U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande arrive at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, Le Bourget, France, Nov. 30, 2015 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

In the wake of this month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, French President Francois Hollande has cast himself as a fierce war leader, promising to take revenge on the self-declared Islamic State for the atrocities. Yet while he has ratcheted up airstrikes in Syria, he also needs to strike some major diplomatic bargains to shore up France’s global position. Last week, the French president was in both Washington and Moscow trying to secure a global deal on the Syrian war. Now he is back in Paris to kick off final talks on a potentially even trickier international agreement over climate change. […]

A view of a courtroom inside Rome's tribunal during the first hearing of a corruption trial involving politicians and businessmen, Nov. 5, 2015 (AP photo Alessandro Di Meo).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of corruption and various countries’ efforts to combat it. The trial for 46 people accused of running a Mafia crime ring in Rome that had infiltrated city hall began earlier this month. In an email interview, Daniel Gros, the director of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, discussed Italy’s fight against corruption. WPR: How big a problem is corruption in Italy, and in what areas—including which levels of government—is its impact most felt? Daniel Gros: Outright corruption is mainly a problem at the subnational […]

Belgian soldiers patrol in the center of Brussels, Nov. 20, 2015 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Only hours after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, several politicians in France and elsewhere in Europe, as well as numerous commentators, placed blame on the European Union and its open-border Schengen zone, with some even calling for a breakup of the union or their own country’s withdrawal from it. However, to contain and mitigate terrorism most effectively, France and other European countries need more bilateral and multilateral cooperation, not less, from intelligence sharing to cracking down on arms smuggling. Shortly after the Paris attacks, the head of France’s right-wing National Front party, Marine Le Pen, expressed her “concern” about […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace, Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Kayhan Ozer).

Editor’s note: Judah Grunstein is filling in for Michael A. Cohen, who is on vacation this week. The downing of a Russian bomber over the Turkish-Syrian border by Turkish fighter jets yesterday offered yet another illustration of the extraordinary complexities of the Syrian conflict and the actors involved there. Coming on the heels of the Paris attacks, and what subsequently seemed like diplomatic progress toward the framework of a broad coalition to fight against the self-declared Islamic State, the incident also highlights the degree to which the war in Syria, like all war, is characterized by the unplanned, the unexpected […]

Flowers are put in a window shattered by a bullet in the Nov. 13 attacks, Paris, France, Nov. 15, 2015 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

As observers around the world watched chaos unfold in Paris on Nov. 13, many were struck by the attackers’ use of Kalashnikov assault rifles in the bloodbath. How, given France’s strict gun laws, did the attackers manage to procure military-grade weapons so easily? Where are these heavy weapons coming from? Those same questions were asked in January, when gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher killed 12 at the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and another armed with a submachine gun and an assault rifle killed four at a kosher supermarket. In 2012, Mohamed Merah […]

Then-Moldovan Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet speaks at the U.N. General Assembly, New York, Sept. 30, 2015 (U.N. photo by Amanda Voisard).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of corruption and various countries’ efforts to combat it. Last month, the Moldovan Parliament voted to dismiss the government of Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet. The move came weeks after former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who was also a former leader of the ruling coalition member Liberal Democratic Party, was arrested as part of an investigation into $1 billion that went missing from the country’s banking system.* In an email interview, Balázs Jarábik, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, discussed Moldova’s fight against […]

A protester at a rally in support of migrants, Lausanne, Switzerland, Sept. 15, 2015 (photo by Flickr user degust licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the European refugee crisis and European Union member states’ approaches to addressing it. The Swiss government announced last week that there is not sufficient reason to implement border checks to prevent attacks by Islamic extremists, following the Paris attacks. In an email interview, Céline Bauloz, a senior fellow at the Graduate Institute, Geneva’s Global Migration Centre, discussed Switzerland’s refugee policy and response to the ongoing refugee crisis. WPR: How big an impact has recent immigration had on Switzerland, and how has the country been affected by the current […]

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a joint news conference, Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

In his first visit to Turkey as prime minister, Greece’s Alexis Tsipras arrived in Ankara on Tuesday, with the refugee crisis topping the agenda. Both sides emphasized the need for cooperation on the crisis, as well as for improving relations more generally. Nevertheless, long-standing tensions between the neighbors were on display that evening during a soccer match between the Greek and Turkish national teams, attended by Tsipras and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, when Turkish fans booed the Greek national anthem and interrupted a moment of silence for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris. The historic animosity between […]

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech during a meeting with French mayors, Paris, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Stephane de Sakutin).

