Karabakh Armenian soldiers near a howitzer in Hadrut province, Nagorno-Karabakh, April 5, 2016 (Photolure photo by Albert Khachatryan via AP).

The recent bout of intense fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan along the so-called line of contact near the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh should be seen not as an isolated flashpoint, but as the culmination of years of escalating tensions. The regional economic downturn and ongoing tensions between Russia and Turkey only add to the conflict’s volatility. The four days of fighting in early April between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces was the largest eruption of hostilities since the cease-fire to the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1994, which left Armenian forces in control of the landlocked mountainous region, as well as much of […]

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a campaign event, Hartford, Conn., April 21, 2016 (AP photo by Jessica Hill).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority; the U.K. referendum on European Union membership; and instability in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. For the Report, WPR columnist Michael Cohen joins us to talk about the role of foreign policy in the U.S. presidential election. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Saudi Arabia’s Shiites Caught in the Crossfire Between Riyadh and Tehran Cameron’s Brexit Referendum Ploy Could Lead to Broader EU Reforms Nigeria’s Amnesty, Handouts Stave Off Wider Unrest in Niger Delta—For Now What Would a Truly […]

Cuban President Raul Castro at the Seventh Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, Havana, April 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ismael Francisco).

The Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba ended Tuesday, April 19 with First Secretary Raul Castro declaring that the “principal tasks” of the party going forward are “the development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace and ideological firmness.” That neatly summed up the major themes discussed by the 1,000 delegates during the previous three days, and the challenges the party faces on all three fronts as it manages normalizing ties with the United States and opening up its economy while preserving the state’s socialist identity. The economy was the main focus of the conclave, […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event, Maryland, April 20, 2016 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Despite intense efforts by the Republican establishment to stop Donald Trump from winning that party’s presidential nomination, there is a good chance that he’ll pull it off. Current polling data suggests that if he faces Democratic frontrunner and likely nominee Hillary Clinton in the November election it will be a landslide victory for the Democrats. But strange things can happen in open political systems. While a Trump presidency may be unlikely, it would have far-ranging repercussions, particularly for U.S. defense policy and the American military. While that much is clear, Trump is harder to gauge than any recent presidential candidate. […]

A protester holds a placard during a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Tokyo, Japan, Apr. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Shizuo Kambayashi).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential impact on members’ economies. After strong earthquakes in northern Japan over the weekend, the Diet, Japan’s parliament, decided to delay ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in order to focus on disaster relief and recovery. In an email interview, Yorizumi Watanabe, a professor in the faculty of policy management at Keio University, discussed the benefits and drawbacks of TPP membership for Japan. WPR: What are the expected economic benefits and potential downsides for Japan from the TPP, and who are the expected […]

An F-35A at Mountain Home Air Force Base to conduct operational testing, Idaho, Feb. 8, 2016 (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth).

Intellectual property: It sounds boring, but its protection has become one of the cornerstones of U.S. economic policy. And now, it may have an impact on how the Pentagon thinks about the future of technology. In recent years, the big push for international intellectual property protection came about through the concerted action of a group of powerful, well-connected American corporations. These corporations had determined that they could make a great deal of money—or at least stop the loss of a great deal of money—by putting crucial intellectual property protections into international law. Washington has embraced this idea, making intellectual property […]

An anti-government rally after the lower house of Brazil's Congress voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Sao Paulo, April 17, 2016 (AP photo by Andre Penner).

When Brazil’s lower house voted Sunday in favor of launching impeachment proceedings to unseat President Dilma Rousseff, it loosened one more rock in what has recently seemed like an avalanche of disastrous news for Latin America’s left. There’s no question that the left, which in the not-very-distant past appeared unstoppable, has been on the receiving end of voters’ frustrations with all that ails the region. And yet, observers taking the measure of Latin American politics routinely overlook another part of the picture: Politicians of all stripes are getting battered, beaten and rejected by a restive public. Latin American voters are […]

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally at Penn State University, State College, Pa., April 19, 2016 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

In last week’s Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders said something you don’t often hear in a U.S. presidential campaign. “We are going to have to treat the Palestinian people,” Sanders declared, “with respect and dignity.” Though Sanders prefaced his statement by assuring Democrats that he is “100 percent pro-Israel,” the statement seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to the one-sided tone that usually characterizes campaign rhetoric on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Indeed, it was only four years ago that then-Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that Palestinians are an “invented” people, while collectively characterizing them as “terrorists.” Indeed, […]

Men in t-shirts before the start of a rally held an anti-EU campaign group, London, U.K., Feb. 19, 2016 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

Just two months ahead of a referendum on the so-called Brexit, the prospects of a British exit from the European Union have sent any number of economists back to their computers to weigh how it would affect the country’s economy. Most seem to think that exit is a bad idea—at least that is the conclusion reached by more than three-quarters of the 100-plus economists polled by the Financial Times. But the British public, as it prepares to vote, is hardly thinking about economics. Instead, matters of sovereignty and culture take precedence. The people want to protect the nation’s borders from […]

