Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 22, 2018 (Saudi Press Agency photo via AP Images).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Judah Grunstein, who will be back next week. Saudi Arabia continues to face unprecedented criticism from the United States, its longstanding regional ally, over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four weeks ago. Earlier this month, Congress formally asked the Trump administration to determine whether Khashoggi’s killing exposed Saudi leaders to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, a law passed two years ago with broad bipartisan support to punish credibly accused violators of human rights around the world. Saudi Arabia is trying […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct. 26, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

The atmosphere during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s rare visit to China last week, the first by a Japanese leader since 2011, was loaded with historical meaning. Oct. 23, two days before Abe arrived in Beijing, was the 40th anniversary of the two countries’ Treaty of Peace and Friendship coming into effect. That agreement formally ended their state of war. The anniversary has now become a convenient touchstone for two countries seeking to normalize relations following a multi-year chill, mainly over disputed islands in the East China Sea and sensitive historical issues. And in the 1970s, as in 2018, it was […]

People share rations of beans at a World Food Program distribution site in Congo’s troubled Kasai region, March 13, 2018 (DPA photo by Kate Bartlett via AP Images).

The United Nations is sounding the alarm over the large-scale and ongoing expulsion of migrants and refugees from Angola, which has triggered a humanitarian crisis along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. So far this month, nearly 330,000 people have been forcibly deported from Angola into the Congolese border regions of Kasai, Kasai Central and Kwango. On Friday, Michelle Bachelet, the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights, warned that the migrants face an “extremely precarious situation” and raised the prospect of renewed communal violence in an unstable region. Six people have already been confirmed dead, reportedly at the […]

College students enter the main gate of Peking University in Beijing, July 13, 2018 (Photo by Su Weizhong for Imaginechina via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it. On Monday, Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations suspended two exchange programs with Beijing-based Renmin University after students there were punished for their labor rights activism. According to the Financial Times, it is the first case in years of a foreign university suspending ties with a Chinese counterpart due to concerns over academic freedom. Renmin students faced various forms of punishment—including surveillance and threats of suspension—after they participated in labor protests this […]

An anti-narcotics police officer runs toward a helicopter after the destruction of a cocaine lab in Calamar, Guaviare state, Colombia, Aug. 2, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

In 1821, Gen. Francisco de Paula Santander told a congress full of statesmen, “Guns will give you your independence, but laws will help you keep it.” Santander was addressing representatives of Gran Colombia, the political state that once covered most of northern South America, including what is today Colombia and Venezuela. Ten years later, Gran Colombia split up, and Colombia and Venezuela set off on separate paths. But both countries disregarded Santander’s statement, as their histories have been marked by a string of armed conflicts that eroded laws and justice. Still, after decades spent fighting militias and rebel movements while […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, speaks with the lawmakers during a parliamentary session, Tehran, Oct. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

The Trump administration is set to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran next week that target its oil sector, after having reimposed sanctions on other sectors of the Iranian economy in August. But they will target Iran only indirectly. Many of those sanctions will be aimed at firms and financial institutions in Europe, Japan, Turkey and other allied countries, as well as China, India and elsewhere. Unlike the United Nations sanctions that helped bring Iran to the negotiating table and led to the international agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the new U.S. sanctions will be unilateral, extraterritorial—often called “secondary”—and […]

Cambodians hold a protest demanding the release of opposition leader Kem Sokha,  Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 18, 2017 (DPA photo by Wiktor Dabkowski via AP Images).

Cambodia has made significant progress on reducing poverty since its transition to democracy in the 1990s, yet millions still remain at risk of falling back into destitution given the nation’s shaky dependence on foreign money, both from trading partners and aid donors. That’s why many Cambodians will be desperately hoping the European Union’s recent threat to suspend valuable trade preferences does not actually come to fruition. In early October, the EU announced that it was formally looking into removing Cambodia’s special trade status, known as “Everything But Arms,” which gives developing nations duty-free access to export into Europe. European Trade […]

Nigerian soldiers man a checkpoint in Gwoza, Nigeria, April 8, 2018 (AP photo by Lekan Oyekanmi).

