A Somali soldier after a bomb attack by al-Shabab on a hotel frequented by government officials and business executives, Mogadishu, June 2, 2016 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Earlier this month, al-Shabab militants targeted a Somali army base near Mogadishu, killing at least five soldiers. It was the latest in a string of attacks going back to December 2014, when about 25 attackers disguised in Somali army uniforms penetrated the heavily fortified airport of Mogadishu, the main base for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), wounding four. The attacks highlight how, despite being pushed out of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in 2011 and having suffered a steady loss of territorial control since, al-Shabab continues to be the main obstacle to Somalia’s political transition. It has also emerged as […]

Protesters hold portraits of Morocco's King Mohammed VI and the Moroccan flag during a rally, Rabat, Morocco, March 13, 2016 (AP photo by Abdeljalil Bounhar).

On July 18, Morocco made a request to reintegrate into the African Union, more than three decades after it withdrew from the organization over its controversial claims to Western Sahara. The dispute over Western Sahara, which Morocco annexed in 1975 following Spain’s withdrawal, has lingered for decades and been a thorn in Morocco’s regional and foreign relations, particularly with neighboring Algeria. In 1984, the African Union recognized an independent Western Sahara as the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, known by its French acronym, RASD, and granted it membership, prompting Morocco to leave the supranational body. The Polisario Front, a liberation movement […]

African Union headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dec. 8, 2013 (Photo by Albert González Farran, UNAMID, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

The African Union held its 27th summit in Kigali, Rwanda, earlier this week, where it had planned to elect a new chairperson of the African Union Commission, the executive office of the AU. But in Kigali, all three candidates fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed to secure the position. As a result, attendees agreed to extend the tenure of the current chairperson, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, by six months. The postponement of the elections reveals the complexities of regional politics in Africa, but also indicates some continent-wide uncertainty about the role and direction of the AU. Three candidates […]

More than 100,000 Venezuelans cross the Simon Bolivar bridge to buy basic goods, San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela, July 17, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the fallout from the attempted coup in Turkey and political turmoil in Zimbabwe. For the Report, David Smilde discusses Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic crisis and how it could affect Colombia’s peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: With Friends Like Turkey, the U.S. Needs Russia in Syria Failed Coup Is a Victory for Erdogan, but Not for Turkey’s Democracy Erdogan’s Post-Coup Purge Puts a Chill on U.S.-Turkey Ties As Turmoil Sparks the […]

Unemployed protestors take to the streets, Tunis, Tunisia, Jan. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Riadh Dridi).

Tunisia is often and rightly lauded for the progress it has made since the popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. But social inequality and regional asymmetries are undermining Tunisia’s democratic transition and deepening the chasm between a restless and rebellious periphery and an eastern Mediterranean coast that fears and misunderstands the bitter resentment of border communities. These unaddressed challenges are also making it harder to secure the country from internal upheaval and terrorism. Aggrieved youths increasingly express their anger in fiery protests and street violence. This radical projection of grievances risks feeding a […]

Peacekeepers of the U.N. Mission in Liberia’s Ghanaian battalion participate in a medal parade, Buchanan, Liberia, Nov. 16, 2012 (U.N. photo by Staton Winter).

Earlier this month, the United Nations Mission in Liberia, or UNMIL, ended its security mandate and handed over security responsibilities to the Liberian government. In an email interview, Brooks Marmon, a program officer with Accountability Lab in Monrovia, Liberia, discusses the security situation in Liberia. WPR: How stable is the security situation in Liberia, and what are the current threats to stability? Brooks Marmon: The security situation is characterized by volatility, but the government generally appears to have the ability to keep any threats from escalating to the highest levels. The greatest threat appears to emanate from sporadic cases of […]

A supporter of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at a rally in Bindura, Zimbabwe, July 8, 2016 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Things are not going well in Zimbabwe. Although its economy experienced some recovery in the early part of the 2010s, after nearly a decade of hyperinflation and political violence, it has again hit the skids. In recent weeks, the country has seen the largest street protests in a decade. Local banks are limiting withdrawals to $100 per day—when they actually have cash. This lack of hard currency has also led to the introduction of restrictions on the imports of many goods, and local storekeepers have said they are unable to pay their suppliers. The export market for natural resources is […]

Personal belongings of slain Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni, March 24, 2016 (Photo released by Egyptian Interior Ministry).

In late June, Italy’s Senate voted to suspend the export of spare F-16 parts to Egypt, in the sharpest rebuke yet to Cairo over its poor handling of an investigation into the killing of an Italian student in Egypt earlier this year. Nicola Latorre, a senator from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party, called the move a way to pressure Egyptian authorities to help “the truth emerge more quickly” over the brutal murder of Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old researcher from Cambridge University who disappeared in Cairo on Jan. 25, the fifth anniversary of the popular uprising that ousted former President […]

Protesters near South Africa's parliament calling for President Jacob Zuma to resign, Cape Town, Feb. 11, 2016 (AP photo).

