A recent New York Times feature article on President Barack Obama’s aggressive counterterrorism approach highlighted the administration’s use of armed drones to target terrorists whose names appear on what is known within the White House as the “kill list.” The president himself makes the final decision over whether to place a terrorist on the list, according to Obama advisers quoted in the article. That was the case for Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and al-Qaida operative who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen, where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is active. Though drone strikes allow the U.S. to […]

Voters in Egypt gave themselves a jolt during the first round of voting in the country’s presidential election. As soon as the smoke began to clear and a picture of the electoral tally emerged, a sense of bafflement was quickly followed by frustration and anger as the dominant emotions. Almost everyone had reason to dislike the outcome. A disappointment for liberals was expected, but Islamist politicians also saw reason to worry in the voters’ verdict. Like a smoldering battlefield, the electoral landscape was littered with the injured and the wounded. If the results of the vote held on May 25-26 […]

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UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, arriving in Damascus Monday, said he was “horrified” by a weekend massacre in Houla in which more than 100 were killed. He called on Syrians with weapons to lay down their arms. World News Videos by NewsLook

According to partial election results, Ahmed Shafik, who served as prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak, and Mohamed Morsi, the candidate nominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, will face one another in a runoff to become the first freely elected president of Egypt. The race represents a struggle between the old order, which Shafik wants to restore, and the powerful Islamist opposition. And an expert who spoke with Trend Lines explained that the outcome is likely to polarize politics even further. “We are back to ground zero of Egyptian politics in the Mubarak era of the old regime versus the […]

The Baghdad talks between Iran and the P5+1 bloc, made up of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, seeking to resolve the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program ended with no solution reached but a commitment to meet again in June in Moscow. The foreign policy chief for the European Union, Catherine Ashton, expressed cautious optimism, observing, “It is clear that we both want to make progress, and that there is some common ground.” Most of the commentary on the negotiations has focused on the technical aspects of the diplomacy involved. In this first stage of talks, the […]

Last weekend, emissaries from the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah met in Cairo and signed an agreement to put an end to Palestinian divisions. Again. Even people who try to keep track of how many times the two organizations have agreed to reconcile have lost count. It’s easy, on the other hand, to remember how many times the deals have achieved their stated goal of forging Palestinian unity: never. Perhaps this is the one that will work. But experience has shown — and then shown again — that Hamas and Fatah have more reasons to remain apart than to […]

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series examining the challenges to reaching a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Part I examined the domestic challenges to national reconciliation. Part II examines the regional context of the Afghan peace process. When NATO leaders gathered in Chicago earlier this week for a much-awaited summit, the withdrawal strategy for Afghanistan dominated the proceedings. A twist in the plot had developed in the lead-up to the gathering when NATO extended a last-minute invitation to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The logic was straightforward: The occasion would be used not only to reach an […]

The abduction of 11 Lebanese Shiites in Syria on Tuesday is the latest in a series of incidents that have threatened to ignite sectarian tensions in Lebanon, leading many observers to worry that the conflict in neighboring Syria might spill over across the border. The kidnapping, which took place in northern Syria as the men returned from a religious pilgrimage, follows outbreaks of sectarian and factional violence in Tripoli and Beirut. Two experts told Trend Lines that in order to understand the impact the incidents might have in Lebanon, one must understand the complex political and sectarian ties between the […]

Earlier this month, the Brazilian navy successfully tested an indigenously designed and manufactured anti-ship missile. In an email interview, Dinshaw Mistry, an associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, reviewed the state of the global missile industry. WPR: Which countries currently have an indigenous missile capability, and in what ranges, and which countries are currently seeking to develop this capability? Dinshaw Mistry: About a dozen countries currently build ballistic missiles with varying ranges. The United States, Russia, France and China have built long-range missiles that serve as nuclear weapon delivery systems. China, Israel, India and Pakistan have […]

As a regional body, the Arab League has more often than not been the focus of ridicule in light of the torpor and ineffectiveness that has characterized its history. Since the league’s founding in 1945 by Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Transjordan, the Arab world has suffered myriad political disputes and armed conflicts, including colonial, interstate and civil wars. In addition to its failure to encourage economic, political and security cooperation, the Arab League has certainly underperformed in its mission to curb the use of force or mediate these disputes. In many ways, this is a reflection of […]

The defense ministers of Brazil and Turkey met in Brazil last month, where they signed a letter of intent to improve bilateral military ties and increase technology transfers. In an email interview, Oliver Stuenkel, an assistant professor of international relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, discussed the military relationship between Brazil and Turkey. WPR: What is the extent of the current defense relationship between Brazil and Turkey in terms of military-to-military relations and defense-industrial ties? Oliver Stuenkel: The defense relationship between Brazil and Turkey is still small and incipient, yet in 2003, Brazil and Turkey signed an […]

Over the past week, we have seen the first real case of sectarian violence spilling over from Syria into neighboring Lebanon. In clashes in and around the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, at least five people have been killed in fighting that is, as I write this, winding down following the deployment of the Lebanese army. This may seem like an odd time, then, to pour cold water on the risks of Syria’s sectarian conflict reigniting dormant civil conflicts in Lebanon and also Iraq. To be sure, there is a real danger the violence in Syria will spill over into […]

While attempts to frame Algeria within the Arab Spring narrative have proved unrealistic, some observers thought the country’s May 10 parliamentary elections could present an opportunity for substantive political change. European and American officials lauded President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s invitation to international organizations to send election observers, as well as recently passed “reforms,” as progress toward democracy, likening these moves to Morocco’s top-down reform process enacted at the onset of the regional uprisings. But Algeria’s ability to avoid the upheaval that has swept North Africa over the past year has less to do with a proactive leadership and more to do […]

Amid the turmoil that has engulfed the wider Middle East over the course of the past year, Iran has been confronted with numerous challenges and some opportunities. Not surprisingly, the top priority for the Iranian regime remains its own survival. The main threats in this regard stem from external military intervention, internal unrest and increasingly, over the past year, strengthened international sanctions in response to its nuclear program. In order to counter these threats, Iran continues to invest in asymmetric, niche capabilities that play to Iran’s strengths while exploiting the vulnerabilities of its high-tech adversaries. The regime has also embarked […]

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