Police officers prevent access to the church where a hostage-taking claimed by ISIS left a priest dead, Normandy, France, July 27, 2016 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Though only a little more than half over, 2016 has already turned into a tragically bloody year of terrorism. What is concerning is not simply the extent of this violence but the ongoing mutation of terrorism into new forms. This is not unexpected. Terrorism constantly changes as the dark organizations that use it innovate. Terrorists seek to cause fear, anxiety, panic and overreaction. The unknown and unexpected amplifies fear, so once the terrorists’ intended audience adapts to a type or level of violence, they must escalate or find new methods. As is often true in strategy, what works today for […]

Fighters listen to Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah as he speaks via a video link, Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 11, 2015 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the potential for conflict between the U.S and Russia, al-Shabab’s resilience, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response to unrest in Kashmir. For the Report, Nicholas Blanford joins us to talk about the effect of the Syria conflict on Hezbollah’s standing in Lebanon and the region. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: The Real Risk of Unintended U.S.-Russia Conflict Why Territorial Losses Don’t Weaken Somalia’s Al-Shabab Modi’s Kashmir Conundrum: Promising Development as Violence Intensifies Will Syria Be Hezbollah’s Proving Ground, or Its […]

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he arrives at parliament, Ankara, Turkey, July 22, 2016 (Press Presidency Press Service via AP, pool).

The attempted coup d’état earlier this month in Turkey has drawn attention to the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his increasingly authoritarian tendencies. The ensuing crackdown has been replete with widespread purges of major institutions and mass arrests, deepening domestic instability and complicating Turkey’s regional and international outlook. World Politics Review has compiled 10 articles to help contextualize the sources and implications of the current upheaval. The following 10 articles are free for non-subscribers until Aug. 11. The Aftermath of the Failed Coup Failed Coup Is a Victory for Erdogan, but Not for Turkey’s Democracy By triumphing over […]

Relatives and comrades pray as they surround the Hezbollah flag-draped coffins of Shiite fighters who were killed in Syria, Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, Oct. 27, 2015 (AP photo by Mohammed Zaatari).

As Hezbollah prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of a month-long war with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the militant, Iran-backed Shiite organization is facing some of the toughest challenges in its three decades of existence. Hezbollah is mired in a protracted war in neighboring Syria, where its fighters are battling to defend the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The conflict is estimated to have taken the lives of more Hezbollah fighters in four years than in the entire period of resisting Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon between 1982 and 2000. Hezbollah is struggling to maintain morale among its […]

Protesters hold portraits of Morocco's King Mohammed VI and the Moroccan flag during a rally, Rabat, Morocco, March 13, 2016 (AP photo by Abdeljalil Bounhar).

On July 18, Morocco made a request to reintegrate into the African Union, more than three decades after it withdrew from the organization over its controversial claims to Western Sahara. The dispute over Western Sahara, which Morocco annexed in 1975 following Spain’s withdrawal, has lingered for decades and been a thorn in Morocco’s regional and foreign relations, particularly with neighboring Algeria. In 1984, the African Union recognized an independent Western Sahara as the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, known by its French acronym, RASD, and granted it membership, prompting Morocco to leave the supranational body. The Polisario Front, a liberation movement […]

African Union headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dec. 8, 2013 (Photo by Albert González Farran, UNAMID, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

The African Union held its 27th summit in Kigali, Rwanda, earlier this week, where it had planned to elect a new chairperson of the African Union Commission, the executive office of the AU. But in Kigali, all three candidates fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed to secure the position. As a result, attendees agreed to extend the tenure of the current chairperson, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, by six months. The postponement of the elections reveals the complexities of regional politics in Africa, but also indicates some continent-wide uncertainty about the role and direction of the AU. Three candidates […]

More than 100,000 Venezuelans cross the Simon Bolivar bridge to buy basic goods, San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela, July 17, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the fallout from the attempted coup in Turkey and political turmoil in Zimbabwe. For the Report, David Smilde discusses Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic crisis and how it could affect Colombia’s peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: With Friends Like Turkey, the U.S. Needs Russia in Syria Failed Coup Is a Victory for Erdogan, but Not for Turkey’s Democracy Erdogan’s Post-Coup Purge Puts a Chill on U.S.-Turkey Ties As Turmoil Sparks the […]

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, third left, visits the Hemeimeem air base, Syria, June 18, 2016 (Russian Defense Ministry photo by Vadim Savitsky via AP).

While the world focuses on the so-called Islamic State, the other main jihadi group in Syria—the one still affiliated with al-Qaida—has been biding its time. The Nusra Front has extended its footprint in northwestern Syria as the civil war has dragged on, embedding itself in the patchwork of rebel groups there and, more recently, dreaming of a statelet of its own. The Obama administration, apparently alarmed at those prospects, is now moving to work more closely with Russia to attack the Nusra Front. In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama discussed […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with U.S. President Barack Obama during a session of the G-20 Summit, Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 15, 2015 (AP photo via Anadolu Agency).

