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. […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Nov. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could not have anticipated how quickly his threats to end cooperation with Israel would be tested after he declared the Oslo Accords dead in a defiant address at the United Nations in September. With violence spiking in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, the aging Palestinian leader is seeking to constrain attacks against Israel without losing more of his legitimacy among an increasingly angry Palestinian populace. The upsurge in violence and reprisal attacks, with the latest this past Sunday, have left the Palestinian Authority (PA) with a dilemma: how to fulfill its commitments to maintain security […]

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 […]

A U.S. Marine fighter jet aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, Sept. 10, 2015 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

The conflict between the self-declared Islamic State and the civilized world has taken a chilling turn. While the extremists continue to fight both the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the government of Iraq, they now have also demonstrated a deadly commitment to transnational terrorism. In the past several weeks, the Islamic State has claimed credit for bombings in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Lebanon as well as for downing a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai. It apparently orchestrated Friday’s complex terrorist attack in Paris, attempted ones in Belgium and Germany, and has threatened to unleash terrorism in the United […]

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 […]

A supporter of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) outside the party headquarters, Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 1, 2015 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

Back in June, Turkish voters put President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s feet to the fire by stripping his Justice and Development Party (AKP) allies of their parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years. Many Turkey-watchers began writing Erdogan’s political obituary. But only five short months after that electoral setback, Erdogan and his AKP allies are back on top, after winning an outright majority in elections Nov. 1. In doing so, they have demonstrated their ability to swiftly and efficiently mobilize their conservative base in strategic urban areas and across the Anatolian heartland, while outmaneuvering their political adversaries at every […]

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 […]

European leaders observe a minute of silence at the G-20 Summit, Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 16, 2015 (photo from the office of the U.K. Prime Minister).

World leaders from the 20 top economies as well as observer states met Sunday and Monday in southern Turkey for the annual G-20 summit. The gathering had been set to focus on an ambitious agenda to promote inclusive economic growth and global trade and investment. The terrorist attacks in Paris, however, overshadowed the meetings and raised hard questions about whether such summits can ever really grapple with the inequalities that lead to radicalization and despair. The G-20 was created in 1999 but really swung into action during the 2008 global financial crisis. At the time it was seen as a […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Vienna, Austria, Nov. 14, 2015 (State Department Photo).

Desperate times call for desperate conflict-management measures. This weekend, at talks on Syria convened in Vienna at the behest of Russia and the U.S., diplomats called for Damascus and mainstream opposition groups to agree to a national cease-fire, in parallel with continued offensives against the self-declared Islamic State and al-Qaida-affiliated fighters. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council pledged to back a “U.N. endorsed ceasefire monitoring mission in those parts of the country where monitors would not come under threat of attacks from terrorists.” Will this be a case of “the third time’s the charm” for peacekeeping […]

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, […]

U.N. Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon, left, walks with Saleh Almkhozom of the General National Congress, Tripoli, Libya, Jan. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Mohammed Ben Khalifa).

United Nations-led talks to resolve Libya’s unrest have been undermined by revelations of extensive links between the outgoing U.N. mediator, Bernardino Leon, and the United Arab Emirates, one of the regional powers that openly backs one side of the civil war. But not everything is lost, provided Leon’s successor, the veteran German and U.N. diplomat Martin Kobler, can overcome three outstanding obstacles. Leon was trying to broker a country-wide cease-fire and a national unity deal between competing factions that have fought each other since the summer of 2014 and split Libya into two rival governments: the internationally recognized one in […]

Egyptian soldiers guard the entrance to the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, Egypt, Nov. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Thomas Hartwell).

How much worse can things get in Egypt? The fallout from the likely bombing of a Russian passenger jet, which exploded above the Sinai Peninsula late last month, has crippled Egypt’s long-suffering tourism industry, with Russia banning all flights to Egypt for the next several months—peak tourism season for Russians. The U.K. and Ireland have suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, the Red Sea resort in the southern Sinai from where the Russian plane took off. Its airport, which had once been praised for its security upgrades after a series of deadly bombings across the seaside town in 2005, is now […]

View of Dubai, UAE, April 19, 2014 (photo by Flickr user paolomargari licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license).

Since launching the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman have pursued dual and sometimes dueling objectives. Collectively the six countries profess to share the strategic goal of integrating their economic, security and even political policies. But individually, each of these relatively young states continues to place a high priority on forging and shoring up a national identity. During my recent visit to the UAE for the second annual Emirates Policy Center Strategic Forum, the subtle tension between these regional and national goals was on display. While the forum was a […]

Nidaa Tounes party leader Beji Caid Essebsi during a speech at an electoral meeting, Tunis, Tunisia, Nov. 15, 2014 (AP photo by Aimen Zine).

Mounting tensions between opposing factions of Tunisia’s ruling Nidaa Tounes party came to a head Monday, when 32 of its 86 lawmakers announced their resignation from the governing bloc in parliament. Just days prior, a meeting of the party’s executive board turned violent, indicating that long-simmering internal feuds might finally boil over. If confirmed, the shakeup would leave Nidaa Tounes’ coalition partner, Ennahda, the Islamist party that was elected in 2011 to lead the constitution-drafting process that ended last year, with the plurality of seats in parliament—69 of 217. Divisions within Nidaa Tounes are not new. The party, which comprises […]

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