German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the Reichstag building for a meeting of the CDU, CSU and SPD parties, Berlin, Germany, July 5, 2018 (AP photo by Kay Nietfeld).

BERLIN—Germany’s government has withstood an assault from within, but the process revealed a ruling coalition increasingly beholden to the growing nationalist tendencies of its smallest member. The Christian Social Union, or CSU, operates only in the southeastern state of Bavaria, on Germany’s border with Austria. But in an unusual arrangement dating back to 1949, it has been the sister party of the Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, which competes in the country’s 15 other states and which Chancellor Angela Merkel has led since 2000. Although the CSU holds the fewest seats of any party in the Bundestag, Germany’s national parliament, […]

President Donald Trump speaks before signing a memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China, Washington, March 22, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

For decades American presidents pursued multilateral trade agreements and supported international institutions that bolstered liberal trade policies around the world because they believed it was in the United States’ interest to do so. Yes, multilateral trade rules and institutions are relatively more beneficial for smaller, less powerful countries that cannot take on the United States or European Union on their own. And, yes, the rules under the World Trade Organization, or WTO, constrain the United States’ freedom of action, as did the predecessor arrangement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT. Yet U.S. presidents going back to Harry […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a one-on-one-meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

The Finnish government took a significant gamble when it agreed to host today’s Helsinki summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. The Russian president’s meeting with his American counterpart threw U.S. and European analysts into a panic. Even relatively optimistic commentators predicted that the event would be a waste of time. Pessimists feared Putin would use it to extract major concessions from Trump on Syria or Ukraine. Finland has risked being associated with a debacle over which, despite being a good host, it has no substantive control. Why has it done so? Many observers have assumed that the Finns simply […]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari arrives at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria, Aug. 19, 2017 (Photo by Sunday Aghaeze for the Nigerian State House via AP).

Last week, Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, split, with several parliamentarians and former allies of President Muhammadu Buhari breaking away to form the Reformed-All Progressives Congress, or R-APC. “The APC has run a rudderless, inept and incompetent government that has failed to deliver good governance to the Nigerian people,” the national chairman of the new rival faction, Buba Galadima, a former Buhari confidant, declared. In a sense, the schism merely formalized tensions within the APC that go back years. On one level, it reflects some northern Nigerian politicians’ impatience with waiting their turn for the presidency and with […]

An activist opposed to the removal of the presidential age limit is arrested, Kampala, Uganda, Sept. 21, 2017 (AP photo by Ronald Kabuubi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. In recent years, the leaders of a number of African countries have tried to curtail the influence of social media by imposing internet blackouts, especially during elections and other times of heightened tension. This year, Uganda has been pushing something different: a tax on the use of social media, which would have the added benefit of raising revenue while muffling criticism of President Yoweri Museveni’s government. The BBC reported that, under the new measure, users of social media sites […]

Members of the public listen as the High Court in Kenya begins hearing arguments in a case challenging parts of the penal code that target LGBT people, Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 22, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the NATO summit and the implications of U.S. President Donald Trump’s disruptive approach to the alliance. For the Report, Nanjala Nyabola talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu’s struggle to get her internationally acclaimed film, “Rafiki”—a love story between two women—screened in her native country, and the social and legal implications for Kenya’s film industry and creative community. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our […]

A motorist looks at charred vehicles burned by protesters at a fire and police station in Binh Thuan province, Vietnam, June 12, 2018 (AP photo).

Last month, nationwide protests laced with anti-Chinese sentiment erupted in Vietnam in response to the government’s plans to offer long-term foreign leases in three special economic zones. More than 100 people were arrested in the demonstrations, which once again exposed a fundamental challenge for the Communist Party of Vietnam in managing public opinion over its relationship with China. This is hardly a new issue for Vietnam. Its giant northern neighbor dominated it for nearly a millennium of imperial Chinese rule, and they have fought multiple wars in more recent centuries. Given that long, contested history, along with its proximity to […]

President Donald Trump is flanked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and John Bolton, the national security adviser, during a press conference at NATO headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

It is as difficult as ever to understand the foreign and national security policy of U.S. President Donald Trump. While there are consistent themes and patterns, Trump’s approach to the world seems bereft of an overarching logic. In a very real sense, it is the first American strategy for decades not shaped by a discernible vision for world order. Strategic vision first became important when the United States entered the fray of great power politics a century ago. Since Americans did not have a long tradition of involvement in global security affairs or natural enemies to guide them, strategic vision—a […]

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, center, stands with other African leaders during a group photo at a summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

During his trip to Nigeria last week, in between doling out advice to young entrepreneurs and dancing at the New Afrika Shrine in Lagos, French President Emmanuel Macron took a few moments to address the political crisis in Togo, which has dragged on for nearly a year. Yet those hoping for a substantive intervention from the leader of Togo’s former colonial power were no doubt left disappointed, as Macron kept things brief and perhaps deliberately vague. His message: “The status quo is no longer possible.” Predictably, loyalists of President Faure Gnassingbe, whose family has run Togo for half a century, […]

Mauricio Funes, then the president of El Salvador, prepares to speak in the National Assembly, San Salvador, June 1, 2012 (AP photo by Luis Romero).

