A soldier outside the Splendid Hotel, which was attacked by extremists, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18 , 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack in Burkina Faso’s capital in January, followed by a raid on a military armory by dissident Burkinabe soldiers, the country’s newly elected government is ramping up security. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore promises to continue reinforcing democratic freedoms, but already some of his government’s reactions have been heavy-handed or inept, raising concerns about how liberties can be preserved in an atmosphere of uncertainty and tension. In February, for example, the independent newspaper in Ouagadougou, L’Evenement, published an article on the armory attack, which was carried out by recalcitrant members of […]

A masked Somali pirate near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore, Hobyo, Somalia, Sept. 23, 2012 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) decided to widen its definition of official development assistance to include certain security and defense costs, including measures to prevent violent extremism and provide limited military training. The redefinition of aid expanded the relationship between security and development. Several leading international development players, like Sweden, balk at the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee’s change and view it as the militarization of aid. Helen Clark, the United Nations’ development chief, has suggested that this redefinition could undermine fragile states, since any aid channeled to security and peacekeeping programs would reduce the amount […]

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari during his inauguration, Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Last week, Nigeria’s Senate passed President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposed 2016 budget, which projected a deficit of $15 billion due to falling oil prices. In an email interview, Matthew Page, an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed the impact of falling oil prices on Nigeria’s economy and politics. WPR: How realistic is President Buhari’s latest proposed budget, and what are the implications of the budget’s $15 billion deficit? Matthew Page: Stubbornly low crude oil […]

Ugandans queue to cast their votes, Kampala, Uganda Feb. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the United Nation’s road-trip diplomacy, efforts to save cultural heritage during conflicts, and the growing threat against human rights activists in Latin America. For the Report, Peter talks about the recent elections in Uganda and shifting views of longtime President Yoweri Museveni. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: U.N. Security Council Should Make Better Use of ‘Road-Trip Diplomacy’ The Next Monuments Men? How Militaries Could Protect Culture in Conflict Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Times of War Activists’ Murders Show Human Rights Under […]

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika meeting with French President Francois Hollande, Algiers, Algeria, June 15, 2015 (Algerian Press Service via AP).

The day before Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, a European Union representative visiting Algiers told Algerian officials that their country is “pivotal” in the fight against terrorism. He also praised Algeria for political changes that he called “an improvement of the situation.” The former is undoubtedly true. The latter was probably just a diplomatic nicety. The “situation” in Algeria remains as murky as ever. An al-Qaida terrorist attack against a gas facility last week prompted foreign firms to pull expatriate workers. Almost simultaneously, a police raid in Brussels targeted an Algerian citizen and member of the so-called Islamic State, in […]

A soldier holds the Polisario Front flag as a U.N. helicopter flies over the Smara refugees camp, Tindouf, Algeria, March 5, 2016 (AP photo by Toufik Doudou).

The conflict over Western Sahara has lasted well over 40 years—25 under the oversight of the United Nations Security Council since it brokered a cease-fire in 1991—but it suffered the latest and perhaps worst of its many setbacks earlier this month, thanks to none other than U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban caused an uproar in Morocco by calling its presence in Western Sahara an “occupation,” while he was visiting a refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria, near the border with the disputed territory. Ban’s comments came during a larger visit to North Africa that did not include Morocco, the key player […]

A constitutional referendum poster reading "Vote yes," Dakar, Senegal, March 20, 2016 (AP photo by Carley Petesch).

March 20, a day some analysts dubbed “Africa’s Super Sunday,” included a referendum in Senegal on the question of whether to reduce presidential terms from seven to five years. By the next day, both the press and the government were projecting a sweeping victory for the “yes” camp. The divisions surrounding the vote may seem strange at first: President Macky Sall and his supporters favored the reduction, while opposition parties opposed it. Sall emerges from the referendum battle politically strengthened. He can put a nagging controversy behind him, and he positions himself to approach the next election on his own […]

Uganda’s longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, in his well-known hat at a rally of supporters, Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

KAMPALA, Uganda — Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, was eerily quiet on Saturday, Feb. 20, the day the Ugandan Electoral Commission announced the results of the presidential election held two days before. Even in Kabalagala, a lively district where people are usually partying at any time of day, the streets were empty. A few dozen young men sat huddled around a TV in a betting parlor, but they weren’t waiting for the election results; instead, a soccer game of the English Premier League flickered on the screen. “We know already who will win the elections,” one of them said. “We are […]

