U.S. President Donald Trump chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping failed to name an obvious successor to the Communist Party of China’s Politburo Standing Committee at its five-yearly congress last year, observers have suspected he might harbor ambitions for extending his grip on power beyond the two five-year terms allowed by the constitution. Yesterday, the party announced it would abolish those presidential term limits, clearing the way for Xi to continue in office indefinitely and suggesting that the era of collective leadership ushered in by Deng Xiaopeng is drawing to a close. The move comes at a moment of significant soul-searching among China-watchers in […]

Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, backdropped by Euro banknotes, gestures during the recording of a talk show on Italian state television, Rome, Jan. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Medichini).

Italians go to the polls this Sunday in a climate of uncertainty, amid fears, not unfounded, that their country’s political stability is at stake. Three main political forces are contending for power: On the right, a shaky alliance of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and two far-right parties, the League and the Brothers of Italy; the maverick and populist Five Star Movement; and the governing, center-left Democratic Party. They are polling roughly in that order, followed by Free and Equal, a left-wing coalition of disgruntled Democratic Party veterans who broke away in 2017. But 30 percent of the […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani holds the hands of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremonial reception, New Delhi, India, Feb. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

On Feb. 17, during a meeting in New Delhi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed nine new bilateral agreements, including an 18-month lease of part of the Iranian port of Chabahar, near the Pakistan border, to India for an $85 million development project. Modi said the port deal would help expand “the centuries-old bilateral relationship.” In an email interview, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and the recent author of “Psycho-nationalism: Global Thought, Iranian Imaginations,” explains the significance of the port deal, […]

North Korea’s Hwang Chung Gum and South Korea’s Won Yun-jong carry the flag of Korean unification during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

As the athletes marched in for the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics on Sunday, it was hard to find the blue-and-white Korean unification flag. Rather than marching under that flag and in matching white uniforms, like they had for the opening ceremony, athletes from the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea waved their respective national flags and wore separate outfits. Was the spirit of unity from two weeks ago already gone? The diplomatic work to get the North Koreans to the Olympics as part of a single Korean delegation should not be confused with […]

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn speaks at a press conference announcing his resignation, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 15, 2018 (AP photo).

After almost three years of deadly, sporadic crises, 2018 brought signs of much-needed change to Ethiopia when the government announced in early January that it would release many jailed journalists, politicians and protesters. But instead of opening up, Africa’s second-most populous country has returned to a formal state of emergency following the surprising resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Feb. 15. With an emboldened opposition, and divisions within the ruling party, Ethiopia now faces more uncertainty. The chaotic chain of events underscores the difficulties for the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, or EPRDF, in trying to […]

A computer display shows a visualization of phishing and fraudulent phone calls across China during the 4th China Internet Security Conference, Beijing, Aug. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

TAIPEI, Taiwan—In early May 2016, a police raid on a suspected money-laundering operation in the Taiwanese city of Taichung instead uncovered a large and wide-ranging telecommunications scam. Based in the Dominican Republic, the operation spanned the world, stretching from Taiwan to China and the United States. According to Capt. Lee Chi-shun, an investigator with the Criminal Investigation Bureau of Taiwan’s National Police Administration who was heavily involved in the case, the small shop raided by local police turned out to be a data center where money that had been fleeced from victims of telecom fraud was transferred onward to bank […]

Poles take part in a silent march in memory of a teenager who apparently choked to death while trying to swallow a drug packet as narcotics officers tried to stop him, Legionowo, Poland, March 22, 2015 (AP photo by Alik Keplicz).

Poland’s harsh policy on drugs, in place for nearly two decades, has not been effective. Now civil society groups are pushing for a new approach. Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. Poland’s strict drug laws, in place for nearly two decades, are considered among the harshest in Europe. But criminalizing even minor drug possession has proven ineffective, and the president who signed the measures into law has admitted they are a policy failure. In an email interview, Kasia Malinowska, director of the Global Drug Policy Program […]

Parents with their young children shop for vegetables in downtown Amman, Jordan, Dec. 2, 2017 (AP photo by Lindsey Leger).

