Members of the House of Representatives bow their heads in prayer during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington marking the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Sept. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Molly Riley).

Last week, President Donald Trump announced that John Bolton was replacing U.S. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as assistant to the president for national security affairs, otherwise known as the national security adviser. While Bolton is a longtime government official, having served every Republican president since Ronald Reagan, his appointment was immediately condemned across the political spectrum, given his well-documented views as a war hawk. Colin Kahl and Jon Wolfsthal, two veterans of the Obama administration, labeled him a “national security threat,” arguing that his “ascendance increases the risk of not one but two wars—with North Korea and Iran.” Writing […]

A daughter of Christian Medves kisses her father’s coffin during a ceremony for three victims of last week’s extremist gun rampage in Trebes, southern France, March 29, 2018 (AP photo by Fred Lancelot).

PARIS—Last Friday, a gunman hijacked a car near the city of Carcassonne, in southwestern France, before shooting at national police officers finishing up a morning run. He then headed to the nearby town of Trebes, where he opened fire in a supermarket and held shoppers and employees hostage for several hours. By the time police arrived at the scene, three had died: two supermarket hostages and a passenger in the hijacked car. The following day, Arnaud Beltrame, a 44-year-old lieutenant colonel in the French police who used his body as a shield to protect one of the hostages, died of […]

A cutout board of Uncle Sam is posted outside an information center for tourists near Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 1, 2012 (AP photo by Junji Kurokawa).

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 collective expulsion of Russian diplomats from Europe and the United States, as well as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s secret visit to China. For the Report, Daniel Hurst talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s mixed success in translating a personal rapport with U.S. President Donald Trump into tangible gains for Japan. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up […]

Journalists run away from a cloud of tear gas that was fired by Kenyan security forces to disperse a convoy of Kenyan opposition officials, Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. This week, eight leading columnists from Kenya’s largest media house, the Nation Media Group, resigned in protest of government interference and what they called a “loss in editorial independence.” The resignations come amid increasingly restrictive measures placed on the media by the administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta, including its controversial decision to shut down Kenya’s top three television stations in January for covering the shadow presidential inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga, in defiance of the government’s demands. In […]

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, then a candidate, addresses supporters during a rally, Accra, Ghana, Dec. 11, 2012 (AP photo by Gabriela Barnuevo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Though the deal was approved on a Friday night, Ghana’s opposition made sure it wouldn’t be buried. A week ago, lawmakers in the West African country passed a new agreement on military cooperation with the United States. It features terms that have proven controversial, including granting the U.S. access to Ghanaian radio channels and tax exemptions on imported military equipment. Perhaps most importantly, it also gives the U.S. military the “unimpeded” freedom to deploy across the country. “We will […]

A Palestinian man and his son warm themselves by a fire during cold, rainy weather in a slum on the outskirts of the Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Jan. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Khalil Hamra).

Earlier this month, representatives of 20 countries sat around a table in the White House to discuss ways to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That same day, on a road inside Gaza, a bomb exploded, striking a convoy carrying a high-level Palestinian delegation, including the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister. The group was traveling through the Hamas-dominated coastal enclave to inaugurate a new water purification plant. If the roadside bomb, which failed to kill any of its targets, highlighted the deadly rivalries that continue to plague the beleaguered territory, the White House conference put on display the fierce dilemmas that […]

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, arrive at the commission’s offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 9, 2018 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

In early March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov embarked on a five-country tour of sub-Saharan Africa. During his trip, Lavrov signed new trade agreements with Russia’s two long-standing partners in southern Africa, Angola and Mozambique. He also strengthened Moscow’s diplomatic ties to Zimbabwe’s new government and highlighted the role Russia could play providing security to several countries facing political unrest at home. Even though Russia’s power projection capabilities on the continent remain limited, the broad range of deals signed by Lavrov suggests that Russia is actively seeking to expand its economic and security influence in Africa, and perhaps reassert some […]

Supporters of Zambian President Edgar Lungu react while supporters of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema picket outside the High Commission of Zambia, Pretoria, South Africa, May 26, 2017 (AP photo).

When Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s opposition leader, was let out of prison last August, some analysts speculated that the news would herald a cooling of tensions in a country that had struggled to move on from its disputed presidential election in 2016. Hichilema, the head of the United Party for National Development, or UPND, finished second in that race to President Edgar Lungu, who took office in 2015 after the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata. But Hichilema challenged the result, just as he challenged the 2015 by-election that had permitted Lungu to serve out the remainder of Sata’s term. The […]

Thousands of protesting farmers listen to their leader at the end of a six-day march on foot, Mumbai, India, March 12, 2018 (AP photo by Rajanish Kakade).

