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Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which will be noted with anguish by Palestinians and quiet celebration by Israelis. Nov. 2, 1917 was a major turning point for the Middle East, when the then-British foreign secretary expressed in writing his government’s support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. While, a century later, Arab politics and international relations focus on many other challenges, the cause of Palestine retains a gravitational pull for many Arabs, including younger generations. Thoughtful Israelis and Palestinians are still debating how to correct the imbalance between Israel’s success and the Palestinians’ […]

British Prime Minister Theresa May, center, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, right, at an EU summit, Brussels, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Nearly 18 months have passed since Britain voted for Brexit, a decision that was backed by 52 percent of voters in Britain overall and nearly 54 percent in England. Support for leaving the European Union was much deeper among manual workers, around 60 percent of whom backed the referendum, along with an estimated 75 percent of people with no qualifications—people who left school at 16 and then stayed out of the education system. Since the Brexit vote, Britain’s political landscape has changed considerably. Theresa May has replaced David Cameron, who as prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party was […]

Catalan pro-independence supporters gather near the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Oct. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

“I ask all Spaniards to remain calm. The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia.” That was Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s response on Twitter to the declaration of independence announced on Oct. 27 by the Catalan secessionist government of Carles Puigdemont. It was also a prelude to Rajoy, hours later, invoking Article 155, a provision in the Spanish Constitution that allowed Madrid to assume direct control of Catalonia, the culturally distinct region of 7.5 million people in northeastern Spain that is wedged next to France. Article 155 had never been used before. Under its authority, Madrid removed from […]

Members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces ride near the main traffic circle in Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Asmaa Waguih).

The Syrian war has torn the United Nations apart many times over. There is more damage for it to do yet. While Syria may be stumbling toward some sort of peace, the U.N.’s role in assisting this process is likely to be controversial for many years ahead. U.N. peacebuilders are likely to hold a very weak hand when it comes to dealing with the Syrian regime and its international backers. The organization has been accused of kow-towing to human rights abusers in cases such as Sudan and Myanmar, neither of which benefits from as much support. What principles should guide […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres shakes hands with civilians at the cathedral in Bangassou, Central African Republic, Oct. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Joel Kouam).

He said his visit was to show solidarity with those inside the conflict-torn country, but the U.N. chief was clearly sending a message to the outside world. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrapped up a trip to the Central African Republic last Friday, his first visit to a country hosting a U.N. peacekeeping mission since he assumed his post in January. The choice signaled the severity of the situation in CAR and a determination to highlight the importance of U.N. peacekeeping. Violence has surged and spread in CAR, a near lawless former French colony, bringing a years-long crisis to a boil. Record […]

A man walks past burned-out houses following an attack by Boko Haram in Dalori village, near Maiduguri, Jan. 31, 2016 (AP photo Jossy Ola).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss what the consolidation of power by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 19th Communist Party Congress means for China and the world. For the Report, Hilary Matfess talks with Peter Dörrie about why the U.S. should reconsider its growing security partnership with Nigeria’s military, which has been accused of human rights abuses and counterproductive tactics in its battle against Boko Haram. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work […]

A woman walks past a TV screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump giving his maiden address at the U.N. General Assembly, Tokyo, Japan,  Sept. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

During the past few weeks, the standoff between North Korea and the United States has cooled a bit. Pyongyang has not tested more ballistic missiles or nuclear devices, and U.S. President Donald Trump has not launched more insulting tweets at North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. That is good, but the crisis is no closer to resolution than it was months or years ago; there is not even a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. It remains the world’s most dangerous threat. It is hard to see a path to resolution at this point. In a recent […]

Iran’s army chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, looks into binoculars as he visits other senior officers from the Iranian military in the Syrian province of Aleppo, Oct. 20, 2017 (Syrian Central Military Media via AP).

After a few years in which the threats to Israel’s security had eased somewhat, recent events have taken a turn for the worse. To its north, Israel faces a joint Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis that is growing more powerful and confident, as President Bashar al-Assad re-establishes control in Syria backed by a strong Russian presence. Assad, whose regime has waged a brutal six-year civil war that has killed half a million Syrians and displaced some two-thirds of the country’s population, has successfully withstood all internal and external pressures, including American demands that he step down, and is now securely ensconced in power […]

Specialist Michael O'Mara and trader Gregory Rowe work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, New York City, Aug. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

The revolution in shale oil production in the United States has had a major impact on global energy markets, leading to the collapse of energy prices but also limiting their vulnerability to geopolitical instability. In an email interview, Meghan L. O’Sullivan, the Jeane Kirkpatrick professor of the practice of international affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, where she directs the Geopolitics of Energy Project, and the recent author of “Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power,” discusses what a rebalancing of supply and demand will mean for geopolitics going forward, if a supply gap […]

