U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner announces he has asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress but that he did not consult the White House, Washington, Jan. 21, 2015 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

Some members of the United States Congress are working hard to short-circuit President Barack Obama’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Many legislators, particularly Republicans, have opposed the talks from the beginning—with some advocating a military attack on Iran and others apparently believing that sanctions will compel Tehran to give up its nuclear aspirations. With the great Republican gains in the 2014 midterm elections, this group expanded and moved beyond simply critiquing Obama’s policy. Congressional opponents of a deal with Iran are attempting to pass a new slate of sanctions deliberately designed to torpedo the negotiation process. In a […]

Sri Lankan fishermen stand on a fishing vessel as it leaves a fishery harbor in Negombo on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Oct.15, 2014 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Environmental crime, despite being a more than $200 billion black market industry, has long been viewed as a tree hugger issue. However, an increasing body of evidence suggests that protecting our oceans, forests and wildlife is not only a matter of conservation, but one of global development and even national security. As a result, governments are finally taking more decisive action. Consider the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Since the 1960s, fish consumption has risen from an annual average of 22 pounds per person to nearly double that today. With the world’s middle class projected to reach […]

Local fishermen try to catch fish in front of Russian Navy ships in Sevastopol, Crimea, Oct. 27, 2014 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

After a lull, violence in Ukraine escalated once again this week, as Russian-backed rebels launched offensives both in the besieged eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk and on a new front, against the southeastern port of Mariupol. Peace talks in Minsk were canceled today in response to civilian casualties in Donetsk. According to the Financial Times, Western intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not just trying to keep Ukraine destabilized, but actively working to carve out a viable Russian puppet state, to be called “Novorossiya” (New Russia), in southeastern Ukraine. While Putin’s ultimate ambition remains […]

A Houthi Yemeni holding a flag of Hezbollah chants slogans during a rally to show support for their comrades in Sanaa, Yemen, Jan. 28, 2015 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

On the day before Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died last week, the Arabian Peninsula was in turmoil. The government of Yemen, on Saudi Arabia’s southern border, had just resigned in ignominy; the Saudi-backed president had been besieged, humiliated and ultimately toppled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels. It was precisely the kind of face-off between Iran and Saudi Arabia some of us had been predicting. Events in Yemen offered further proof that the historical rivalry that has marked relations between Riyadh and Tehran has entered a new and far more dangerous stage, gradually moving from rhetorical and diplomatic battles to outright armed […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaches out to shake hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting, Beijing, Nov 11, 2014 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Japan and China took another step toward thawing relations over access and territorial rights in the East China Sea with the resumption earlier this month of high-level maritime talks in Tokyo. The Jan. 12 meeting focused on creating a crisis-management mechanism that would mitigate any potential flashpoint surrounding the disputed Senkaku Islands, claimed by China as the Diaoyu. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to work toward establishing such a maritime crisis hotline after their brief meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meetings held in Beijing last November. That summit […]

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 2014 (AP photo by Victor R. Caivano).

Earlier this month, Argentina received $400 million from the People’s Bank of China as the fourth installment of an $11 billion currency swap agreement with China. In an email interview, Eduardo Daniel Oviedo, professor of political science and international relations at the National University of Rosario in Argentina, discussed Argentina’s relations with China. WPR: What are the main areas of cooperation between China and Argentina, and what are the areas of contention? Eduardo Daniel Oviedo: Politics, trade, investment and migration are the main areas of cooperation between China and Argentina. Mutual support on the issues of the Falkland Islands—known in […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have tea in the garden at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, Jan 25, 2015 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Several weeks ago, in assessing what steps U.S. President Barack Obama might take to secure his administration’s foreign policy legacy, I raised the question of whether a “reset” of U.S.-India relations might help. Obama’s just-concluded trip to New Delhi and his meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have provided us with an answer in the affirmative. Modi’s gesture of greeting Obama effusively at the airport upon his arrival, which was a break with traditional protocol, and his invitation for Obama to attend and review the annual Republic Day parade, which was a first for an American leader, clearly indicated […]

Riot police enter the town of El Tule, Nicaragua after they cleared a roadblock erected by residents to protest against a proposed transoceanic canal, Dec. 24, 2014 (AP photo by Oscar Navarrete).

In late December, nearly 100 years to the day after the Panama Canal first opened for business, Nicaragua broke ground on Central America’s second mega-canal project, the aptly named Nicaragua Grand Canal. Billed as the world’s largest engineering project, it will snake 173 miles across Nicaragua upon its projected completion in 2019, providing a wider, deeper alternate route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans for ships too large to transit the Panama Canal, several hundreds of miles to the southeast. The new canal, which will stretch three times the length of the Panama Canal, promises to not only alter the […]

Israeli soldiers stand next to a mobile artillery unit in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria, Jan. 28, 2015 (AP photo by Ariel Schalit).

The threat of another war between Hezbollah and Israel ticked up Wednesday, after two Israeli soldiers were killed in a missile attack on a convoy in the Shebaa Farms, a disputed area controlled by Israel along its border with Lebanon. In response to the attack, which Hezbollah quickly claimed responsibility for, Israel launched airstrikes and artillery into southern Lebanon, killing a Spanish peacekeeper serving with the United Nations monitoring force there. The violence follows the Jan. 18 Israeli airstrike on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights that killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general. Hezbollah vowed to retaliate. […]

A man travels along a street in his wheelchair during a three-day lockdown to prevent the spread on the Ebola virus, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Sept. 21, 2014 (AP photo by Michael Duff).

