President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Susan Rice during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Nuclear Security Summit, Washington, March 31, 2016 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

On March 30, President Barack Obama hosted the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, where global leaders convene in an effort to secure nuclear materials and prevent nuclear terrorism. Along with Obama’s vision articulated in a 2009 speech in Prague of a world without nuclear weapons, the summits provide an important marker for assessing Obama’s record on reducing the security risks posed by nuclear weapons and material. The following articles are free to nonsubscribers until April 14. A Mixed Record on Nonproliferation Why Obama’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Commitments Fell ShortIt appears that with the exception of the Iran nuclear deal, President […]

Supporters of Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and allies of the Houthis at a rally against the Saudi-led intervention, Sanaa, Yemen, March 26, 2016 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

Good news has been in desperately short supply in Yemen over the past year. So reports of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire and peace talks aimed at bringing an end to a civil war that has devastated what was already the Arab world’s poorest country should have been well received. Instead, they were met with skepticism, and with good reason. After a year of brutal war, Yemen is hardly ripe for peace. Last week in New York, the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the “parties to the conflict” had agreed to a countrywide cease-fire, due to […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace, Ankara, Turkey, March 16, 2016 (Pool photo by Murat Cetinmuhurdar).

The cease-fire brokered by Russia and the U.S. in Syria late last month could not have come at better time for Turkey. A few months before the cease-fire took effect, the momentum of the Syrian civil war had dramatically shifted in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor. The Syrian army and its allies on the ground, supported by Russian air power, were making significant gains across the country. Rebels were on their heels: Their defensive lines were gradually collapsing; their supply routes were thinning out; and they found themselves outflanked on multiple fronts. Even worse for Turkey, the United States has […]

Indonesian protesters during a rally against Israeli attacks on Gaza, Jakarta, Indonesia, July 13, 2014 (AP photo by Achmad Ibrahim).

Last weekend, Israel prevented Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi from entering the West Bank to attend the inauguration of the Indonesian Honorary Consul to Palestine in Ramallah, after she refused to pay an official visit to Jerusalem. In an email interview, Emanuel Shahaf, CEO of Technology Asia Consulting and vice chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, discusses Israeli-Indonesian political and economic ties. WPR: What are the extent of Israel’s trade and political ties with Indonesia, and how institutionalized are current informal ties? Emanuel Shahaf: Bilateral trade is nominally valued at around $200 million, with roughly 80 percent made up […]

Ugandans queue to cast their votes, Kampala, Uganda Feb. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the United Nation’s road-trip diplomacy, efforts to save cultural heritage during conflicts, and the growing threat against human rights activists in Latin America. For the Report, Peter talks about the recent elections in Uganda and shifting views of longtime President Yoweri Museveni. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: U.N. Security Council Should Make Better Use of ‘Road-Trip Diplomacy’ The Next Monuments Men? How Militaries Could Protect Culture in Conflict Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Times of War Activists’ Murders Show Human Rights Under […]

Recovered antiquities displayed at the Iraqi National Museum, Baghdad, Iraq, July 8, 2015 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

Last month, the government of Italy and UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, signed two agreements that aim to protect cultural heritage in conflict areas. One of these agreements will lead to the creation of a training center in Turin. The other agreement formalized the Italian government’s intent to create a task force, supported by UNESCO, for dealing with and safeguarding cultural property and heritage during times of crisis. According to UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, this so-called United for Heritage task force would bring together cultural heritage experts and members of Italy’s national police, the Carabinieri, which have a long […]

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika meeting with French President Francois Hollande, Algiers, Algeria, June 15, 2015 (Algerian Press Service via AP).

The day before Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, a European Union representative visiting Algiers told Algerian officials that their country is “pivotal” in the fight against terrorism. He also praised Algeria for political changes that he called “an improvement of the situation.” The former is undoubtedly true. The latter was probably just a diplomatic nicety. The “situation” in Algeria remains as murky as ever. An al-Qaida terrorist attack against a gas facility last week prompted foreign firms to pull expatriate workers. Almost simultaneously, a police raid in Brussels targeted an Algerian citizen and member of the so-called Islamic State, in […]

A soldier holds the Polisario Front flag as a U.N. helicopter flies over the Smara refugees camp, Tindouf, Algeria, March 5, 2016 (AP photo by Toufik Doudou).

The conflict over Western Sahara has lasted well over 40 years—25 under the oversight of the United Nations Security Council since it brokered a cease-fire in 1991—but it suffered the latest and perhaps worst of its many setbacks earlier this month, thanks to none other than U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban caused an uproar in Morocco by calling its presence in Western Sahara an “occupation,” while he was visiting a refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria, near the border with the disputed territory. Ban’s comments came during a larger visit to North Africa that did not include Morocco, the key player […]

Afghan migrants during an anti-EU rally, Athens, Greece, March 19, 2016 (AP photo by Yorgos Karahalis).

