Demonstrators shout slogans and wave Nicaraguan flags during a protest against the Nicaraguan government in front of the Nicaraguan Embassy in Madrid, Spain, Jan. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Andrea Comas).

On Monday, the Nicaraguan government announced it was implementing the very reforms that triggered widespread protests last year and led to a brutal government crackdown. A move of economic necessity, it also appeared to be another sign of President Daniel Ortega’s renewed confidence in power, despite international outcries over his government’s repression, which has resulted in 325 confirmed deaths and the arrests of more than 600 dissidents since last spring, among other abuses. Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have fled into exile. The unpopular fiscal reforms will address the country’s deficit-wracked pension system, increasing both employer and worker contributions and […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin reviews an honor guard during an official welcome ceremony in Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

Greece’s parliament held a historic vote last Friday that not only ended a three-decade-old dispute with its neighbor, but handed Russia a bruising defeat. The decision, formally recognizing the newly renamed nation of North Macedonia, sealed a deal reached between Greek and Macedonian leaders last year and removed the main obstacle that has prevented the former Yugoslav republic from joining the European Union and NATO. The resolution of the naming quarrel is a setback to Russia, which had deployed its now-familiar geopolitical tools to try and block it. Yet the dispute is just one of many sources of tension in […]

Palestinians protest against aid cuts by U.S. President Donald Trump for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in Gaza City, Gaza, Jan. 29, 2018 (Photo by Wissam Nassar for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on food security around the world. Last year, the United States curtailed its humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territories by cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in direct development assistance and funding to the United Nations. That has exacerbated a humanitarian crisis, with aid organizations on the ground reporting that they are no longer able to provide critical food aid to vulnerable households in Gaza and the West Bank. Lana Abu-Hijleh is the local director for one such aid group, Global Communities, based in the West Bank. In an interview […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a press conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

If Donald Trump ends up being the catalyst that leads to the fall of the Chavista regime in Venezuela, it would be further proof that history has a sense of humor, if a dark one. Over the past week, the Trump administration has ratcheted up the pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s government, recognizing the opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president, imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company and its assets, and turning over control of the country’s U.S. bank accounts to Guaido. Through it all, the administration has refused to rule out a military intervention, repeating its refrain […]

A protester burns a flare during a taxi strike, Barcelona, Spain, June 29, 2017 (AP photo by Manu Fernandez).

BARCELONA—Four years ago, several of Spain’s biggest cities all rejected traditional political parties in their municipal elections. Instead, they elected new civic platforms made up of a mix of activists, academics and lawyers with little experience in government. This was the birth of “municipalism,” an emergent left-wing movement that operates at the level of city government, but with the ambition of driving systemic change. Municipalism has since gone global, but Spain, and specifically Barcelona, remains its heart. The next municipal elections in May will further shape its future. Even now, municipalism is difficult to define. Whether in power or not, […]

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, right, accompanied by Trump administration officials, meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, left, and other Chinese officials in Washington, Jan. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The United States Department of Justice announced criminal charges against Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies and one of its top executives on Monday, escalating tensions between the two countries as they begin a new round of high-level trade negotiations. A 13-count indictment was unsealed in New York City, targeting Huawei, two of its affiliates and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. The allegations include bank and wire fraud, violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and conspiring to obstruct justice related to […]

Anti-Brexit campaigners’ placards outside the Houses of Parliament, London, Jan. 28, 2019 (Photo by Kirsty O’Connor for EMPPL PA Wire via AP Images).

British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a humiliating defeat earlier this month when Parliament voted by an overwhelming margin to reject the Brexit deal she had negotiated with the European Union. Yet there doesn’t appear to be a Plan B. Many are now betting that May will request a delay for Britain to leave the EU beyond the deadline of March 29, which May triggered in March 2017 by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and beginning the exit process. But the odds of a no-deal breakup also went up this month, despite fears that that outcome could lead […]

Zimbabweans who were arrested during protests over the hike in fuel prices are taken to a court appearance, Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

The military coup that ended the ruinous 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe was greeted with genuine enthusiasm both in Zimbabwe and abroad. Any skepticism of Emmerson Mnangagwa was drowned out by the new president’s calming rhetoric about unity and reconciliation and his commitment to a “new beginning.” It seemed churlish, amid such optimism, to deny the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe their moment of hope. Yet that spirit has been dashed recently as Mnangagwa’s reforms have been exposed as cosmetic, at best. Instead of a new Zimbabwe, it is the same old state within the narrow parameters imposed by the ruling […]

Malian troops stand with former rebels before a joint patrol in Gao, Mali, Feb. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Baba Ahmed).

