A drill in the biocontainment unit in Omaha, Neb., Oct. 28, 2006 (AP photo by Nati Harnik).

Delta Airlines Flight 217 leaves Leopold Senghor International Airport in Dakar each Wednesday at 11:15 AM, bound for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. During the 8-hour, 25-minute flight, the plane’s passengers can enjoy a variety of movies, have a meal and take advantage of the plane’s WiFi connection in relative comfort. And any one of them could be carrying the Ebola virus to New York, extending the epidemic’s reach to North America. The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has prompted a wider discussion about the ability of the United States and other industrialized democracies to respond to […]

French President Francois Hollande and Iraqi President Fouad Massoum during the opening of a conference on strategy against the Islamic State group, Paris, Sept. 15, 2014 (AP photo by Brendan Smialowski).

France has suddenly and shockingly found itself in the middle of the Iraq maelstrom that it had managed up until now to avoid. With its armed forces engaged in the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State group and a French citizen killed by the group’s sympathizers in retaliation, Paris’ policy in Iraq and the region beyond is being put to the test. In a recent statement, as succinct as it was scathing, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State group (also known as ISIS), called on the group’s recruits and supporters to target France and its citizens […]

Leaders walk along the Volga embankment during the Caspian Summit, Astrakhan, Russia, Sept. 29, 2014 (Russian Presidential Press and Information Office photo).

The leaders of all five littoral states attended the fourth Caspian Sea summit in the Russian city of Astrakhan yesterday. The latest meeting was more significant than previous summits held in Turkmenistan in 2002, Iran in 2007 and Azerbaijan in 2010, as the parties reached important agreements on some issues. Yet, others continue to divide them, with implications that reach far beyond the Caspian. At yesterday’s summit, the five littoral state presidents—Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev—renewed their commitment to keeping non-Caspian countries from establishing a military presence on the […]

Migrants arriving on the island of Lampedusa, Italy, Aug. 2007 (photo by Flickr user No Border Network licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Earlier this month, a boat carrying upward of 250 migrants toward Europe sunk off the coast of Libya. A week prior, an estimated 500 migrants were killed when their vessel was sunk by human traffickers off the Maltese coast. These are just the latest events in a year that has proven to be exceptionally deadly for migrants seeking to enter Europe. With over 3,000 people having drowned trying to enter Europe so far this year, there have been many calls for European nations and the European Union to do more to address the issues of migration and asylum. The dramatic […]

Renminbi bank notes (photo by Flickr user faungg licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license).

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom and China announced the upcoming issuance of a U.K. government bond denominated in yuan, making the U.K. the first Western government to borrow in China’s currency. British and Chinese authorities noted that the funds raised by the bond will be used to add yuan to the U.K.’s foreign exchange reserves. While there was no indication as to how much London was looking to borrow, the move alone is a significant milestone for Beijing. Five years ago, the yuan had virtually no presence outside of China’s borders. But each year since, the currency has taken […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014 (State Department photo).

Before it recessed to focus on the midterm election campaign, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on draft legislation that would recognize Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova as “non-NATO allies” of the United States. Indeed, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s government had made such a request of Washington earlier this summer, although U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration declined to act on this matter, much to the disappointment of some Ukrainians and their supporters in Congress. Assuming that the legislation passes the full Senate and is also adopted by the House, it is highly unlikely that Obama would risk a veto of the […]

Anarchy flag at a May Day rally, Santiago, Chile, May 1, 2008 (photo by Flickr user cproesser licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerial 2.0 Generic license).

On Sept. 8, just three days before the anniversary of the 1973 military coup that deposed Chile’s socialist President Salvador Allende, an explosion rocked a metro station at an upscale shopping center in the capital, Santiago. The blast injured 14 people, two of them seriously, and sent authorities scrambling to investigate Chile’s worst bomb attack in more than two decades. The country’s deputy interior minister, Mahmud Aleuy, declared that the blast was the work of “demented criminals,” but the facts pointed to a much more troubling explanation. It wasn’t common criminals, demented or otherwise, who had carried out the attack. […]

Jean-Claude Juncker, president-elect of the European Commission, at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Sept. 10, 2014 (Rex Features via AP Images).

Last week, European Commission President-designate Jean-Claude Juncker named the rest of his team of commissioners and their policy areas; Italian Foreign Minister Frederica Mogherini had already been given the post of European Union high representative for foreign policy, which also functions as a vice president of the commission. The latest announcements have generated a lot of discussion in EU circles about how the posts were distributed among candidates and countries. Appointments to the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, are a complicated balancing act. Each of the 28 member states submits a candidate for the commission, and the […]

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, center left, arrive at the Hall of Knights, The Hague, Netherlands, Sept. 16, 2014 (AP photo by Jasper Juinen).

