Bangladeshi border guards keep watch over Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar as they stop them from crossing into Bangladesh, Ghumdhum, Bangladesh, Aug. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Mushfiqul Alam).

YANGON, Myanmar — Violence has again engulfed Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state, killing scores of people and stoking fears that the long-running crisis there has grown more intractable and more likely to foster radicalization. Many had hoped that Myanmar’s democratically elected government, which took over 18 months ago amid a transition from military rule, could take steps to alleviate the conflict and end the underlying human rights abuses of the Rohingya minority. But the rapidly deteriorating security situation, called predictable and preventable by the United Nations, has emerged as a key stumbling bloc for Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration, […]

Myanmarese migrant workers push through a metal barrier to meet Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Samut Sakhon, Thailand, June 23, 2016 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about workers’ rights in various countries around the world. Thailand’s military junta, which came to power in 2014, has faced significant pressure from the United States and European Union to regulate the country’s immense migrant labor force and reduce the exploitation of workers. But the junta’s efforts have been ham-handed and brought an element of uncertainty to workers and employers alike. In an email interview, Kevin Hewison, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Contemporary Asia and Weldon E. Thornton Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies at the University of North […]

Kimg Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, meets with then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, July 26, 2007 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Even before he became president of the United States, Donald Trump had reserved some of his most lavish praise for Egypt’s strongman, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. That’s why it came as no small surprise when news emerged last week that the U.S. had decided to withhold almost $300 million in aid for Egypt. The principal reason for the move, according to Trump administration officials, was Cairo’s continuing crackdown on human rights. But another issue also surfaced as a point of friction: Egypt’s ties to North Korea. Given what we know about the current U.S. administration, it seems likely that North Korea […]

Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and New Zealand Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee hold a press conference, Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2017 (AP photo by Rick Rycroft).

A rarely invoked section of Australia’s constitution barring dual nationals from holding seats in parliament is suddenly playing a major role in the country’s domestic politics, leading to the resignation of one senator and threatening many more members of parliament, including at the highest levels of the Turnbull government. In an email interview, the Lowy Institute’s Alastair Davis explains the origins of the unexpected saga, what it means for Australia’s relations with New Zealand, and how a country as diverse as Australia will cope with it all. WPR: Why has the question of dual nationality suddenly become an issue in […]

Afghan army commandos train at Camp Shorab in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Massoud Hossaini).

President Donald Trump’s advisers have touted his strategy in Afghanistan, unveiled last week, as taking a regional approach to America’s longest war. But Trump’s speech contained only the briefest reference to the roles and responsibilities of two of Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, India and Pakistan, which are so critical to the long-term fortunes of that beleaguered land. Trump’s call for a bigger role for India and his warning to Pakistan about its cross-border dealings were nothing new, and they failed to acknowledge the larger strategic tradeoffs and complexities in the region. A true regional approach would look quite different and would […]

Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil women cry at the graves of relatives who died in fighting between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels, Mullivaikkal, Sri Lanka, May 18, 2015 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—In June 2009, one month after Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war ended, a Tamil mechanic named Sri was abducted while he was walking home from work in the country’s eastern Batticaloa District. His wife, Jaya, heard the news from neighbors, who watched as two men on a motorcycle grabbed Sri and forced him between them on their bike before speeding off. Jaya, who was seven months pregnant at the time, searched all over Batticaloa for Sri, including in various military camps, but could not find him. She tried to lodge a complaint—known as a first information report, or […]

Indian gay rights activists and their supporters march during a gay pride parade in New Delhi, Nov. 27, 2016 (AP photo by Tsering Topgyal).

India’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that people have a fundamental right to privacy, curtailing the Indian government’s efforts to implement the world’s biggest biometric database. But the court also recognized, for the first time, that sexual orientation is an essential part of privacy and dignity, paving the way for LGBT equality in India and beyond. The ruling comes after years of both advances and setbacks for LGBT people in India. The country’s so-called sodomy law, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with up to life in prison. The law had been […]

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses an audience of soldiers about his new Afghanistan policy, Fort Meyers, Virginia, Aug. 21, 2017 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editors, Robbie Corey-Boulet and Omar Rahman, discuss the new U.S. strategy for the war in Afghanistan announced by President Donald Trump and what it reveals about Trump’s foreign policy agenda so far. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by subscribing. We’re currently offering a 25 percent discount on the first year of an annual subscription to our podcast listeners. To take advantage of it, just enter the word “PODCAST” in […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull aboard the USS Intrepid in New York, May 4, 2017 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

To understand the state of Australia’s relations with its closest ally, the United States, seven months into Donald Trump’s presidency, begin by putting aside the most dramatic and well-publicized event so far: the infamous January phone call between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. It was an uncomfortable moment, and the awkwardness only deepened when the full transcript of the call leaked in early August. But Trump and Turnbull later made up at a one-on-one meeting in New York, and the U.S. and Australia have agreed on the refugee resettlement deal that the two leaders argued about, so the phone […]

People gather at an election rally in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, June 21, 2017 (Photo by Eric Tlozek for ABC via AP).

