A drill in the biocontainment unit in Omaha, Neb., Oct. 28, 2006 (AP photo by Nati Harnik).

Delta Airlines Flight 217 leaves Leopold Senghor International Airport in Dakar each Wednesday at 11:15 AM, bound for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. During the 8-hour, 25-minute flight, the plane’s passengers can enjoy a variety of movies, have a meal and take advantage of the plane’s WiFi connection in relative comfort. And any one of them could be carrying the Ebola virus to New York, extending the epidemic’s reach to North America. The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has prompted a wider discussion about the ability of the United States and other industrialized democracies to respond to […]

French President Francois Hollande and Iraqi President Fouad Massoum during the opening of a conference on strategy against the Islamic State group, Paris, Sept. 15, 2014 (AP photo by Brendan Smialowski).

France has suddenly and shockingly found itself in the middle of the Iraq maelstrom that it had managed up until now to avoid. With its armed forces engaged in the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State group and a French citizen killed by the group’s sympathizers in retaliation, Paris’ policy in Iraq and the region beyond is being put to the test. In a recent statement, as succinct as it was scathing, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State group (also known as ISIS), called on the group’s recruits and supporters to target France and its citizens […]

Leaders walk along the Volga embankment during the Caspian Summit, Astrakhan, Russia, Sept. 29, 2014 (Russian Presidential Press and Information Office photo).

The leaders of all five littoral states attended the fourth Caspian Sea summit in the Russian city of Astrakhan yesterday. The latest meeting was more significant than previous summits held in Turkmenistan in 2002, Iran in 2007 and Azerbaijan in 2010, as the parties reached important agreements on some issues. Yet, others continue to divide them, with implications that reach far beyond the Caspian. At yesterday’s summit, the five littoral state presidents—Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev—renewed their commitment to keeping non-Caspian countries from establishing a military presence on the […]

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 4, 2014, to attend the U.S.-Africa Summit (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

Last month, senior diplomats from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo met to discuss bilateral relations, specifically a $10 billion fine the International Court of Justice levied on Uganda in 2005 over its incursions into the DRC. In an email interview, Gaaki Kigambo, a journalist in Uganda, discussed current efforts to improve relations between Uganda and the DRC. WPR: What is the history of Uganda’s intervention in the DRC’s wars since the 1990s? Gaaki Kigambo: Uganda first entered the Democratic Republic of Congo—then called Zaire—in 1996, apparently in hot pursuit of rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) who […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Sept. 26, 2014 in Beijing, China (AP photo by Feng Li).

SHANGHAI—Since coming to power, the current Chinese government has steadily managed down both the rate of actual industrial expansion and expectations of future growth in the world’s second-largest economy, with a host of key economic indicators now at multiyear lows. Strikingly, however, in the face of what might be described as an industrial hard landing, job creation and income growth remain remarkably robust. There has never been a shortage of predictions of the impending collapse of the Chinese economy. But year after year, the country has defied the bears and continued its remarkable economic development faster than the majority of […]

The General Assembly Hall as President Barack Obama addresses the general debate of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2014 United Nations, New York (U.N. photo by Mark Garten).

Last week’s top-level session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York offered three basic lessons. The first is that the United States can still dominate the U.N. when it wants to. The second is that a clear majority of other countries’ leaders are quite relieved to follow an American lead. But the third is that the U.N. is only really still relevant in two—admittedly sensitive—regions: Africa and the Middle East. America’s ability to direct U.N. affairs was in doubt a year ago, when the annual General Assembly jamboree was overshadowed by the Syrian chemical weapons crisis. While the […]

Migrants arriving on the island of Lampedusa, Italy, Aug. 2007 (photo by Flickr user No Border Network licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Earlier this month, a boat carrying upward of 250 migrants toward Europe sunk off the coast of Libya. A week prior, an estimated 500 migrants were killed when their vessel was sunk by human traffickers off the Maltese coast. These are just the latest events in a year that has proven to be exceptionally deadly for migrants seeking to enter Europe. With over 3,000 people having drowned trying to enter Europe so far this year, there have been many calls for European nations and the European Union to do more to address the issues of migration and asylum. The dramatic […]

Renminbi bank notes (photo by Flickr user faungg licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license).

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom and China announced the upcoming issuance of a U.K. government bond denominated in yuan, making the U.K. the first Western government to borrow in China’s currency. British and Chinese authorities noted that the funds raised by the bond will be used to add yuan to the U.K.’s foreign exchange reserves. While there was no indication as to how much London was looking to borrow, the move alone is a significant milestone for Beijing. Five years ago, the yuan had virtually no presence outside of China’s borders. But each year since, the currency has taken […]

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Andrew Dacey reviews security checkpoints with Iraqi soldiers in the city of Abu Ghraib, Iraq, March 31, 2009 (U.S. Army photo).

