A Pakistani man shouts anti-American slogans during a rally in Torkham, a border town along the Afghanistan border, Aug. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Muhammad Sajjad).

U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan, unveiled last month, emphasizes a “new” regional approach that his administration claims will finally produce better results in America’s longest war. Unfortunately, it is unclear how new such a regional approach really is, whether the administration means to follow through on it, and if it is prepared to grapple with the potential ramifications. In his visit to the United States last week for the United Nations General Assembly, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani praised Trump’s approach, especially “the Pakistan component of it.” But the Trump administration has been short on details. The regional vision […]

Chadian troops participate in the closing ceremony of Operation Flintlock, N'Djamena, Chad, March 9, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. While many people have argued that the Trump administration’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries is a bad policy regardless of which states it affects, the inclusion of Chad in the latest iteration, announced Sunday, was especially baffling to those familiar with Chad’s record on counterterrorism and its ties to the United States. As the Sahel region has struggled to cope with a proliferation of jihadi groups, Chad has played an essential role in maintaining at least a semblance […]

Rebel fighters move through the deserted streets of downtown Monrovia, Liberia, May 18, 1996 (AP photo by David Guttenfelder).

Since his arrival in the U.S. nearly two decades ago, Mohammed Jabbateh has dutifully cultivated the image of a hardworking immigrant, building up a container-shipping business in Philadelphia and supporting his family, including five children. But it is another image that helps explain why the Liberian will stand trial next week in federal court. A photograph taken during the West African nation’s 14-year-long period of civil conflict, and submitted as evidence by prosecutors, shows Jabbateh as an unsmiling young man in dark sunglasses surrounded by combatants. Known to Liberians as “Jungle Jabbah,” Jabbateh served as a commander in the United […]

A demonstrator carries a poster that reads “More Motherland, Less Temer,” during a protest after an Independence Day military parade, Brasilia, Sept. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss what Germany’s election results mean for Europe and the rise of populist nationalism on the continent, as well as Iraqi Kurdistan’s big leap forward for independence. For the Report, Ciara Long talks with Peter Dörrie about how Brazil’s economic downturn and austerity budgets are combining to undo the impressive gains the country previously made in poverty-reduction, while also jeopardizing the celebrated Bolsa Familia initiative that has helped move millions out of poverty since 2003. If you like what you […]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes North Korea’s special envoy Choe Ryong Hae during a meeting in Moscow, Russia,  Nov. 20, 2014 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

Imagine that somewhere in the world, the leaders of a nation or an extremist organization are meeting to plot ways to confront America. The more astute thinkers among them would have carefully studied U.S. strategy over the past 75 years, looking for America’s strengths and weaknesses and drawing lessons. One lesson they might draw is that trying to intimidate the United States by direct attacks on American soil doesn’t work. The Japanese found this out after Pearl Harbor, as did al-Qaida after 9/11. But striking U.S. military forces deployed to places with limited American national interests can shift U.S. policy—think […]

Members of the Biafran separatist movement, Umuahia, Nigeria, May 28, 2017 (AP photo by Lekan Oyekanmi).

With the arrest of 60 supporters of the Biafra separatist movement this week, Nigeria has taken a step closer to provoking a violent insurgency in the southeastern region of the country. As tensions rise, both the government and the separatists are threatening to push Nigeria further into conflict. In an email interview, Ryan Cummings, director of Signal Risk, an Africa-focused risk management consultancy, examines what is driving the Biafra separatist movement, the evolution in the government’s response and the risks if the conflict escalates. WPR: What is behind the surge in pro-Biafra activism, and what do these activists hope to […]

A shaman performs a ceremony holding a portrait of Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, upside down, as another holds a poster of U.S. President Donald Trump, Lima, Peru, June 12, 2017 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

Some of the Trump administration’s most recent foreign policy pronouncements have put Venezuela, perhaps the biggest crisis in the Western Hemisphere, front and center. The statements signal that the administration is not only placing more importance on Venezuela, but also that it is attempting a much-needed course correction. Last week, in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump spoke at length about the political and economic unrest in Venezuela, outlining Washington’s new approach. On the evening before the speech, Trump met with a group of Latin American leaders, and Venezuela was topic No. 1 ahead of […]

People affected by Hurricane Maria wait in line to receive supplies from the National Guard, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Carlos Giusti).

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has taken a heavy toll on the United States. After Hurricane Harvey first struck the Gulf coast in late August, Irma whirled over the Caribbean and Florida a few days later and, just last week, Maria left Puerto Rico absolutely devastated. In addition to the human suffering, the storms have strained U.S. energy infrastructure, raising serious questions about President Donald Trump’s energy policy and priorities. Hurricane Harvey hit the heart of the U.S. energy industry as a Category 4 hurricane, making landfall near Houston, Texas, on Aug. 26. That stirred memories of Hurricane Katrina in […]

Kurds wave Kurdish flags and flash the victory sign as they gather to support the referendum in Iraq, Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 17, 2017 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region made history this week by voting “yes” in a highly contested referendum on independence from the central government in Baghdad. While the poll is only one step in what is sure to be a long, fraught political process, it points to a broader push for autonomy by Kurds throughout the region, including in Turkey, Syria and Iran. With the self-proclaimed Islamic State in retreat and Syria’s war winding down, WPR has compiled 10 key readings on the buildup to the referendum and what comes next. Purchase this special report as a Kindle e-book. Road to the […]

Angola’s newly inaugurated president, Joao Lourenco, shows his ink-stained finger as he faces the media after casting his vote in the recent election, Luanda, Angola, Aug. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Bruno Fonseca).