Jordan’s prime minister, Hani al-Mulki, reshuffled his Cabinet on Sunday, making changes in several key and telling portfolios, including the ministries of economy, labor and interior. The shakeup comes amid a period of public uneasiness over the direction of the country’s economy and who should bear the burden resulting from years of economic mismanagement by largely unaccountable policymakers. In early February, the government raised the sales tax from 6 to 10 percent on more than 160 basic food items, services and commodities ranging from eggs to electricity. Brand new sales taxes were also introduced on agricultural products that were previously […]

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, speaks to the Security Council at U.N. headquarters, New York, Dec. 8, 2017 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

It is hard to feel excited about United Nations Security Council resolutions anymore. On Saturday, after days of exhausting diplomacy, the council unanimously passed a resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire across Syria. Most diplomatic observers reacted either cautiously or outright cynically. Previous U.N.-backed cessations of hostilities in the country have evaporated quickly. A veteran of the siege of Sarajevo in Bosnia in the 1990s once told me that he had kept a list of how long each cease-fire there had lasted before a shot was fired. The shortest was less than a minute. The record in Syria is no […]

A doctor checks the X-ray of a man receiving treatment at the Swaroop Rani Medical college hospital, Allahabad, India, Feb. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Rajesh Kumar Singh).

On Feb. 1, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a massive new health care program, already dubbed “Modicare,” aimed at providing free coverage to half a billion people. Yet details over when and how the program will be rolled out are still being formulated, with serious questions over how it will be funded. In an email interview, Indrani Gupta, a professor and head of the Health Policy Research Unit of the Institute of Economic Growth in New Delhi, discusses the ambitious new policy, India’s current health care system and the challenges ahead. WPR: What is driving the government’s ambitious plan […]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul-malik al-Mekhlafi for talks in Moscow, Russia, Jan. 22, 2018 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In late January, Yemen’s foreign minister, Abdul-malik al-Mekhlafi, traveled to Moscow where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. As they discussed the implementation of an elusive peace settlement in Yemen, Lavrov emphasized Russia’s willingness to mediate between rival Yemeni factions. Lavrov’s somewhat surprising announcement was followed up days later by a statement from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offering to broker talks in the burgeoning conflict between separatists in southern Yemen and the forces of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, whose president is in exile in Saudi Arabia. Until recently, Russia has maintained a diplomatic presence in Yemen’s […]

A child looks on as a fighter with the Free Syrian Army secures a checkpoint on the outskirts of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

The ongoing and increasingly grim conflict in Syria is a portent of wars to come. As I wrote last week, future Syria-style wars will be defined by four characteristics: intricate complexity, a conflict-specific configuration of antagonists, an inability of the international community to undertake humanitarian intervention and a failure of the United Nations to play an effective role in ending the fighting. But beyond these core features, wars resembling Syria’s civil war will share other attributes both on and off the battlefield, with profound and troubling implications for the United States. In any war, resource streams are crucial. Because a […]

A rooftop is covered with solar panels at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, Feb. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

There is a future in which wind turbines, twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, produce electricity across the United States. Because of their height, these turbines would generate power from stronger, more constant gusts, making wind power a viable option in all 50 states, instead of primarily those in the nation’s plains where there are steady, lower winds. In this same future, inexpensive solar cells would coat windows, turning office buildings and homes into self-reliant electricity “prosumers.” Best of all, these technologies would be American innovations. The United States could breathe a sigh of relief after China briefly […]

Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi protest after the Muslim Brotherhood called on its supporters to take to the streets on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Hesham Elkhoshny).

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 recent indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Was Russia’s interference a sophisticated campaign of hybrid warfare, or a ham-handed attempt at undermining America? For the Report, Peter Dörrie talks with our contributor in Cairo about the Muslim Brotherhood’s struggle for survival under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our […]

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).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The attack was depressingly familiar, as was the government’s apparent inability to provide a clear explanation of what exactly happened. On Monday evening, militants from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram stormed a girls’ school in the town of Dapchi, in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Yobe, and kidnapped dozens of students. The exact number of those missing was still unclear Friday, but it could be more than 100. The incident immediately evoked the abduction in 2014 of hundreds of […]

A maple leaf has been replaced with a cannabis leaf on a Canadian flag outsie the Cannabis Culture Headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, Feb. 23, 2010 (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. This summer, Canada is expected to become only the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of marijuana nationwide. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new drug policy is both a break from his conservative predecessor and from the hard-line stance taken by the Trump administration in Washington, which has bucked state-level trends toward marijuana decriminalization in the United States. In an email interview, Daniel Bear, a professor of criminal justice at Humber College in Toronto, explains why the […]

Venezuelans en route to Ecuador wait at a bus terminal in Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

After years of mostly steady economic growth and largely moderating politics in much of Latin America, the past year brought a spate of unexpected difficulties to the region, from severe political crises triggered by corruption scandals, to economic disruptions from the collapse of commodity prices. The troubles, as I’ve noted, will be key to the many pivotal elections this year. And now, there’s another major challenge for the governments and people of the region: a huge outflow of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Venezuela’s worsening political and economic crises have triggered a wave of mass migration that looks set to […]

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