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic at a press conference, Belgrade, Jan. 14, 2016 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

BELGRADE, Serbia—Growing fears about the unmooring of the Western Balkans from its European path; the prime minster himself warning that the region remains a powder keg; concerns over malign Kremlin influence and gains made by pro-Russian hard-right parties; allegations of rising authoritarianism and corruption in government circles; and claims of double-dealing among a fragmented and fractious opposition. This is the atmosphere in which Serbia’s parliamentary election this Sunday, April 24, is taking place. The ruling pro-European Union Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) looks assured of topping the poll, the third Serbia has had in four years. The snap election was called […]

View of Mamoudzou, Mayotte, Sep. 15, 2003 (photo by David Stanley, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Denunciations of French President Francois Hollande’s government know no geographic boundaries these days. In Paris, students are protesting a labor reform bill; in Mali, demonstrators ransacked an airport, decrying arrests made by French forces there. And since March 30, strikes and protests have paralyzed the French department and former colony of Mayotte, as residents demand “real equality” with the rest of France. Mayotte, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean situated between Madagascar and Mozambique, is one of France’s overseas departments; its residents are French citizens with parliamentary representation. But in many ways, Mayotte is far behind other overseas departments and […]

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet waves from a palace balcony, Quito, Ecuador, Oct. 15, 2015 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of corruption and various countries’ efforts to combat it. Earlier this month, in response to several corruption scandals among high-level officials that were exposed by reporters and prosecutors, the Chilean Senate passed a bill that would punish anyone for making public any information about ongoing judicial investigations. Chilean journalists called it a “gag law.” In an email interview, Peter M. Siavelis, a professor of politics and international affairs and the director of the Latin American and Latino studies program at Wake Forest University, discussed Chile’s fight […]

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On Jan. 1, 2016, Saudi Arabia executed Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric, stoking outrage in the region and beyond. His death, and the backlash that followed, highlighted long-simmering tensions both within Saudi Arabia and between Riyadh and Tehran. News of al-Nimr’s death triggered virulent protests in Iran, with demonstrators setting ablaze the Saudi Embassy in Tehran; Saudi Arabia subsequently severed diplomatic relations with Iran. The response illustrated how Saudi Arabia’s troubled relationship with its Shiite minority could rapidly inflame intercommunal and international relations in the Persian Gulf. Historically, Saudi Arabia’s Shiite communities were concentrated in what is today the […]

A member of Nigeria's civil defense corps secures an area following an explosion at a gas pipeline, Arepo, Ogun, Nigeria, Jan. 23, 2013 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Last week, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to crush the “vandals and saboteurs” responsible for a growing number of attacks on oil pipelines in the economically vital but historically unstable Niger Delta. Buhari, however, has offered mixed signals to southern Nigeria: In January, he renewed an amnesty program for ex-militants, the same month that Nigerian authorities issued an arrest warrant for a former Delta militant leader on corruption charges. Attacks have been on the rise ever since, targeting the Escravos pipeline, Shell’s underwater Forcados pipeline and a pipeline operated by Italy’s ENI in Bayelsa state. Buhari’s carrot-and-stick approach to rising […]

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at his villa, Baghdad, April 8, 2016 (AP photo by Jonathan Ernst).

In the past five days, both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter have visited Iraq. The visits demonstrate the urgency with which Washington views the political crisis in Baghdad, against the backdrop of the Iraqi military’s stalled campaign against the so-called Islamic State. They also underscore how the Obama administration’s early plans to scale back America’s engagement in Iraq have come full circle: More troops and more political attention are now required. There’s no easy path to stability for Iraq, but some decentralization of power might help. The uptick in policy attention to Iraq […]

From left, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington DC, Aug. 7, 2014 (AP photo by Molly Riley).

Last month, Tanzanian authorities confiscated the passports of Kenyan officials who were in Tanzania with a team of Ugandan officials working on an analysis of proposed routes for a multibillion-dollar oil pipeline, denying them access to the port of Tanga. In an email interview, Jonathan Markham, an upstream analyst with GlobalData, discussed the dispute between Kenya and Tanzania over the proposed pipeline to export Ugandan oil. WPR: What are the proposed pipeline routes from Uganda, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each route? Jonathan Markham: A range of possible pipeline routes to ports has been proposed, including Lamu […]

Montenegro’s foreign minister, Igor Lusic, delivers his presentation for his candidacy for U.N. secretary-general, April 12, 2016, New York (U.N. photo by Rick Bajornas).

Few analysts have lost money betting on a United Nations debate to be dull. There are exceptions. Fans of U.N. diplomacy cite the time in 1960 that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the table during a heated General Assembly session. Harold Macmillan, the patrician then-British prime minister whose speech Khrushchev interrupted, paused to ask for a translation from the Russian. Such moments of multilateral hilarity are sadly rare, however. So I felt all too comfortable last week when I predicted that a series of General Assembly hearings with candidates for the post of U.N. secretary-general would fall […]

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