Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir inspects the honor guard after his arrival in Entebbe, Uganda, Nov. 13, 2017 (AP photo by Ronald Kabuubi).

The people of Sudan are accustomed to volatility, but even for them, the current moment is fraught with uncertainty. A convergence of social, economic and diplomatic unrest has sent Sudan into a state of anxiety, straining society and raising the prospect of new domestic turmoil. On Jan. 16 and 17, protesters in cities from Darfur in the west to Port Sudan in the east took to the streets angry over the rising prices of essential goods. They blamed the government of President Omar al-Bashir for economic mismanagement and corruption. Inflation in Sudan is running at more than 30 percent, partly […]

President Donald Trump arrives for his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Washington, Jan. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

U.S. President Donald Trump struck an unsurprisingly triumphal tone in his first State of the Union address last night, although the speech’s national security passages focused mainly on the threats from North Korea and Iran more than any particular successes. It’s tempting to say that Trump’s first year in office has been a wash when it comes to foreign policy. Despite the alarm and uncertainty that greeted his election, it has not resulted in the catastrophe many feared. Due to the interventions of his Cabinet and advisers, there has been more continuity than disruption in the day-to-day conduct of U.S. […]

Demonstrators shout slogans in support of Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jan. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Andre Penner).

On Jan. 24, a Brazilian appeals court upheld corruption charges against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Despite the ruling, Lula, as he is popularly known, still leads the polls ahead of presidential elections slated for Oct. 7. In an email interview, Kurt Weyland, a professor in the department of government at the University of Texas at Austin and author of several books on Brazil and Latin America, discusses what’s next for Lula, his leftist Workers’ Party and Brazil’s corruption-plagued democracy. WPR: After his corruption conviction was upheld, what can we expect from Lula going forward? Kurt Weyland: It […]

President Donald Trump listens during a dinner with European business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

To surprise, relief or disappointment in various quarters, U.S. President Donald Trump managed to comport himself mainly with dignity and appropriate remarks when he encountered the global elite in Davos last week. At least he did during his formal speech, which was teleprompter Trump, not Twitter Trump, as he promoted investment in the United States and touted America’s economic growth. In a brief question-and-answer sessions after his speech, Trump quickly went off script, complaining about “how fake the press can be.” Many in the audience booed. But he still came away from Davos with generally high marks. Trump’s attendance at […]

A woman walks past a poster for Czech presidential candidate Milos Zeman that reads, “Stop migrants and Drahos. This is our land! Vote Zeman!”, Prague, Jan. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

PRAGUE—Czechs re-elected populist firebrand Milos Zeman in the second round of presidential elections late last week, in a race widely viewed as a referendum on the Czech Republic’s geopolitical orientation. Despite the return of Zeman to Prague Castle, from where he has railed against migrants and Islam, called for a referendum on the Czech Republic’s membership in the European Union and reached out to Russia and China, Czech foreign policy will nevertheless likely remain anchored in the country’s position as an EU and NATO member. While Zeman’s bluster attracts international headlines and enrages critics, the president’s influence on policy is […]

A Nepali Muslim boy prays on the second day of Ramadan at a mosque in Kathmandu, Nepal, Aug. 2, 2011 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

The one-year anniversary of an alarming episode of anti-Muslim violence in Nepal focused attention on the community’s continued struggle to assert itself. Despite recent progress in promoting religious pluralism, many Muslims remain marginalized, neglected in politics and invisible in conceptions of national identity. The villages of Narainapur Rural Municipality, in Nepal’s lowland Terai plains, are poor, even by the standards of one of the poorest countries in South Asia. The area does not yet have electricity, and electrical poles installed by the government stand unused. On a typical day, the main road is quiet, with just a handful of vehicles […]

Egyptian human rights lawyer and former presidential candidate  Khaled Ali announces his withdrawal from the race, Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

January has been a troubling month for Egyptian politics. In a substantial blow to the pretense of fair elections, the military-backed authorities ramped up efforts to clear the field ahead of the presidential poll slated for March 26 to 28. Five candidates were either forced out of the race by the military or have exited on their own as a result of an intensive campaign of interference and intimidation. Now, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi will run virtually uncontested. He was elected to his first term in 2014 with 97 percent of the vote, a figure that many suspected was inflated. The […]

Pro-democracy protesters carry pictures of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a rally, Hong Kong, Jan. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

On Jan. 27, officials in Hong Kong disqualified Agnes Chow, a young pro-democracy activist, from running for office in a March by-election. The move sparked public outrage, coming less than two weeks after a Hong Kong court sentenced another activist, Joshua Wong, to jail for a second time for his role in the 2014 pro-democracy protests, known as the Umbrella Movement. In an email interview, Stephan Ortmann, an assistant professor of comparative politics at City University of Hong Kong, discusses the evolution of the pro-democracy movement and what steps the central government in Beijing and the government in Hong Kong […]

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman meets with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Pyongyang, North Korea, Dec. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

Great-power war is back on the global agenda. What can international peacemakers do about it? The Pentagon’s recently released National Defense Strategy declares that the U.S. should concentrate more on strategic competition with China and Russia than on terrorism. The latest edition of The Economist, a bellwether of liberal internationalist thought, focuses on the risk of a major-power war. False nuclear alerts sparked panic in Hawaii and Japan earlier this month. Western military types fear that they are out of sync with these threats. U.S. commanders are telling their troops to get ready for a big war. Their European allies […]

Vietnam’s defense minister, Ngo Xuan Lich, left, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, second from right, view a photo exhibition on Vietnam-U.S. military cooperation, Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan. 25, 2018 (Pool photo via AP).

