West Papua pro-independence supporters shout slogans during a rally, Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Tatan Syuflana).

In late September, an exiled political dissident and pro-independence leader from the Indonesian territory commonly known as West Papua submitted a petition to the United Nations calling, in part, for a vote on West Papua’s independence from Indonesia. The petition was reportedly signed by a large majority of native Papuan people before it was smuggled out of the territory. But the U.N. refused to accept it, in the latest setback for an independence movement that goes back decades. In an email interview, Greg Earl, a columnist for the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter and a member of Australia’s ASEAN Council, discusses […]

Filipino students burn a caricature depicting President Rodrigo Duterte during a protest in front of the gates of the Malacanang presidential compound, Manila, Philippines, Oct. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is approaching the third calendar year of his bombastic term in office, but for all his tough-guy language, his policies on several critical issues remain muddled and contradictory. Duterte’s blunt, aggressive rhetoric—often veering into profane rants, including one last week against the European Union—has played well at home, keeping his popularity high. A September poll by Pulse Asia showed that about 75 percent of Filipinos have trust in Duterte, despite the notable gap between his talk and his actions in three key areas. Duterte was elected in part on promises to fight economic and political elites […]

Supporters of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama shout slogans during a rally after a court sentenced him to two years in prison, Jakarta, May 9, 2017 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the Trump administration’s move to decertify the Iran nuclear deal and what it means for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. For the Report, Emirza Adi Syailendra talks with Peter Dörrie about why 19 years after the fall of Suharto, Indonesia’s democracy remains tenuous and its institutions weak. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by subscribing. We’re currently offering a 25 […]

Members of the Islamic Movement in Israel, a political movement for Arab Muslims inside Israel, protest Myanmar’s treatment of the Muslim Rohingya minority, Tel Aviv, Israel, Sept. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Oded Balilty).

YANGON, Myanmar—As Israel’s High Court weighs a ban on weapons sales to Myanmar, where the United Nations’ top human rights official has denounced a military campaign as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” Israel’s Defense Ministry—no stranger to isolation—is unrepentant. In the latest outburst of violence in Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state, the military’s blistering crackdown in response to attacks in August from Rohingya insurgents has triggered an unprecedented exodus. More than 500,000 Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, have fled into Bangladesh. International condemnation has been swift, with rights groups exerting pressure on Western nations to cut military-to-military engagement. The United […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, his wife, Iriana, and Vice President Jusuf Kalla applaud during a ceremony marking the 72nd anniversary of the country’s independence, Jakarta, Aug. 17, 2017 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

The stakes of the election for governor of Jakarta earlier this year were, in the eyes of nearly all observers, much larger than that particular office. After all, it was only five years ago that Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, used his victory in the same race to transform himself from a well-regarded but somewhat obscure mayor into a powerful national figure. With that precedent in mind, the candidates and their backers saw the election—a two-round affair held in February and April—as an opportunity to position themselves for general elections in 2019. The incumbent, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja […]

United Nations Security Council meets on Myanmar's Rohingya crisis at U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Bebeto Matthews).

September was Asia month at the United Nations. It began with the Security Council negotiating a set of severe sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s late-August nuclear test. It ended with the permanent members of the council trading barbs over the humanitarian crisis exploding in Myanmar. On Thursday, the council held its first public meeting on Myanmar in eight years to address the military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in the northwest of the country. The discussion was the diplomatic definition of doing too little, too late. The military operation, reportedly involving the systematic destruction […]

President Donald Trump greets Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House, Washington, Sept. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

When Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House last month, they tried to forge more common ground on key issues and manage some of their differences. Although Najib and Trump made some progress as they commemorated the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties between Malaysia and the U.S., bigger tests will come in their bid to surmount deeper obstacles that stand in the way of really broadening the relationship. Throughout the past 60 years, the United States and Malaysia have had to find ways to cooperate despite often stark disagreements on matters such as […]