of Gwadar, near the Iranian border, to Karachi farther east. The militants stopped six buses near a mountain pass and checked the identity cards of all the passengers. They singled out 14 members of Pakistan’s armed forces, and then executed them all. People across Pakistan woke up to the disturbing news the next morning. Hours later, a coalition of three Baloch separatist groups, known as Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar, or BRAS, claimed responsibility for the attack. A […]

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 1, 2019 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

After almost 18 years of conflict against an array of extremist groups, all in the name of fighting terrorism, Americans have grown frustrated. While al-Qaida, the Islamic State and other groups in the vast network of transnational jihadism have been pummeled by the U.S. military, they continue to regenerate and spread. When weakened in one place, this network shifts to another. America’s partners in this conflict have grown stronger, but they still show no sign of being able to manage the threat of extremism without extensive help. Among the American people, patience is running out. Their frustration has led to […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

In this week’s editors’ roundtable, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about new fears of a war between the U.S. and Iran as tensions continue to rise. They also discuss the future of U.S.-China relations as the trade war rumbles on, and the implications of a new Cold War for a globalized world. 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 […]

A man and a woman look at images of people who have been disappeared in the context of Mexico’s fight against drug cartels and organized crime, Mexico City, May 10, 2019 (AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo).

Mexico’s drug policies could be in for some sweeping changes, and with them the country’s relations with the United States. Last week, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced that his administration would seek to revise the Merida Initiative, the $3 billion U.S. aid package that has largely funded Mexico’s war on drugs. In a press conference May 9, Lopez Obrador, widely known in Mexico as AMLO, said his administration does not “want aid for the use of force, we want aid for development.” The announcement came shortly after the Mexican government released a National Development Plan for the next five […]

Members of the Serbian gendarmerie stand guard in front of the Serbian presidency building in Belgrade, Serbia, March 17, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

Anti-government protests have been taking place every week in Serbia since late last year, underscoring widespread frustrations with the government and concerns about President Aleksandar Vucic’s consolidated hold on power. Vucic and his political party, the Serbian Progressive Party, have been content to shrug off the protests and cite them as evidence that, contrary to what his critics may say, dissent is alive and well in the country. Yet as Aleks Eror points out in this week’s in-depth report, the president can respond dismissively to the protests precisely because of the strength of his political position and his ability to […]

A supporter of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic waves Serbian flags and shouts slogans during a rally to counter months of anti-government protests in Belgrade, Serbia, April 19, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

BELGRADE, Serbia—The night in mid-March when protesters stormed the headquarters of Serbia’s public broadcaster began like many recent Saturday nights in the Serbian capital. Weekly protests against the government of President Aleksandar Vucic had entered their fourth month, and several thousand people turned out for a mile-long march across the city. They planned to vent their frustrations over escalating political violence and democratic backsliding in the country. The previous 14 protests had largely unfolded without incident, and there was no reason to believe this one would be any different. But as protesters made a pit stop in front of Radio […]

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter carrying U.S. advisers and Afghan trainees takes off at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, March 19, 2018 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

When America’s founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to design a political system for their young nation, national security was not a high priority. Other than Britain, there were no major enemies nearby, and the founders undoubtedly thought—incorrectly as it turned out—that the British had learned that fighting the feisty Americans was more trouble than it was worth. What did concern the framers of the Constitution was protecting the liberty of American citizens. To do that, and to avoid a potentially dangerous concentration of power in one branch of government, they created a system of checks and balances with […]

A Ukrainian serviceman guards a position near the frontline of the conflict in Mariinka, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, April 20, 2019 (AP photo by Evgeniy Maloletka).

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree late last month to expedite the process of applying for Russian citizenship for people living in separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. The move came only days after the second round of Ukraine’s presidential election, which was won by former actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky. The decree poses challenges for Zelensky’s agenda and could exacerbate divisions that worsened due to the nationalist policies of outgoing President Petro Poroshenko, says Gordon Hahn, a senior researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies and the author of “Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West and […]

Colombian President Ivan Duque and Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez, left, take part in a march to repudiate terrorism in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Nine months into his tenure and still finding his footing, Colombia’s president is close to a bitter legislative defeat on one of the country’s most charged political issues: peace. Ivan Duque’s attempt to roll back parts of Colombia’s landmark 2016 peace accord already went down by a 110-44 vote in Colombia’s House of Representatives on April 8. The Senate went through a series of gyrations last week, initially rejecting Duque’s initiative 47-34 before ultimately sending the issue to a top court that is likely to rule against the president. It’s bad news for Duque, but good news for Colombia’s peace […]

Antonio Garcia, a negotiator for the National Liberation Front, a Colombian rebel group, left, and Israel Ramirez Pineda, the group’s commander, at a press conference, Caracas, Venezuela, March 30, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

HAVANA, Cuba—A judge in Colombia last week ordered President Ivan Duque to notify the United Nations Security Council about the progress made in peace talks with guerrillas from the National Liberation Army, or ELN, which the government ended earlier this year in the wake of an ELN bombing. The ruling came after two senior Colombian politicians had sued Duque, claiming that he had neglected to inform the U.N. and the guarantor countries—Venezuela, Cuba, Chile, Brazil and Norway—about the state of the negotiations. The judge said that Duque had failed to “give substantive explanations or reasons” for suspending the talks. The […]

Guatemalan military officers carry the coffin of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt to his burial site at a cemetery in Guatemala City, April 1, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

It has been more than two decades since the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala came to a close. Yet in both countries, transitional justice is still a goal, rather than a reality, and recent progress risks being undermined by powerful forces intent on blocking accountability. For this week’s in-depth report, Anna-Catherine Brigida spoke with survivors of civil war-era atrocities who have campaigned—in some cases successfully—to make the alleged perpetrators of those atrocities stand trial. She also examined efforts by officials allied with former military regimes to use legislation and the courts to revive amnesty provisions. In this week’s […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, points toward the city center as he speaks with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting in Ankara, May 6, 2019 (Presidential Press Service via AP Images).

The United States and Turkey have engaged in extensive diplomacy for over a year and a half now to try and resolve the festering dispute over the Turkish government’s decision to buy the advanced S-400 missile defense system from Russia. President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have spoken about it personally several times, including in a phone call late last month. But the rift between the two is still too great to bridge. How this standoff is resolved, if at all, could permanently alter the trajectory of U.S.-Turkey relations, and by extension, Turkey’s role in NATO and its […]

A banner depicting slain Guatemalan Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi at a rally to mark the 12th anniversary of his murder in Guatemala City, April 26, 2010 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

LA JOYA, El Salvador—On a Thursday morning in October 2017, Rosario Lopez, a 72-year-old Salvadoran woman with square wire-rimmed glasses and dark, gray-speckled hair pulled into a bun, took the stand in a small courtroom in northeastern El Salvador. She had been called to provide testimony in a trial stemming from the worst atrocity of El Salvador’s 12-year civil war. The massacre had unfolded in and around the small mountain village of El Mozote in December 1981, still in the early period of a grueling, grinding conflict between the military government, which took power in a coup in 1979, and […]

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