A view of Urmia Lake, Iran, Aug. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on countries’ risk exposure, contribution and response to climate change. Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, once a popular tourism destination, has become a symbol of the dangers of climate change, having lost 90 percent of its water since the 1970s. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pledged $5 million for conservation efforts, but it is unclear if the lake can be saved. In an email interview, Gary Lewis, the United Nations resident coordinator in Iran, discussed Iran’s climate change policy. WPR: What is Iran’s risk exposure to climate change, what […]

A missile is displayed next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran, Iran, Sept. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

Despite Donald Trump’s tough talk about the Iran nuclear deal during the presidential campaign, there have been some signals since the election that his administration may walk back his threat to cancel the accord. But hostility to Iran seems rampant among Trump’s advisers, meaning the spirit, if not the letter, of the agreement will likely be violated. The costs of reverting to a confrontational approach to Iran would include more regional instability, and doing so would raise serious questions about Trump’s commitment to some international norms and practices. What to do about Iran is one of the prominent foreign policy […]

French soldiers secure the area at the entrance of Gao, Mali, Feb. 10, 2013 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

The deadly terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire in January and March, respectively, show the deep reach of militants affiliated with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and their ability to bounce back from the military drubbing they received as a result of France’s intervention in the Sahel, which began in 2013. The spectacular attacks are part of a long pattern illustrating the enduring resilience of AQIM and its ability to regenerate itself by adjusting strategy and tactics to mounting pressure from both counterterrorism operations and rising jihadi competition in the Sahel and West African region. As alliances […]

Guards at a checkpoint near burning oil fields in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Felipe Dana).

Earlier this month, on Nov. 5, militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State killed 26 civilians with a roadside bomb as they fled Hawija, a predominantly Sunni Arab town about 40 miles southwest of Kirkuk. With international attention focused on the battle for Mosul, the attack was just the latest sign of the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis on a forgotten battlefield in another part of northern Iraq. Hawija’s approximately 200,000 civilians have lived under Islamic State control since June 2014. The town represents a strategically significant objective in the fight to secure northern Iraq and reintegrate liberated communities into the […]

A soldier with the California Army National Guard exits a gas chamber during a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear event, San Luis Obispo, Ca., Nov. 2, 2016 (Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Andres J. Viveros).

Movements like the self-proclaimed Islamic State must innovate or die. An insurgency is always weaker than the government or governments it faces, so it must make the most of its limited resources and whatever advantages it does enjoy. Often what it has in its favor is a lack of restraint and a willingness to carefully orchestrate violence to maximize its effects. That is why groups like the Islamic State rely on terrorism, using it to generate fear disproportionate to the resources it takes to execute an attack. In strategic terms, terrorism is cheap but potentially effective, particularly if the victim […]

The Cypriot and Greek flags over an abandoned military guard post, Nicosia, Cyprus, Nov. 5, 2016 (AP photo by Petros Karadjias).

Reunification talks between Cyprus and northern Cyprus in the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin ended Friday with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mustafa Akinci, agreeing to reconvene on Nov. 20 in Geneva. Both leaders, as well as the United Nations, which is backing the peace talks, said that significant progress was made. However, many of the most contentious issues are yet to be resolved. The eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 between the Greek-speaking south, officially the Republic of Cyprus, and the breakaway Turkish-speaking north, which is only recognized by Turkey. Since […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov review an honor guard, Moscow, June 6, 2016 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

Russia might be doing all it can to secure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power in Syria, but that hasn’t dissuaded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from pursuing robust ties with Moscow. Last week, he and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met in Jerusalem to mark the 25th anniversary of Russia-Israel ties. They capped off the occasion by signing a series of bilateral agreements on agriculture, technology and construction. Medvedev’s visit comes after a good year for Israel-Russia ties, described by The Washington Post as a “budding bromance.” Since September 2015, Netanyahu has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin […]

A Saudi woman casts her ballot at a polling center during municipal elections, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 12, 2015 (AP photo by Aya Batrawy).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the status of women’s rights and gender equality in various countries around the globe. Earlier this month, the Shura Council, a formal advisory body to Saudi King Salman, refused to even look into the possibility of letting women in Saudi Arabia drive. That leaves Saudi Arabia as the only country in the world that forbids women from driving. In an email interview, Katherine Zoepf, a fellow at New America and author of “Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World,” discusses women’s […]

A Rwandan officer with UNAMID participates in a road trip exercise, North Darfur, June 27, 2010 (U.N. photo by Albert González Farran).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the global implications of Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the United States presidential election. For the Report, Andrew Green joins Peter Dörrie to talk about the forgotten conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: What Does Trump’s Election Victory Mean? Learning to Live With Uncertainty What Does the Presidential Election Mean for U.S. Foreign Policy? As Renzi’s Referendum Gamble Approaches, Italy Could Be the EU’s Next Headache Delays Are the Least of Somalia’s Election Troubles Darfur’s Conflict […]

Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in New York, Sept. 19, 2016 (AP photo by Andres Kudacki).

