Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Senegal President Macky Sall shake hands prior to their meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018 (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal this week, returning to the African continent just months after his most recent four-day, three-nation tour last October, as well as the Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, which was held in December in Istanbul. The Turkish leader, who has visited more than 30 African countries since becoming prime minister and then president, has devoted considerable effort to cultivating relations with his African counterparts and expanding his country’s presence across the continent. In a WPR article written after Erdogan’s October tour of Angola, Nigeria and Togo, I noted the steps Ankara has […]

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg participates in a media conference with European Commission President von der Leyen and European Council President Michel, Brussels, Feb 24, 2022 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

European Union leaders are converging on Brussels today for yet another emergency summit on Ukraine, the second in a week. European Council President Charles Michel called for the meeting yesterday in order to get the bloc’s leaders on the same page ahead of a new round of EU sanctions against Russia. And overnight, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine made further sanctions a certainty. A first round of sanctions against Moscow had already been officially adopted yesterday in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deployment of troops into two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine earlier this week. The first round of […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a welcome ceremony ahead of their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 3, 2022 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

As the threat of war between Russia and Ukraine looms ever larger, Turkey finds itself between a rock and a hard place. It does not want to antagonize Russia, with which it shares strategically vital interests, but it also needs to show its support for Ukraine and its NATO allies in the face of the greatest threat to European security in the post-Cold War era. This has forced Turkey to walk a finely calibrated diplomatic tightrope over the past month. During his visit to Kyiv on Feb. 3, Turkish President Recep Tayiip Erdogan proclaimed his support for Ukrainian sovereignty, reiterated […]

Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga arrives at a rally of his supporters to declare his 2022 presidential bid, Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 10, 2021 (Sipa photo by Donwilson Odhiambo via AP Images).

Over the course of the next two and a half years, voters in several of Africa’s largest and most populous countries will be going to the polls, with a lot riding on the outcomes. This year, Kenya and Angola will both elect a president and national legislature to five-year terms. In 2023, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two of Africa’s four most-populous countries, are scheduled to hold general elections that include keenly anticipated presidential races, as are Zimbabwe and Madagascar. The following year, Egyptians, Rwandans and South Africans will cast ballots in elections that will ostensibly determine the […]

Ursula von der Leyen, Macky Sall, Emmanuel Macron, Charles Michel and AU Commission Chairperson Mahamat Moussa Faki pose for a photo in Brussels, Feb. 18, 2022 (AP photo by John Thys).

African leaders have assembled in Brussels, Belgium, this week to meet with their European counterparts for the sixth edition of the African Union-European Union summit. The two-day gathering, which kicked off yesterday, is taking place against the backdrop of deepening tensions between Africa and Europe, in large part due to Europe’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic, including the EU’s discriminatory travel bans slapped on South Africa and its neighbors after the initial identification by South African researchers of the omicron variant, as well as what several African Union leaders have referred to as “vaccine apartheid.” The summit also comes as established […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives for an EU-AU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Feb. 17, 2022 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Seventy presidents and prime ministers from Europe and Africa are gathered today in Brussels for a long-awaited European Union-African Union summit, the sixth such summit between the two blocs. But ahead of that gathering, Europe’s 27 leaders huddled together for an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The emergency meeting was called by European Council President Charles Michel to brief the bloc’s leaders on the latest developments in the crisis, including a reported shelling of a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine, which occurred as the meeting of EU leaders was taking place. The EU leaders also heard a presentation […]

The family portrait at a joint African Union and European Union ministerial meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, Oct. 26, 2021 (Belga/Sipa photo by Hatim Kaghat via AP Images).

The sixth leaders’ summit between the African Union and European Union will finally take place this week in Brussels, following several postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally occurring every three years, the summit was initially scheduled for 2020. The AU-EU summit is often touted as the ideal venue for European and African elites to discuss issues of mutual concern. But this one is particularly significant, as it provides the opportunity for both sides to unpack the new EU strategy directed toward Africa, which was launched in 2020. Beyond the strategy, however, the EU also just launched the 300 billion euro Global Gateway initiative […]

Anthony Shadid during a talk at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City, April 7, 2011 (AP photo by Sue Ogrocki).