Soon after the George W. Bush administration toppled Saddam Hussein, it became clear that Iraq was headed for a bitter conflict driven by Saddam’s politicization of sectarian and ethnic divisions and the lingering pathologies of his parasitic dictatorship. Thus, for the U.S., getting out of Iraq required the rebuilding of an Iraqi army that could maintain internal security. The U.S. military embraced this challenge, lavishing money and effort to create a new Iraqi army designed for the sort of effectiveness and apolitical professionalism that characterizes America’s armed forces. The raw material that U.S. military advisers and trainers had to work […]

Houthi Shiite rebels ride in a pickup truck at the compound of the army’s First Armored Division, after taking it over, Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

It is still too soon to know what the Sept. 21 takeover of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, by a group known as the Houthis will mean for the country’s future and its internationally backed political transition. But in a matter of days, the Houthis have redrawn Yemen’s political map far more radically than the 2011 uprising that led to the ouster of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh after 33 years in power. So quickly did the Houthis rout tribal and Sunni Islamist militias and a military unit loyal to one of their fiercest rivals before signing a peace deal on extremely […]

A false killer whale performs in a tank at Okichan Theater of the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu, Japan, Sept. 18, 2013 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

At a conference in Slovenia last week, the International Whaling Commission voted against allowing Japan to hunt whales in the Antarctic. In an email interview, Atsushi Ishii, associate professor of international relations and sociology of science and technology at Tohoku University, discussed Japan’s whaling program. WPR: What role does whaling play in Japan, economically and culturally? Atsushi Ishii: The Japanese have been whaling since ancient times and whaling-related culture flourished in rural coastal areas. After Japan’s defeat in World War II, whale meat was almost the only protein source for the Japanese people and became part of the national cuisine. […]

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang, Hanoi, Vietnam, Sept. 15, 2014 (AP photo by Trean Van Minh).

On his visit to Vietnam in mid-September, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee assured his hosts that India would always be their “all-weather friend.” While some may read too much into the timing of that statement, delivered on the eve of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to India, agreements signed by India and Vietnam on energy and defense during Mukherjee’s visit are certain to get Beijing’s attention. After all, they come at a time when China and Vietnam have renewed negotiations over their maritime disputes in the South China Sea and as India pushes back against China’s plans for maritime expansion across […]

Protester at the talk with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, New York, Sept. 24, 2014 (photo by David Klion).

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke yesterday at an event sponsored by the New America Foundation at the New York Hilton. The event was well attended and the audience included many journalists, although only New America board member Fareed Zakaria had the opportunity to ask Rouhani questions. Rouhani began his prepared remarks by noting that he used to run the Center for Strategic Research and called for more interaction between U.S. and Iranian think tanks. He then turned to the Middle East, where the forces of the Islamic State group—which Rouhani, through his translator, described variously as extremists, terrorists, or using […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014 (State Department photo).

Before it recessed to focus on the midterm election campaign, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on draft legislation that would recognize Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova as “non-NATO allies” of the United States. Indeed, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s government had made such a request of Washington earlier this summer, although U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration declined to act on this matter, much to the disappointment of some Ukrainians and their supporters in Congress. Assuming that the legislation passes the full Senate and is also adopted by the House, it is highly unlikely that Obama would risk a veto of the […]

Anarchy flag at a May Day rally, Santiago, Chile, May 1, 2008 (photo by Flickr user cproesser licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerial 2.0 Generic license).

On Sept. 8, just three days before the anniversary of the 1973 military coup that deposed Chile’s socialist President Salvador Allende, an explosion rocked a metro station at an upscale shopping center in the capital, Santiago. The blast injured 14 people, two of them seriously, and sent authorities scrambling to investigate Chile’s worst bomb attack in more than two decades. The country’s deputy interior minister, Mahmud Aleuy, declared that the blast was the work of “demented criminals,” but the facts pointed to a much more troubling explanation. It wasn’t common criminals, demented or otherwise, who had carried out the attack. […]

Then-Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Mohamed A. Al-Attiyah at the Conference on Security Policy, Munich, Germany, Feb. 5, 2012 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

At the end of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Doha last week, Qatar’s young emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, drove Erdogan to the airport in his own car. The gesture, perhaps, was meant to signal Turkey and Qatar’s close ties. But one couldn’t help thinking it was also a sign of the course they’ve charted, often together, over the past three years as the chief sponsors of Islamist political parties and movements across the Middle East. Both countries’ calculations, however, could be changing. On the heels of Erdogan’s trip to Doha, the Guardian reported that Qatar had […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning, July 11, 2012 (U.K. Department for International Development photo).

Last month, three high-ranking Rwandan military figures close to President Paul Kagame were arrested and charged with so-called crimes against state security. The military purges have fueled fears of a political crisis for Kagame with dissension among the ranks of his party and backers in the army. Although officers have been arrested in the past and former Kagame supporters have fled the country and openly opposed him, last month’s detentions reveal growing insecurity within the regime, particularly when viewed in conjunction with a crackdown on other internal suspects of what the government considers “subversion.” Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated regime, which came to […]

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