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria—Lirfa Dashe, a lieutenant in the Nigerian army, was due to get married this month. Instead he is buried in the cemetery of Mai Malari barracks, alongside other soldiers killed in the seemingly endless conflict against the jihadist insurgency of Boko Haram. At the entrance to the cemetery, located in this city in northeastern Nigeria, is a cenotaph with the names of the fallen inscribed on plaques. There are 1,307 names etched so far, stretching back to 2013. Mai Malari, the home of the army’s Seventh Division, is just one of several sites where soldiers killed in the northeastern […]

Journalists protest against brutality in the course of doing their job after photo journalist Benedict Uwalaka was beaten up in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 16, 2012 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. As Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari prepares his re-election bid for February 2019, he is positioning himself as a leader who prizes good governance, accountability and human rights. But watchdogs point out that his record on press freedom tells a different story, as journalists in Nigeria face an uptick in repression under his watch. In an interview with WPR, Angela Quintal, the Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, discusses the threatening environment for reporters in Africa’s most […]

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, center, arrives at Government House for a Cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

On a visit to Japan earlier this month, Thailand’s prime minister and the leader of the junta in power since 2014, Prayuth Chan-ocha, confirmed that elections would indeed be held early next year, by May 2019 at the latest. According to a readout of a meeting between Prayuth and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Prayuth said that elections could be held as early as February. They would be the first elections since February 2014, which were subsequently invalidated by Thailand’s Constitutional Court, precipitating the military coup that deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government. Although the junta has repeatedly […]

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech for incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, Houston, Texas, Oct. 22, 2018 (Photo by Yomiuri Shimbun for AP Images).

If you want to predict the future of international cooperation, you shouldn’t focus on multilateral hubs like New York and Geneva over the next two weeks. Instead, concentrate on Florida, Texas and Missouri. These are some of the states up for grabs in next week’s U.S. midterm elections. The polls could further reshape American and non-American policymakers’ visions of the future of the global system. The U.S. Congress is one of the most significant players in multilateral affairs, for the simple reason that it signs off on an enormous chunk of international organizations’ budgets. Congress approved roughly $9 billion of […]

A protester carries carries a flag featuring a cannabis leaf during a student march in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 6, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. While various countries including Canada and South Africa liberalize their drug policies, Colombia is heading in the opposite direction. Earlier this month, President Ivan Duque signed a decree enabling police to search people and confiscate small amounts of drugs. The measure has sparked widespread protests amid concerns that it may violate previous Colombian high court rulings allowing for personal drug possession and consumption in small doses. For more on the context of Duque’s decree and the outlook for the legal […]

A Russian S-400 air defense missile system during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 3, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko). Such systems reduce NATO's ability to counter the Russian threat in Eastern Europe.

As NATO has focused its attention on Russia’s offensive military capabilities in Eastern Europe, an equally significant and, in practice, more problematic issue has been largely ignored: Russia’s preponderance of “anti-access, area-denial” capabilities in the borderlands between the Baltic and Black Seas. Is NATO focusing on the wrong Russian threat in Eastern Europe? This week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss, among other things, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Announced by President Donald Trump last weekend, the move comes after repeated Russian violations […]

A U.S. military helicopter flies over the site of a suicide bombing targeting a NATO convoy in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Aug. 2, 2017 (AP photo).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Sarah Kreps is filling in for Steven Metz, who will be back next week. In the book that introduced the phrase “Catch-22,” the novelist Joseph Heller outlined a fundamental paradox of a fictional war: To be qualified to fly a bombing mission behind enemy lines, an individual had to be sane. But while no sane individual would expose themselves to that kind of suicide mission, asking to be grounded—because you’re crazy and can’t fly—revealed the mind of a rational individual, so he would have to fly more missions. Modern American wars now have their own Catch-22 […]

People are seen through a banner showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest against the nation-state law, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 30, 2018 (AP photo by Oded Balilty).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss political polarization and violence in the United States in the run-up to the congressional midterm elections. For the Report, Shira Rubin talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Israel’s recently passed nation-state law and why it has outraged the country’s Druze minority in particular. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, and Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, second right, attend the Future Investment Initiative conference, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Criticism of Saudi Arabia is easy to come by these days. As the kingdom has struggled to get its story straight on the killing earlier this month of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Riyadh has encountered a chorus of condemnation from Berlin, Brussels, London, Ottawa and many voices in Washington. Even U.S. President Donald Trump seemed to turn on his Saudi allies this week, referring to their shifting statements on the murder as “the worst cover-up ever.” From Africa, however, the […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, right, during the Uzbekistan-Russia Interregional Cooperation Forum, Toshkent, Uzbekistan, Oct. 19, 2018 (Photo by Aleksey Nikolskyi for Sputnik via AP Images).

On Oct. 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Uzbekistan for the first meeting of the newly established Uzbekistan-Russia Interregional Cooperation Forum. Putin attended the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony of a new $11 billion nuclear power plant, signing investment deals totaling $25 billion, mostly in the energy sector. The visit was a clear illustration of how significantly Uzbekistan has changed since the death in August 2016 of Islam Karimov, the country’s first post-Soviet president who ruled for 27 years. Under Karimov, Uzbekistan pursued a path of outward isolation and inward repression. His successor, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has slowly opened Uzbekistan up […]

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