The nature of Anthony Shadid’s work is sometimes misunderstood. After his death 10 years ago this week, he was celebrated as one of the greatest journalists of his era, which he most certainly was. On multiple occasions he was recognized as one of the best at his craft, but he was so much more. Better understanding what Anthony did in his lifetime can help those of us who are still endeavoring to make narrative sense of a world in constant flux. Anthony was a brilliant thinker, reporter, writer and storyteller who, during a critical decade of history from 9/11 to […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds up a placard displaying maps of historical Palestine during a speech at the parliament, Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 5, 2020 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Recent signs of a thaw in ties between Israel and Turkey after a decade of frosty relations are yet another reflection of how the Middle East’s changing regional order is not only leading to the emergence of new relationships, but also to adjustments in old ones. The thaw is in part the result of a regional realignment that has left Ankara more isolated, but it is also being driven by Israel’s shifting priorities and Turkey’s urgent economic and political challenges. While Israel and Turkey are publicly moving in the right direction, the new reality—which has made this relationship more important to Turkey […]

An image from a video provided by the U.S. Department of Defense shows the compound where Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi died during a U.S. raid, in Idlib province, Syria, Feb. 3, 2022 (Department of Defense via AP Images).

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered a team of U.S. special operations forces to carry out a raid in northern Syria that is now stoking legal controversy. The mission targeted a residential compound where Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi had been holed up with his family and civilian neighbors. By the end, al-Qurayshi and a disputed number of civilians were dead. As Washington Post reporter Miriam Berger has explained, since Syria did not consent for U.S. forces to carry out the raid, Biden’s order arguably violated the charter of the United Nations, which limits a state’s ability […]

African heads of state gather for a group photograph at the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Feb. 5, 2022 (AP photo).

The African Union leaders’ summit took place last weekend at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The two-day gathering, which kicked off Feb. 5, was held against the backdrop of the continent’s ongoing struggles with the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic—including its persistently low vaccination rates—as well as growing fears of democratic erosion amid a spate of military coups. The summit also marked the passing of the AU’s rotating leadership baton, with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi handing over the ceremonial chair to his Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall. Setting out his priorities for the coming year in his inaugural […]

Iran’s then-President-elect Ebrahim Raisi during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2021 (AP file photo by Vahid Salemi).

Since last April, the U.S. has been engaged in indirect negotiations with Iran on restoring the 2015 deal limiting Tehran's nuclear program known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. If these talks succeed, or should they fail, the impact will reverberate across a range of issues beyond the nonproliferation file over which Washington and Tehran are at odds. When the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, it laid out 12 demands addressing various aspects of Iranian policy it wanted Tehran to change. Of the concerns it identified, three directly dealt with the nuclear program, and […]

People chant slogans during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Oct. 30, 2021 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

When Myanmar’s anti-coup uprising kicked off in February 2021, it had three demands that look quite simple in retrospect. First, the protesters said, the military and its leader, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, must end their takeover of power. Second, they must restore the democratically elected government they had unseated. And third, they must release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National Democratic Union party, which had come out on top in the country’s competitive, albeit flawed election in November 2020. By the time I spoke to Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a leading Myanmar activist, in late September […]

A woman buys tomatoes and onions from street-sellers in Lagos, Nigeria, April 13, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Given the enormous impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global public finances, it is hardly surprising that cash-strapped governments across Africa—from Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon to Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe—are experimenting with a range of tax increases to broaden state revenues. That, in turn, has put the spotlight on tax collection across Africa more broadly.  A recent Financial Times article discussing Nigeria’s paltry formal revenue collection rates is emblematic of the usual coverage of the issues involved, which are recurring topics of discussion on social media and in other public arenas,  including among prospective candidates in Nigeria’s upcoming presidential election. But while the question of […]

Syrian Democratic Forces soldiers hold a position in Hassakeh, northeast Syria, Jan. 27, 2022 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

The Islamic State, or ISIS, made global headlines recently on account of two significant developments in Syria: a prison uprising in Hasakeh in late January and the raid by U.S. special operations forces a week later, on Feb. 3, that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Both events have focused attention on the Islamic State’s capacity to wage insurgency and mobilize militants in its former territory. But another factor that is potentially more important in assessing the group’s future prospects is the large number of ISIS members and sympathizers languishing in detention nearly four years […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with President Joe Biden at the Villa la Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

In the weeks since Russia began its military buildup on Ukraine’s border, the U.S. and its allies have scrambled to respond quickly and forcefully. According to U.S. intelligence officials, the more than 100,000 Russian troops amassed so far would be capable of launching a full-scale invasion. And with NATO gathering troops of its own in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, it is clear that escalation is a real possibility.  And yet, Russia’s strategic decisions from the past decade—in Ukraine but also worldwide—have made it very difficult to successfully respond to its aggression. The recent buildup is the clearest expression of Russian military ambitions […]

President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Jan. 31, 2022 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Just before U.S. President Joe Biden met with Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in the Oval Office on Tuesday, the White House shared a post on Twitter listing the visit’s agenda, which included “security and prosperity in the Middle East, global energy supplies, Afghanistan and more.” It was clear Sheikh Tamim’s visit was not just symbolic. Sheikh Tamim is the first regional leader to meet with Biden since he became president, a sign that Washington views Doha as an important element in confronting urgent U.S. priorities. And as if to underscore that point, Biden announced this week that he had designated […]

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