Security officials at the scene of a car bombing in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri, Turkey, Dec. 17, 2016. (IHA via AP).

Last week, Turkey was hit by yet another terrorist attack, a car bombing that killed 13 soldiers and wounded 55 others in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri. Although quickly overshadowed days later by the assassination in Ankara of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, the bombing came just a week after a twin suicide bombing killed 44 policemen and wounded another 150 outside the Besiktas football stadium in Istanbul. While no immediate claim of responsibility has been issued for the Kayseri bombing, solid evidence points to the same perpetrators as the earlier Dec. 10 attack: the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Energy Congress, Istanbul, Oct. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

For a few hours after a Turkish policeman walked into an art gallery in Ankara and shot dead Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, it was unclear how the event would affect ties between the two countries. Ambassador Andrey Karlov had come to the gallery to celebrate the opening of an exhibit of Turkish photographers, “Russia Through Turks’ Eyes,” that was intended to highlight Turkey and Russia’s strengthening relationship. The assassination turned the exhibit into a scene of carnage, but there was no immediate sign that it would harm bilateral ties. In fact, all signs suggest that it will do the opposite, […]

Israelis wave flags and hold signs reading "Trump, the Israeli interest" during a rally, Jerusalem, Oct. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Tsafrir Abayov).

U.S. policy on Israel almost always manages to divide and stoke controversy, and President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel is no exception. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer with no diplomatic experience and a strong supporter of expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has generated outrage on the left and exaltation on the right—in both the United States and Israel. Friedman has overtly rejected any prospects for a two-state solution and demonized American Jews critical of Israeli policy. He once called members of J Street—a self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” progressive lobbying group—“worse than kapos,” the term […]

An Aleppo neighborhood retaken by troops loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Syria, Dec. 13, 2016 (Kyodo via AP Images).

The United Nations is kind to losers. The defeated parties in many conflicts, large and small, frequently turn to the U.N. in the last resort to defend what remains of their positions. Palestinian leaders have turned to the General Assembly for decades to argue their case against Israel. In the wake of the Cold War, Russia clung onto its permanent seat in the Security Council as one last bastion of international influence. Moscow made the best use it could of the U.N. during its years of weakness, and Western powers often threw it a diplomatic bone or two. After bombing […]

Relatives of victims of a church bombing after funeral services, Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 12, 2016 (AP photo by Nariman El-Mofty).

A bomb ripped through a church in central Cairo last week, killing at least 26 people in the most brutal and brazen attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christian community in years. The self-declared Islamic State, which has been waging an insurgency against the government in the Sinai Peninsula since 2014, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, the seat of the Egyptian Orthodox Church. It vowed to escalate what it called a “war on polytheism,” a sign that it seeks to stoke more sectarian violence in Egypt and target the country’s beleaguered Coptic minority. The attack […]

Rwanda President Paul Kagame during the opening ceremony of the African Union Summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2016 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

The race to lead the African Union is entering a critical stage, as candidates to succeed outgoing AU Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma make their final pitches and struggle to overcome regional divisions that stalled the election process five months ago. On Dec. 9, the five contenders made their most public appeals yet, in a first-ever televised debate broadcast from the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that marked an overt effort to popularize the organization across the continent. Traditional divides along regional and linguistic lines forced a six-month delay of the election in July, when heads of state failed to […]

Posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo, Syria, Dec. 5, 2016 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

The Syrian civil war has undeniably reached a turning point. Syrian government forces and their allies have routed the rebels in the eastern side of the city of Aleppo, once the country’s largest and most thriving metropolis. Aleppo lies in ruins, its population terrified by a relentless assault by the Syrian army, with the support of Russia, Lebanon’s Shiite militia Hezbollah and other Shiite forces organized and backed by Iran. The eastern districts of Aleppo had been under rebel control since 2012. Their fall marks the most significant setback suffered by the forces seeking an end to the dictatorship of […]

Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts in several Yemeni cities, Sanaa, Yemen, Nov. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

“While parties bicker,” outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in June 2015, “Yemen burns.” Some 18 months later, with war dragging on between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition seeking to oust them, little has changed. As aid agencies once again raise the specter of famine in the Arab world’s poorest country, the prospects for a U.N.-brokered peace deal remain distant. The internationally recognized government, which was pushed out of the capital, Sanaa, by the Houthis in 2014, has flatly rejected the U.N.’s latest proposal, while the rebels late last month announced the formation of a new government. Amid this […]

Supporters of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) during a campaign rally, Sale, Morocco, October 6, 2016 (AP photo by Abdeljalil Bounhar).

