Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, July 19, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

When Chinese President Xi Jinping met privately in Beijing on July 18 with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, he floated the idea of three-way talks in which the Chinese government would attempt to mediate between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. At a time when it seems the United States under President Donald Trump is disengaging from global leadership, Xi’s proposal hints at the possibility of reshaping the political landscape of the Middle East. Can China actually supplant the U.S. as the primary external diplomatic force in the region? It is a question that loomed over Xi’s posturing even […]

Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh arrives to attend the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Maryland, Aug. 3, 2014 (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

Just weeks after sending troops to its first overseas military base in the tiny East African nation of Djibouti, China has come forward with a curious offer: to dive headlong into a dispute that illustrates the complex rivalries of the Horn of Africa region. In an interview with the Associated Press published July 21, Kuang Weilin, China’s ambassador to the African Union (AU), said China would consider sending peacekeeping troops to a border area contested by Djibouti and Eritrea. The dispute over the area, known as Ras Doumeira, dates back to the late 19th century, when Eritrea was colonized by […]

A Turkish army tank stands in the village of Esme in Aleppo province, Syria, February 22, 2015 (AP photo by Mursel Coban).

Relations between the United States and Turkey are continuing down a turbulent path. In the most recent incident, on July 18, Turkey’s state news agency, Anadolu, published in both Turkish and English sensitive information about the U.S. military footprint in northern Syria. Anadolu’s report included the troop levels and precise locations of 10 American military bases stretching across the Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria. Although the news agency claims the information was discovered through regular reporting by its journalists in Syria, Washington clearly believes the Turkish government was behind the leak. “We would be very concerned if officials from a NATO […]

Unemployed Tunisians protest amid unrest that led to a nationwide curfew, Tunis, Jan. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Riadh Dridi).

Tunisia is a paradox. It is the Arab Spring’s one fragile success story, still committed to a democratic path. It is also the largest recruiting ground for Islamist terrorist groups, revealing deep fault lines in the country’s efforts to provide its citizens with more political and economic opportunity. The Trump administration is currently sending mixed signals in terms of its approach to the country, highlighting the key role Congress can play in ensuring a balanced and productive policy. Tunisia—small, relatively homogeneous and endowed with strong human development indicators rather than natural resources—is the last Arab Spring country standing. It has […]

The sun sets on the historic and largely destroyed Old City on the west side of Mosul, Iraq, July 11, 2017 (AP photo by Felipe Dana).

On July 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s long-awaited announcement finally came: The self-proclaimed Islamic State’s occupation of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was over. In its wake, the Islamic State left thousands dead, and victory in Mosul, after perhaps the worst urban warfare this century, looked more like devastation. Over a million people were displaced. While the fighting is not over, the eventual outcome—the Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul—is not in doubt. Still, much of the city is in ruins without even the most basic public services, and that’s the good news. The bad news is where things are likely […]

Iraqi troops march in a military parade during celebrations marking the recapture of Mosul from Islamic State militants, Baghdad, July 15, 2017 (Iraqi Prime Minister’s media office via AP).

The defeat in Mosul of the so-called Islamic State was supposed to be good news for Iraq. But challenges that remain—ranging from Shiite militias’ new role and Sunni Iraqis’ enduring mistrust of each other and Baghdad, to the lack of state capacity to restore basic services—mean that Mosul’s nightmare will just continue. For some modest signs of constructive political change that is happening in Iraq, we need to look deeper, at local and regional developments. The recapture of Mosul on July 10 by Iraqi forces, with the help of Shiite and Kurdish militia, was supposed to usher in a new […]

Iraqis celebrate while holding national flags in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory against the Islamic State group in Mosul, July 10, 2017 (AP photo by Karim Kadim).

Earlier this week Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Mosul freed from the forces of the self-styled Islamic State, the result of the longest and most destructive urban battle of the 21st century. Elsewhere in Iraq, the Islamic State is close to losing most of the territory it once controlled. Across the border in Syria, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are driving the group out of its stronghold in Raqqa. Soon it may lose Deir Ezzor, the last urban center it controls. While this is all good news, the Islamic State is far from eradicated. Many of its foreign fighters […]

Supporters of Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu hold a huge Turkish flag as they gather for a rally following the “March for Justice,” Istanbul, July 9, 2017 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

One year after a coup attempt in Turkey, liberals are scrambling to defend what’s left of the country’s democracy. They are up against an increasingly assertive government campaign to dismantle many of the institutions and practices that had made Turkey the world’s freest, most open and democratic Muslim state. Liberal leaders, with massive popular support, have launched what looks like a make-or-break effort against steep odds. On Sunday, more than a million people turned out in Istanbul, joining tens of thousands who had braved brutal heat to take part in a 250-mile, three-week march from the capital Ankara. The participants […]

A child shouts during a rally protesting Israel’s military operations in Gaza, Dakar, Senegal, July 25, 2014 (AP photo by Jane Hahn).

