The image of Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman projected on the Kingdom Tower during National Day ceremonies, Riyadh, Sept. 24, 2017 (Saudi Culture and Information Ministry photo via AP).

The dust is beginning to settle after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman surprised observers with a purge of prominent members of the Saudi royal family and business community nearly two months ago. Debate continues over how much the detention of 320 key figures in Riyadh was a decisive move to stamp out corruption in Saudi society, or the culmination of a power grab that has unfolded since Mohammed bin Salman burst onto the scene when his father became king in January 2015. Either way, it is clear that policymaking authority is concentrated in one individual to a degree unprecedented in […]

A Pro-EU membership supporter holds European Union flags as he protests against Brexit across the street from the Houses of Parliament, London, Dec. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

In a special episode of our Trend Lines podcast, we look back on 2017 through three of our most popular Report interviews. They take us from the state of the liberal world order in the Trump era, to the not-so-United Kingdom after Brexit, to the Horn of Africa, where the ongoing political standoff in the Persian Gulf is spilling over. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by subscribing. We’re currently offering a 25 percent discount on the first year of an annual subscription […]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, gestures to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they review the troops during the welcoming ceremony at the Malacanang Palace grounds, Manila, Jan. 12, 2017 (AP Photo by Bullit Marquez).

While several foreign leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, were paying their first visit to the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte in November for this year’s ASEAN Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was making his second trip there in under a year. And it came just a few weeks after Duterte’s own high-profile visit to Tokyo. Japan has emerged as the Philippines’ most robust bilateral relationship under Duterte’s presidency so far—so much so that he has begun calling this a “golden age” in their strategic partnership. But even with that progress and optimism, there are still key strategic questions […]

A protest against the pardon of former President Alberto Fujimori. The poster reads in Spanish, “assassin, thief, no to pardon,” Lima, Peru, Dec. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

LIMA, Peru—Peruvians had a hard time enough concentrating on Christmas preparations as they watched their president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, barely avoid impeachment on corruption charges on Dec. 21. But then, three days later, on Christmas Eve, Kuczynski pardoned former President Alberto Fujimori. Known for his authoritarianism and human rights abuses during his decade in power in the 1990s, Fujimori spent the past 12 years in jail, convicted of corruption and crimes against humanity. His divisive pardon has already sparked large protests. The riveting political drama during a week that is usually reserved for shopping and parties caps a tumultuous year […]

People wait holding flags for a welcome ceremony with President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Employing an adversarial tone that surprised many observers, the White House’s newly unveiled National Security Strategy described China as a “revisionist power” that “actively competes” against the United States and its allies and partners. It accused China of trying to “shift the regional balance in its favor” and “displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.” The strategy, the first released by President Donald Trump since taking office, also declared that China seeks to shape a world “antithetical” to U.S. values and interests, and painted China’s expanding economic and diplomatic influence in a decidedly negative light, deploying terms like “extractive” […]

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a briefing with senior military leaders and his national security team in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Washington, Oct. 5, 2017 (AP Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

This week, U.S. President Donald Trump released his inaugural National Security Strategy, or NSS. Since this document affects policy throughout the national security apparatus and helps explain the Trump administration’s priorities to the American public, Congress and the world, Washington’s national security experts immediately began dissecting it. Some analysts and organizations aligned with the Trump administration argued that it was a bold reassertion of American leadership in the world. Others saw it as decidedly mainstream. James Stavridis, a retired admiral and now the dean of the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, called the new strategy a “centrist” document […]

Cyril Ramaphosa addresses delegates during the closing of the conference of the African National Congress, Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

After a decade of Jacob Zuma’s leadership of the African National Congress, or ANC, and more than eight years of him as South Africa’s president, it was hardly surprising that Cyril Ramaphosa’s election to the ANC presidency on Dec. 18 was almost universally welcomed beyond the ranks of the ruling party itself. Zuma’s time in power has been characterized by corruption and dysfunctional governance. However, despite the surge of enthusiasm for Ramaphosa at home and abroad, reflected in an immediate rallying of the rand on global financial markets, the paradox of his election is that it was far from universally […]

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Lt. Gen. James Ajongo Mawut, the army chief of staff, attend a ceremony, Juba, South Sudan, May 18, 2017 (AP photo by Bullen Chol).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Four years after South Sudan’s civil war began, leaders signed yet another cease-fire this week, and diplomats expressed cautious optimism that the agreement represented real progress in ending fighting that has killed tens of thousands of people and triggered the largest African refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The cease-fire is due to come into effect Sunday. It was negotiated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, a regional East African bloc, during talks in Ethiopia […]

