Iranian President Hassan Rouhani holds the hands of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremonial reception, New Delhi, India, Feb. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

On Feb. 17, during a meeting in New Delhi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed nine new bilateral agreements, including an 18-month lease of part of the Iranian port of Chabahar, near the Pakistan border, to India for an $85 million development project. Modi said the port deal would help expand “the centuries-old bilateral relationship.” In an email interview, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and the recent author of “Psycho-nationalism: Global Thought, Iranian Imaginations,” explains the significance of the port deal, […]

Parents with their young children shop for vegetables in downtown Amman, Jordan, Dec. 2, 2017 (AP photo by Lindsey Leger).

Jordan’s prime minister, Hani al-Mulki, reshuffled his Cabinet on Sunday, making changes in several key and telling portfolios, including the ministries of economy, labor and interior. The shakeup comes amid a period of public uneasiness over the direction of the country’s economy and who should bear the burden resulting from years of economic mismanagement by largely unaccountable policymakers. In early February, the government raised the sales tax from 6 to 10 percent on more than 160 basic food items, services and commodities ranging from eggs to electricity. Brand new sales taxes were also introduced on agricultural products that were previously […]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul-malik al-Mekhlafi for talks in Moscow, Russia, Jan. 22, 2018 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In late January, Yemen’s foreign minister, Abdul-malik al-Mekhlafi, traveled to Moscow where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. As they discussed the implementation of an elusive peace settlement in Yemen, Lavrov emphasized Russia’s willingness to mediate between rival Yemeni factions. Lavrov’s somewhat surprising announcement was followed up days later by a statement from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offering to broker talks in the burgeoning conflict between separatists in southern Yemen and the forces of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, whose president is in exile in Saudi Arabia. Until recently, Russia has maintained a diplomatic presence in Yemen’s […]

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, speaks to the Security Council at U.N. headquarters, New York, Dec. 8, 2017 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

It is hard to feel excited about United Nations Security Council resolutions anymore. On Saturday, after days of exhausting diplomacy, the council unanimously passed a resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire across Syria. Most diplomatic observers reacted either cautiously or outright cynically. Previous U.N.-backed cessations of hostilities in the country have evaporated quickly. A veteran of the siege of Sarajevo in Bosnia in the 1990s once told me that he had kept a list of how long each cease-fire there had lasted before a shot was fired. The shortest was less than a minute. The record in Syria is no […]

A child looks on as a fighter with the Free Syrian Army secures a checkpoint on the outskirts of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

The ongoing and increasingly grim conflict in Syria is a portent of wars to come. As I wrote last week, future Syria-style wars will be defined by four characteristics: intricate complexity, a conflict-specific configuration of antagonists, an inability of the international community to undertake humanitarian intervention and a failure of the United Nations to play an effective role in ending the fighting. But beyond these core features, wars resembling Syria’s civil war will share other attributes both on and off the battlefield, with profound and troubling implications for the United States. In any war, resource streams are crucial. Because a […]

Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi protest after the Muslim Brotherhood called on its supporters to take to the streets on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Hesham Elkhoshny).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the recent indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Was Russia’s interference a sophisticated campaign of hybrid warfare, or a ham-handed attempt at undermining America? For the Report, Peter Dörrie talks with our contributor in Cairo about the Muslim Brotherhood’s struggle for survival under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our […]

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan poses with Turkish soldiers during his visit to the Qatari-Turkish Armed Forces Land Command Base, Doha, Qatar, Nov. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Kayhan Ozer).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about the production and trade of arms around the world. Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that his country would no longer buy defense systems, software or products from other countries, except in cases of emergency, in the interest of building up Turkey’s own defense industry. A NATO member, Turkey has bought arms from allies like the United States for years. In an email interview, Iyad Dakka, a fellow with the Centre for Modern Turkish Studies at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Canada, […]

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the donor conference for Iraq, Kuwait City, Kuwait, Feb. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell).

The recent international conference in Kuwait to help Iraq rebuild after its war against the Islamic State provided stark and surprising insights into which countries are most invested in Iraqi stability. While the United Nations and the World Bank led the launch of a new recovery and resilience program for the country, it was the neighboring Gulf states and Turkey that stepped up to the plate with new pledges. Given heightened regional tensions over Iran and Syria, the commitment to help Iraq recuperate looks like a positive development for the Middle East. Perhaps with some trepidation and ambivalence, its neighbors […]

An Egyptian youth carries a lit flare as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood protest in the El-Mataria neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, April 24, 2015 (AP photo by Belal Darder).

