An anti-government protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

From Lebanon and Iraq to Ecuador and Chile, popular protests have shaken governments and captured the imagination of pundits worldwide in the past few weeks. Combined with the mass demonstrations that forced regimes in Algeria and Sudan to cast aside longtime leaders earlier this year, as well as the Yellow Vest movement that stunned France from December 2018 through the late spring, some observers are wondering whether we are witnessing a revolutionary moment of global proportions. Has popular dissatisfaction with the unfair distribution of globalization’s spoils reached a tipping point? Or are these protests locally driven, offering little or no […]

Algerian students take to the streets to protest against the government, Algiers, Oct. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Fateh Guidoum).

Mass protests are unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa, as demonstrators take to the streets to decry a wide range of social and political ills. From Algiers to Khartoum, Beirut to Baghdad, the list of grievances includes rampant corruption, economic malaise, oppression and sectarian divisions. The protests have already resulted in the ouster of two leaders this year, in Sudan and Algeria. In other countries, demonstrators have clashed with security forces, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries, and many more arrests. Given their wide geographic scope, the protests have drawn comparisons to the Arab uprisings that swept […]

An anti-government protester waves a Chilean flag during clashes with police amid a general strike in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Luis Hidalgo).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about the protest movements in Lebanon and Chile, and the challenges they face in trying to bring down entrenched elites. They also discuss Bolivia’s contested presidential election and the implications for President Evo Morales’ legacy. 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 article every day of the week, plus three more […]

Anti-government protesters wave Lebanese flags and shout slogans against the Lebanese government during a protest in Beirut, Oct. 21, 2019 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Historic anti-government protests in Lebanon have shut down the country over the past week, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in Beirut and far beyond to demand the government’s resignation. Prime Minister Saad Hariri addressed the nation on Oct. 18, promising immediate reforms, but his words ultimately rang hollow as Lebanese continued to demonstrate in growing numbers. The Lebanese Forces, a prominent Christian political party, has already resigned its Cabinet members. The initial demonstrations in downtown Beirut late last week were a response to reports that the government would impose a $6 fee on the use […]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during a meeting with President Donald Trump at the InterContinental Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The protests may have ended, but the past few weeks in Egypt have indicated that, rather than a model of authoritarian stability, the regime that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has built is one of authoritarian fragility. And the regime’s actions make clear that it knows it. On Sept. 20, nationwide political protests broke out in Egypt for the first time since a brutal crackdown on demonstrators following the 2013 coup d’etat against President Mohamed Morsi that brought Sisi to power. The protests were sparked by a series of viral videos by an Egyptian actor and contractor named Mohamed Ali, who […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his meeting with President Donald Trump during a working breakfast on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Saudi Arabia’s oil sector has probably never seen developments as jarring as the ones since late August. An unprecedented shakeup in the Ministry of Energy, with a member of the royal family appointed energy minister for the first time, was followed by the stunningly precise attacks on oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia in the early hours of Sept. 14. Once-inconceivable questions are now being asked about the extent of U.S. commitments to the kingdom’s security, which have formed the backbone of Saudi policy for decades. How will the kingdom react? The removal of Khalid al-Falih as both energy minister […]

Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace for talks on the Kurds and Syria, in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

After eight years of chaos, it is hard to know which moment in the history of Syria’s brutal civil war-turned-proxy-conflict will ultimately stand out as the most egregious. There can be little doubt, though, that President Donald Trump’s sudden decision last week to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and abandon America’s Kurdish allies in the militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces—their most reliable partners on the ground in the campaign against the Islamic State—will rank as one of the most spectacular failures in the history of American foreign policy. The White House’s turnabout by tweet in Syria has […]

President Trump walks away after speaking about Turkey at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about whether the Syria withdrawal represents U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Hurricane Katrina moment,” when the disconnect between Trump’s messaging and the reality on the ground becomes unsustainable. They also discuss the damage Trump’s presidency has done to U.S. diplomacy and interests, and whether it is reparable. 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 […]

Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi, bottom left, casts his vote in the country’s presidential election, in Maputo, Mozambique (AP photo by Ferhat Momade).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Key presidential elections on either end of the continent this week delivered markedly different results. While a vote in Mozambique appears to have secured a victory for the longtime ruling party, elections in Tunisia may have introduced a new political era. Tunisia’s presidential campaign, which outsider Kais Saied won in a landslide, had been full of surprises from the beginning. The vote was moved up a few months after the country’s first democratically elected president, Beji Caid Essebsi, died in office. An […]

