A Russian instructor trains Syrian soldiers and militia members at a training camp in Aleppo province, Syria, Jan. 25, 2019 (Sputnik photo by Mikhail Voskresenskiy via AP Images).

Is Russia’s lucky streak in Syria and Libya finally running out? The Kremlin has gambled big on proxy warfare in both countries, deploying thousands of private military contractors with the so-called Wagner Group to back its favorite strongmen. But after a recent run of misfortunes for Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the head of the breakaway Libyan National Army, it is starting to look like Russia may not be able to cash in real wins in the Middle East and North Africa anytime soon. The most significant sign that Russia’s support for private paramilitaries in Libya may […]

Two U.N. soldiers stand guard in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 30, 2012 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Violence is escalating once again in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province, a region long beset by militant groups and intercommunal conflict. The United Nations reported that an ethnic militia operating in the northeastern province might have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity beginning late last year. Meanwhile, another rebel group slaughtered dozens of civilians in a series of raids this week. Between disease outbreaks and inter-ethnic clashes, the mineral-rich province has been a flashpoint for decades. But starting in […]

President Donald Trump listens during a session at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant, which is now manufacturing personal protection and medical equipment, Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 21, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Six months after the emergence of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, and four months after it became a global outbreak, its political and economic fallout continue to take shape. As government policies adapt and evolve in real time to the changing features of the pandemic, so too do the geopolitical implications. So far, three scenarios have been advanced with regard to COVID-19’s potential impact on the international order. They can be broadly characterized as a change at the top, in which a triumphant and capable China replaces the bungling U.S. as the world’s dominant power; a descent into multipolar […]

Muslim worshippers walk outside the Grand Mosque after noon prayers in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, March 7, 2020 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

Saudi Arabia announced harsh new austerity measures last week, including the suspension of a cost of living allowance for public workers and the tripling of its value added tax, from 5 percent to 15 percent. While the new policies are intended to plug a gaping hole in state finances amid the coronavirus pandemic and after a historic collapse in oil prices, they are risky for an absolute monarchy that has worked to guarantee affluent lifestyles for its citizens in exchange for their obedience. The government’s response appears to place a disproportionately heavy burden on everyday Saudis rather than the political […]

A United Nations camp for internally displaced people in Wau, South Sudan, May 14, 2017 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. COVID-19 has reached a camp for internally displaced people outside South Sudan’s capital, Juba, raising alarm that the virus could spread quickly among the thousands living there in crowded conditions. The positive diagnosis of two COVID-19 patients this week is a worst-case scenario for health experts in South Sudan, who warn that sick patients could quickly overwhelm the camp, which has few supplies or health facilities. The country’s already limited health infrastructure was gutted during its recent civil war; there aren’t even […]

Workers disinfect the streets to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Qamishli, Syria, March 24, 2020 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Freddy Deknatel and Prachi Vidwans talk about the problems around the world—from Syria’s civil war to human rights abuses in China—that are being overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and risk deteriorating further. They still must be addressed somehow whenever this crisis is over. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify Relevant Articles on WPR:Is All Hope Lost for a Global Cease-Fire Resolution at the U.N.?As COVID-19 Hits Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Military Seek an Electoral EdgeThe ‘Swedish Model’ Is a Failure, Not a PanaceaThe […]

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 21, 2020 (DPA photo by Luiz Rampelotto via AP Images).

Is it too late for the United Nations Security Council to make even a modest contribution to international stability during the coronavirus pandemic? After negotiating for the better part of two months, the council’s member states have yet to agree on a resolution addressing the security consequences of COVID-19. Last Friday, the United States refused to endorse a text that the body’s 14 other members were ready to back. It is not clear that a compromise is possible. This is a pity, because the draft resolution the U.S. nixed—worked out by France and Tunisia, the former a permanent member of […]

Veterans watch President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in a World War II commemoration in Washington, May 8, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