Editor’s Note: WPR has agreed to publish this article anonymously due to the hostile environment in Egypt toward political dissent and independent reporting. Tracking down the Society of the Muslim Brothers, better known as the Muslim Brotherhood, is a difficult task. Ever since the group was outlawed in Egypt following the July 2013 military coup that brought Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to power, those Brotherhood members who have not been killed, executed or imprisoned have kept their heads down. Inside Egypt, they generally refuse to meet or cancel at the last minute for fear of being identified and apprehended […]

A Yemeni soldier allied to the country's internationally recognized government unslings his machine gun on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 2, 2018 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell).

Secessionists in southern Yemen have agitated for independence for almost as long as there has been a unified Yemeni state. But since unification in 1990, a common complaint among foreign diplomats and Yemeni government officials was that the secessionists were too diffuse and too poorly organized to credibly demand independence or even political relevance. They were seen as a noisy rabble with no real platform or strategy. Yemen’s civil war has changed that, as a group of secessionists is now moving to build a state within Yemen’s state of chaos. In late January, clashes in the southern port city of […]

Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 28, 2018 (AP photo).

Week by week, month by month, the horrific war in Syria grinds on, killing combatants from many countries and, most tragic of all, Syrian civilians—the unintended or, in many cases, intended victims of the warring parties. As Liz Sly and Loveday Morris wrote recently in The Washington Post, “A war that began with peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad is rapidly descending into a global scramble for control over what remains of the broken country of Syria, risking a wider conflict. Under skies crowded by the warplanes of half a dozen countries, an assortment of factions backed by rival powers […]

Russia's energy minister Alexander Novak and Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid Al-Falih attend a news conference after an OPEC meeting, Vienna, Austria, Nov. 30, 2017 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).

Saudi Arabia and Russia are gushing over their budding relationship. In a series of recent interviews, the Saudi energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, and his Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak, expressed soaring optimism over the future of their countries’ ties, and not just in managing oil markets. “Think of it as a relationship that is in decades and even in generations,” al-Falih told his CNBC interviewers in Davos, Switzerland on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum last month. Forged after the 2014 collapse in world energy prices, the unlikely partnership between the two Cold War-era adversaries is based first and foremost […]

A civilian fighter in the ruins of Benghazi, Libya, Feb. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Mohammed el-Shaiky).

The U.S. foreign policy community tosses the word “failure” around a lot: intelligence failures, policy failures, failures of imagination. Each American president is assigned his share of failures, sometimes based on reflections of those who participated in hard policy decisions, but more often based on judgments made by others who were not directly involved. It’s perfectly fair to assess whether the outcome of a particular policy succeeded or failed to achieve its stated goal. Yet over time, some misleading “truths” become established that need to be checked and revisited. Take the increasingly common framing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya as […]

Turkey-backed opposition fighters of the Free Syrian Army secure a checkpoint at the village of Maarin, on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Analyzing the United Nations is rather like being a nervous seismologist in California. Geological experts are accustomed to tremors and small quakes along the San Andreas Fault, which bisects America’s most heavily populated state. But they are on alert for a much more powerful earthquake that could wreck some of the country’s most prosperous cities. Some say this will come soon. U.N. experts are likewise hardened to the regular crises that shake the organization but do not upend it. From Mali to Syria, the U.N. is struggling to make or keep peace. But despite occasional bouts of diplomatic frustration, the […]

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis participate in a cabinet meeting at the White House, Washington D.C., Jan. 10, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss three international crises faced by the Trump administration that are now coming to a head. In Syria, North Korea and Venezuela, the administration will soon have to take decisions and actions with important consequences. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get some of our uncompromising analysis delivered twice a week straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free and timely […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and his wife, Emine, arrive for a private audience with Pope Francis, Vatican, Feb. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Gregorio Borgia).

The contentious relationship between Turkey and the West hit a little-noticed but significant milestone this week, when the Dutch government announced it was formally downgrading diplomatic ties and officially withdrawing its ambassador from Ankara. Turkey and the Netherlands remain NATO allies, and diplomatic relations continue at the level of charges d’affaires. While not garnering the attention of the escalating confrontation between Turkey and NATO in Syria, the Dutch move is an important marker of Turkey’s continuing drift away from the West under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The decision was also unexpected because Turkey and the Netherlands had been in talks […]

Cyprus’ president, Nicos Anastasiades, gestures to supporters after voting in the recent election, Limassol, Cyprus, Feb. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Petros Karadjias).

In the end, the result was little surprise. On Feb. 4, Nicos Anastasiades won a second term as president of the Republic of Cyprus. Although the margin of victory was perhaps a bit closer than many predicted—he won by 56 percent in a runoff against Stavros Malas, an independent backed by the Greek Cypriot communist party, known as AKEL—polls had shown Anastasiades with a comfortable lead for many months. Now that the elections are over, attention inevitably turns to the long-running efforts to reunify the ethnically split Mediterranean island. Since violence first flared up between Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities […]

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