Cover photo: 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 more than seven years of civil war that gutted Syria, the endgame is here. But there are more questions than ever. Download your FREE copy of What Is the Endgame in Syria? to learn more today. What does victory on President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal terms look like? How has the rise and fall of the Islamic State changed Syria’s political map? How will U.S. President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and the subsequent Turkish invasion of the area change the situation?And what about reconstruction, let alone reconciliation? This WPR report provides a comprehensive look at […]

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Oct. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

There are any number of defensible arguments in support of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. It is safe to assume that Trump didn’t consider any of them. Instead, Trump seems to have acted as ever on impulse, out of a misguided sense that his instinct is a better guide than strategic planning and historical literacy. His decision reveals not an infallible instinct but a failure to understand three core elements of American power: assurance, deterrence and leverage. To begin with the theoretical arguments in support of withdrawing from northeastern Syria, first and foremost, the […]

Relatives and villagers gather around the coffin of Balkisun Mandal Khatwe, a Nepalese migrant worker who died while working on a Qatari construction project, Belhi, Nepal, Nov. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

DOHA, Qatar—More than a year later, the workers living in Building 14 of Labour City, a migrant workers’ camp in Doha, remember the gasps and screams that woke them one night in May 2018. As lights flicked on, they heard shouting in the halls. Bhupendra Magar, a 35-year-old plumber from Nepal, was struggling to breathe. Magar’s roommates tried to revive him and called for help. Soon, an ambulance arrived, and medics rushed him across the city to Qatar’s largest hospital, but he didn’t survive the night. Magar had been in Doha for 16 months working on the Al Wakrah stadium, […]

Workers pack Lebanese fruits for export from Lebanon to the Gulf and other Arab countries, at a warehouse in Bar Elias town, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Oct. 31, 2018 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

Recent signs of increased economic cooperation in the Levant, especially among Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, are sparking hope that past failed efforts to establish a regional free trade agreement may soon be revived. A bilateral trade deal between Jordan and Iraq signed in February, as well as a trilateral leaders’ summit held in Egypt earlier this year, suggest that these countries are looking to diversify their economic portfolios, deepen regional cooperation and get a leg up on post-ISIS reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Syria. However, a number of obstacles remain before these recent developments could conceivably catalyze the resurrection of […]

People watch smoke billowing from targets inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces, in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Oct. 10, 2019 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Elliot Waldman and Laura Weiss talk about U.S. sanctions targeting Chinese government entities and businesses involved in human rights abuses against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang. They also discuss what is driving protests in Ecuador, and why U.S. President Donald Trump’s greenlighting of a Turkish incursion into Syria could end up being a catastrophic error. 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 […]

An Israeli drone that crashed in southern Beirut in August on display at the Lebanese Defense Ministry, in Yarzeh, Lebanon, Sept. 19, 2019 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

The attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia last month cut the country’s oil production in half, leading to a 20 percent spike in the price of oil and exposing the surprising vulnerability of the Saudi oil industry, which is vital to the global energy supply. It was all apparently the work of a handful of drones and cruise missiles. It was just the latest incident, but certainly the most high-stakes geopolitically, of what is usually referred to as “suspected drone activity.” Interruptions to commercial aircraft have become increasingly frequent, when planes must be diverted to another location because a […]

Parade participants wave flowers as they march next to a float commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about the recent protests in Egypt and what the government crackdown against them says about President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s hold on power. They also discuss the background of Peru’s constitutional crisis and the contradictions on display during the 70th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Republic of China. 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 […]

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk after a service for late French President Jacques Chirac, in Paris, Sept. 30, 2019 (pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin of Sputnik via AP Images).

Is President Emmanuel Macron turning France into the new indispensable nation of European and global politics? Or is he doomed to demonstrate that France is neither necessary nor sufficient to solve the world’s problems? After a string of successes in European Union politics in the late spring and summer, Macron has positioned himself at the center of diplomacy over the Iran nuclear deal and thawing Europe’s ties with Russia. It remains to be seen, however, whether he can actually achieve his objectives. Macron has already gone through a few boom and bust cycles since winning the French presidency in his […]

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