On the several occasions that I’ve stayed in the town of Boulouris, on the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Nice, I would take my morning run along a road that overlooks the beaches where Allied forces landed in August 1944 to liberate southern France. At the garage that marked the midpoint of my run, where I would turn and head back home, the road’s name changes from the Route de la Corniche to the Boulevard de la 36eme Division du Texas, a tribute to the U.S. Army division that took part in the landings. Every time I saw the street […]

People hold placards with portraits of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as they wait to welcome Xi outside the airport in Chennai, India, Oct. 11, 2019 (AP photo by R. Parthibhan).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Reports that hundreds of Chinese and Indian soldiers recently clashed along the countries’ disputed border are a troubling development for Beijing and New Delhi, which have tried to project stability in their rocky relationship. Scores of troops were reportedly involved in a scuffle last weekend at the remote but strategic Naku La pass in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim, an area that adjoins the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border that separates Chinese and Indian-controlled territories. […]

Military representatives wear masks during a session of parliament, Naypyidaw, Myanmar, March 11, 2020 (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo).

Myanmar’s official public messaging about the coronavirus pandemic began with a video. To airy elevator music and a placid voiceover, Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader, stood in a nondescript bathroom and demonstrated the proper way to wash hands. It all seemed very calming and benevolent, with Suu Kyi acting out the maternal role she is accorded by her supporters. Before the video was posted online on March 21, the government also established a coronavirus task force. But all the while, it sought to downplay the likelihood that COVID-19 would wreak havoc in Myanmar to the same […]

Kenyan police patrol at night after the start of a daily dusk-to-dawn curfew in Nairobi, Kenya, May 6, 2020 (AP photo by Brian Inganga).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The mysterious crash this week of a cargo plane registered in Kenya that was delivering COVID-19 relief supplies in neighboring Somalia is threatening to exacerbate existing political tensions between the two countries. After leaving Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, the private aircraft made one medical supply drop before heading to Bardale, a town in Somalia’s southern Bay region. A local Somali official told the Associated Press that a projectile hit the plane as it approached the Bardale runway. The six-person crew, made up of […]

President Donald Trump during an event in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, May 6, 2020 (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Steven Metz is filling in for Candace Rondeaux this week. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, the United States could have decided that its great fight against totalitarianism was finally over. America could have downsized its involvement in all but the most vital parts of the world, lessened its dependence on imported energy supplies, demilitarized its global strategy and abandoned the quest for primacy. But it did not. By then, Americans had become addicted to primacy, convinced that a militarized form of global leadership was both vital and sustainable. All of this no […]

Afghan security personnel wear protective face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Kabul, Afghanistan, April 8, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire world—but in vastly different ways. In particular, efforts to “flatten the curve” could create huge but unquantified costs for the most vulnerable. As a result of measures to contain the coronavirus’s spread, the specter of “biblical” hunger now hangs over much of the globe. At the same time, social distancing strategies remain an unattainable mirage for the hundreds of millions of people living in crowded quarters in the developing world. For fragile and conflict-affected countries, the pandemic represents a grim, dual challenge that risks threatening a precious good: peace. Many of these countries […]

The debris at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17, 2014 (AP photo by Dmitry Lovetsky).

If revelations that a top Russian intelligence chief was reportedly involved in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine didn’t make it to the top of your newsfeed this week, amid all the coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, don’t worry. You’re probably not alone. But it is bombshell news that could expose more of the inner workings of Russia’s expansive security agencies. The Kremlin has consistently denied allegations that Russian intelligence operatives supported the separatist group that shot down Flight 17 over Ukraine’s embattled Donbass region. But on Tuesday, open-source investigators at Bellingcat identified Col. Gen. […]

Thousands of Afghan migrants enter Afghanistan at the Islam Qala border crossing with Iran, March 18, 2020 (AP photo by Hamed Sarfarazi).

Hundreds of thousands of Afghan migrants have returned home from neighboring Iran in recent months, fleeing one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. Iran has more than 94,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with a death toll of 6,000, although the real figures are likely higher. The exodus has raised concerns of an impending spike in coronavirus cases in Afghanistan. In an email interview with WPR, Annalisa Perteghella, a research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Center at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, discusses the high risk of coronavirus transmission in Afghanistan and the impact the pandemic […]