Yesterday Angola swore in its first new president in nearly four decades. But how much change did that really represent? Joao Lourenco, who won last month’s election to succeed Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power since 1979, is from the same party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola—which dos Santos still heads even after resigning as president. Known as the MPLA, the party has ruled Angola ever since its independence from Portugal in 1975. During its long tenure in power, Angola at least nominally became a democracy, and that was 25 years ago. The MPLA’s re-election, albeit in […]

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, middle, and teammate Eli Harold, left, kneel during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game, Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 18, 2016 (AP photo by John Bazemore).

A week ago, U.S. President Donald Trump stunned the world with his bellicose speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Days later, with the fallout from his remarks still hanging in the air over New York, Pyongyang and Tehran, he abruptly changed the subject. In a stump speech in Alabama on Friday and later on Twitter, Trump called out professional football players who have been kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality against black Americans. The storm of controversy he set off has puzzled foreign observers unfamiliar with the arcana of America’s culture wars, and […]

Residents walk through the rubble of the resort town of Zabadani in the Damascus countryside, Syria, May 18, 2017 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Last month, for the first time in six years, the Syrian government hosted an international trade fair in Damascus. Staged at a fairground in the southern outskirts of the capital, near the airport, the exhibition was promoted as a sign of victory for President Bashar al-Assad. Russian, Iranian and Chinese companies headlined the list of attendees, which also included representatives of European firms. The fair—last held in the summer of 2011, as Syria’s uprising was just turning into a civil war—“sends a message that the war has ended … and we are at the start of the path towards reconstruction,” […]

China International Search and Rescue team members carry a supposed survivor during a simulated rescue training, Beijing, Feb. 26, 2010 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

For the past decade, China’s involvement in international humanitarian relief has steadily risen as it has sent its people, supplies and support to nations around the world. While these humanitarian efforts have often been framed as a tool of Chinese foreign policy, China has also increasingly integrated itself into the international humanitarian relief system. In an email interview, Miwa Hirono, a Japanese scholar who has written extensively on Chinese humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, explains how Beijing’s approach to disaster relief has evolved and how China continues to balance its policy of noninterference with its desire to provide assistance abroad. WPR: […]

An Iraqi Kurdish man prepares to cast his ballot during the referendum on independence from Iraq, Irbil, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

Iraqi Kurds voted for independence on Monday, a move that generated controversy within their semiautonomous territory of northern Iraq and threats from powerful neighbors Turkey and Iran, and most of all the Iraqi government in Baghdad. All three are bent on preventing any further steps on the road to Kurdish statehood. Some Iraqi Kurds themselves would even have preferred to give priority to economic and political reforms before pushing for full independence. It was easy to come up with many reasons for why the referendum was ill-advised, or why the prospects for true independence will remain poor. All that criticism […]

Police dismantle a temporary road block in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz state, Mexico, July 1, 2017 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

On July 20, more than 1,000 Mexican Marines and federal and local police descended on a southeastern suburb of Mexico City to try and capture a notorious, alleged drug cartel boss. In the clash that ensued, the Marines killed eight suspected drug traffickers from the Cartel de Tlahuac, including its reputed leader, Felipe de Jesus Perez Luna. In response, the cartel’s members hijacked and burned buses in the streets. The operation put to rest a longstanding Mexican government narrative that the country’s drug cartels, present in the majority of Mexican states, do not operate in the capital. It has also […]

Kids peer out from their shack in one of the poorest areas of the City of God favela, Rio de Janeiro, June 10, 2017 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

Every Tuesday night beginning at 10 p.m., Luciana Rosana de Souza joins a growing queue outside a faded, lavender building, a stone’s throw from Rio de Janeiro’s sleek downtown neighborhoods. The squat, two-story concrete houses nearby are a stark contrast to the glassy office tower blocks in the city center and the high-rise apartments perched on Rio’s postcard beachfronts. Six hours later, just before dawn, Miriam Gomes arrives and begins sorting food donations into plastic bags with the help of a handful of volunteers. Souza’s family is one of 80 or so that Gomes’ NGO, Anjinho Feliz, or Happy Little […]

Migrant children walk toward their school in the village of Oranje, The Netherlands, Oct. 8, 2015 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about education policy in various countries around the world. In July, the highest Dutch court ruled that the government was required to fund an Islamic secondary school, only the second of its kind in the Netherlands. While several public and civil entities opposed the decision, the distinctive Dutch system of education, which allows a significant degree of freedom and autonomy, provided the legal basis for the court’s decision. In an email interview, Edith Hooge, a full professor in governance in education at TIAS, Tilburg University in the Netherlands, explains what […]

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