Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 14, 2018 (Presidency Press Service photo via AP Images).

Turkey is enduring its most severe economic crisis since the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, took power after sweeping elections in 2002. With a nearly 40 percent decline in the value of the Turkish lira this year, Turkey’s foreign exchange troubles risk plunging the heavily leveraged Turkish economy, and with it potentially the global economy, into a tailspin. On one hand, it’s a typical post-Cold War financial crisis in an emerging market whose economic prospects have always been volatile, with high risks and high rewards. On the other hand, the lira’s collapse is the product of a constellation of […]

Graffiti showing U.S. President Donald Trump with a footprint on his face and Arabic that reads, "For Jerusalem and the right of return, we resist," Gaza City, May 20, 2018 (AP photo by Khalil Hamra).

Despite repeatedly announcing his intention to present a bold, sweeping plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to keep everyone waiting. If he ever does present his plan, it is set to backfire, for several reasons. For one thing, the Trump administration has been shunned by Palestinians since it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. Palestinians were angered by the move, arguing that the U.S. government violated its role as mediator and sponsor of the peace process by adopting Israel’s position on Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders have taken the unprecedented step of halting all […]

Andrew Brunson, the detained evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, as he was moved to house arrest in Izmir, Turkey, July 25, 2018 (AP photo by Emre Tazegul).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Judah Grunstein, who will return Sept. 5. Relations between the United States and Turkey continue to deteriorate over the detention of U.S. citizens by the Turkish government, with all the focus on an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in the purge that followed the failed 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both sides are digging in, with President Donald Trump declaring in an interview on Monday that “there will be no concessions” to Turkey on securing Brunson’s release, despite the economic risks of Trump’s sudden pressure […]

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis greets an airman as he boards a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster for a trip to the U.S. military base in Djibouti from Doha, Qatar, April 23, 2017 (Pool photo by Jonathan Ernst via AP).

The security environment in the Middle East may be the most complex on earth, with an intricate, volatile and sometimes shifting mixture of destabilizing forces and hostilities. There are deadly power struggles within and between nations. And behind it all is the Middle East’s massive oil production, on which the global economy depends. The United States first ventured into the Middle East early in the Cold War and has remained heavily involved, particularly since the 1970s. Over the decades, America’s policies and partnerships in the region have evolved, but the basic elements of U.S. strategy and its central rationale remained […]

Ancient mosaics, which were damaged by shelling, inside a 17th-century caravanserai, Maaret al-Numan, Idlib province, Syria, Feb. 26, 2013 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the current tensions in U.S.-Turkey ties. For the Report, Amr Al-Azm and Katie A. Paul talk with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about how looters and traffickers of Middle Eastern antiquities are using Facebook to improve and expand their illicit trade in the digital age. 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 our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview […]

A poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with Arabic that reads “Welcome to victorious Syria,” is displayed on the border between Lebanon and Syria, July 20, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

The billboards that greet people crossing the border from neighboring Lebanon now read: “Welcome to victorious Syria.” It’s unclear if they’ve replaced the old signs inviting you into “Assad’s Syria,” which have adorned highways near Syria’s land borders and the Damascus airport for years. A decade ago, one of the many other pieces of pro-Assad propaganda lining roads and the sides of buildings across the country was a huge, backlit sign that guarded an entrance to Damascus’ Old City, abutting the medieval Citadel: “I Believe in Syria,” it read, next to a beaming, waving President Bashar al-Assad. The Associated Press […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his entourage, heads to a working session of NATO heads of state during a summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018 (Presidency Press Service via AP).

AMSTERDAM—Just as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fulminates against the United States again, blaming Washington for his country’s worsening economic troubles, a small controversy has erupted in the Netherlands over Turkish influence in the country. It came to light earlier this week that Turkey is planning to fund special Dutch schools to teach residents of Turkish origin about their heritage. The idea has sparked alarm among some Dutch politicians and their followers on both the left and the right, who worry about what, exactly, Erdogan’s government intends to teach in these schools, which would operate on weekends across the Netherlands. […]

A statue depicting a New York City firefighter wiping sweat from his forehead stands at a display honoring first responders to the 9/11 attacks, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 10, 2018 (AP photo by Julio Cortez).