“Di war don don,” declared Sierra Leonean President Ahmad Kabbah, in Krio, at a ceremony in the capital, Freetown, in 2002: “The war is over.” The small coastal West African country of Sierra Leone had emerged limping and gasping for air from a decade of one of the bloodiest civil wars in Africa, a conflict that had spilled out across the entire region from Guinea to the north and west to Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire to the east. It was a war over power and the toppling of a corrupt regime, but it became infamous for its “blood diamonds” and […]

Newly enthroned King Salman receives dignitaries who arrived to give their condolences for the late King Abdullah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 25, 2015 (AP Photo/SPA).

The House of Saud proclaims that it stands “in the face of those trying to hijack Islam ‎and present it to the world as a religion of extremism, hatred, and terrorism.” In Saudi Arabia, at least, it has increasingly stuck to its word. Afraid that jihadis will overthrow them, Saudi royals have promulgated strict rules for oversight of waqfs, or religious charities, that hitherto funded Islamists at home and abroad. Last October, Saudi citizens were forbidden by decree from supporting the so-called Islamic State (IS), and the kingdom is building a stout 600-mile security fence along its border with Iraq […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama watch the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, Jan. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Stephen Crowley).

In contrast to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s five-day visit to the United States in September, which appeared to be something of an anticlimax for yielding few concrete results, U.S. President Barack Obama’s quick trip to India this week has seen progress in many important areas. In retrospect, it appears that Modi’s visit helped create a warm bond between the two leaders, evident when Modi broke protocol to personally greet Obama at the airport upon his arrival. The two leaders’ personal rapport has clearly facilitated dialogue to overcome past grievances in the bilateral relationship. From being primarily a short-term transactional […]

Rangers prepare a darted rhino near Skukuza, South Africa, for transport by truck to an area hopefully safe from poachers, Nov. 20, 2014 (AP photo by Denis Farrell).

Earlier this month South Africa announced plans to relocate 200 rhinoceroses after anti-poaching efforts in Kruger National Park proved ineffective. In an email interview, Natasha White, a research assistant at the Graduate Institute’s Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding in Geneva, discussed poaching trends in Africa. WPR: What new tactics are governments adopting to curb poaching, and what is driving their adoption? Natasha White: Over the past few years, there has been a shift in the scale and nature of poaching. Governments are increasingly acknowledging the severity of its impacts, which stretch far beyond the devastating drop in elephant and […]

Libyan representative at the Arab League Ashour Abu-Rashed attends an emergency representatives meeting to discuss the conflict in Libya at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 5, 2015 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

Is nation-building—a concept that most Western policymakers disowned after Iraq and Afghanistan—about to make a comeback? Two weeks ago, I predicted that 2015 could see the deployment of large-scale international stabilization forces in four trouble spots: Libya, northeastern Nigeria, Syria and Ukraine. The prospects for operations in at least two of these cases, Libya and Nigeria, have risen since then. Libya’s factions are engaged in on-and-off peace talks in Geneva, and United Nations officials have publicly discussed options for a military operation to support a political deal. Meanwhile, West African governments have been talking up a new regional operation to […]

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks to Dominica’s Foreign Minister Francine Baron as they pose for a group photo at the Caribbean Energy Security Summit at the State Department in Washington, Jan. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Leaders from across the Caribbean are meeting in Washington this week for the first-ever Caribbean Energy Summit, hosted by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. In an email interview, Johanna Mendelson Forman, senior adviser at the Stimson Center, scholar-in-residence at American University and founder of the Latin American and Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy, discussed renewable energy in Latin America. WPR: How extensive is renewable energy infrastructure in Latin America, and what countries have been most active in pursuing renewable energy? Johanna Mendelson Forman: With the greenest energy matrix in the world, mainly due to the extensive use of hydropower, South […]

Nepalese opposition lawmakers shout slogans as they walk out of the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal, Jan. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

KATHMANDU, Nepal—As the brawl that broke out in Nepal’s Constituent Assembly last week highlighted, the country’s transition from war to peace, and from monarchy to republic, is at a critical juncture. More than eight years after the end of Nepal’s decade-long civil war, a second Constituent Assembly has failed to promulgate a new constitution within its self-imposed Jan. 22 deadline. As the ruling coalition and Maoist-led opposition struggle to find a way out of the deadlock, instability has sharpened and is likely to continue. In the past month, strikes and protests have crippled main roads and other transportation arteries throughout […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Presidential Council for Science and Education, St. Petersburg, Russia, Dec. 9, 2014 (photo from the Russian Presidential Press and Information Office).

In the past year, Russian aggressiveness has led the United States to augment its military presence in Europe. Even though declining oil prices and a paralyzing degree of corruption and inefficiency have, for the time being, put a brake on Moscow’s ambitions, hostility will persist so long as Russian President Vladimir Putin is in charge. As a result, bolstering European security will remain a central component of America’s global strategy. But what happens after Putin? While there are no serious challenges to his rule now, he is mortal. At some point, he will leave the scene. Historically, the departure of […]

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