Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Warsaw, April 19, 2018 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

In a special end-of-summer episode this week, we look back at three of our most popular Report interviews so far this year: the veil of secrecy over the U.S. military’s growing presence in West Africa; Bolivia’s controversial coca policy, which has been called both a solution to drug trafficking and part of the problem; and the role historical memory plays in Poland’s contentious politics. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers […]

Far-right politician Tomio Okamura addresses opponents of immigration from Muslim-majority countries during a protest in central Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 12, 2015 (Photo by Michal Dolezal for CTK via AP).

PRAGUE—With xenophobia spiraling across the former communist states of Central Europe, the region’s one sizable non-white and non-Christian immigrant community is unflustered, for now. Constituting around 1 percent of the Czech Republic’s population of 10 million, the country’s decades-old Vietnamese community is largely tolerated and respected, even if integration is limited. That situation remains mostly unchanged by the recent political shift to the right in the Czech Republic. Many Czechs view the Vietnamese community—officially 60,000-strong but estimated to actually number around 100,000—in stark contrast to Muslim immigrants—around 20,000 or so—and the much larger and long-ostracized Roma community. “The Vietnamese community […]

Belarusian Interior Ministry officers search an office of the Belsat television channel in Minsk, Belarus, March 31, 2017 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. Journalists in Belarus have experienced a wave of harassment, intimidation and criminal prosecution from state authorities in recent months. The crackdown has been severe even by the standards of a country that is routinely cited by watchdogs as one of the worst violators of press freedoms. Conditions are only expected to worsen as new restrictions on web-based communication come into effect later this year. In an email interview with WPR, Andrei Bastunets, chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, […]

The Dave Johnston coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyoming, July 27, 2018 (AP photo by J. David Ake).

The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled its proposal to relax environmental regulations on coal-burning power plants across the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Affordable Clean Energy rule would roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which had placed stricter national pollution standards on power plants in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and push American utility companies away from coal and toward natural gas and renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. It is the Trump administration’s biggest move yet to boost the American coal industry. But according to the EPA’s own analysis, the new rule could lead […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera, St. Petersburg, Russia, May 23, 2018 (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev for Sputnik via AP Images).

Investigating the Russian government has historically been a dangerous business, and yet the circumstances surrounding the deaths of journalists Alexander Rastorguyev, Kirill Radchenk and Orkhan Dzhemal in the Central African Republic late last month still managed to raise eyebrows. Part of the reason the tragedy has continued to attract international attention weeks later is because it highlights a story that had flown under the radar for months: the unexpected presence of Russian mercenaries in one of the most obscure parts of the world. Russia’s presence in the Central African Republic is a relatively new phenomenon. While Soviet activity there was […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his entourage, heads to a working session of NATO heads of state during a summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018 (Presidency Press Service via AP).

AMSTERDAM—Just as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fulminates against the United States again, blaming Washington for his country’s worsening economic troubles, a small controversy has erupted in the Netherlands over Turkish influence in the country. It came to light earlier this week that Turkey is planning to fund special Dutch schools to teach residents of Turkish origin about their heritage. The idea has sparked alarm among some Dutch politicians and their followers on both the left and the right, who worry about what, exactly, Erdogan’s government intends to teach in these schools, which would operate on weekends across the Netherlands. […]

Police officers secure the roads around the Houses of Parliament after a vehicle crashed into security barriers, injuring a number of pedestrians, Aug. 14, 2018, London, England (Photo by Alberto Pezzali for Sipa USA via AP Images).

Police have yet to determine exactly why a 29-year-old British citizen of Sudanese origin, identified as Salih Khater, intentionally swerved his car into cyclists and pedestrians outside the Parliament building in London yesterday. For now, the car-ramming, which resulted in no deaths and three minor injuries, is being investigated as a terrorist attack. If that is confirmed, it will be the latest using vehicles as weapons. In March 2017, a similar attack outside Parliament left five people dead and 50 others injured; the attacker, Khalid Masood, was killed by police at the scene. In July 2016, an attacker drove a […]

People and motorists are reflected on an electronic display panel showing video footage of Chinese President Xi Jinping near the central business district of Beijing, China, May 30, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

While the U.S.-China trade war has been getting the headlines, investors from China are running into resistance in countries around the world, including the United States. Typically, governments welcome foreign investment, especially local governments, as a mechanism to create—or save—jobs, reinvigorate their economies and gain access to new technologies. Growing investment outflows from China, however, are pushing some national governments to take a more skeptical look at Chinese money. In a measure aimed primarily at China, Congress strengthened the ability of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS, to review and block transactions that might […]

A Syrian national flag with the picture of the President Bashar al-Assad hangs at an army checkpoint in the town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, July 15, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

After seven years of war in Syria, the endgame is here. All major frontlines have been frozen by foreign intervention, and military action now hinges on externally brokered political deals. The result could be a de facto division of the country. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian-backed forces spent the past two years taking out isolated rebel strongholds, like Eastern Aleppo and Ghouta. Recently, they recaptured the area along the border with Jordan and territory near the Golan Heights—but at that point, they ran out of low-hanging fruit. The sight of Russian diplomats shuttling between Israelis, Syrians, Iranians and Americans to […]

Oleg Deripaska, the founder of Rusal, attends a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian business leaders, Moscow, Dec. 19, 2016 (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin for Sputnik via AP Images).

