German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefs the media after a visit to Germany's Joint Terrorism Defense Center GATZ, Berlin, April 26, 2016 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

Terrorist attacks and other violence this summer have put Germany on edge and worsened political tensions over Berlin’s handling of the refugee crisis. One week in July saw four attacks in multiple German cities, killing a total of 10 people; three were committed by men who had entered the country as asylum-seekers. Even before this violence, public sentiment toward refugees and migrants had soured after reports of widespread sexual assaults and other crimes that took place on New Year’s Eve in the German city of Cologne, perceived as being linked to the influx of refugees. In early August, the government […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin after talks in the Konstantin palace outside St. Petersburg, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Turkey and Russia are patching up their troubled relationship. In early August, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in St. Petersburg, in the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders in 10 bitter months since Turkey shot down a Russian jet that was briefly in its airspace last November. But after some symbolic handshakes and photo-ops, what can be expected in concrete terms moving forward between Ankara and Moscow? Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. It’s a safe bet that state-controlled media in Russia will no longer portray Erdogan and his close entourage with […]

In this June 10, 2005 file photo, Ethiopian soldiers patrol the streets of Addis Ababa, after clashes with protesters (AP photo by Karel Prinsloo).

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—In Ethiopia’s two most populous ethnic regions, anti-government rallies turned into a bloodbath in early August as security forces again used live ammunition against protesters. In the western part of Oromia, the largest of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based states, the town of Nekempte looked like a “war zone,” according to a protester. An opposition party said almost 100 people were killed and thousands arrested after demonstrations across the sprawling Oromia region, which encircles the capital, Addis Ababa, and borders Kenya in the south and South Sudan in the west. A day later in Bahir Dar, the capital of […]

Riot police at a weekly protest by Nicaragua's opposition near the Supreme Electoral Council, Managua, Aug. 5, 2015 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Nicaragua moved closer to one-party rule late last month, when the country’s Supreme Electoral Council unseated 28 opposition lawmakers and substitute lawmakers in the National Assembly, effectively handing full control of the legislature to President Daniel Ortega’s party, the Sandinista Front of National Liberation, or FSLN. The council dismissed the lawmakers from the Independent Liberal Party for their refusal to recognize their new official party leader, Pedro Reyes, an Ortega ally who had been granted the position in a contentious ruling in June by the Supreme Court of Justice that removed the previous opposition leader, Eduardo Montealegre. Unfortunately, these types […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a rally of his supporters after the country’s abortive July 15 coup, Istanbul, Aug. 7, 2016 (Presidential Press Service photo by Kayhan Ozer via AP).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. Just 25 years after winning the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, the United States is facing a very different world than the one many had expected. Instead of a world of relative peace, with no proxy wars in developing countries and no major global geostrategic opponents, there is violence and terrorism around the globe, much of it […]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, and chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, left, at the NATO summit, Warsaw, Poland, July 9, 2016 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

With the two-year anniversary of Afghanistan’s national unity government approaching in September, long-simmering tensions between President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, have broken out into the open. In mid-August remarks to his supporters, Abdullah made his most public and direct complaints to date, calling Ghani unfit for the presidency. He said that his counsel was being ignored by Ghani, his position within the government was being marginalized, and his demands for reforms were going unmet. Although the two leaders have since met one-on-one and attended Afghanistan’s Independence Day celebrations together on Aug. 17, the complicated power-sharing […]

Gabon's president, Ali Bongo, at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, Sept. 14, 2015 (SIPA photo by Christian Liewig via AP).

Gabon, a small but oil-rich country on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa that is home to around 1.7 million people, will vote for president on Aug. 27. The main candidates are incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba and former African Union Chairman Jean Ping. A victory for Bongo, whose father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, was president of Gabon for more than 40 years, would reinforce patterns of dynastic succession in small African countries that are ostensibly democracies, but in reality autocracies. Omar Bongo ruled Gabon from 1967 upon the death of his predecessor, Leon M’ba, the country’s first president after its […]

Nepal's newly-appointed prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Kathmandu, Nepal, Aug. 3, 2016 (AP photo by Bikram Rai).

