White House senior adviser Jared Kushner during the opening session of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop, Manama, Bahrain, June 25, 2019 (Bahrain News Agency photo via AP).

President Donald Trump views foreign policy through the narrow lens of economic self-interest. He has reduced the notion of American power and influence to a question of whether the United States is getting a “good deal,” measured only in terms of who is paying for what—say, the cost of basing U.S. troops. Gone are any references to the intangible benefits of international cooperation, let alone the common good. It’s how he has approached relations with NATO and with America’s allies in Asia. In recent days, this economic-centric view of U.S. foreign policy has been on display in Trump’s clumsy and […]

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, attends a state ceremony for assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen, at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 25, 2019 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. A coup attempt in Ethiopia’s Amhara region last weekend left dozens of people dead and prompted a security crackdown as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attempts to maintain his reformist agenda in the face of this latest, and deadliest, challenge to his administration. On Saturday, forces aligned with Brig. Gen. Asaminew Tsige launched simultaneous attacks on the region’s police headquarters, president’s office and ruling party center in the regional capital, Bahir Dar, killing the governor, his adviser and the attorney general, according to […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with Health Ministry officials, in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2019 (Office of the Iranian Presidency photo via AP Images).

In recent weeks, Iran has elevated its long-simmering tensions with the United States to a dangerous new level, shooting down a U.S. reconnaissance drone over the Gulf of Oman, apparently launching a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and announcing that it will stop complying with some of the conditions in the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that President Donald Trump earlier abandoned. Now, the U.S.-Iran standoff is dangerously close to becoming an outright confrontation. The timing of this escalation seems perplexing. Why would Iran go out of its way to provoke the United States when Trump […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is greeted with military honors by Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Kabore, at the Presidential Palace, Ouagadougou, May 1, 2019 (Photo by Michael Kappeler for dpa via AP Images).

BAMAKO, Mali—“The terrorists are quick,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after a summit with the leaders of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou in May. “This is why we have to be quicker, so that we can beat them.” What happens in the Sahel, the vast sub-Saharan region of Northern Africa, “is not only the responsibility of the region, but is also a European responsibility,” Merkel added in what was for her some uncharacteristic alarmism. “If chaos gains the upper hand here—something we want to prevent—other areas would be impacted.” The sight of Merkel standing side […]

A member of the Syrian Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, searches for survivors in a collapsed residential building in the village of Saraqib in Syria’s Idlib province, June 22, 2019 (DPA photo by Anas Alkharboutli via AP Images).

Since late April, tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes in the Idlib region in northwestern Syria as President Bashar al-Assad’s air force pummels Islamist-controlled towns. Amid the fighting, Russia and Turkey continue to negotiate for a restoration of a broken cease-fire in Idlib, with each seeking changes that will shore up its own influence over the conflict. As ever in Syria’s civil war, there are key questions about this latest escalation—from the fundamental facts on the ground in Idlib, to the interests of outside powers and the potential endgame. The region of Idlib, which also includes insurgent-held […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, speaks with the lawmakers during a parliamentary session, Tehran, Oct. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on the Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein; managing editor, Frederick Deknatel; and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about the latest escalations in the United States’ tense standoff with Iran, and whether a path remains to deescalate the crisis. They also discuss the significance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s rare visit to North Korea. 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 […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, reviews an honor guard as he is welcomed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, in an official arrival ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, June 12, 2019 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

In March 1953, the Japanese oil tanker Nissho Maru set sail from Kobe, in western Japan, bound for the Iranian port of Abadan. Its mission—to transport a shipment of Iranian oil back to Japan—was risky. Two years earlier, Iran’s government had nationalized the Iranian assets of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which would later become British Petroleum. The British had responded with economic sanctions and a naval blockade, threatening to seize any vessel involved in the transshipment of Iranian oil. With limited trading options, the Iranians were desperate for buyers. Sazo Idemitsu, the founder and president of the oil company Idemitsu […]

Chadian troops participate in the closing ceremony of operation Flintlock in an army base in N’djamena, Chad, March 9, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Every expert on transnational jihadism knew that eradicating the Islamic State’s self-declared “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq would not lead to the end of this brutal, malignant movement. Since it had become as much an ideology and a brand as an actual organization, holding physical territory and establishing a proto-state were important but not vital for the Islamic State, at least in the near term. In response to its battlefield defeats in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has been dispersing, keeping its brand alive with hopes that someday it can take another shot at creating a state. For now, […]

Malian troops join with former rebels during a joint patrol, Gao, Mali, Feb. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Baba Ahmed).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. With the massacre of at least 35 civilians this week in a small village in central Mali, including 24 children, the country’s ongoing cycle of ethnic violence appears to be escalating. A militant Islamist uprising that began in 2012 exacerbated existing tensions between the region’s pastoralist Dogon communities and the semi-nomadic Fulani herders, in the form of tit-for-tat killings between the two ethnic groups. The scale and intensity of those attacks are increasingly on the rise. Dogon militants appeared to massacre Fulani […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, listens to Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri during an army parade just outside Tehran, Iran, April 18, 2019 (Office of the Iranian Presidency photo via AP Images).

This time last month, the United States and Iran seemed to be headed toward a military conflict. The Trump administration was warning of new and imminent threats emanating from Tehran, evacuating diplomatic personnel from Iraq and deploying military assets to the region, even as some elected officials warned that the threat was being exaggerated. Military tensions have cooled somewhat since then, but Iranians are already on a war footing, as they struggle to make ends meet in an economy that has been brought to its knees by U.S. sanctions. Pressure is mounting on Iran’s political leaders, who this week followed […]