Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, at a signing ceremony, New Delhi, India, Dec. 12, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

During his visit to New Delhi last December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, pledged to transform India and Japan’s partnership into a “deep, broad-based and action-oriented relationship.” Behind the lofty rhetoric were several major developments, most of all finally reaching a consensus on the text of a bilateral civil nuclear agreement, long in the works, that would allow Japan to directly export nuclear plants to India. It would be signed, Abe and Modi said, once “technical details” were sorted out. In addition to the nuclear deal, they announced that Japan would provide $12 billion […]

An Indonesian woman with a poster outside a Starbucks cafe attacked by Islamic State militants, Jakarta, Indonesia, Jan. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Achmad Ibrahim).

Attacks earlier this month in Jakarta by Indonesia’s Islamic State affiliate and a claim of allegiance to the jihadi group from a militant collective in the Philippines seem to show the Islamic State’s ascendency in yet another region outside its core operating base in Syria and Iraq. Confounding efforts to contain its global expansion, the Islamic State appears to have an increasing number of territories, or wilayat, and organizations nominally under its authority, amid an uptick in attacks against Western interests carried out at its behest. On this basis, it’s tempting to conclude that the Islamic State’s reach and successful […]

U.S. President Barack Obama with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, during the 10th East Asia Summit at the 27th ASEAN Summit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nov. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

Editor’s note: This is the final article in a WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries’ approaches to addressing them. The tiny sultanate of Brunei is perhaps the least visible of the six claimants in the South China Sea maritime disputes, in part due to its preferred approach of addressing the issue discreetly. In an email interview, Jatswan Singh, associate professor in the Department of International and Security Studies at the University of Malaya, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, discussed Brunei’s claims in the South China Sea. WPR: What are Brunei’s territorial claims in […]

Demonstrators celebrate the withdrawal of President Otto Perez Molina's immunity from prosecution, Guatemala City, Sep. 1, 2015 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

Transparency International released its 2015 rankings on perceptions of corruption today, revealing that public-sector graft remains pervasive around the world. But the report also cited progress that offers some reasons for optimism. The index’s scores draw on expert analysis of citizen perceptions of government accountability and responsiveness, as well as the presence of bribery or embezzlement in public institutions. The U.S. and U.K. improved their scores, and familiar countries—including New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada, as well as those in Scandinavia—filled the top spots. But many usual suspects from Europe to Latin America scored dismally. Corruption has become an increasingly powerful […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran, Iran (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader photo via AP).

Earlier this month, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released its first-ever Arab Policy Paper, which coincided with President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran last week. Xi’s trip was the first visit to the region by a Chinese head of state since former President Hu Jintao went to Saudi Arabia in 2009. Five years before that visit, Hu established the China-Arab Cooperation Forum (CACF), a multilateral platform to institutionalize the relationship between Beijing and the 22 members of the Arab League. Since its formation, the CACF has largely fulfilled its mission, with the forum meeting 12 times […]

Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, at a meeting of the Eastern Partnership, Prague, Czech Republic, April 24, 2014 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

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 mid-January, protests in Azerbaijan against price hikes and a collapse in the country’s currency were broken up forcefully by security forces, resulting in the arrest of 55 people. In an email interview, Richard D. Kauzlarich, the co-director of the Center for Energy Science and Policy at George Mason University who also served as the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan from 1994 to 1997, explains the impact of the collapse of global energy prices on Azerbaijan’s economy. WPR: […]

Rapper Cheikh 'Keyti' Sene during a taping of the 'Journal Rappé,' Dakar, Senegal, Sept. 10, 2013 (AP photo by Jane Hahn).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein and host Peter Dörrie discuss implementation day for the Iran deal, Chinese drones and elections in Benin. For the report, Amanda Fortier, a journalist and communications consultant, joins us to explain the relationship between hip-hop youth culture and politics in Senegal. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant WPR articles: For Iran’s Relations Beyond the Middle East, a Moment of Flux With Sanctions Lifted, Will Iran Seek Engagement or Confrontation? Despite Nuclear Deal, Managing Expectations Still Key for U.S.-Iran Relations China Is Suddenly a Leading Exporter of Armed Drones Amid […]

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj at the President's residence, Jerusalem, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Dan Balilty).