A military coup against a democratically elected government constitutes a blatant affront against democracy. And yet, as Ellen Laipson pointed out in her WPR column earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s defeat of an attempted coup on July 15 does not herald a strengthening of Turkey’s democracy. In fact, all signs point to an acceleration of his push toward autocratic rule. Given Erdogan’s countercoup moves—which so far appear to include demolishing limitations on his growing, if still not constitutionally sanctioned, executive power—one increasingly important question looms: What does the future hold for the pivotal relationship between the United […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, at a ceremony marking the national day of nuclear technology, Tehran, April 7, 2016 (Iranian Presidency Office via AP).

July 14 was the first anniversary of the historic nuclear accord between Iran and the group of world powers known as the P5+1—the U.S., China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. For the first time, the deal put in place significant curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions. The deal, and its subsequent implementation so far, have been hailed by a wide number of national security luminaries, nuclear nonproliferation analysts and the vast majority of the global community. But opposition to it, particularly among foreign policy hawks in the United States, Israel and […]

Unemployed protestors take to the streets, Tunis, Tunisia, Jan. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Riadh Dridi).

Tunisia is often and rightly lauded for the progress it has made since the popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. But social inequality and regional asymmetries are undermining Tunisia’s democratic transition and deepening the chasm between a restless and rebellious periphery and an eastern Mediterranean coast that fears and misunderstands the bitter resentment of border communities. These unaddressed challenges are also making it harder to secure the country from internal upheaval and terrorism. Aggrieved youths increasingly express their anger in fiery protests and street violence. This radical projection of grievances risks feeding a […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters gathered in front of his residence, Istanbul, July 19, 2016 (AP photo by Kayhan Ozer).

ISTANBUL—Turkey’s elected government survived last weekend’s failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but there’s no reason to think that Turkey’s democracy will be strengthened by the outcome. Erdogan is responding to the threat by rounding up all his enemies, real and imagined, and pushing for new powers that will set back Turkey’s reputation, its economy and its capacity to be a constructive leader in the region. Erdogan has won, but Turkey has lost. For some time, tensions in Turkey have been rising over Erdogan’s ambitious plans to expand the powers of the presidency. As I discussed in last […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after a news conference, Moscow, Russia, July 15, 2016, (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Winston Churchill once quipped that the only thing worse than fighting a war with allies is fighting one without them. Looking at the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama might wish he could get rid of his regional allies anyway. His efforts to stabilize the region have been persistently weakened or derailed by America’s supposed friends. Israel tried hard to block last year’s Iranian nuclear deal. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have deliberately stirred up the Syrian war, even as Washington has been doing its best to try to end it through diplomacy. Now the turbulence in Turkey threatens […]

Personal belongings of slain Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni, March 24, 2016 (Photo released by Egyptian Interior Ministry).

In late June, Italy’s Senate voted to suspend the export of spare F-16 parts to Egypt, in the sharpest rebuke yet to Cairo over its poor handling of an investigation into the killing of an Italian student in Egypt earlier this year. Nicola Latorre, a senator from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party, called the move a way to pressure Egyptian authorities to help “the truth emerge more quickly” over the brutal murder of Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old researcher from Cambridge University who disappeared in Cairo on Jan. 25, the fifth anniversary of the popular uprising that ousted former President […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, Jerusalem, July 10, 2016. (AP photo by Dan Balilty).

No reasonable person would predict that a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is in the cards in the foreseeable future. Even forecasting the most limited progress may seem like a fool’s errand. And yet, a series of recent events reveal an unexpected glimmer of hope and suggest that, despite the pessimism of the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, modest steps forward may be possible in the coming months. This past Sunday, the region witnessed something that had not occurred in nearly a decade: an openly publicized, high-profile visit to Israel by a high-ranking Arab official. It was […]

Iraqi security forces advance during the fight against Islamic State militants, Fallujah, Iraq, June 15, 2016 (AP photo by Anmar Khalil).

In the summer of 2014, the Obama administration found itself between a rock and a hard place. The Islamic State had just swept through northern Iraq, decimating the American-trained Iraqi army left to keep the peace after the U.S. withdrawal. Islamic State foot soldiers executed Iraqi troops and commandeered their American weapons, growing stronger and better equipped as they passed through each town. The U.S. had few options to counter the Islamic State’s rise. Having just vacated Iraq in 2010, any thoughts of a massive military deployment returning to the Middle East to win back Sunni “hearts and minds” would […]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at an operations center outside Fallujah, Iraq, June 1, 2016 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

The Middle East has a long history of authoritarianism, and the legacy of that history is illustrated in contrasting ways by two key states in the region. Turkey, a flawed but functioning democracy for most of a century, is returning to a more authoritarian model, while Iraq has replaced its strongman with a more normal political leader, provoking nostalgia for the old system. The U.S. has some leverage to push both states to strike the right balance between too little or too much power at the top. Before the Arab Spring, political scientists examining the durability of authoritarianism in the […]

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