Pushpa Kamal Dahal is the prime minister of Nepal again, after its parliament voted earlier this month to elect the former Maoist guerrilla leader, better known by his nom de guerre, Prachanda—“the fierce one.” He first held the country’s top job in 2008, but quit nine months later after a rocky tenure. Dahal is Nepal’s ninth prime minister in eight years, and 25th since 1990, when a pro-democracy movement ended the country’s absolute monarchy and established a parliamentary government. He succeeds K.P. Oli, who, faced with a no-confidence motion, resigned in late July from the office he’d occupied for nine […]

Police near Peru's Congress during President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's inauguration ceremony, Lima, July 28, 2016 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

In the most serious accusation among many that have damaged the reputation of Peru’s National Police in recent years, the country’s Interior Ministry has identified a group of police officers who allegedly participated in “death squads” that assassinated petty criminals in order to earn extra money or promotions, at a time when crime was rising to unprecedented levels. The charges complicate the urgent challenge of improving public security for a new government that has been in power for less than a month. According to the national press, 97 police officers are under investigation for the extrajudicial killings of 27 criminals […]

People walk past a campaign billboard for President Paul Biya, Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 7, 2011 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

YAOUNDE, Cameroon—In June, gay rights activists in Cameroon were dealt a disheartening setback. While revising the Central African country’s penal code, parliament voted to retain a notorious anti-gay provision dating back to 1972. Under the law, known as Article 347 bis, which has enabled the prosecution of dozens of Cameroonians in recent years, same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults are punishable with fines of more than $300 dollars and prison terms of up to five years. Though some lawmakers privately question whether policing alternative sexualities should be a government priority, none was willing to take this position publicly. The only […]

A Kashmiri protester clashes with Indian policemen during a protest, Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Dar Yasin).

On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, called on Pakistan and India to give his office access to Kashmir given “grave concerns” over alleged human rights violations there. The move comes as Jammu and Kashmir, which is administered by India but claimed by Pakistan, has seen some of its worst violence in years. On Tuesday, Indian troops shot and killed five civilians and injured at least 15 more during clashes with anti-India protesters, a day after suspected Kashmiri separatist rebels killed one Indian soldier and wounded 10 others in two separate gun battles. In […]

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaving 10 Downing Street, London, July 20, 2016 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

It may be the shortest “golden era” on record. Barely nine months after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s extended visit to the United Kingdom seemed to cement a “very special relationship” between London and Beijing, China’s ambassador to the U.K. is warning that relations are now at a “crucial historical juncture.” The issue nominally at hand is the British government’s decision over whether to proceed with the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, in which China General Nuclear Power Company (CGN) has a stake. But the real question is whether the new British prime minister, Theresa May, intends to walk away from […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and former chief of staff Sergei Ivanov during a meeting in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2014 (Presidential Press Service photo by Alexei Nikolsky via AP).

The Moscow Kremlin, a UNESCO world heritage site, has been the seat of Russian tsars, commissars and presidents for the greater part of nine centuries. Its glittering palaces and churches, soaring towers and immense fortress walls have witnessed dramatic turning points in the history of Russia and the world. But if tourists now stream through daily to peruse ancient icons, Romanov family jewels and relics of martial glory, the Kremlin, in its political sense, remains an almost complete mystery to the outside world. That is why Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dismissal last week of his chief of staff and longtime […]

The funeral procession of slain Cambodian government critic Kem Ley, Kandal, west of Phnom Penh, July 24, 2016 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

As Cambodia prepares for national elections in two years, its politics have veered dangerously out of control. Even though young Cambodians are demanding political alternatives and accessing more information outside of state media, the country’s transition toward two-party politics has collapsed. The government’s brutal tactics of the 1990s and early 2000s, when political activists were routinely murdered and opposition parties nearly put out of business, have returned. Young Cambodians may be left with no outlet for their grievances, creating a potentially explosive situation, especially given the promise of reform and dialogue just a few years ago. In 2013, the opposition […]

Tunisia's new Prime Minister Youssef Chahed delivers a speech, Tunis, Tunisia, Aug. 3, 2016 (AP photo by Hassene Dridi).

Habib Essid, the technocrat who had been Tunisia’s prime minister for the past 18 months, lost a vote of no confidence on July 30. And unlike most issues in Tunisian politics, that decision wasn’t the subject of extensive debate—all but three members of parliament voted him out. Few were surprised by Essid’s ousting. He had by most measures failed to achieve what he had been appointed in February 2015 to do: enact economic reforms, boost employment and improve security. “The vote of no confidence was inevitable,” says Sarah Yerkes, a visiting fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at […]

A Belgian soldier patrols on a main boulevard in Brussels, Nov. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. For the prosperous and stable nations of Europe and North America, the cost of terrorism is usually dwarfed by the cost of reactions to it. Avoiding such overreaction is the most pressing challenge in security policy today. The number of Westerners killed by terrorists has grown of late, thanks largely to attacks in Brussels, Paris, Istanbul and Nice related to the self-described Islamic State. Still, the threat remains […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their economic summit, Baku, Aug. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Geo-economics dominated the agenda of two critical meetings this week: a trilateral economic summit in Baku between Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, followed by a bilateral summit in St. Petersburg between Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While matters of war and peace were also on the agenda—the stalemated conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and the ongoing fighting in Syria—both summits’ main focus was on ensuring connectivity to the global economy. Let’s start with Iran. In the year since Iran acceded to the terms of the nuclear agreement it signed with the group of world […]

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