French forces patrol in the desert of northern Mali along the border with Niger on the outskirts of Asongo, Mali, June 24, 2015 (AP photo/Maeva Bambuck).

With increasing violence and insecurity in all parts of the country, a government that has elevated political disillusionment to an art form and an international community unable to effect change on the ground, Mali is quickly becoming West Africa’s basket case. Despite continued international military commitments and a recent peace treaty between the government and northern rebels, the situation looks bleak. Mali is currently facing two distinct but connected types of violence: a political conflict over the status of the northern part of the country that is taking on intra-communal dimensions; and a rising tide of jihadi terrorism, committed by […]

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir signs a peace deal, Juba, South Sudan, Aug. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Jason Patinkin).

How much clout does the U.S. wield over African leaders? Over the past month, the Obama administration has turned up the heat on South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, pressuring him to commit to a deal to end his country’s 20-month-old civil war. Kiir did all he could to avoid signing the agreement, which involves a power-sharing arrangement with rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar. He backed out of a ceremony to sign it in the middle of last month and only gave in last week after the U.S. threatened him with United Nations sanctions. Last week, the Security […]

This file photo, released on May 17, 2015 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, Syria (SANA via AP).

On Sunday the self-proclaimed Islamic State reportedly detonated a huge explosive at the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, though the extent of the damage has yet to be confirmed. The partial destruction of the massive, Roman-era complex, which UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, has called one of the most important religious buildings of the first century A.D., follows a series of dark weeks for a historical site known affectionately to Syrians as the Bride of the Desert. Just last week, Islamic State militants blew up the smaller Temple of Baalshamin, releasing propaganda images […]

Regional candidates of the leftist Podemos party during a campaign rally ahead of local elections, Pamplona, Spain, May 16, 2015 (AP photo by Alvaro Barrientos).

As Spain heads into general elections this fall, all eyes are on two new political parties that threaten to upend the political establishment. On the left is the much talked about Podemos, the fiery left-wing movement so often compared to Greece’s far-left Syriza party. With an eye toward improving its electoral prospects, in recent months Podemos has moderated the radical economic program that first brought attention to the party. Podemos no longer calls for Spain to leave the eurozone; instead, it calls for flexibility in dealing with Spain’s creditors. Gone, too, are demands for a basic universal living wage and […]

In a photo released on May 4, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Islamic State militants pass by a convoy, Tel Abyad, northeast Syria (Militant website via AP).

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part column on the Islamic State’s use of extreme brutality as part of its strategy. Part I looks at the roots and intended effects of that brutality. Part II will examine whether extreme brutality is sustainable or will be the group’s downfall, and what that means for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State. Brutality is a defining characteristic of the so-called Islamic State. While history is littered with violent organizations, few have made it so integral to their strategy and identity. The Islamic State has become “synonymous with viciousness,” as Fawaz […]

Pakistani protesters burn an Indian flag to condemn Indian shelling of Pakistani villages, Peshawar, Pakistan, Aug. 28, 2015 (AP photo by Mohammad Sajjad).

Gunfire broke out on Friday near the disputed Kashmir border between India and Pakistan, leaving nine dead and 62 wounded. Both sides claim that the other started the unprovoked firing and shelling. The attack comes days after four Kashmiri rebels and one Indian army trooper were killed near the border in India-administered Kashmir. Pakistan also accused India of injuring a civilian Sunday after firing on aPakistan Rangers’ station. These are just the most recent incidents along the so-called Line of Control, the de facto border between India and Pakistan, in Kashmir, which has seen a significant uptick in violence in […]

Colombian police help carry people's household belongings across the Tachira River on the border that separates San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela from Villa del Rosario, Colombia, Aug. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Eliecer Mantilla).

When three Venezuelan soldiers and one civilian were injured during anti-smuggling operations on the border with Colombia last week, Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, launched an escalating series of measures that created a major crisis with its neighbor and raised questions about hidden political movies. By all appearances, Maduro has found a convenient scapegoat for the multiplying problems besetting Venezuela’s economy and its people, and has done so just in time to affect crucial legislative elections in December that could threaten his hold on power. Maduro is exploiting the situation to shift blame for the country’s deterioration under his watch. […]

Fighters from the Islamic State parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road at the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, June 23, 2014 (AP photo).

Earlier this month, during a campaign stop in Ottawa ahead of October’s federal elections, incumbent Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper proposed new legislation to prohibit travel to terrorism hot spots like Iraq and Syria. “A re-elected Conservative government will designate travel to places that are ground zero for terrorist activity a criminal offense,” Harper said. This is not a new idea. Australia has already enacted a similar measure this year, listing parts of Iraq and Syria as no-travel zones. Individuals caught violating the law face 10 years in prison. Exemptions exist for journalists, representatives of national governments and the United […]

Fiji's then-military ruler Frank Bainimarama arrives at a polling station to cast his vote in a national election, Suva, Fiji, Sept. 17, 2014 (AP photo by Pita Ligaiula).