While the Trump administration follows through with reimposing sanctions on Tehran after it withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement, the rhetoric over American sanctions on Russia is seriously overheating. Debate centers on the Treasury Department’s potential removal of the Russian aluminum firm Rusal from its blacklist of sanctioned Russian entities. This dispute risks obscuring how a desire to hit back against Russia over its election interference, rather than punish Rusal’s oligarch founder, Oleg Deripaska, invites severe unintended consequences. While the political value of keeping Rusal on the Treasury blacklist may seem high, it comes with wider economic costs […]

President Donald Trump gestures toward the crowd after speaking at the United States Steel Granite City Works plant, Granite City, Illinois, July 26, 2018 (AP photo by Jeff Roberson).

How will President Donald Trump’s trade wars end, assuming they do? There are at least some hints now about how things may play out, and they are not reassuring. Administration officials keep saying that the tariffs imposed against China and other American trading partners, including close allies in Canada and the European Union, are being used as leverage to remove unfair trade practices abroad, improve market access for U.S. exporters and reduce the deficit. But it is looking more and more like the outcome could instead be continued trade protection in myriad forms. One little noticed aspect of Trump’s trade […]

A man enters a Red Cross refugee shelter in the outskirts of Milan, Italy, July 25, 2018 (AP photo by Luca Bruno).

Judging from the political priorities in Berlin, Rome or any other European capital these days, you’d think that migration control and border management are the only important issues facing policymakers. Everywhere you look, more and more policy tools are being used to “fight” or solve problems related to migration, with some repurposed for the task. The same has been true for the European Union in recent years. In Brussels, this trend can be traced back to the summer of 2016, when the EU published its updated doctrine for defense and security policy, called the European Union Global Strategy. The doctrine […]

A rally opposing Greece's agreement to end a decades-long dispute with neighboring Macedonia over its name, Athens, Greece, July 1, 2018 (AP photo by Yorgos Karahalis).

Immediately after the left-wing Syriza party swept to power in Greece in 2015, officials from the European Union, NATO and the United States all worried about the possibility that the newly minted Greek government was too close with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It wasn’t just the leftists in government in Athens who might have harbored pro-Russian sentiments. Greece and Russia share religious and historical ties, and a significant chunk of the Greek population views Putin favorably. The person who most worried NATO officials at the time was Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, whose past writings and connections with communist organizations marked him […]

President Donald Trump after signing a presidential memorandum on the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Washington, May 8, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In May, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the international nuclear deal with Iran, which was negotiated and signed by both countries along with France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and China. The agreement, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, had imposed strict controls and oversight on Iran’s domestic nuclear program, in return for the easing of multilateral sanctions and the suspension of U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran. In withdrawing from the deal, Trump promised to reimpose sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry, as well as so-called third-party sanctions on any companies that did business […]

Liviu Dragnea, the head of Romania’s Social Democratic Party, is surrounded by media as he arrives at the anti-corruption prosecutors’ office, Bucharest, Romania, April 27, 2018 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

After the storm, the calm? A month after Romania’s most powerful man was convicted of abuse of power and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, some Romanians expected a political earthquake. Instead, much of the country is heading to their summer holiday on the beaches of the Black Sea. But the political drama in Bucharest isn’t over. Liviu Dragnea, the head of the ruling Social Democratic Party, or PSD, is appealing his late June conviction, while continuing his bellicose rhetoric about a “deep state” that is out to get him, picking up a line from U.S. President […]

Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, May 19, 2017 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

Rumors of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange getting booted from his refuge at Ecuador’s Embassy in London have been floating around for months. But late last week, Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, confirmed the impending ouster, saying he is negotiating with British authorities to get Ecuador’s highly complicated guest out of the embassy and ensure Assange’s safety once he is evicted. The announcement raises the question: Why now? The answer shines a light on the astonishing political transformation that has occurred in Ecuador in recent years—and how WikiLeaks, which is a key factor in the special counsel investigation in the U.S. into […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the Reichstag building for a meeting of the CDU, CSU and SPD parties, Berlin, Germany, July 5, 2018 (AP photo by Kay Nietfeld).

After 13 years of relative stability, a politically weakened German Chancellor Angela Merkel has had to endure major upheaval in recent months. Merkel cobbled together a governing coalition after winning re-election last year, but her government is increasingly beholden to the nationalist tendencies of its smallest member, the Christian Social Union, the sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. Beyond Germany’s borders, Merkel must confront ongoing divisions within the European Union, lingering questions about how to process migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East, and the uncertainty created by the Trump administration’s foreign policy. The following 10 WPR […]