On March 12, thousands of farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra marched 112 miles to the state capital, Mumbai, demanding government action to address concerns ranging from land transfers to loans. India’s agricultural sector is the country’s largest source of employment, but it is inefficient and largely reliant on dated equipment and technology, and most farmers struggle to make a living. India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which is facing mounting pressure from farmers, has been promising to address their concerns for years; Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to double farmers’ income. In an email interview, Surupa […]

Dust envelops the skyscrapers in the central business district in Beijing, China, March 28, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

As part of the same 13th National People’s Congress that abolished his term limits, Chinese President Xi Jinping oversaw a significant Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month. The State Council, the chief executive body of the Chinese government, now includes a Ministry of Ecology and Environment, which early press reports, from both the Chinese and international media, rendered as the Ministry of Ecological Environment. The ministry will be led by Li Ganjie, who has since June 2017 served as the minister for environmental protection. Its broad portfolio includes what had been under the purview of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, as […]

French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet on the sidelines of an EU summit, Brussels, March 22, 2018 (Pool photo via AP by Francois Lenoir).

On Monday, over 20 European countries collectively expelled almost 60 Russian diplomats suspected of being intelligence operatives. The move signaled a significant escalation in Europe’s collective response to Moscow’s alleged role in a nerve agent attack in southern England in early March that left a former Russian spy and his daughter in a coma, and the British police officer who responded to the scene hospitalized. That the United States joined the European response, by expelling another 60 Russian operatives and closing the Russian consulate in Seattle, underscored Western solidarity against the latest of repeated Russian provocations. Until last week, British […]

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addresses delegates during an emerging leaders roundtable at the ASEAN special summit, Sydney, Australia, March 16, 2018 (AP photo by Rick Rycroft).

Earlier this month, Australia hosted its first special summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the 10-member regional bloc known as ASEAN. While it is not a member, Australia has developed a close working relationship with the group. Amid discussions in Sydney focused on regional security and trade issues, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed ASEAN as a “strategic convener.” The two sides also unveiled a joint infrastructure initiative that looks to provide a potential alternative to China’s huge Belt and Road Initiative. In an email interview, Evan Laksmana, a senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International […]

Recently freed schoolgirls from the Nigerian town of Dapchi attend a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Abuja, Nigeria, March 23, 2018 (AP photo by Azeez Akunleyan).

On March 23, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared that his government “is ever ready to accept the unconditional laying down of arms by any member of the Boko Haram group who shows strong commitment in that regard.” Two days later, his information minister, Lai Mohammed, revealed that “unknown to many, we have been in wider cessation-of-hostility talks with the insurgents for some time now.” The immediate context for Buhari’s offer and Mohammed’s revelation was Boko Haram’s recent kidnapping of 111 schoolgirls in Dapchi, in northeastern Nigeria. The girls were kidnapped in February; the extremist group released most of the girls […]

U.S. President Donald Trump pours the remainder of his fish food into a koi pond at the Akasaka Palace as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks on, Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

TOKYO, Japan—Just when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believed he had put the relationship with his unpredictable American counterpart on a solid footing, U.S. President Donald Trump threw two curveballs into the mix. The first was Trump’s snap decision to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, after months of holding to a hard-line approach backed by Japan. The second was the administration’s announcement that it would impose steep tariffs on metal imports, a measure that was notionally targeted at China but could also harm several allies, including Japan, unless they are able to win exemptions. So far, Japan […]

Jan Christians sits outside his home in the Richtersveld area, where locals live as they await the outcome of a lands claim action, North Western Cape Province, South Africa, March 2005 (AP photo by Mujahid Safodien).

In late February, South Africa’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a motion seeking to change the constitution in order to allow the government to expropriate land without compensation. The motion came after the ruling African National Congress formally adopted the principle of land expropriation at its party conference in December. South Africa’s new president and the head of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, has since voiced his opposition to the recent spate of unilateral land grabs across the country, or what critics call “illegal land invasions.” In an email interview, John Campbell, the Ralph Bunche senior fellow of African policy studies at the […]

An Israeli F-16 warplane takes off for a mission from an air force base in southern Israel, July 23, 2006 (AP photo by Ariel Schalit).

Last week, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a long investigative report on how Israel discovered and then destroyed a nearly completed plutonium nuclear reactor in Syria’s eastern desert in September 2007. The episode, including the ups and downs of the intelligence process that led to the decision to strike in what Haaretz called a “daring, hair-raising operation,” provides a window into how to think about intelligence and policy challenges in other cases involving nascent nuclear programs. After a decade of secrecy, military censors in Israel lifted the ban on journalists publishing the details of the attack. Haaretz reporters Amos Harel […]

A man flanked by two large representations of vultures holds a sign that reads, in Spanish, “Let them all go” during a protest against Peru’s political class, Lima, March 22, 2018 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

LIMA, Peru—Most Peruvians were relieved to see Vice President Martin Vizcarra sworn in as the country’s new leader last Friday, after a series of revelations and accusations of corruption forced beleaguered President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to resign. But the installation of the relatively unknown Vizcarra as Peru’s 61st president marked the beginning of a period of uncertainty, as his ability to govern effectively in a political environment tainted by corruption and chicanery remains to be seen. Vizcarra is a 55-year-old civil engineer whose only political experience prior to becoming Kuczynski’s first vice president was a four-year term as governor of […]

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