The cynical deal struck between the European Union and Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe is a sign of desperation. It is flawed on several levels, and is likely to do harm to Europe’s image as a champion of international norms and Western values. Ironically, it will also probably do more harm than good to any hopes Turkey may still harbor for EU membership. But for all its shortcomings, the deal is better than doing nothing, and its effective implementation will help restore Europe’s self-confidence and Turkey’s role as a regional problem-solver. The deal finalized Friday […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as Type 99A2 Chinese battle tanks roll across during a military parade, Sept. 3, 2015 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, South Africa’s rapprochement with Nigeria and U.S.-Cuba ties. For the Report, Richard Weitz of the Hudson Institute joins us to talk about China’s ongoing military reforms. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Punitive Saudi Moves in Lebanon Isolate Sunnis, Benefiting Hezbollah Middle East’s Sectarian Tensions Play Out in Sudan-Iran Relations Limited Détente: The Challenges to Repairing South Africa-Nigeria Ties Down Havana Way: The Promise of Obama’s Cuba Visit PLA Military Reforms: Defense Power With Chinese Characteristics […]

Kuwait from above, Dec. 24, 2008 (Flickr photo by lin84 licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0).

In 2016, Kuwait faces a combination of domestic and regional challenges arising from looming uncertainty over succession, the decline in international oil prices and the threat from radical groups such as the so-called Islamic State. Each of those issues has the potential to bring an end to the relative political stability that Kuwait has enjoyed since its most recent legislative election in July 2013. The risk for Kuwait’s ruling officials is that the intervening years of political calm have masked, but not resolved, many of the underlying socio-political and economic triggers of discontent that surfaced in 2011 and 2012 and […]

Iraqi workers are seen at the Rumaila oil refinery, near Basra, Iraq, Dec. 13, 2009 (AP photo by Nabil al-Jurani).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Plunging oil prices have put Iraq in an economic bind, and according to The New York Times, “much tougher economic times are ahead.” In an email interview, Frank Gunter, a professor of economics at Lehigh University and author of “Political Economy of Iraq: Restoring Balance in a Post-Conflict Society,” discussed the impact on Iraq of low oil prices. WPR: How important is oil for Iraq’s economy and government revenues, and what impact have falling oil prices had […]

Royal Saudi Land Forces and units of Special Forces of the Pakistani army during a joint military exercise, Shamrakh field, north of Baha region, Saudi Arabia, March 30, 2015 (AP photo/Saudi Press Agency).

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Saudi Arabia last week for the closing ceremonies of a multinational military exercise, following recent tensions in relations. In an email interview, Shehzad H. Qazi, managing director at CBB International and a geopolitical analyst specializing in emerging and frontier markets, discussed Pakistan’s relations with Middle East nations. WPR: Who are Pakistan’s main partners in the Middle East, and what are their main areas of cooperation? Shehzad Qazi: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey are three of Pakistan’s main partners in the Middle East. Pakistan and […]

A funeral procession for a senior Hezbollah senior commander who was killed in Syria, in the southern Lebanese village of Ansar, March 2, 2016 (AP photo by Mohammed Zaatari).

On Feb. 19, Saudi Arabia announced it was canceling $4 billion in aid earmarked for Lebanon since 2013 and imposed a travel ban for Saudi citizens to the Mediterranean country. The moves represented an unequivocal shift in Saudi foreign policy toward Lebanon, where for years the kingdom has competed with Iran for influence by backing the Sunni-led March 14 coalition, headed by the Future Movement of Saad Hariri, against Hezbollah and the rival March 8 coalition that it leads. Saudi allies swiftly followed suit: Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates called on their citizens to leave Lebanon. Less […]

Syrian Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the village of Esme near Aleppo, Syria, Feb. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Mursel Coban).

Frustration over U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish militants seems to have prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pose a thought experiment over what, exactly, is a terrorist. The United States has developed a close working relationship with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which have emerged as the most effective fighting force against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Turkey has watched this with increasing alarm. It alleges the YPG and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), together form the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Marxist-Kurdish nationalist organization that waged a decades-long war against the […]

Muslims pray outside the newly restored Moscow Cathedral Mosque during celebrations of Eid al-Adha, Moscow, Russia, Sept. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the elections in Iran, South Korea’s missile defense program and the Colombian government’s peace talks with the FARC. For the report, Robert Crews, the director of the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University, joins us to explain how Russia’s Muslim population fits into President Vladimir Putin’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Iran’s Election Results Show Pendulum Swinging Away From Hard-Liners North Korea’s Provocations Revive U.S. Missile Shield in South Korea Santos […]

Members of Iran's Assembly of Experts attend their last seasonal meeting of the fourth assembly, Tehran, Iran, March 8, 2016 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Last month’s elections for Iran’s parliament and Assembly of Experts were complicated by the elaborate and extensive vetting procedure that filters out candidates considered too radical for the system. The overwhelming majority of those disqualified candidates belonged to the progressive end of the spectrum, usually referred to as reformists. Yet despite the authorities’ efforts to manage the outcome, Iran’s hard-liners still lost their majority in Iran’s 290-member parliament, or Majlis, while moderates won a majority in the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body tasked with choosing the next supreme leader. Key hard-liners, including two prominent clerics from the Assembly of […]

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