The most recent meeting of the West African bloc ECOWAS featured an appearance by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who declared it a “dream to come here to this organization,” while offering Israeli partnership in areas including counterterrorism and agriculture. While Netanyahu’s outreach to Africa has generally proceeded smoothly, relations with Senegal hit a snag late last year over a United Nations resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement building. In response to the vote, Israel suspended aid and recalled its ambassador to Senegal, a co-sponsor of the resolution. In an email interview, Dr. Arye Oded, a retired Israeli ambassador and […]

The former rebel-held neighborhood of Ansari in northeastern Aleppo after it was retaken by the Syrian government, Jan. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called them “starve, surrender and slaughter” tactics. Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called them a “war crime.” Sieges have been especially brutal on civilians in Syria’s civil war, yet they remain the Syrian government’s favorite strategy for retaking territory and purging key regions of the country of its opponents. In May, the United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien, accused Bashar al-Assad’s government of exploiting civilian suffering as a “tactic of war.” The regime’s bloody, four-year campaign to recapture the battered city of Aleppo, which ended in a four-month siege […]

Migrants and refugees stand on the deck of a vessel after being rescued by Spanish NGO workers on the Mediterranean Sea, June 16, 2017 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. As people continue to migrate—and die—by crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat, it is time to reflect on what has gone wrong with the 2015 European Agenda on Migration. The agenda purports to be a comprehensive, multidimensional framework designed to address the crisis of increased precarious migration to Europe and associated fatalities at sea. It has led to the development and implementation of policies across a range of priority areas. Yet without […]

Edmond Mulet, the head of the U.N. mechanism charged with reviewing chemical weapons incidents, addresses the press at U.N. headquarters, New York, July 6, 2017 (Sipa via AP Images).

Diplomacy is a mendacious business. “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country,” one 17th-century wit supposedly quipped. Diplomats are still expected to massage, twist or conceal facts to suit their countries’ national interests. By contrast, international institutions are generally meant to make diplomacy a marginally more honest business by upholding higher standards of objectivity. Organizations like the United Nations and World Bank draw a lot of their credibility from the assumption that they tell the truth. In the last century, the League of Nations and then the U.N. pioneered the global […]

A fishing boat sailing down the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 3, 2011 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

For millennia, the Nile River has served as the backbone of Egypt, the lifeblood of its people. Gradually, though, the land of the pharaohs is losing its grip. Late last month, Uganda hosted the first ever heads-of-state summit aimed at resolving disagreements over the waters of the Nile. But it produced no major breakthrough and appeared to be a flop. In coming months, the opening of a major dam in Ethiopia will truly test Egypt’s anxieties that countries upstream are refusing to bow to its demands. The dam’s opening will reveal just how much leverage Egypt has lost. Egypt has […]

Iranians attend a rally displaying a Shahed-129 Iranian drone, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2016 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

On June 20, Pakistani officials announced that an air force fighter had shot down an Iranian drone in Baluchistan province. The same day, Pentagon officials said an American fighter jet had shot down an Iranian-made drone that was approaching U.S.-backed Syrian fighters in southeastern Syria. The two incidents highlighted Iran’s increasing operational deployment of its drones. In an email interview, Ariane Tabatabai, visiting assistant professor of security studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, describes the evolution of Iran’s drone program and its importance to the country’s defense sector. WPR: What progress has Iran […]

African leaders, along with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, at the 28th Assembly of the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2017 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. This week’s African Union summit—which brought heads of state to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday and Tuesday—featured debate on how best to accomplish one of the main recommendations from its reform commission: curb the body’s reliance on outside donors. Julian Hattem reported for WPR in February that the African Union’s expenses are expected to total $439 million this year, of which just 26 percent will be covered by African nations, undercutting leaders’ claims that it pursues “African solutions to African […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a conference with Israeli and Indian CEOs in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 6, 2017 (AP photo by Oded Balilty).

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Israel this week, he marked a major turning point in global diplomacy. Like other pivotal moments in world affairs, the first visit to Israel by an Indian prime minister was the culmination of a long process. But it underscores a series of geopolitical trends that have reshaped the Middle East, making it almost unrecognizable from barely a decade ago and presaging more far-reaching changes ahead. Modi was welcomed in Israel with an effusiveness reserved for few global leaders. At the arrival ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him, “We’ve been waiting for […]

Migrants sit on the deck of a rescue vessel after being rescued on the Mediterranean Sea, 20 miles north of Zuwarah, Libya, June 21, 2017 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Last month, a militia that had been holding Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, announced he had been released in accordance with an amnesty law passed by a parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk. In response, Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, issued a statement calling for Gadhafi’s arrest so he could face crimes against humanity charges in The Hague. However, in a testament to the political and security factors that have dogged the court’s work in Libya for years, Gadhafi’s whereabouts are unknown, and he does not appear to […]