Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu after a visit to the mausoleum of Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, on Republic Day in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 29, 2015 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Turks will head to the polls again this Sunday, Nov. 1, to vote for a new parliament, after negotiations to form a coalition government failed following an inconclusive election in June. The vote comes amid considerable unrest in Turkey: In July, a two-year cease-fire agreement between the government and the insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) collapsed, while a cell of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in southeastern Turkey has attacked several targets near the Syrian border and, recently, deeper in Turkey, including two suicide bombings that killed more than 100 people in Ankara earlier this month. Despite this unrest, opinions polls […]

U.S. Marines during the NATO-led Trident Juncture 15 exercise, Pinheiro Da Cruz, Praia Da Raposa Beach, Portugal, Oct. 22, 2015 (United States Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Long).

The U.S. military is increasingly ill-suited for today’s complex, interconnected and transparent security environment. It was designed to fight major wars against the military forces of other nations, yet never does so. Despite the best intentions of its architects, the U.S. military is a “kluge”—a combination of sometimes compatible, sometimes mismatched parts cobbled together. It works, but not as effectively or efficiently as it should. The United States could gain much from reorganizing its military to better reflect today’s security environment but this is easier said than done. The obstacles to deep change are powerful: There is so much tradition, […]

Conservative Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, left, and Justice candidate for prime minister Beata Szydlo, right, at the party's headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, Oct. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party won an absolute majority in both chambers of parliament in elections last Sunday, marking the first time in 26 years of democratic rule that one party will form a government. Law and Justice, also known by its acronym PiS, broke through that glass ceiling with more than 37 percent of votes. It won the plurality of votes in all categories of the electorate, by reaching out to better-educated urban voters and making advances in the western provinces of the country for the first time. After being in opposition for eight years, Law and Justice […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the India Africa Forum Summit, New Delhi, India, Oct. 29, 2015 (photo from the website of the Indian Prime Minister).

This week, India hosted representatives of 54 African countries for the third India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, with security, investment and U.N. reform on the agenda. In an email interview, Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, the chief executive of the South African Institute of International Affairs, discussed India’s Africa outreach. WPR: How has India’s economic engagement in Africa expanded in recent years, and in what sectors and countries has India invested the most? Elizabeth Sidiropulos: Indian companies have been present on the continent for many decades, particularly in East Africa where, historically, there has been a large Indian diaspora. However, the relationship […]

Supporters cheer top opposition presidential candidate Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

Latin America is reaching a quiet but remarkable turning point, one that, though occurring without much fanfare, has significant historical resonance. This past weekend, voters in several Latin American countries participated in national and local elections, and the process unfolded for the most part peacefully. That in itself is an achievement. But what is most noteworthy is that the outcomes of the elections were decided by the actual votes cast, and by extension the voters, rather than by fraud or violence. That, of course, is how democracy is supposed to work, but it is not always the case. When viewed […]

Two of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Air Task Group's F/A-18A Hornets during a mission into Syria, Sept. 14 2015 (Australian Department of Defence photo).

Although far removed from Australia’s traditional areas of interest in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, the Middle East continues to be a focus of Australian foreign policy and military strategy. But its own security interests in the region have nearly always been defined in terms of its security relationship with the United States. One of only four countries to have participated in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Australia was more recently among the first countries to follow Washington’s lead in offering renewed military assistance to Iraq after the fall of Mosul to the self-proclaimed Islamic State in June […]

A ground crew member reports to pilots that their jet is ready for a combat mission, Hemeimim airbase, Syria, Oct. 22, 2015 (Russian Defense Ministry photo).

Russia began its military intervention in Syria a month ago, initially declaring that its aim was to take on the self-proclaimed Islamic State. But instead, it immediately started targeting groups that pose the most threat to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, mainly the Islamist coalition of rebel and jihadi groups known as Jaish al-Fatah, or the Army of Conquest, which includes the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s Syrian branch, as well as more moderate groups backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and even the United States. Russia hopes to consolidate the territory controlled by Assad’s forces, which have also launched an offensive on rebel groups […]

PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 1994 (Israeli Government Press Office photo).

Americans often take for granted that events that mark U.S. history are as indelibly imprinted in people’s memories around the world as they are in the U.S. For those of a certain generation, the assassination of John F. Kennedy is one such event. For younger Americans, it’s the attacks of Sept. 11. But at times, the reverse is also true, when historical events that occur elsewhere in the world become indelibly imprinted on American minds. That is the case for me and Nov. 4, 1995: the day Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv. I can still […]

Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau at his first official news conference, Ottawa, Oct. 20, 2015 (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP).

