A local resident greets Chinese and African workers on the Addis Ababa–Djibouti railway during a trial run in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sept. 28, 2016 (Imaginechina photo by Qin bin via AP).

Last month, at the world’s largest mining investment conference, held this year in South Africa, Ethiopian officials emphasized their priority of developing their country’s mining sector, which currently contributes less than 1 percent to GDP. By 2025, they hope to boost that to 10 percent. If successful, Ethiopian officials believe that the mining sector could become the “backbone” of Ethiopia’s industry as early as 2023. In 2016, the Ethiopian government entered the second phase of its so-called Growth and Transformation Plan, an ambitious economic initiative that envisions Ethiopia becoming a middle-income country by 2025. A key component of the plan […]

A protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the formal triggering of the two-year Brexit process. For the Report, R. Evan Ellis and Román D. Ortiz talk with Peter Dörrie about an array of near-term security challenges across Latin America that could bedevil the Trump administration, and how events in the region will be shaped by U.S. policy. If you’d like to support our free podcast through patron pledges, Patreon is an online service that will allow you to do so. To find out about the benefits you can get through pledging […]

Pakistan soldiers patrol in Gwadar port, Gwadar, Pakistan, April 11, 2016 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Editor’s note: This article is the first in an ongoing WPR series about China’s One Belt, One Road infrastructure initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, sometimes described as the “flagship project” of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, is proof that geo-economics is operating alongside geopolitics to push Beijing and Islamabad closer together. In an email interview, Arif Rafiq, president of Vizier Consulting and a fellow at the Center for Global Policy, explains how CPEC’s energy and infrastructure projects can benefit both countries and discusses hurdles […]

Masked members of the collective "500 Brothers" take part in a march supporting a general strike, Cayenne, French Guiana, March 28, 2017 (AP photo by Pierre-Olivier Jay).

Strikes and protests have paralyzed French Guiana since last Sunday, as residents of the French overseas department in South America demand an end to rising crime and insecurity and rampant unemployment. French Guiana, France’s biggest overseas department, has the highest murder rate in any French department, with one murder each week for a population of just 250,000. But residents are also fed up with poor economic and development indicators, including a youth unemployment rate of 40 percent and high infant mortality. The unrest, which according to some estimates has drawn 20,000 people to the streets, led to the closure of […]

A vigil for the victims of last week’s attack outside Britain’s Parliament, London, U.K., March 29, 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images).

Last week, Khalid Masood, a British-born convert to Islam with a long criminal record, plowed a vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge and then stabbed a policeman before being killed by other police. Unsurprisingly, the self-styled Islamic State claimed responsibility. Whether the group actually had any involvement with Masood was irrelevant, since his religious-tinged violence fit its narrative. As usual the America media was flooded with commentators asserting that the London attack once again demonstrated that violent jihadism is not a distortion of Islam but its true essence. The Westminster attack, they claimed, was just one […]

Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, waves to the crowd before speaking at a ceremony, Kinigi, Rwanda, Sept. 5, 2015 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

On Monday, a court in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, ordered the release of a Rwandan-British woman accused of forming an armed group and plotting against the state. Violette Umawahoro, whose husband is an activist in the opposition Rwandan National Congress, was held incommunicado for more than two weeks after her arrest in mid-February. Her friends and family maintain she has no personal involvement in politics, and the court, in letting her out on bail, said prosecutors had presented no evidence to back up their claims. Umawahoro’s release could be viewed as a positive example of the judiciary placing an important check […]

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny and his wife, Yulia, take a selfie during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, Moscow, Russia, Feb. 26, 2017 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

Last Sunday, Russians did something they had not done in years: They took to the streets by the tens of thousands. In a wave of mostly unauthorized protests in about 100 different cities, crowds defied government restrictions and risked arrest in order to challenge the status quo. The protests’ principal organizer, Alexey Navalny, was arrested, as were more than a thousand other demonstrators. It was an impressive show of force by an opposition movement that had seemed all but completely crushed by the increasingly undemocratic government of President Vladimir Putin. The weekend protests were the largest in Russia since demonstrations […]

U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies addresses troops participating in the Cobra Gold military exercises, Sattahip, Thailand, Feb. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Dake Kang).

When the head of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, made a rare visit last month to Thailand for this year’s Cobra Gold military exercises—Asia’s largest multinational drill—some saw it as the start of a thaw in an alliance that had frozen since a bloodless coup in Bangkok in May 2014. In fact, the visit of the highest-ranking U.S. official since the coup was part of an already ongoing effort by both Washington and the junta to improve bilateral ties, despite enduring political and strategic realities that continue to pose challenges for the relationship. Coups are not new to U.S.-Thailand […]

Carrie Lam poses after being named Hong Kong’s new chief executive, Hong Kong, March 26, 2017 (Imaginechina via AP Images).

