Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with Health Ministry officials, in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2019 (Office of the Iranian Presidency photo via AP Images).

In recent weeks, Iran has elevated its long-simmering tensions with the United States to a dangerous new level, shooting down a U.S. reconnaissance drone over the Gulf of Oman, apparently launching a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and announcing that it will stop complying with some of the conditions in the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that President Donald Trump earlier abandoned. Now, the U.S.-Iran standoff is dangerously close to becoming an outright confrontation. The timing of this escalation seems perplexing. Why would Iran go out of its way to provoke the United States when Trump […]

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner during the opening session of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop, Manama, Bahrain, June 25, 2019 (Bahrain News Agency photo via AP).

President Donald Trump views foreign policy through the narrow lens of economic self-interest. He has reduced the notion of American power and influence to a question of whether the United States is getting a “good deal,” measured only in terms of who is paying for what—say, the cost of basing U.S. troops. Gone are any references to the intangible benefits of international cooperation, let alone the common good. It’s how he has approached relations with NATO and with America’s allies in Asia. In recent days, this economic-centric view of U.S. foreign policy has been on display in Trump’s clumsy and […]

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, center, speaks during the Democratic primary debate in Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019 (AP photo by Wilfredo Lee).

The Democratic Party held its first presidential primary debates this week. As expected, the candidates focused their attacks on President Donald Trump. One of the many contenders, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, even said—to raucous applause in Miami—that Trump was “the biggest threat to the security of the United States.” In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about how Trump’s divisive approach to foreign policy could play an outsized role in the Democratic primary and in next year’s presidential election. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines […]

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, attends a state ceremony for assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen, at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 25, 2019 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. A coup attempt in Ethiopia’s Amhara region last weekend left dozens of people dead and prompted a security crackdown as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attempts to maintain his reformist agenda in the face of this latest, and deadliest, challenge to his administration. On Saturday, forces aligned with Brig. Gen. Asaminew Tsige launched simultaneous attacks on the region’s police headquarters, president’s office and ruling party center in the regional capital, Bahir Dar, killing the governor, his adviser and the attorney general, according to […]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gives a Brazil national soccer team jersey to Argentinian President Mauricio Macri before a lunch at the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 6, 2019 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Earlier this month, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made his first trip to neighboring Argentina since taking office. The focus of his visit with President Mauricio Macri was largely on economic issues, as the two presidents discussed ways to deepen trade and investment ties and strengthen Mercosur, the regional trade bloc that also includes Paraguay and Uruguay. But for both Bolsonaro and Macri, their meeting was also an opportunity to advance a positive foreign policy agenda as they both face mounting political challenges at home. In an interview with WPR, Leonardo Bandarra, a research fellow specializing in Latin America at the […]

Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate of the opposition Republican People's Party, waves to supporters at a victory rally after the repeat mayoral election, Istanbul, June 23, 2019 (Imamoglu Media photo by Onur Gunay team via AP).

The results of Sunday’s rerun election for mayor of Istanbul sent headline writers and political commentators scrambling for the right description. One Turkish newspaper called the crushing defeat of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hand-picked candidate an “earthquake.” Another called it a “people’s victory.” Cumhuriyet, the main opposition daily, declared that “one-man rule” had been “thrashed.” Voters in Istanbul, the city where Erdogan was born and where he rose to power as mayor himself in the 1990s, turned firmly against him, setting the country’s political landscape in flux. The opposition is invigorated and Erdogan, who has become the most dominant figure […]

Whistleblower supporters demonstrate outside the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court in Canberra, Australia, June 27, 2019 (AP photo by Rod McGuirk).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. Earlier this month, authorities in Australia conducted two raids in two days on the offices of the public broadcaster and the home of a prominent journalist over leaked documents, raising concerns about press freedom in the country. The Australian Federal Police searched the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC, apparently in connection with a 2017 series of stories on alleged misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. That raid came only one day after the same agency […]

Thousands of supporters surround a bus from where Ekrem Imamoglu, the new mayor of Istanbul from Turkey’s main opposition opposition Republican People’s Party, makes a speech after he took over office, in Istanbul, June 27, 2019 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

A maxim among Turkey’s political strategists is that the road to Ankara starts in Istanbul. Turkey’s largest city accounts for one-third of the country’s economy and is home to a quarter of its population. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose meteoric political rise began while he was the city’s mayor in the 1990s, knows it as well as anyone. He himself has often remarked that “whoever wins Istanbul also wins the country.” That is why Erdogan applied pressure to dubiously contest the results of March’s mayoral election, which his handpicked candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, lost to Ekrem Imamoglu of […]

President Donald Trump, right, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, during their bilateral meeting at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

President Donald Trump is traveling Wednesday to Osaka, Japan, for the G-20 leaders’ summit, where the packed agenda includes a much-anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “The world’s eyes will be on the Trump-Xi meeting,” WPR columnist Stewart Patrick wrote this week, as the two leaders will try to get negotiations for a trade deal back on track after talks broke down last month. From Japan, Trump will travel on to South Korea for talks with President Moon Jae-in about how to restart stalled diplomacy with North Korea over its nuclear program. As the former top U.S. diplomat for […]