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley presents recovered segments of an Iranian rocket during a press briefing at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, Dec. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, take a look at some of the top international affairs stories of 2017. For the Report, WPR columnist Richard Gowan joins Peter Dörrie to explain why 2017 was a year of living dangerously for the United Nations and discuss the year ahead for U.N. diplomacy. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by subscribing. We’re currently offering a 25 percent discount on the first […]

Guinean President Alpha Conde attends a working session at the G-20 summit, Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. In late November, 40 leading radio stations in the West African nation of Guinea suspended their programming in an act of solidarity with another radio station that was closed by the government. The protest was a sign of the growing tension between the government of President Alpha Conde and the Guinean press. In an email interview, Muheeb Saeed, a program officer at the Media Foundation for West Africa, explains what was behind the recent protest, and how press freedom […]

People take part in a protest against large-scale government logging in the Bialowieza Forest, Poland, Aug. 13, 2017 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

Last month, the Court of Justice of the European Union, or CJEU, ordered Poland to cease logging activities in the Bialowieza Forest “to avoid serious and irreparable damage to the interests of the European Union.” Though the dispute has received less attention than the ongoing fight over judicial reforms, it is similarly contributing to tension between Warsaw and Brussels. In an email interview, Duncan Liefferink, a political scientist specializing in European environmental politics at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, analyzes the two sides’ positions and explains how EU environmental policy relates to the rights of member states over their […]

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili stands behind the glass and talks to reporters before a court hearing, Kiev, Ukraine, Dec. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

The conflict in Ukraine, which has raged for more than four years since the Maidan uprising of November 2013, is often portrayed as a clash between the West, which favors greater integration with Europe and the United States, and the East, which favors ties with Russia. But it is degenerating into a clash of egos jockeying for control of a corrupt, dysfunctional state that outside powers other than Russia are barely invested in anymore. Consider the case of Mikheil Saakashvili, the controversial U.S.-educated former prime minister of Georgia, who in May 2015 was appointed governor of the Odessa region on […]

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech on his National Security Strategy, Washington, Dec. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

This week, U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his National Security Strategy in a speech that touted the new agenda while at the same time contradicting key elements of the very strategy he was outlining. Among many policy professionals, the document produced an array of opinions, from alarm by those who pointed to sharp departures from traditional positions, to relief that it proposes a rather traditional conservative philosophy on national security. There is an explanation for the conflicting views by observers and the verbal self-punching by the president: The National Security Strategy thinly conceals an important secret about foreign policy in […]

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba attends an event at the EU-Africa summit, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Diomande Ble Blonde).

Last week, the National Assembly of Gabon passed a bill that would revise the country’s constitution. It did so with as little fanfare as possible. As AFP noted, the news went unmentioned on state media, and the official who confirmed it to the agency declined to give his name. This is perhaps unsurprising given that President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s government has kept the actual substance of the revisions under wraps as well, opting not to make the bill public even though the Cabinet approved it back in September before sending it to lawmakers. Multiple versions have circulated online, but the […]

Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016 (Pool photo via AP).

When Laos’ National Assembly ratified the appointment of a new president and prime minister to lead the closed, one-party communist state in early 2016, most analysts viewed the political changes in Vientiane as signaling a shift away from its much larger and influential neighbor, China. Laos, it seemed, was making a concerted attempt to balance relations more equally with its other neighbors. Yet two years on, China’s influence in its impoverished southern neighbor has only grown. A controversial railway project funded by Beijing is moving forward, and President Xi Jinping made a high-profile state visit in November, touting Laos as […]

President Donald Trump speaks during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House, Washington, Dec. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Yesterday marked the eighth and final night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The gift-giving tradition in my family has always been to offer one major present on the first night and smaller ones, often practical items like gloves and scarves, on each of the following nights. Before lighting the candles yesterday, I thought about what gifts I would offer Donald Trump and his administration for Hanukkah this year. The list I came up with collapses my family’s tradition: Every one of the eight gifts, it turns out, are major presents, but they are all also practical when it comes […]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Dec. 4, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to Beijing and met with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, to discuss enhanced trade relations. Talks on a potential free trade agreement failed to advance, but they agreed to continue preliminary discussions. In an email interview, Stewart Beck, president and chief executive of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, discusses the nature of economic ties between Canada and China, the prospects for a free trade agreement in the future, and why Canada is looking to diversify its options as NAFTA’s fate remains up in the air. WRP: Canada and China are […]

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