AMSTERDAM—The annual event known as Prince’s Day in the Netherlands brings an uncommon dose of pomp to the decidedly informal Dutch landscape. Tens of thousands of people gathered on Tuesday to watch King Willem-Alexander and his superstar wife Queen Maxima travel in their golden carriage to the Hall of Knights for the opening of Parliament. The crowds come for the pageantry, but the day contains a large dose of serious substance. The main event is the king’s speech, which offers important clues to emerging priorities for the Netherlands, and usually for much of Europe. This year marked the 200th occasion […]

Heads of state at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Sept. 12, 2014. (AP photo from RIA Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service).

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on Sept. 12-13 may have been one of the organization’s most important. After years of stasis, the group’s heads-of-state summit finally agreed to consider expanding the organization’s membership, which has remained fixed since its foundation in 2001. They also adopted several other important measures promoting regional development, as well as a political declaration that lent support to Russian and Chinese positions in those countries’ disagreements with the U.S. and the West more broadly. But the SCO still faces several obstacles to expanding its role in Eurasia. After the instability engendered by […]

M-PESA advertisement in a coffee shop in Kenya, June 30, 2012 (photo by Wikimedia user Raidarmax licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license).

Last month the Kenyan-based mobile money transfer system M-PESA launched in Romania. In an email interview, Diane Mullenex, a partner at the law firm of Pinsent Masons, discussed the expansion of M-PESA outside of Africa. WPR: Why did M-PESA choose Romania as its first European country of operations? Diane Mullenex: M-PESA’s success in Kenya was primarily due to several factors, including the existence of a mostly “unbanked” population, a high penetration rate of mobile phones and a non-competitive market. Naturally, when it decided to expand its M-PESA service, Vodafone searched for countries presenting the same characteristics. After India in 2013, […]

Former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili makes a speech during Yulia Tymoshenko's party congress in Kiev, Ukraine, March 29, 2014 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

Last month, Georgian prosecutors filed charges against former President Mikheil Saakashvili for misallocating public funds while in office. These were only the latest in a series of allegations against Saakashvili this summer, including the charges that the former president exceeded his authority in cracking down on a mass demonstration and ordering the police to raid a TV station in 2007. Saakashvili—who in recent months has steered clear of Georgia—has accused the government, led by the Georgian Dream party that defeated his United National Movement at the polls in 2012, of political motives. The U.S. State Department has voiced concern over […]

Russian sailors stand next to the Vladivostok warship in the port of Saint-Nazaire, western France, Sept. 5, 2014 (AP photo by David Vincent).

On Sept. 3, France announced that it would suspend the delivery to Russia of the Vladivostok, a multipurpose amphibious warship of the Mistral class, until at least late October, and that the delivery would take place only if the situation in Ukraine improved. The move comes after months of acrimony among France’s European Union and NATO allies over the sale, which French President Francois Hollande was loathe to cancel due to the economic implications of forfeiting the $1.6 billion contract. Hollande inherited the Mistral problem from his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, who entertained good personal relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. […]

The Saltire flies on a government building at Whitehall in central London, Sept. 10, 2014 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Scotland heads to the polls next week to vote on the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” The latest polls show that the “no” camp is ahead with 53 percent of voters. However, this comes only days after a YouGov poll indicated that 51 percent of Scots were in favor of independence. The uncertainty of which way the referendum will go reflects the uncertainty over what the consequences would be if Scotland were to be become an independent nation, especially with regard to foreign policy. The Scottish National Party (SNP), which is leading the campaign for Scottish independence, “is […]

U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, OSCE Chairperson Didier Burkhalter at the NATO summit in Wales, Sept. 5, 2014 (NATO photo).

Last week’s NATO summit in Wales was a mixed bag, with the alliance marking strong progress on some fronts but proving less successful on others. Nevertheless, the fact that the summit took place under such heavy scrutiny highlights NATO’s resurgence from an alliance that many in recent years claimed had lost its relevance in meeting Europe’s security challenges. The summit’s immediate focus was on reaffirming alliance solidarity against Russian aggression. President Barack Obama’s major speech in Estonia shortly before the summit helped set the stage by making clear that the United States was committed to the defense of that country, […]

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales, Sept. 5, 2014 (AP photo by Jon Super).

There was fighting talk at last week’s NATO summit in Wales. The alliance’s leaders pulled few punches in criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine and agreed on plans to counter future provocations by Moscow. The U.S. corralled a posse of its allies to coordinate the fight in Iraq against the Islamic State. After a summer characterized by global turbulence and ill-concealed uncertainty in both the U.S. and Europe over how to react, the summit signaled that the West has some sense of shared purpose. Yet it will take more than a decent conference to restore the Western powers’ vim and vigor. […]

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, June 11, 2014 (AP photo by Wang Zhao).

In late July, State Grid Corporation of China—the world’s largest state-owned electric utility company—bought a 35 percent stake in Italy’s CDP Reti for $2.8 billion. CDP Reti, itself a state-owned energy holding company, has its own 30-percent controlling stake in the Italian natural gas giant Snam and power grid company Terna, giving the Chinese company major interests in Italy’s energy market. State Grid’s Italian purchase added to a portfolio that includes a 25 percent stake in Portugal’s REN, which controls the two main Portuguese power grids. The purchases were the latest sign that Europe has become a battlefield for China, […]

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