Even by the turbulent standards of Jacob Zuma’s presidency, 2016 has been a rough year for South Africa, as a series of economic and political convulsions have shaken the country. Local elections are set for Aug. 3 against a backdrop of weak governance, a flailing economy, and profound divisions within the ruling African National Congress (ANC). While the ANC’s opponents on the right and the left should be able to seize on this uncertainty at the polls, next month’s electoral outcome will reveal much about the opposition’s prospects for ending the ANC’s dominance in the next general election in 2019. […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, Jerusalem, July 10, 2016. (AP photo by Dan Balilty).

No reasonable person would predict that a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is in the cards in the foreseeable future. Even forecasting the most limited progress may seem like a fool’s errand. And yet, a series of recent events reveal an unexpected glimmer of hope and suggest that, despite the pessimism of the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, modest steps forward may be possible in the coming months. This past Sunday, the region witnessed something that had not occurred in nearly a decade: an openly publicized, high-profile visit to Israel by a high-ranking Arab official. It was […]

Details of the uniform of China's peacekeeping infantry battalion of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 27, 2015 (U.N. photo by JC McIlwaine).

Can anyone save South Sudan? The country, which collapsed into civil war in 2013, is stumbling into a new cycle of violence. Clashes in the capital, Juba, have claimed hundreds of lives in recent days. The United Nations Security Council has called for calm, and the U.S., which played a leading role in ushering in South Sudan’s independence five years ago, has condemned the violence. Yet the outbreak of fighting poses an especially serious dilemma for another power with significant economic and political interests at stake: China. Beijing is playing an increasing military and diplomatic role across Africa, as I […]

An Square Kilometre Array Satellite site north of Carnarvon, South Africa, June 4, 2014 (Photo by Wikimedia user Mike Peel, licensed under the Creative Commons Attirbution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on a range of countries’ space priorities and programs. Researchers at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University have developed technology that will help collect space junk, which they hope to have operational in 2017. In an email interview, Keith Gottschaik, professor at the University of the Western Cape and founding member of the South African Space Association, discusses South Africa’s space program. WPR: What are South Africa’s space capabilities, in terms of its domestic public and private space-industrial complex, and who are its major international partners, in terms of space diplomacy […]

An Ethiopian tank heads for the frontlines during the Ethiopian-Eritrean War, June 25, 1998 (AP photo by Sayyid Azim).

On June 12, an uneasy peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea that had lasted 16 years came to a dramatic end, as border clashes claimed 200 Ethiopian lives and an unknown number of Eritrean casualties. While both countries blamed each other for escalating hostilities, the causes of current tensions differ markedly from those underpinning past wars between them, with implications for efforts by international partners seeking to mediate between the two sides. Historically, conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea have been triggered by territorial disputes and national security concerns. The 30-year war that lasted from 1961 to 1991 was a struggle for […]

Malian Tuareg soldiers during a visit by Mali's army chief of staff, Kidal, Mali,  July 27, 2013 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

June 20 marked the one-year anniversary of the landmark peace deal struck in Algiers between the government of Mali and separatist Tuareg rebel fighters. In 2012, the fighters, joined by Islamist militias allied with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), led an uprising against the central government, claiming an independent northern state called Azawad. The Algerian-brokered deal was a bid to put an end to the cycle of rebellions that have tormented northern Mali since the 1960s. The agreement also sought to bring sustainable peace more generally to Mali, a former beacon of democracy. This, according to the agreement, known […]

Pro-Seleka Muslim residents barricade the bridge at the entrance of Bambari, Central African Republic, May 22, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

There has been a resurgence of violence in the chronically unstable and impoverished Central African Republic (CAR), as regional and international efforts to push back against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continue to fall short, and ongoing tensions between Muslim and Christian militia groups rage. CAR has experienced episodic violence for decades, but instability deepened in March 2013, when a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition known as the Seleka seized power, overthrowing former President Francois Bozize. That precipitated a bloody war between Seleka fighters and the mainly Christian “anti-balaka” militias, fought along religious and intercommunal lines. Since then, approximately 6,000 people […]

Residents lower furniture down to the street as they and others are evicted from their apartment blocks near the site of the building collapse, Nairobi, Kenya, May 6, 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 backlash against liberalized trade in the context of the Brexit referendum. For the Report, Abigail Higgins joins us to talk about the challenges Nairobi’s rapid urbanization poses to daily life. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: In Dealing a Blow Against Globalization, Brexit Highlights Interconnectedness Is the Global Middle Class Really Here to Stay? The TPP Is the Last, Best Opportunity for New Global Trade Rules The Grass-Roots Efforts That Will Help Nairobi Urbanize Quickly—and Well Trend Lines is produced, edited […]