In the initial hours and days after the Paris attacks, the world reacted with a moving show of support for France. The messages of solidarity came from all corners of the globe in verbal, visual and symbolic form. As diplomats and officials pledged unity with France, millions bathed their Facebook profiles in the blue, white and red “tricolore” of the French flag. Major international landmarks were also lit in the tricolore, and the stirring notes of the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, rose from teary-eyed faces in gatherings from Trafalgar Square to Madison Square Garden. We are all French, they […]

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference, Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Like most people, watching the reports coming out of Paris on Friday night filled me with an ever-escalating set of emotions: shock, horror, revulsion and finally anger. It seems, however, that among the pundit class, one emotion above all is dominating: panic. And it’s creating a set of myths about what actually happened in Paris, and what the attacks mean, that could keep us from learning the necessary lessons from Friday’s horrors. Myth No. 1: America Is Next From the pages of Politico to the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” this argument has been made repeatedly since Friday night, and […]

A candlelight vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks, Molenbeek, Belgium, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

As French police and detectives tried to make sense of the coordinated attacks that rocked Paris on Friday, eyewitnesses reported to have seen black-clad men emerging from cars with Belgian license plates. That led detectives to search a car with foreign license plates parked near the Bataclan theater, where at least 89 concertgoers were murdered. Upon searching the car, they found a discarded parking ticket, issued in Molenbeek, an impoverished district of Brussels. That, as part of a larger investigation, led French authorities to identify the alleged organizer of the Paris attacks: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian who had fought […]

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron hosts the first Community Engagement Forum, London, Oct. 1 3, 2015 (photo from the office of the U.K. Prime Minister).

Last month, the U.K. announced new measures designed to prevent the radicalization of Muslim youth in Britain, a move that has taken on new meaning in the wake of Friday’s attacks in Paris. In an email interview, Christopher Baker-Beall, a senior lecturer in international relations at Nottingham Trent University and co-editor of “Counter-Radicalisation: Critical Perspectives,” discussed the U.K.’s counterterrorism and counter-extremism policies. WPR: How has the U.K.’s counterterrorism policy evolved since it was first introduced, and what explains the new emphasis on counter-radicalization to this policy? Christopher Baker-Beall: Since the terrorist attacks in London in July 2005, the U.K. government […]

Airmen prepare a MQ-9 Reaper during an exercise at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., May 15, 2014 (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nadine Barclay).

Immediately after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, French President Francois Hollande declared the coordinated attacks as “an act of war.” France did not need such a provocation, however. It had already been involved in U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria against the self-proclaimed Islamic State for six weeks, and in Iraq since September 2014. The question now is where and how it might escalate its involvement militarily. The United States stated that it stands by France and will assist in whatever way necessary. That raises the question of whether U.S. assistance will include arming France’s unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, and […]

French soldiers patrol the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

PARIS—The multiple coordinated attacks that struck Paris on Friday mark a new operational phase of France’s war, as part of the U.S.-led coalition, against the self-declared Islamic State. Nevertheless, the same local and geopolitical obstacles to a broader consensus on the conflict in Syria continue to hamper efforts to craft a new strategic approach for eradicating the group there. As a consequence, France and its European partners must brace their populations against the likelihood of similar attacks in the future, even as they adopt a more pro-active and transnational approach to preventing them. The major differences between Friday’s attacks and […]

A woman carrying flowers in front of the Carillon cafe and Petit Cambodge restaurant, Paris, France, Nov. 14, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Killing sprees at six locations in Paris on Friday left at least 129 people dead and many more injured, with the city reeling after its second terrorist attack of 2015. The self-proclaimed Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the massacre, which it declared was in retaliation for the French air-strike campaign against the group in Syria. President Francois Hollande vowed to be “unforgiving with the barbarians” of the group, and French jets bombed the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa. The United States also upped its military campaign in Syria, attacking hundreds of trucks used to smuggle crude oil, […]

The U.S. flag flies on top of the U.S. embassy in front of the German Bundestag, Berlin, Oct. 25, 2013 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Two years ago, revelations that the National Security Agency had been spying on Germany’s leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, rocked the U.S-German bilateral relationship. “Hardly anything is as sensitive a subject to Merkel as the surveillance of her cellphone. It is her instrument of power,” wrote the newspaper Der Spiegel in a blockbuster story at the time, based in part on documents leaked by former NSA employee Edward Snowden. Merkel responded with particular anger to the allegations. “Spying among friends? That’s just not done,” she said in response to the story. “Now trust has to be rebuilt.” Merkel sent senior […]

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho after presenting the government's four-year policy program to parliament, Lisbon, Nov. 10, 2015 (AP photo by Armando Franca).

A coalition of left-wing parties in Portugal forced the center-right minority government to resign late Tuesday, only 11 days after it took power following general elections. But the unstable partnership between the Socialist party and the smaller Communist party could mean a similar fate for the next government. The toppling of the center-right government wasn’t exactly a surprise, given widespread unpopularity over its austerity measures. Now-ousted Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s government came in first place in last month’s election, but the coalition of his Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the conservative Democratic and Social Center-People’s Party (CDS-PP) lost its […]

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