Earlier this month, Fiji’s military chief, Mosese Tikoitoga, resigned, saying he wanted to start a career in the foreign service, raising questions about the state of civil-military relations in the Pacific island country, which has experienced four coups d’état since 1987, most recently in 2006. In an email interview, Vijay Naidu, professor at the University of the South Pacific, discussed Fiji’s domestic politics. WPR: How stable is Fiji’s government, and what is the state of democracy in Fiji? Vijay Naidu: The government is stable, with the ruling Fiji First Party maintaining an overwhelming majority in parliament with 32 members. There […]

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, Calif., Aug. 11, 2015 (AP photo by Kevork Djansezian).

Earlier this month, Jeb Bush gave a major foreign policy speech focusing on U.S strategy in the Middle East. It offered a compelling lesson in the pitfalls of a politician named Bush talking about Iraq. In the speech, Bush blamed the current instability in Iraq on the Obama administration and in particular former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He suggested the White House had squandered the hard-earned gains from the 2007 surge in Iraq, which he argued could be successfully replicated in Syria. Beyond a rather blatant effort to rewrite history, Bush’s speech was a stark reminder that many of […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, Aug. 2, 2015 (Gali Tibbon/Pool Photo via AP).

Barring extraordinary circumstances, next month U.S. President Barack Obama will successfully sustain a veto of a congressional resolution against the nuclear agreement between six world powers and Iran, and the deal will be sealed. But in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the agreement continues unabated. What he expects to achieve by fighting the deal to the bitter end is still a mystery. It is, however, already abundantly clear that considerable work is needed to repair the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship, which has been frayed by the negotiations with Iran and Netanyahu’s attempts to derail them. Despite those strains, Israel […]

Protesters against the law on associations and non-governmental organizations march towards the National Assembly, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 13, 2015 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

In a long anticipated move, late last month Cambodia’s Senate passed a controversial law that critics claim severely endangers the autonomy of foreign and local nongovernmental organizations in the country. The pushback from civil society and foreign governments has been strong, but hopes that it might be recalled were extinguished when Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni signed the draft legislation officially into law earlier this month. But the law is merely the latest in an alarming spate of efforts by authoritarian and nationalist governments to reduce the reach of NGOs working across Asia. In China, two proposed draft laws that would […]

Egyptian protesters call for the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2013 (AFP photo by Gianluigi Guercia).

Once set aside as artifacts of history, scholars and policymakers have vigorously returned their attention to coups d’état. This shift is clearly warranted, as recent coups in places like Honduras, Egypt and Thailand have broad ramifications for trade relationships, security and the growth of democracy. Unfortunately, we are largely playing catch-up in a fast-paced game. We know a fair amount about what causes coups—weak economies, illegitimate governance, past histories of coups, domestic protests—but far less about what transpires after a coup comes about. Following the end of the Cold War, the conventional wisdom that coups are bad for democracy ushered […]

Shopping in the Toi Market, Nairobi, Kenya, May 7, 2015 (Flickr photo by ninara licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

More than five years in the making, the ambitious African trade agreement known as the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), officially launched in June, aims to bring together three key African trading blocs—the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)—to create a common market spanning the continent from Cairo to Cape Town. With a huge free trade zone encompassing a region of more than 626 million people and a total gross domestic product of $1.2 trillion—equivalent to 58 percent of the continent’s entire GDP—the deal hopes to […]

Protesters chant in support of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as they carry national flags during a demonstration in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Karim Kadim).

For months, the critical issue for Iraq has been its capacity to win back territory in its western provinces controlled by the so-called Islamic State (IS). The focus abroad has been on building an international coalition to support Iraqi forces; enabling various Kurdish militias to do their part in the war against IS; and strengthening Iraqi resolve, particularly among Sunnis, to see the IS threat in all its dimensions and reinvigorate Iraq’s national capacity and purpose. But in Baghdad, other dynamics are in play. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi followed through on pledges to take on corruption and […]

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and the Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, Nov. 14, 2014 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

During his remaining time in office, U.S. President Barack Obama is pushing hard to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the major free trade deal between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries. The Obama administration is also intent on providing significant new aid to reduce violence, support development and build institutions in Central America. At first blush, the two appear unrelated; the TPP includes no Central American countries. Yet the deal’s final shape may actually play an important part in determining whether the Obama administration will meet its policy and security goals in Central America, since it could unintentionally […]

U.N. Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura listens during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria, New York, July 29, 2015 (AP photo by Bebeto Matthews).

Peacemaking is a repetitive business. Mediators and diplomats handling protracted conflicts rarely come up with entirely new ways to end them. They frequently revise and repackage previous peace plans, hoping that they will gain more traction than they have in the past. The U.N. Security Council did just that last week, recycling old proposals to end the Syrian war and selling the initiative as a minor breakthrough. Last Monday, the Security Council’s members agreed on a statement calling for a “Syrian-led political process leading to a political transition,” potentially involving “the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 561 2 3 4 Last