Lamin Saidykhan, a migrant from Gambia, in the “Ghetto,” a squatter settlement on the outskirts of Rome, Italy, Nov. 2018 (Photo by Jason Florio).

Late last year, a decree abolishing humanitarian protections for migrants in Italy became law. Pushed by far-right leader Matteo Salvini as part of a crackdown on migrants and refugees, the law threatens to drive Italy’s migrant community further to the margins as anti-immigrant sentiment rises across the country. ROME—Things were looking up for 21-year-old Gambian migrant Lamin Saidykhan in early November 2018. Two years after arriving in Italy via a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, he had finally been granted humanitarian protection status by the Italian government, which would allow him to legally stay and work in the country for […]

An F-35 fighter jet takes off from Beaufort U.S. Marines Air Base in Beaufort, South Carolina (Photo by Peter Byrne for Press Association via AP Images).

On July 17, the U.S. announced that it had terminated Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program, five days after Ankara took delivery of components for four batteries of Russian S-400 air defense systems that Turkey purchased in 2017. The systems will not be assembled and operational until the fall, but in receiving the first shipment, Turkey ignored repeated warnings from Washington that it considered the presence of the S-400 to be incompatible with operating the F-35. The Trump administration gave several reasons for the suspension: the intelligence risk posed by the presence of an advanced Russian data-collection platform […]

Activists protest with a cow against the EU-Mercosur trade deal, in front of the German Ministry of Finance, Berlin, March 26, 2018 (Photo by J’rg Carstensen for dpa via AP Images).

After 20 years of on-and-off negotiations, leaders from the European Union and South America’s Mercosur trade bloc announced late last month that they had reached a sweeping trade agreement encompassing 800 million people and almost a quarter of the global economy. Hailed on both sides of the Atlantic as a “landmark,” the accord must still be ratified by the negotiating parties’ legislatures, and it faces stiff opposition in key European countries like France and Ireland as well as in the four Mercosur member states of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. In an email interview with WPR, Bruno Binetti, a Buenos […]

New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street, London, July 24, 2019 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein; managing editor, Frederick Deknatel; and associate editor, Laura Weiss, talk about Boris Johnson’s investiture as the U.K.’s new prime minister. They also look at U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s four-country tour of Latin America and the surprisingly warm reception he received. 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 a free preview article every day of the week, plus […]

Boris Johnson, the new leader of the British Conservative party, at a Conservative Party leadership campaign event in London, July 17, 2019 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

The long-running Tory leadership contest has finally come to an end, producing the result that everybody expected all along: Boris Johnson has become the new leader of the British Conservative Party and, by extension, the 77th prime minister of the United Kingdom and 55th person to hold the office.* Johnson’s coronation is the culmination of a lifetime of inherited entitlement and personal ambition, a path to the premiership that began at Britain’s most elite private school and its most prestigious university, then passed via plum jobs in its right-wing press. Ever since he was elected mayor of London in 2008, […]

Ursula von der Leyen, right, Germany’s outgoing minister of defense and newly elected president of the EU Commission, at the Federal Ministry of Defense inauguration, in Berlin, July 7, 2019 (Photo by Wolfgang Kumm for dpa via AP Images).

Following Ursula von der Leyen’s confirmation last week, the European Union not only has its first female president of the European Commission, but also the first who was formerly a minister of defense. What will her leadership mean for the long contentious issue of European security and defense policy? In an enthusiastic stump speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg before she was confirmed by a vote of 383-327, von der Leyen laid out her “political guidelines” for the European Commission over the next five years. Yet defense only appeared vaguely, under the fifth objective for “a stronger Europe in […]

Officials from the Joint Investigation Team probing the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 at a press conference, announcing charges against three Russians and a Ukrainian separatist, in Nieuwegein, Netherlands, June 19, 2019 (AP photo by Mike Corder)

This week marks five years since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Since then Russia has seemingly spared no effort or expense in waging an epic disinformation campaign to beat back allegations that Kremlin-backed mercenaries and separatists in the Donbas region fired the Russian-made Buk missile that killed all 298 people on board the passenger jet. Yet as evidence of Russian involvement has continued to mount in recent days, it looks like Moscow may need to retool its strategy. Almost five years to the day that a group of intrepid journalists at Bellingcat, an investigative collective, […]

President Donald Trump’s attorney and former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani addresses a rally organized by the Iranian exile group Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

It might have seemed like a barely consequential item amid another torrent of breaking news. But word that President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, just attended the annual gathering of a controversial Iranian opposition group at its unlikely base in Albania should raise flags for many reasons, not least of which are concerns for Albania’s troubled and fragile democracy. If Albania is now unexpectedly drawn into one of today’s most dangerous geopolitical conflicts—the one pitting Iran against the United States, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states—the timing couldn’t be worse. The country is in the midst of a full-blown political […]

Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, the next president of the European Commission, delivers her speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, July 16, 2019 (AP photo by Jean-Francois Badias).