Ethnic violence in central Mali is the latest manifestation of the chronic insecurity that has prevailed for the better part of a decade. But even as bullets continue to fly, officials have backed a range of initiatives—from disarmament to criminal trials—to move on from the Malian conflict. BAMAKO—On a Monday morning last June, toward the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Amadou Barry, a 55-year-old cattle herder and member of the Fulani ethnic group, noticed smoke coming out of a nearby village. It wasn’t long before he registered the sound of gunshots—a telltale sign that a militia attack was […]

A man carries a cross during the funeral procession of a person who died when a gas pipeline exploded, Tlahuelilpan, Mexico, Jan. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Claudio Cruz).

Only six weeks into his presidency, Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador already faces his first major crisis. In part self-inflicted, in part a consequence of the corrupt and weak institutions he inherited from his predecessors, it is nevertheless a sign that governing Mexico will be a formidable challenge for the man who promised nothing less than a fundamental transformation of the country and on whom millions of Mexicans are resting their hopes. Citizens across western and central Mexico, which includes the 25 million people living in Mexico City and the surrounding State of Mexico, have been waiting in line for […]

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, left, and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, at Tshisekedi’s inauguration ceremony in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

What is the most effective way to neuter a peacekeeping operation? Last week, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali, known by its French acronym MINUSMA, lost 10 soldiers when jihadis attacked their base. A few days later, a roadside bomb killed two more peacekeepers. Although this was an especially grim week, guerrilla forces regularly hit U.N. camps and convoys in northern Mali. Since it was deployed in 2013, MINUSMA has lost over 100 personnel to hostile acts. A 2018 study suggested that the mission devotes about 90 percent of its military resources to protecting itself. Many U.N. officials and […]

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha hold a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2019 (Yomiuri Shimbun photo via AP Images).

Japan and South Korea are mired in a heated military spat over an encounter at sea last month between a South Korean warship and a Japanese maritime patrol plane. Tokyo claims that its aircraft was threatened by the South Korean ship’s targeting radar for surface-to-air weapons, a charge that Seoul flatly denies. Instead, it accuses the Japanese military of provocatively flying its planes at low altitudes. The escalating feud is further straining an already tense bilateral relationship, as the two sides struggle to resolve difficult historical issues over Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea that have resurfaced in recent months. The […]

An Iraqi soldier watches smoke rise after an airstrike by U.S.-led coalition warplanes against ISIS, on the border between Syria and Iraq in Qaim, Anbar province, Iraq, Nov. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

During the 2016 U.S. presidential race, then-candidate Donald Trump didn’t talk much about the specifics of foreign and national security policy, with one exception: a pledge to defeat the Islamic State. Once elected, Trump ramped up the anti-ISIS military campaign that President Barack Obama had begun and increased support to local militias in Syria, including many Syrian Kurds, and security forces in Iraq. Eventually, this paid off. Through a grueling campaign led by the militias and the Iraqis, the Islamic State lost most of the territory it controlled in both Iraq and Syria. A month ago, Trump declared victory. “We […]

Supporters of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an Indian political party, burn portraits of  Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during a protest, New Delhi, India,  May 26, 2014 (AP photo by Tsering Topgyal).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the sudden escalation of Venezuela’s political crisis and the U.S. response to it. For the Report, Jonathan Gorvett talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the roots of Sri Lanka’s recent constitutional crisis and why its resolution is likely to remain fragile and tenuous for the foreseeable future. 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 […]

Security forces help civilians flee the scene of the attack at the 14 Riverside hotel-office complex in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

NAIROBI, Kenya—Last week, a five-man cell from al-Shabab, al-Qaida’s Somalia-based affiliate, entered the popular 14 Riverside hotel-office complex in an affluent neighborhood of Kenya’s capital, where there were more than 700 workers and hotel guests. One of the men blew himself up with a suicide vest, while the four others threw hand grenades and fired on people having a late lunch and then trying to flee. Al-Shabab has wreaked havoc in East Africa since 2006, proving to be one of the world’s deadliest jihadist groups. Its latest attack in Nairobi was an appalling reminder that, despite historic reforms and rapprochement […]

Pedestrians walk past a campaign poster showing Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the ruling party’s launch of its election manifesto, Harare, May 4, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.A year ago, Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was riding high as he traveled to Davos, Switzerland, to declare at the World Economic Forum that his country was “open for business.” It was a message he had delivered many times since coming to power in November 2017, after longtime President Robert Mugabe was forced out in a military intervention, and would continue to deliver at seemingly every opportunity. As Alex T. Magaisa, a Zimbabwean analyst, put it last year, the new […]

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, right, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a news conference following a meeting in Milan, Italy, Aug. 28, 2018 (AP photo by Luca Bruno).

European leaders gathered twice last year to try and develop an EU-wide approach to the still-divisive issues of migration and the integration of refugees, and both times they failed to reach any consensus, yet again. Building on public anxieties around migration, far-right populist parties succeeded in sowing more discord across the continent, with many centrist and liberal politicians having difficulty formulating a response. The effectiveness of these anti-migrant and even nativist campaigns was evident with the controversy over the adoption of the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration last month in Morocco. The compact initially enjoyed support from all U.N. […]

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