For as long as many Moroccans can remember, they have been told that their country is moving toward reform. They have likewise heard about the government’s near-constant efforts to advance social and political development. But the net effect of these reforms and development programs, particularly in the political realm, has been minimal. That’s largely by design. When King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne in 1999, he allowed greater freedoms of the press and enacted meaningful social reforms, such as the 2004 revision of the family code, which granted women greater rights and legal protections. He also oversaw efforts to […]

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speaks at the Manama Dialogue Manama, Bahrain, Dec. 10, 2016 (DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley).

When the Gulf Cooperation Council states and their Western defense partners meet, the demand for changes in regional security cooperation and threat management has long come from the outsiders. The Western partners, the U.S. in particular, continue to call for more defense modernization and more integration of effort among these rich oil states. But the Gulf states are clearly not ready to take ownership of regional security, nor do they take the initiative for improving it. The mood on the Arab side of the Gulf is one of worry. The six GCC countries—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, […]

British Prime Minster Theresa May arrives in Bahrain, Dec. 5, 2016 (Photo by Stefan Rousseau via AP Images).

British Prime Minister Theresa May is in Bahrain to meet with the leaders of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states on the sidelines of the annual GCC Summit on Dec. 6-7. May, who took office in July in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and Prime Minister David Cameron’s subsequent resignation, is the first British prime minister to attend the GCC summit—and only the second Western leader to be invited to do so, after France’s Francois Hollande. Nearly six months on from Brexit, the mechanics and timeframe for Britain’s formal process of withdrawal from the European Union remain unresolved and, […]

Syrian refugee boys await approval to enter Jordan at the Hadalat reception area, Syrian-Jordanian border, May 4, 2016 (AP photo by Raad Adayleh).

The Syrian war has laid bare the inadequacy of current international responses to refugees and the global system in place to protect them. While the number of refugees arriving in Europe from Syria and elsewhere has slowed in recent months and the topic has largely faded from the front pages of newspapers, this lull is likely to be temporary. The slowdown is largely the result of the European Union’s controversial agreement with Turkey, which requires Ankara to improve conditions for refugees and crack down on illicit departures to Europe in exchange for economic aid and visa-free travel within the Schengen […]

Troops provide security after militants led an attack on a hotel and a cafe popular with foreigners, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Theo Renaut).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the death of Fidel Castro and the implications for reform in Cuba and normalizing ties with the United States. For the Report, Anouar Boukhars talks with Peter Dörrie about Islamist militancy in West Africa. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: What’s in Store for Cuba—and U.S. Ties—After Fidel Castro? The Costs of Uncertainty With Trump’s Trade Policies Iran Struggles to Grow Its Economy While Adapting to Climate Change How West Africa Became Fertile Ground for AQIM and ISIS Trend Lines is […]

Macedonian police officers look as migrants gather to protest from the Greek side of the border fence between Macedonia and Greece, April 13, 2016 (AP photo by Boris Grdanoski).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office in January, he will be confronted with a number of global challenges that will test some of his most popular campaign rhetoric. As a candidate, Trump proposed an “America First” agenda that he used to explain his call for a fairer sharing of costs related to America’s military role abroad and reduced foreign assistance, among other promises. Such an agenda […]

President Barack Obama with leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council at the Diriyah Palace, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 21, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, he vowed that immediately after taking office he would travel to a Muslim-majority country and deliver a major address to Muslims and Arabs as part of a determined effort to improve relations. After all, anti-American sentiment had risen sharply in much of the Middle East during the administration of his predecessor, George W. Bush. In contrast, President-elect Donald Trump campaigned this year on a promise to get tough on Muslims. His announcement that he would impose “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” until we “figure out […]