Staff members stand near the emblem for the 2019 Group of 20 leaders’ summit at the entrance of the press center of the G-20 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ meeting, in Fukuoka, Japan, June 9, 2019 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. When Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump meet Saturday at the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Osaka, Japan, as expected, the ongoing trade war will be at the top of the agenda. With negotiations at a standstill since May, the meeting is an opportunity to break the deadlock—and for Trump to back off his threats to impose tariffs on nearly all Chinese imports that are not already taxed. A breakthrough was expected last month, until […]

A street cleaner walks past a poster promoting Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra and his proposed reforms aimed at tackling corruption, in Lima, Peru, June 4, 2019 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

Martin Vizcarra is Peru’s accidental president, elevated to office after Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned in March 2018, when it became clear that he could not survive a second impeachment vote over corruption allegations. Vizcarra’s administration started warily, leading many observers to assume he would be just a caretaker president with a deferential attitude toward Congress, which is controlled by opposition leader Keiko Fujimori and her right-wing, Popular Force party. But after revelations last year of widespread corruption in the upper echelons of the judiciary and the timid congressional response, Vizcarra changed course. He announced he would put a series of […]

President Donald Trump holds up a signed executive order to increase sanctions on Iran, in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, June 24, 2019 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Judah Grunstein this week. Escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf peaked last week when President Donald Trump abruptly canceled U.S. airstrikes against Iranian military assets, after Iran shot down an unmanned American surveillance drone over the Gulf of Oman. Trump’s ordering of military strikes, only to change his mind apparently at the last moment, has raised more questions about the administration’s strategy toward Iran and its ultimate goals. Trump’s decision to call off the airstrikes seemed to indicate that he doesn’t see a military solution to this growing crisis, even […]

A boat sails past a cargo ship at a port in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, June 10, 2019 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

If the U.S.-China trade war develops into a broader cold war, as some observers fear, it will be nothing like the actual Cold War. Between civil war in Russia after World War I, the Great Depression in the United States and then the cataclysm of World War II, America and the Soviet Union never had a chance to develop a significant economic relationship before things hardened into a stark East-West divide. When Washington adopted a containment strategy that blocked most trade with the Soviets, including technology transfers, it had relatively little impact on either economy. The situation with China today […]

An Ebola health worker at a treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, April 16, 2019 (AP photo by Al-hadji Kudra Maliro).

GULU and KAMPALA, Uganda—Earlier this month, a family with a five-year-old boy left the Democratic Republic of the Congo and entered Uganda. They skirted the official crossing point, using an unmarked footpath. The family had attended the burial of a relative in Congo, who had died of Ebola. Since the Ebola epidemic in Congo began in August 2018, more than 1,500 people have perished, making it the largest Ebola outbreak ever in Congo and the second-largest on record. The virus has been notoriously difficult to treat and contain, due to Congo’s instability and its porous borders. Unrest in Congo has […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is greeted with military honors by Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Kabore, at the Presidential Palace, Ouagadougou, May 1, 2019 (Photo by Michael Kappeler for dpa via AP Images).

BAMAKO, Mali—“The terrorists are quick,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after a summit with the leaders of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou in May. “This is why we have to be quicker, so that we can beat them.” What happens in the Sahel, the vast sub-Saharan region of Northern Africa, “is not only the responsibility of the region, but is also a European responsibility,” Merkel added in what was for her some uncharacteristic alarmism. “If chaos gains the upper hand here—something we want to prevent—other areas would be impacted.” The sight of Merkel standing side […]

Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne speaks to journalists prior to an EU summit, Brussels, Belgium, June 20, 2019 (Photo by Jakub Dospiva for CTK via AP Images).

A new five-party coalition government was formally appointed in Finland earlier this month, led by Prime Minister Antti Rinne. Rinne’s Social Democratic Party narrowly won legislative elections in mid-April with only 17.7 percent of the vote, leading it to partner with four smaller parties to form a left-leaning majority coalition in the Parliament. But the far-right populist Finns Party placed a close second in the elections with 17.5 percent, and it has emerged as the most popular party in Finland in recent public opinion polls. In an email interview with WPR, Teivo Teivainen, a professor of world politics at the […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with other Group of 20 leaders, gather for a group photo in Buenos Aires, Nov. 30, 2018 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

This weekend, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomes world leaders to Osaka for the annual summit of the Group of 20. This club of major economies has been at the forefront of global governance since November 2008, when U.S. President George W. Bush convened an emergency committee to help rescue a world plummeting into the financial and economic abyss. The G-20’s ambit has since broadened to encompass an ever-expanding range of global issues. The Osaka summit continues that trend. Japan set an ambitious agenda for its presidency of the G-20, which rotates every year. Major themes include removing structural impediments […]

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