After an election marred by violence and accusations of fraud earlier this summer, Papua New Guinea’s incumbent prime minister, Peter O’Neill, returned to lead the government amid lingering allegations of corruption. With average Papua New Guineans ready for the government to tackle the numerous problems facing their country, O’Neill will have 18 months before his opponents can challenge him again. In an email interview, Jonathan Pryke, a research fellow and director of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Network at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, discusses the context and turmoil of the latest elections, why people are ready to move forward, and […]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, center, links arms with ASEAN foreign ministers during their annual meeting in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 6, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Earlier this month, following a foreign ministers’ meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Philippines, China and its Southeast Asian neighbors announced that they had agreed on a framework, or broad outline, for negotiating a code of conduct in the contested South China Sea. In theory, a code of conduct, or a set of accepted norms, could set guidelines on activities allowed in the sea, including militarization and land reclamation. Any code would not resolve territorial disputes, though. Both Philippine and Chinese leaders touted the adoption of a framework as a step toward reducing tensions in […]

Tens of thousands of North Koreans gather for a rally at Kim Il Sung Square meant to demonstration their rejection of U.N. sanctions, Pyongyang, Aug. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

What is the point of the United Nations Security Council? The U.N. Charter says that the body “has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international security,” but it has only ever played this role haphazardly. The Security Council seizes on some crises tenaciously and ignores others entirely. As a result, the doyen of U.N. studies, Adam Roberts, has aptly described the organization as a “selective security system.” Hankerers after global governance may wish the council were more consistent. For more pragmatic observers, the interesting question is what sort of situations it selects to concentrate on. A quick glance at the […]

A military convoy passes a checkpoint on the outskirts of Marawi, Philippines, June 9, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Today the grueling battles to expel the self-styled Islamic State from Iraq and Syria drag on, but even when they are over it will not be the end of the violent extremist movement. There are still willing recruits for the Islamic State and plenty of anger, disillusionment and alienation that it can exploit. Unfortunately, it has established its global “brand.” Even as it is being driven from its homeland, it seems to be plotting its next strategic moves. At this point, the Islamic State’s most effective foray outside Iraq and Syria is in Afghanistan, where it has joined the Taliban’s […]

A Russian delegation led by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev visits the statues of late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, Pyongyang, North Korea, April 16, 2015 (AP photo by Kim Kwang Hyon).

As North Korea continues to antagonize its neighbors and the United States with threats of nuclear warfare, many have looked to China to rein in its contentious ally. But Russia has also spent years cultivating close ties with Pyongyang, providing it with vital diplomatic protection at the United Nations Security Council, even if economic ties have lagged. In this email interview, Richard Weitz, director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, discusses what is driving the relationship between the two countries, how it has evolved, and how it impacts efforts to isolate the North Korean regime in […]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the 19th Founding Anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Manila, Philippines, Aug. 16, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about workers’ rights in various countries around the world. When Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines in May 2016, the strongman who has made a name for himself in his ruthless war on drugs and crime also promised to deliver vast economic changes by restructuring the country’s labor economy. Millions of Filipino workers suffer from the precariousness of temporary, fix-termed contracts that keep them from enjoying the benefits of regular employment. In this email interview, Dr. Aries A. Arugay, associate professor of political science at the University […]

Pro-independence activists during a march in Hong Kong on the 20th anniversary of the territory’s handover from Britain to China, July 1, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Earlier this summer, on July 1, Hong Kong commemorated 20 years since the transfer of its sovereignty from Britain to China. The anniversary reignited the debate over the constitutional principle of “one country, two systems,” which was agreed to by the British and Chinese governments as part of the handover and is meant to guarantee Hong Kong’s autonomy from Beijing until 2047. Most coverage last month understandably focused on Hong Kong and China, especially since pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, galvanized by mass protests there three years ago, have continued to criticize China’s interference in the territory’s affairs. But while […]

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif waves to supporters gathered on a highway outside Islamabad, Aug. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

On July 28, Pakistan’s highest court ruled that corruption allegations disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from serving in office, forcing him to resign. The ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), quickly announced a succession plan: Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a close Sharif ally, would be appointed prime minister until a successor was found to serve out Sharif’s term, which ends next year. After winning a parliamentary by-election—a formality in a PML-N-dominated legislature—Abbasi took office on Aug. 1. Soon after, the government announced that Abbasi himself would serve out Sharif’s term. Initially, all seemed to be going swimmingly with the transition. […]

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