In a surprise last week, Canada’s Liberal Party won an overall majority in the federal election, gaining a clear mandate to form a new government led by party leader Justin Trudeau, the new prime minister-designate. Voters’ predominant concerns were the economy and moving on politically from Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper—not national security or foreign policy. However, Trudeau, Harper and the New Democratic Party’s Thomas Mulcair still clashed on a number of issues throughout the campaign related to Canada’s national and international security policies, including how to tackle terrorism, the refugee crisis and drug policy. Will Trudeau now follow through […]

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso and French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, Dec. 6, 2013 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

The longtime president of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, is now eligible to run for a third consecutive term, after voters overwhelmingly approved amendments to the constitution in a referendum last Sunday, according to the official results announced Tuesday. The opposition, which has protested 72-year-old Sassou’s attempt to retain power since he announced his intentions in May, urged voters to boycott the referendum and called for civil disobedience. The government issued a ban on public gatherings, but protests ensued. Tens of thousands of demonstrators were met with a violent government crackdown. According to government officials, clashes between police […]

Iraqi security forces and allied Popular Mobilization Forces prepare to shell Islamic State group positions at an oil field outside Beiji, Iraq, Oct. 24, 2015 (AP photo).

Developments over the past year in Syria and Iraq suggest many parallels between the two countries. From the separatism of the Kurds and the fight against the self-declared Islamic State to the expansion of Russia’s presence and influence, the two states seem to be following similar trajectories. But a closer look suggests quite distinct realities. Syria clearly seems to be headed toward implosion, even if the bigger picture of chaos obscures at least one smaller one that could inspire optimism for the future. By contrast, Iraq’s narrative today is not one-dimensional—in fact, the signs point in many directions: The country […]

A Houthi fighter during a tribal gathering showing support to the Houthi movement, Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

During the early decades of the nuclear age, a debate developed on the general utility of force. In the new and dramatically altered conditions of that period, in which a third world war could have meant the obliteration of great cities and civilization, it was hard to see what political purposes could possibly be achieved by launching an aggressive war. But by the same token there were also horrendous risks in a defensive war if that required resort to the most destructive weapons available. The dominant response, at least when it came to war among the great powers, was to […]

A villager taps a rubber tree, Lubuk Beringin village, Bungo district, Jambi province, Indonesia (Photo by Tri Saputro for the Center for International Forestry Research).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. A prolonged commodities slump has caused Indonesia’s economy to slow drastically. Last year, Indonesia saw its slowest growth rate since 2002; the currency lost 11 percent of its value; and trade levels were at their lowest since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. In an email interview, Arianto Patunru, a fellow in the Arndt-Corden department of economics at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy, discussed Indonesia’s economy and its dependence on commodities […]

A billboard with the face of Guinea’s incumbent president, Alpha Conde, in Conakry, Guinea, Oct. 9, 2015 (AP Photo by Youssouf Bah).

On Oct. 11, Guinea’s president, Alpha Conde, comfortably won re-election in a poll nevertheless marred by deadly clashes between government and opposition supporters ahead of the vote. Official results, announced six days later, showed him taking nearly 58 percent of the vote, with overall turnout at around 66 percent. As in 2010, Conde faced off against Cellou Dalein Diallo, who was Guinea’s prime minister from 2004 to 2006, with another six candidates also participating. Conde’s first-round majority means there will be no second-round run-off ballot. In a year featuring as many as a dozen important elections in Africa, Guinea belongs […]

Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, briefs the Security Council, New York, July 29, 2015 (U.N. photo by Loey Felipe).

Do Europeans still make good peacemakers? Europe’s militaries have been in long-term decline since the end of the Cold War. But the continent’s diplomats and politicians retain a prominent role in international crisis management. This is nowhere more obvious than in the Middle East and North Africa. The United Nations currently has seven top-level envoys working on conflicts in the region. Five of them are Europeans. The U.N. has, for example, decided that a German official will replace a Spanish diplomat as its envoy on Libya. Staffan de Mistura, who holds double Italian-Swedish nationality, still has the ugly task of […]

Indian Muslim activists shout slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest against the killing of a Muslim farmer in New Delhi, India, Oct. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

On Sept. 28, in the village of Dadri in the state of Uttar Pradesh, barely 50 miles from India’s capital of New Delhi, a Hindu mob beat a Muslim laborer, Mohammed Akhlaq, to death. The mob had attacked Akhlaq at home in the belief that he had slaughtered a cow to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid. The horrific absurdity of the crime was further accentuated when subsequent forensic examination of the meat taken from Akhlaq’s refrigerator demonstrated that it was actually mutton. The killing generated understandable anger and profound dismay within India’s vast civil society. However, it took a […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose before a meeting in New Delhi, India, Oct. 5, 2015 (AP photo by Saurabh Das).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to India in early October was the second summit-level meeting she has had with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the span of a month. These talks have themselves been preceded by a flurry of other high-level exchanges. Both sides seem keen to dispel any notion of a lack of momentum in bilateral relations, a view that has arisen ever since Modi failed to meet Merkel in Berlin during his trip to Germany last year. Germany is eager to take advantage of Modi’s renewed push for economic growth through clean energy initiatives and manufacturing. Germany has […]

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