Members of the Togolese diaspora stage an anti-government protest, Brussels, Belgium, Aug. 31, 2017 (Photo by Wiktor Dabkowski via AP).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. After months of protests and more than a dozen deaths, the situation in Togo is beginning to draw more attention, and public comment, from other heads of state in West Africa. Since August, opposition leaders in Togo have organized large-scale anti-government protests in cities throughout the country, calling for reforms and the departure of President Faure Gnassingbe. The Gnassingbe family has been in power for half a century, with Eyadema Gnassingbe ruling for 38 years before dying in office […]

Nicole Castillo, 7, of East Boston, holds a sign while standing with her brother Diego, 4, and mother Elsa, who is originally from El Salvador, during a “Here to Stay” rally, Boston, July 6, 2017 (AP photo by Charles Krupa).

On Oct. 12, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that America’s asylum process was “subject to rampant abuse and fraud,” that migrants were taking advantage of the system and that “genuinely meritorious” asylum claims were down. He offered no evidence for these sweeping statements beyond the fact that asylum petitions had increased in recent years and his claim that “many”—he didn’t say how many—asylum-seekers who pass “credible fear” interviews, the initial screening process for those seeking asylum at the U.S. border, then “simply disappear and never show up at their immigration hearings” once they are in the country. Sessions’ comments […]

West Papua pro-independence supporters shout slogans during a rally, Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Tatan Syuflana).

In late September, an exiled political dissident and pro-independence leader from the Indonesian territory commonly known as West Papua submitted a petition to the United Nations calling, in part, for a vote on West Papua’s independence from Indonesia. The petition was reportedly signed by a large majority of native Papuan people before it was smuggled out of the territory. But the U.N. refused to accept it, in the latest setback for an independence movement that goes back decades. In an email interview, Greg Earl, a columnist for the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter and a member of Australia’s ASEAN Council, discusses […]

Ethiopians chant antigovernment slogans during a march, Bishoftu, Ethiopia, Oct. 2, 2016 (AP photo).

Long before a demonstration against South Sudan’s president forced Nikki Haley to evacuate a displaced persons camp in Juba on Wednesday, it was a safe bet that much of the coverage generated by her first trip to Africa as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. would concern the civil war in that country—with some possible competition from her stop in the Democratic Republic of Congo. President Donald Trump specifically mentioned both countries when he announced in September that he planned to send Haley to the continent. Haley has been openly critical of the South Sudanese and Congolese presidents for months, increasing […]

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in New Delhi, India, Oct. 25, 2017 (AP photo Manish Swarup).

Five months after Donald Trump became U.S. president, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled to Washington, hoping to redirect Trump’s attention to the Indian subcontinent. He wanted to remind Trump, who had appeared rather enthralled with China’s leader, of Washington’s pledge to have a deeper relationship with New Delhi, not with India’s rivals or enemies. Since then, though, Trump has praised Pakistan, India’s primary foe, and is now preparing to undertake a major foreign trip, with visits to five Asian countries, including China—but not India. So the job has fallen to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to soothe India’s worries […]

A Jordanian soldier stands at the northeastern border with Syria, Feb. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Raad Adayleh).

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on the Islamic State after the fall of Raqqa and the outlook for Syria and its neighbors. The defeat last week of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Raqqa, its major base of operations in northern Syria, may prove to be a seminal event in ways the battle’s victors did not intend. While no doubt a major milestone, Raqqa’s fall is far from the conclusion of the broader six-year conflict in Syria, nor the end of the jihadi movement itself. The temptation to claim victory over the Islamic State may […]

Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya celebrates after being elected, Kathmandu, May 28, 2017 (Sipa via AP Images).

In mid-September, Nepal closed the chapter on its first local elections in two decades, as the third phase of voting for municipal bodies took place in restive southern Nepal. The vote was free from the violence that marred the adoption of the country’s new constitution two years ago, when scores of people were killed in protests. Nepal is now preparing for general elections to be held Nov. 26, despite ongoing disputes over changes to the constitution and the longstanding marginalization of southern Nepal’s ethnic Madhesi population. In an email interview, George Varughese, the Asia Foundation’s representative to Nepal, discusses the […]

Angola’s new president, Joao Lourenco, casts his vote in the election that brought him to power, Luanda, Angola, Aug. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Bruno Fonseca).

On Sept. 26, Joao Lourenco was sworn in as just the third president since Angola gained its independence from Portugal in November 1975. Unlike other post-colonial leaders in Africa, Angola’s first president, Agostino Neto, was in power for barely four years, until September 1979. In the nearly 38 years since then, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been at the helm of the oil-rich nation. The historic handover of power, after elections in August, came as Angola finds itself in the deepest economic crisis since before its civil war ended in 2002. Even if there is not yet a political transition […]

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