Ursula Von der Leyen, the former defense minister of Germany, was narrowly confirmed as the next president of the European Commission this week. She will take the helm in Brussels at a difficult time, with widening fissures among European Union member states and a rising challenge from far-right, euroskeptic political movements across the continent. Von der Leyen and other top EU leaders will need to tackle these internal challenges while navigating the tumultuous Brexit process, addressing the crisis in U.S.-Iran relations, and managing the EU’s difficult relationship with the Trump administration. In this week’s Trend Lines interview, WPR’s associate editor, […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Polish President Andrzej Duda, left, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a summit meeting between leaders from the EU and Western Balkan states, in Poznan, Poland, July 5, 2019 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

French President Emmanuel Macron left a recent EU leaders’ summit in Brussels frustrated after his fellow heads of state failed to come to an agreement on who should be appointed to the top posts in the European Commission. Following the unsuccessful all-night negotiations, Macron took a swipe at his colleagues by voicing his opposition to further enlargement of the European Union. “I am more than skeptical toward those who say that the future of Europe lies in further enlargement, when we can’t find agreement between 28 nations,” Macron told reporters. “I will refuse all forms of enlargement before deep reform […]

Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor-Viorel Melescanu, center, with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, second left, and other delegates at an EU-ASEAN meeting in Brussels, Jan. 21, 2019 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

In the early years of this century, there were suggestions that the European Union could play the role of a “quiet superpower,” and even speculation that Brussels might become a hegemonic rival to the United States. Now, with the rise of China and talk of a new Cold War brewing between Washington and Beijing, the EU’s place in the world is looking dramatically less imposing. For some experts and observers, the EU continues to be a “civilian power,” given its nonmilitary capabilities, or a “normative power,” referring to its historical role in helping to shape global norms on human rights […]

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the leader of the New Democracy party, waves to his supporters outside party headquarters after winning parliamentary elections, Athens, July 7, 2019 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

When the nominally center-right New Democracy party emerged victorious in snap elections last week, it potentially marked the end of a long and tumultuous chapter in Greece’s history. The now former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had announced the vote following deep losses by his radical, left-wing party, Syriza, in the European Parliament elections in May. With 39.5 percent of the vote, New Democracy and its leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, have a strong mandate to push forward with a program he describes as reforming the state, by reducing taxation and turbo-charging investment in the country. Mitsotakis appears very optimistic. When challenged on […]

Italian Deputy Prime Ministers Matteo Salvini, right, and Luigi Di Maio during question time at the Chamber of Deputies, in Rome, Feb. 13, 2019 (ANSA photo by Fabio Frustaci via AP Images).

BOLOGNA—Italy’s populist government has been in power for all of 13 months and already speculation is rife about its imminent demise. The stability of this rowdy coalition was in doubt from the moment it was formed. How could the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, or M5S, avoid falling out with its aggressive junior partner, the far-right Lega or League, and its leader, Matteo Salvini? These doubts only grew when Salvini used his first year in office as interior minister and deputy prime minister to boost his own popularity, campaigning rather than governing. In the European Parliament elections at the end of […]

Britain’s former ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, March 13, 2018 (Press Association photo by Niall Carson via AP Images).

Britain’s ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, resigned this week after a leak of confidential memos he wrote that described the Trump administration as “dysfunctional” and “clumsy and inept.” In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about Darroch’s resignation and what it says about the state of the “special relationship” between the U.S. and the United Kingdom, as well as the changing face of diplomacy in the Trump era. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside of Bushehr, Iran, June 17, 2019 (Photo by Mohammad Berno for the Iranian President’s Office via AP Images).

With the announcement this week that it has begun to enrich uranium above the 3.67 percent limit allowed by the 2015 international deal curbing its nuclear program, Iran has opened another round of high-stakes signaling with the Trump administration, which withdrew from the agreement last year, and the European nations that helped negotiate it. The move is the latest attempt by Iran to impose costs both on Washington for having reimposed punishing economic sanctions, and on Europe for its inability to mitigate their pain. The incremental but reversible breach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the […]

Tourists outside the tomb of former Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco at El Valle de los Caidos, near Madrid, May 10, 2016 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

On June 4, Spain’s Supreme Tribunal halted the exhumation of Gen. Francisco Franco’s remains from his burial site at El Valle de los Caidos, or The Valley of the Fallen, only days before it was scheduled to take place on June 10, and almost a year after the Spanish Parliament had authorized it. The tribunal ruled that Franco’s family, which had brought the case, must be allowed to appeal the government’s decision to exhume the former dictator’s remains and rebury them at a family tomb. Notwithstanding the Supreme Tribunal’s ruling, the struggle over Franco’s exhumation has little to do with […]

Liviu Dragnea, the former leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party, center, arrives escorted by police officers for a court hearing in Bucharest, Romania, April 15, 2019 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

Some protesters mockingly waved handcuffs in Liviu Dragnea’s face as he left the courtroom in Bucharest to start a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence on May 27. Many others celebrated less publically, seeing the fall of Romania’s most powerful man as proof that the country’s embattled institutions, though under more and more political pressure, still function independently. Dragnea’s arrest put the brakes on the government’s controversial judicial reforms, viewed by many of Romania’s allies as an attempt to undermine a strikingly successful anti-corruption drive. The government’s staunchest critics hope it will be a knockout blow for the ruling Social Democratic Party, or […]