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, Gitega, Burundi, Jan. 22, 2016 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Jim Della-Giacoma is filling in for Richard Gowan, who is on leave until early April. A United Nations Security Council debate can feel like traveling in an airplane at cruising altitude: a quick continental overflight in a rarefied atmosphere, far above the dirty reality of the conflict below. The debate can be driven by factors that may have little to do with what may be happening on the ground. But from time to time, council members come back to earth and get dust on their shoes when they engage in road-trip diplomacy. In January members went […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as Type 99A2 Chinese battle tanks roll across during a military parade, Sept. 3, 2015 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, South Africa’s rapprochement with Nigeria and U.S.-Cuba ties. For the Report, Richard Weitz of the Hudson Institute joins us to talk about China’s ongoing military reforms. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Punitive Saudi Moves in Lebanon Isolate Sunnis, Benefiting Hezbollah Middle East’s Sectarian Tensions Play Out in Sudan-Iran Relations Limited Détente: The Challenges to Repairing South Africa-Nigeria Ties Down Havana Way: The Promise of Obama’s Cuba Visit PLA Military Reforms: Defense Power With Chinese Characteristics […]

South African President Jacob Zuma, left, and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Palace, Abuja, Nigeria, March 8, 2016. (AP photo).

South African President Jacob Zuma’s two-day trip to Nigeria earlier this month was the first step in a campaign to first stabilize and then hopefully radically improve relations between Africa’s two anchor states. Analysts have been lamenting for some time the degree to which this pivotal relationship has been allowed to deteriorate. Poor relations have been detrimental to African unity, the cohesion and purpose of the African Union, and the promotion of the wider African agenda of development, conflict management and democratization. What’s behind this overdue diplomatic outreach, and what are the prospects for a lasting rapprochement? Since 2009, the […]

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during an interview, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Kamran Jebreili).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. In late January, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced that the government would cut budgetary spending by 11 percent, due to a drop in mining revenues caused by the collapse of global commodities prices. In an email interview, Gonne Beekman, a postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen UR, discusses the impact of the commodities bust on Liberia. WPR: How important are commodities for Liberia’s economy, and what effect have falling commodities prices had on public spending and, by consequence, […]

Tunisian police officers search for attackers still at large, Ben Guerdane, Tunisia, March 8, 2016 (AP photo by Feres Najar).

Clashes erupted in the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane on Monday when Islamist fighters attacked military and police posts. Scores were killed, including seven civilians, 13 security officers and 46 militants. Many observers have characterized the assault, which occurred just 20 miles from the Libyan border, as the latest example of the Libyan conflict’s dangerous spillover across a porous border. But the attack also reveals that, even as the self-proclaimed Islamic State gains ground in Libya, the most significant threat to Tunisia’s security resides within its borders. That’s because the militants, who claimed to be taking over the town as […]

Peacekeepers clear the area in the aftermath of a terror attack that killed six peacekeepers, Kidal, Mali, Feb. 12, 2016 (U.N. photo by Marco Dormino).

In this week’s Trend Lines Podcast, Richard Gowan, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and WPR columnist, joins host Peter Dörrie to discuss the changing nature of peacekeeping, including the rise of regional peacekeepers, the role of the United Nations and the politics behind peacekeeping. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Less Talk, More Action for International Peacekeepers in 2016? ‘Carnivores’ Battle ‘Herbivores’ for Future of U.N.’s Peacemaking Soul Technical Fixes Not Enough to Shore Up U.N. Peacekeeping CAR Scandal Reflects U.N. Peacekeeping’s Loss of Strategic Direction Richard Gowan is an associate fellow at […]

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe during celebrations for his 92nd birthday, Masvingo, Feb, 27, 2016 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

If ever there was a case study on the dangers of allowing unlimited presidential terms, it is Zimbabwe. The southern African country shows in stark relief the perils of allowing one man to helm the state indefinitely. It demonstrates how difficult it becomes to remove him the longer he stays in power. And, tragically, it reveals what a high price the people pay when a regime becomes immovably entrenched. In the event anyone doubted the plans of aging Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, he spelled them out as clearly as anyone could a few weeks ago at the African Union summit […]

A Libyan in front of damaged buildings, Benghazi, Feb. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Mohammed el-Shaiky).

Last week, U.S. warplanes bombed the Libyan town of Sabratha, targeting militants of the self-declared Islamic State. The move is the most recent illustration of the dilemma presented by Libya’s political and security stalemate, characterized by political infighting and militia violence. The Islamic State’s emergence in the country in early 2015 has given the situation regional implications. The United States is weighing its next steps, amid ongoing questions about its role in the 2011 NATO intervention that some see as the source of today’s chaos. The following articles are free for nonsubscribers until March 17. Stabilizing a Chaotic Libya Libya’s […]

People inside a voting station prepare to cast their votes during elections in Niamey, Niger, Feb 21, 2016 (AP photo by Gael Cogne).

On Feb. 21, voters went to the polls for the first round of Niger’s presidential election. Like many other West African states, Niger has a two-round system, in which the election goes to a run-off if no candidate wins an absolute majority. Niger faces just such a scenario: According to official results, incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou, who took office in 2011, scored 48.4 percent of the votes. In the second round, scheduled for March 20, Issoufou will face the former speaker of the National Assembly, Hama Amadou, who won 17.8 percent in the first round. Despite the vulnerability that incumbents […]