Egypt’s general-turned-strongman, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, was the first foreign leader to call Donald Trump and congratulate him on his surprising election as president of the United States. Read into that what you will. Back in September, Trump met with el-Sisi in New York during the United Nations General Assembly and didn’t bring up Egypt’s grim human rights record in the three-plus years that el-Sisi has been in power. In her own meeting with Egypt’s president, Hillary Clinton did. Under el-Sisi, tens of thousands of political dissidents and regime opponents have been thrown in Egyptian jails. According to the Trump campaign’s readout […]

A service outlet for M-Pesa, the mobile-phone based money transfer and micro-financing service, in Gatina slum, Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 16 2012 (Sipa photo by Benedicte Desrus).

Prolonged and contentious trade negotiations between the European Union and different regions of Africa have been put back into the spotlight in recent months. Despite negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements, or EPAs, with the EU, several key African states have failed to sign them. Britain’s referendum on leaving the EU last June has added an extra dimension of uncertainty to the situation. This threatens to derail years of trade talks between Europe and Africa, which changed significantly with the signing of the Cotonou Agreement in 2000 between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, or ACP countries. […]

Worshippers on their way to perform Friday afternoon prayers in the courtyard of Ezzitouna Mosque, Tunis, Tunisia, Oct. 23, 2015 (AP photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy).

As the U.S. presidential campaign finally wraps up, the Middle East is taking away some very negative messages about American culture that will diminish America’s ability to be a model for good governance and to influence outcomes in the region. Iran’s media has even used a broadcast of the U.S. presidential debates to validate the regime narrative of America’s corruption and weak moral values, and Iran’s own preference for strict religious codes of conduct. But Arab states working to avoid extremism and authoritarianism still seek virtue in the American experience, even if they are not yet ready to embrace democracy […]

A sand storm over the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) headquarters, El Fasher, North Darfur, Aug. 8, 2015 (UNAMID photo by Adrian Dragnea).

Jacob Berry is searching for any sign he can return to the home in Darfur he fled 13 years ago. In 2003, near the outset of the ongoing conflict in Darfur, a Khartoum-backed militia attacked Berry’s village. In their efforts to root out a rebel movement, government troops and state-supported fighters have committed countless targeted atrocities against civilians, and Berry’s village was not spared. Houses were set alight, residents scattered, and an unknown number of people killed, including his father and brother. Berry, then 15, fled all the way to Libya’s Mediterranean coast, before boarding a boat for Alexandria, Egypt. […]

Syrian rescue workers after an airstrike in the town of Darat Izza, western Aleppo province, Syria, Nov. 5, 2016 (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets photo via AP).

Russia is planning to confront the next U.S. president with the dilemma of how to manage a bloody defeat in Syria on his or her first day in office: As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hurtle around America looking for last-minute votes, Moscow has been positioning its forces for a final assault on Aleppo. Despite pushes by rebel forces to gain ground, there is a very high chance that the Russians and their Syrians allies will secure total control of the city before the next president’s inauguration. Moscow is likely to dismiss residual efforts by the Obama administration, and other […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference, Istanbul, Oct. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

In Istanbul last month, Turkey and Russia signed a strategic agreement for a stalled gas pipeline known as Turkish Stream. Running under the Black Sea to Turkey and then on to Greece, the pipeline would offer Russia a way to sell gas to Europe that bypasses existing pipelines in Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine. The Turkish Stream agreement seems like the culmination of a Turkish-Russian rapprochement that has been underway since the spring, as both countries tried to repair relations after Turkey downed a Russian fighter along the Syrian border nearly a year ago. First proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin […]

A woman walks past graffiti in Sidi Bouzid, where the protests that lit the Arab world began, Tunisia, Oct. 19, 2011 (AP photo by Amine Landoulsi).

When Tunisians overthrew dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, they kicked off a wave of popular uprisings throughout the Middle East and spurred a jubilant sense of unity at home. But for champions of women’s rights in the country, that jubilation was soon replaced by a sense of dread over what might happen to those rights as Islamist conservatism began to take hold. While Ben Ali’s two decades in power were marked by corruption, human rights abuses and tight restrictions on free speech and political opposition, his regime did preserve the secular foundations of Tunisia’s strong women’s rights legislation, […]

With graphic posters and signs, thousands of Moroccans protest against the death of Mouhcine Fikri, Rabat, Morocco, Oct. 30, 2016 (AP photo by Abdeljalil Bounhar).

On Friday, Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger in the northern Moroccan town of Al-Hoceima, jumped into the compacter of a garbage truck in an attempt to salvage some $11,000 of fish that had been confiscated by the police. He was subsequently crushed to death. Footage of the carnage was shared widely online. Moroccans immediately took to social media, decrying “hogra,” a term used to describe injustice at the hands of the government. Angry posts turned into mass protests, which began Sunday in the Rif region and spread across the country. Some protesters called Fikri’s death premeditated. The demonstrations, which are ongoing, […]

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