Relations between Israel and major Western countries have become increasingly contentious in recent years, owing largely to disagreements over Israel’s approach to its conflict with the Palestinians. Ties with the U.S. and Europe remain of paramount importance to Israel. But the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a concerted effort to look toward major Asian countries, if not to replace Israel’s traditional European connections, then at least to lessen the country’s diplomatic and economic dependence on the West. The refocused efforts have started yielding results, most notably in transforming relations with India, China and Japan. To be sure, […]

President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House, Washington, Jan. 19, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made his first visit to Washington as prime minister this week, where he met with President Barack Obama and gave a national security speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In his speech at CSIS, Turnbull discussed the Syrian civil war and expressed confidence in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which he referred to as ISIL. The coalition against the Islamic State “will win,” he said, “by targeting ISIL militarily, using local ground forces supported by coalition air power, weapons and training; curbing ISIL finances; stopping foreign fighter flows; and […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani welcomes Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, Tehran, Iran, Nov. 23, 2015 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

This past week, Iran satisfied its obligations for implementing the nuclear deal reached last July with world powers, earning it relief from sanctions. The prisoner swap with the United States that followed hinted that a new era of possible cooperation between Washington and Tehran could be in the cards as the result of last year’s hard-earned diplomatic victory. But how relations will unfold, and how they will fare under the next U.S. administration, remain unclear. Iran’s other relationships are also in flux. Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran following an attack on its embassy in Tehran […]

Military vehicles carrying Wing Loong drones during a military parade, Beijing, China, Sept. 3, 2015 (Imaginechina via AP Images).

With a regularity almost approaching that of the tides, there has recently been a frenzy of fevered pronouncements about China becoming a major arms exporter—and perhaps even giving serious competition to the traditionally front-running United States. Most of this is hype, but there is some truth to all the mania. For the most part, China’s arms industry does not seriously threaten U.S. arms exports, at least not in terms of quantity. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China garnered only 5 percent of the total global arms market from 2010 to 2014—good enough to rank third among the […]

Tsai Ing-wen, the presidential candidate of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, at a rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 14, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

On Saturday, Jan. 16, Taiwan will hold a critical election that is likely to see the country vote in its first female president, Tsai Ing-wen. If elected, Tsai, who currently holds a double-digit lead in most polls, would herald a new era of politics in Taiwan and establish only the second government led by the liberal Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), after more than seven decades of political dominance by the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) party. Adding to the intrigue is the race between the DPP and the KMT for the legislature, known as the Legislative Yuan. The KMT currently has 64 […]

Refugees disembark from a ferry at Piraeus port, Athens, Greece, Jan. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

In the latest Trend Lines podcast, WPR Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein and host Peter Dörrie discuss Taiwan’s presidential election, the “comfort women” agreement between Japan and South Korea, and Zimbabwe’s succession crisis. For the report, Human Rights Watch’s Judith Sunderland joins us to talk about Europe’s challenge integrating the massive influx of migrants and refugees in an increasingly hostile political and social climate. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant WPR articles: Outcome of Taiwan’s Election Could Help Boost Ties With Japan Japan-South Korea ‘Comfort Women’ Deal Revives U.S. Asia Pivot The Elephant in the Room: Zimbabwe’s Ongoing Succession Crisis For Europe, […]

A woman who was forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers during World War II speaks at a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy, Seoul, Dec. 30, 2015 (Kyodo via AP Images).

In the last week of 2015, the United States received a late Christmas present from the governments of Japan and South Korea. The deal reached by Tokyo and Seoul to resolve their differences over the painful issue of Korea’s so-called comfort women—Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II—helped to remove one of the psychological obstacles to strengthening Washington’s strategic alliances in Asia. Only days later, North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon, which served to highlight the common threats and shared interests linking the U.S. and its allies. Now the U.S., South Korea and Japan are […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Sept. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

For the past five years, the focus of international negotiations on cybersecurity has been the creation of norms, or an expectation among governments on how each one will behave. To set a baseline for responsible state behavior, governments have tried extending current international commitments and international law into cyberspace, while discussing where new norms are needed. But when it comes to espionage, by design, international law does not apply: There are no commitments not to spy, as countries don’t want formal constraints on their intelligence agencies. While there are implicit norms that guide spying, they are few in number, flexible […]

A worker at the Tengiz oil refinery, Kazakhstan, Aug. 30, 2004 (AP photo by Anatoly Ustinenko).

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 month, Kazakhstan announced that it was going to expand production at the Tengiz oil field, increasing output from 26 million to 38 million tons of oil per year. In an email interview, Peter Howie, an associate professor at Nazarbayev University, discussed Kazahkstan’s economy and the role of commodities. WPR: How important are commodities for Kazakhstan’s economy, and what effect have falling commodities prices had on public spending and, by consequence, political stability? Peter Howie: Since 2000, […]

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak atthe 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug. 4, 2015 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries’ approaches to addressing them. Last November, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister spoke out against China’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea and questioned Beijing’s historical claims to the region. In an email interview, Prashanth Parameswaran, an associate editor at The Diplomat, discussed Malaysia’s defense of its South China Sea claims. WPR: What are Malaysia’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and with what other countries do they overlap or conflict? Prashanth Parameswaran: Within the South China […]

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