A car-ramming attack outside the Parliament building in London yesterday highlights the ways in which terrorism and our reactions to it have radically shifted in the almost 20 years since 9/11. If London police end up confirming that the incident was in fact an act of terror, it will be the latest in a series of banal, low-tech attacks that have barely elicited a collective shrug. Of course, part of that has to do with the fact that no lives were lost and no serious injuries reported. And the fact that many aspiring terrorists are reduced to weaponizing cars, trucks […]

A bas-relief is displayed at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, Sept. 15, 2014 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

The Islamic State’s eagerness to profit from antiquities focused global attention on the illicit trafficking of cultural property. Yet the world’s understanding of how such trafficking unfolds remains limited. Today, thanks to Facebook and other social media tools, it is easier than ever to participate in a booming black market antiquities trade. The instability that followed the Arab uprisings of 2010 and 2011 has given rise to some of the most devastating conflicts the Middle East has ever seen. Syria and Iraq, in particular, have suffered from the dismantling of state infrastructure and the expansion of terrorist and violent extremist […]

A Syrian national flag with the picture of the President Bashar al-Assad hangs at an army checkpoint in the town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, July 15, 2018 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

After seven years of war in Syria, the endgame is here. All major frontlines have been frozen by foreign intervention, and military action now hinges on externally brokered political deals. The result could be a de facto division of the country. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian-backed forces spent the past two years taking out isolated rebel strongholds, like Eastern Aleppo and Ghouta. Recently, they recaptured the area along the border with Jordan and territory near the Golan Heights—but at that point, they ran out of low-hanging fruit. The sight of Russian diplomats shuttling between Israelis, Syrians, Iranians and Americans to […]

Three men head north toward Algeria after crossing the Assamaka border post in northern Niger, June 3, 2018 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the implications of renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran and a new round of tariffs against Chinese imports. For the Report, Leila Beratto talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Algeria’s campaign of mass expulsions targeting migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and why it has rights activists and neighboring countries up in arms. 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 our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your […]

President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, April 3, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

“Over whatever number of years we have put about $80 billion into Egypt. Most of the time, this is the kind of government they had—almost all of the time. And the reality is, no matter how much I wish it was different, it ain’t going to be different tomorrow.” These words, spoken by former Secretary of State John Kerry to The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick, are unfortunately all too accurate. Egypt is in the depths of a resurgent authoritarianism that has thoroughly crushed any possibility for political opening or reform, no matter how incremental. Kerry was correct in his […]

Druze Spiritual Leader Sheik Mowafaq Tafik, center, at a rally against a contentious new law that critics say sidelines Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Sebastian Scheiner).

After it was ratified by the Knesset on July 19, Israel’s so-called nation-state bill, designed to define the state more exclusively on ethnically Jewish lines, joined the short list of Basic Laws that make up the country’s ersatz constitution. A photo of grinning Knesset members from the right-wing Likud party, commemorating the occasion by gathering for a selfie around a smirking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, quickly went viral. It took a few days for the smiles to fade, as leading members of Netanyahu’s coalition began to experience buyer’s remorse. Much to their surprise, Israel’s ethnic minorities—specifically, the Druze community, renowned […]

The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa, Canada, Aug. 5, 2018 (Photo by David Kawai for The Canadian Press via AP Images).

On Aug. 2, Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, posted a statement on Twitter criticizing the arrest of a prominent female activist in Saudi Arabia, Samar Badawi, one of several civil society activists, many of them women, to be detained recently in the kingdom. The next day, Canada’s Foreign Ministry posted another critical tweet, calling on Saudi authorities “to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.” The Saudis quickly responded by expelling the Canadian ambassador and halting all pending trade and commercial agreements, and the spat is still escalating. So far, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to shift […]

Migrants climb into a truck to head north into Algeria at the Assamaka border post in northern Niger, June 3, 2018 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

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. ORAN, Algeria—Early one morning last April, Etienne, a 36-year-old migrant from Cameroon, was asleep in the hotel room he rented by the month in this port city on the northwestern coast of Algeria. His plan, like most days, was to wake up at 6 a.m. and head to the private residence where he worked as a gardener. On this particular morning, however, he was roused ahead of schedule. At 4 a.m., a […]

President Donald Trump after signing a presidential memorandum on the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Washington, May 8, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In May, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the international nuclear deal with Iran, which was negotiated and signed by both countries along with France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and China. The agreement, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, had imposed strict controls and oversight on Iran’s domestic nuclear program, in return for the easing of multilateral sanctions and the suspension of U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran. In withdrawing from the deal, Trump promised to reimpose sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry, as well as so-called third-party sanctions on any companies that did business […]

A group of protesters outside the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2018 (ILNA photo via AP Images).

A few years after Iran’s 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini disregarded an aide who was worried about inflation by declaring that “this revolution was not about the price of watermelons.” His successors may not have the luxury of assuming that the Islamic Republic’s religious essence is more important to most Iranians than their economic situation. Indeed, the proverbial price of watermelons has now plunged Iran into a potentially explosive economic crisis, with waves of public protests. The situation has been exacerbated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in May to violate the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran and […]

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