Over the past five years, no country in Southeast Asia has challenged China’s regional strategic ambitions more assertively than Vietnam. Repeatedly standing up to Beijing’s aims in the South China Sea, Vietnam has attempted to allow foreign oil exploration in disputed maritime areas and, like China, built up the submerged reefs, small islets and banks it occupies and added installations, though on a much smaller scale. It has, at times, tried to work with its neighbors, such as the Philippines under former President Benigno Aquino III, to highlight what it sees as China’s illegal behavior in the South China Sea. […]

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks to parliament before a vote on a new batch reforms, Athens, Jan. 15, 2018  (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

On Jan. 15, Greece’s parliament adopted new austerity measures aimed at placating its international lenders, including greater restrictions on the right of workers to strike and cuts on benefits to large families. The measures, which passed despite days of protests and crippling strikes in Athens, pave the way for Greece to enter the final stage of its eight-year economic bailout. In an email interview, Angelos Chryssogelos, a teaching fellow in the department of European and international studies at King’s College London, explains what austerity means for the vast majority of Greeks and the state of the opposition to the Syriza-led […]

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh during the 17th African Union Summit, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 30, 2011 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. It’s been a year since former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh fled into exile, and speculation is starting to pick up about his potential return to the country to face charges for crimes committed during his more than two decades in power. In January 2017, as West African troops entered Gambian territory, Jammeh announced he was leaving so Adama Barrow could take office, flying to Guinea before ultimately settling in Equatorial Guinea, where he remains today. Barrow defeated Jammeh in […]

Symbolic pipes with a sign that reads "Turkmenistan—China" on exhibit at the Bagtyyarlyk natural gas field, Turkmenistan, Aug. 29, 2007 (AP photo by Alexander Vershinin).

Continued attempts at developing a natural gas pipeline linking Central Asian exporters with markets in Europe have fallen apart, leaving the region dependent on exports to either Russia or China. While the United States has helped countries in Central Asia balance geopolitically, some now believe the U.S. will drift from its engagement in the region as part of the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy. Last week, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, became the first Central Asian head of state to visit President Donald Trump in the White House, in a likely effort to shore up ties. In an email interview, […]

Turkish army tanks head for the Syrian border town of Afrin, an enclave in northwestern Syria controlled by Kurdish fighters, Hassa, Turkey, Jan. 22, 2018 (AP photo).

On Jan. 20, Turkish forces attacked Afrin, a Kurdish-controlled enclave in northwestern Syria. As airstrikes rain down on Afrin’s mountain towns, the conflict is putting both American and Russian plans for Syria to the test. Most of Afrin’s original inhabitants are Kurds, though the population, now estimated at 323,000, has swelled with civilians displaced from other parts of Syria and also includes Arab towns seized by Kurdish forces. Apart from government-controlled Aleppo to the southeast, Afrin is entirely surrounded by Turkish territory and Turkey-backed rebels. A previous Turkish intervention in October set up military outposts all along Afrin’s southern border. […]

Visitors hang ribbons and unification flags on a fence near the border with North Korea, Paju, South Korea, Jan. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

At some point, the brutal and parasitic Kim family dictatorship in North Korea must end, but it is impossible to tell whether it will happen sooner or later. Many predictions that the regime would fall have proven false, but it simply cannot last forever. Whether by internal conflict or by provoking a war with South Korea and the United States, the Kim regime eventually will go. Stressing that “Korean unification is a Korean affair,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in is convinced that whenever reunification comes, it should be under the leadership of the democratic and economically vigorous south, rather than […]

A man wrapped in a flag adorned with a photo of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic prays in a church as part of ceremonies to celebrate a banned Serb holiday, Banja Luka, Bosnia, Jan. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Radivoje Pavicic).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the week’s biggest news, including Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and European leaders’ newfound confidence in pushing back against U.S. President Donald Trump. For the Report, Valerie Hopkins talks with Peter Dörrie about Serbia’s failure to come to grips with its role in the wars that accompanied the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and the divisive legacy of those conflicts—both in Serbia and the wider region—almost 20 years after they ended. If you like what you hear on Trend […]

Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler, an online news agency, addresses a rally of journalists and supporters during a protest against the recent revocation of its registration, northeast of Manila, Philippines, Jan. 19, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has gained international notoriety for his crass language and ruthless anti-drug campaign, which has resulted in thousands of Filipinos being assassinated by police and vigilantes, their bodies dumped in the streets without the benefit of a trial or any semblance of due process. But the populist, and very popular, leader is quickly becoming known for another frontal assault on the practices of a free and open democracy by relentlessly attacking his critics in the media. Until Duterte came to power in 2016, the media environment in the Philippines was relatively free and diverse. Duterte has steadily […]

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