Former President Mauricio Funes is the latest leader to be implicated in corruption scandals that are consuming El Salvador. In June, 32 arrest warrants were issued for Funes, who was in office from 2009 to 2014, along with his first two wives, his two sons, his current partner, his secretary and other members of his inner circle, including businessman Miguel Melendez Avelar, known to Salvadorans as “Mecafe.” Most of them have been accused of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement of some $351 million. Two others have been accused of obstruction of justice. The warrants follow years of investigations into Funes’ […]

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Venezuela should be benefiting from the global rise in oil prices. Instead, the country is seeing its oil income continue to plummet, along with the rest of its economy. The country’s oil operations are in a state of collapse, output is falling and other challenges Venezuela is facing are also weighing down the oil industry. When oil prices started their collapse in 2014, plummeting from well above $100 a barrel to just over $29 by early 2016, the market drama sent shockwaves across the global economy, producing winners and losers. Oil importers benefited from sharply lower import costs, while producers’ […]

Opponents of the recent name deal between Greece and Macedonia light flares outside the parliament building, Skopje, Macedonia, June 23, 2018 (AP photo by Boris Grdanoski).

Yesterday, leaders from the six countries in the Western Balkans—Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia—gathered in London for the latest summit of what is known as the Berlin Process. Now in its fifth year, this annual meeting of ministers and heads of government, which includes participants from a select few members of the European Union, is meant to encourage greater cooperation among Balkan states as they prepare, some day, to join the EU. Leaving aside the obvious contradiction of a country that is leaving the EU hosting a meeting that aims to expand the bloc’s membership, the […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during their bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO summit, Brussels, July 11, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

As Hastings Ismay, NATO’s first secretary-general, famously put it, the alliance’s purpose in Europe was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down. By all indications, U.S. President Donald Trump, who arrived in Brussels yesterday for his second NATO summit, is dead set on reversing all three elements of Ismay’s formula. Having already proposed that Russia be invited back into the Group of Seven forum of advanced economies, it would surprise no one at this point if Trump suggests that Russia play a greater role in European security when he meets President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki […]

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 25, 2018 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

More than four years after Thailand’s military seized power in a coup—the 19th coup or coup attempt since the end of absolute monarchy there in 1932—the country still seems far from a return to civilian rule. Since his putsch, junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha has repeatedly promised that elections will be held, only to put them off again and again. Most recently, the junta allowed political parties to register earlier this year and suggested that new elections would be held by February 2019 at the latest. However, in recent weeks the military has again waffled on that date, and is now […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (AP photo by Saul Loeb).

America’s trade war with China is back on. But where it is headed, no one knows. Just after midnight on July 6, the United States began collecting 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in imports from China. Beijing immediately retaliated with similar duties on U.S. exports. President Donald Trump has already ordered tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese exports for later this summer, after the comment period on the American list closes, and China will retaliate again. Assuming that happens as planned, the Trump administration will have levied tariffs on over $100 billion in imports into the United States. […]

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NAIROBI—In late April, Wanuri Kahiu, the Kenyan filmmaker, was busy preparing to walk down the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in France. With just a week to spare, she needed to finalize arrangements with the fashion designers and stylists who would provide the various looks for the media whirlwind, as well as prepare for a barrage of meetings with other directors, producers and potential funders. For an independent filmmaker, Cannes has always been the premiere event for those hoping to get a film seen and sold. As the first Kenyan ever invited to screen a film there, Kahiu […]

A protest outside the headquarters of the MACCIH anti-corruption mission, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Feb. 16, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Antonio).

On Friday, Luiz Antonio Guimaraes, a Brazilian prosecutor who was Sao Paolo’s attorney general from 1996 to 2004, was sworn in as the head of the Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, known as MACCIH. Guimaraes’ predecessor, the Peruvian Juan Jimenez, resigned in February, citing obstruction by Honduran officials and a lack of support by the Organization of American States, which sponsors the mission. The swearing-in came days after Honduras’ legislature re-elected Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla to continue in that key post, and amid a massive corruption scandal known as the Pandora Case that has implicated hundreds of current […]

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