On Sunday, Carrie Lam, the candidate preferred by Beijing, was chosen as Hong Kong’s next chief executive, a development that was widely seen as a setback for those worried about the preservation of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The following day, nine pro-democracy activists involved in protests in 2014 turned themselves into police, who announced they would be charged with causing a “public nuisance.” In an email interview, Michael C. Davis, a senior fellow at the University of Hong Kong’s Center for Comparative and Public Law, discusses what Lam’s election means for Hong Kong’s relationship with Beijing as well as possible next […]

European Council President Donald Tusk holds up the document from the U.K. invoking Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, marking the formal start of exit negotiations, Brussels, March 29, 2017 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Just last weekend, the European Union turned 60, marking the milestone with a leaders’ summit in Rome, where the treaty that launched the bloc’s first iteration was signed in 1957. In that time, the original economic community of six founding members grew to become a common market with elements of shared sovereignty joining 28 countries. Or make that 27. Today, British Prime Minister Theresa May, who did not join the festivities in Rome, formally notified Brussels of the U.K.’s intention to leave the union. By triggering Article 50 of the EU’s current treaty, she opens a two-year negotiating period that […]

Iranian fans at the start of Iran and China's World Cup qualifying soccer match at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran, March 28, 2017 (AP photo).

Two events in recent years have dramatically changed the nature of politics in Iran: Hassan Rouhani’s victory in the 2013 Iranian presidential election and the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers in July of 2015. Like United Nations Security Council Resolution 598, which ended the Iran-Iraq War in 1988 and deeply reordered the political regime in Iran, the nuclear deal presaged a new era of Iranian politics. Despite its initial popularity, the deal has gradually become a source of tension across the mainstream ideological spectrum. As a result, the political scene in Iran after the […]

Relatives and villagers gather around the coffin of Balkisun Mandal Khatwe, who died while working as a migrant in Qatar, Saptari, Nepal, Nov. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about workers’ rights in various countries around the world. For several years, Qatar has come under fire for the pervasive exploitation of migrant workers, including much-maligned systems that prevent them from leaving even after they’ve been abused. Late last year, the country adopted changes to labor regulations, though rights groups contend the country has left some of the worst aspects of the old system in place. In an email interview, Vani Saraswathi, associate editor of the online advocacy platform Migrant-Rights.org and an adviser to grassroots advocacy projects in Qatar, […]

Relatives and friends carry the body of a man killed by a sniper while trying to flee fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, Mosul, Iraq, March 23, 2017 (AP photo by Felipe Dana).

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Washington last week, and the Trump administration greeted him by approving more troops for the fight to retake Mosul and defeat the so-called Islamic State. The Iraqi government, for all its flaws, is taking the needed risks to regain control of its territory, and its leaders know that political reconciliation is vital. The Trump administration, for its part, is focused on winning the war. What remains to be seen is whether Washington will devote the necessary resources to winning the peace, and whether the Iraqis have a plan for doing so that the U.S. […]

A protest in the village of Mirijjawila against a planned Chinese deal to purchase private land for an industrial zone near the Hambantota port, Ambalantota, Sri Lanka, Jan. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

A battle for influence is underway in Sri Lanka between India and China, played out in rival infrastructure projects and financial lifelines to an island nation that is buried in a debt crisis and trying to balance competing interests in New Delhi and Beijing. In January, Sri Lanka’s minister for regional development, Sarath Fonseka, declared that his country and India were finalizing an accord to develop the strategically located but underutilized Trincomalee port in northeastern Sri Lanka. This was seen by some domestic Sri Lankan observers as an attempt by their government to appease India in the face of growing […]

A giant puppet depicting U.S. President Donald Trump paraded at Carnival celebrations in Olinda, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Feb. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Diego Herculano).

Other than a wall at the border with Mexico, Donald Trump promised little to address drug trafficking in the Americas during last year’s U.S. presidential campaign. Two months into his presidency, it is clear that the Trump administration’s disengaged and military-first approach to the drug trade could bring more volatility to the region. On March 13, the White House released “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” which raises more questions and concerns than solutions on many issues, including the drug trade. It notably recommends a $54 billion increase in military spending, proposes reduced funding to the […]

Security personnel guard the Unasur building during the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Quito, Ecuador, Jan. 27, 2016 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

Latin America and the Caribbean are dotted with potential crises and the worsening of any single challenge could have a destabilizing effect on the others. With U.S. security and prosperity tied closely to the region, policymakers in the United States need to be drafting policies that help improve economic and political stability from Mexico to Venezuela. Although not always reflected in the attention of U.S. national security policymakers, no region other than Latin America and the Caribbean more directly affects the prosperity and security of the United States. As U.S. President Donald Trump and his team begin their work, mutually […]

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi during a press conference, Cairo, March 2, 2017 (AP photo by Nariman El-Mofty).

Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, is coming to Washington next week, and he can expect a warm welcome. After all, President Donald Trump praised him during last year’s election campaign as a “fantastic guy.” Following a meeting with el-Sisi in New York during the United Nations General Assembly in September, then-candidate Trump promised that under his administration, the United States “will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead.” Unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel, el-Sisi—who has thrown tens of thousands of dissidents into Egypt’s jails—will almost certainly get a handshake […]

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