Nigerian Shiite Muslims protest and demand the release of Ibraheem al-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, in Cikatsere, Nigeria, April 1, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

On July 26, the Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, banned the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, or IMN, saying that its activities constitute “terrorism and illegality.” The court order, which the IMN can appeal, came at the attorney general’s request amid repeated clashes in recent weeks between the IMN and security forces. Although observers have speculated about the possibility of the IMN, Nigeria’s largest Shiite organization, becoming “a second Boko Haram,” it appears unlikely to turn into an underground insurgency. There are still opportunities for the federal government to deescalate the situation, and even if it fails to do […]

U.S. President Donald Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

America’s foreign policy establishment is at war with itself over the shape of the country’s approach toward a steadily rising China. For now, it is only an epistolary war. But as the debate deepens, its outcome will go far toward deciding how the United States responds to its most serious global rival for economic and geopolitical power for decades ahead. Among a slew of recent op-eds and policy papers about how Washington should manage the perceived challenge that China represents, two statements stand out as poles in the debate and, as such, deserve extended consideration. The first, which appeared in […]

People take part in a protest condemning a deadly crackdown last month in Khartoum, Sudan, July 18, 2019 (AP photo by Mahmoud Hjaj).

Earlier this month, Sudan’s ruling military council and the opposition pro-democracy movement reached agreement on the broad outlines of a power-sharing deal. The document lays out a three-year roadmap toward free elections and permanent civilian rule. But the two sides have yet to agree on key details, and the opposition is continuing to demand accountability for a bloody crackdown by the military in June that left more than 100 people dead. In a sign of the process’ shakiness, a planned negotiating round was canceled this week in response to the killing of five schoolchildren by security forces during a peaceful […]

Shohrat Zakir, chairman of China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, speaks during a press conference at the State Council Information Office in Beijing, July 30, 2019 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. On Tuesday, Chinese officials abruptly announced that most of the Uighur Muslims held in detention camps in the country’s western Xinjiang region had been released. The claim—which was not supported by any evidence and almost immediately challenged by inmates’ relatives, foreign governments and human rights groups—marks another step in China’s efforts to deflect international criticism of its repressive policies in Xinjiang, where at least 1 million Uighurs are believed to be incarcerated. Describing the detention facilities as “education and […]

An F-35 fighter jet takes off from Beaufort U.S. Marines Air Base in Beaufort, South Carolina (Photo by Peter Byrne for Press Association via AP Images).

On July 17, the U.S. announced that it had terminated Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program, five days after Ankara took delivery of components for four batteries of Russian S-400 air defense systems that Turkey purchased in 2017. The systems will not be assembled and operational until the fall, but in receiving the first shipment, Turkey ignored repeated warnings from Washington that it considered the presence of the S-400 to be incompatible with operating the F-35. The Trump administration gave several reasons for the suspension: the intelligence risk posed by the presence of an advanced Russian data-collection platform […]

South Korean students burn a banner of a Japanese rising sun flag and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a rally denouncing the Japanese government’s trade restrictions, Seoul, July 29, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Japan and South Korea are in the midst of a nasty diplomatic dispute, and Japan is using trade restrictions as a weapon to try and resolve it. Beyond the potential threats to American and regional geopolitical interests if the two countries remain at loggerheads, the nature of the spat is also disturbing. Japan’s use of trade restrictions to force South Korea to back down, while publicly justifying them as necessary for national security reasons, echoes U.S. President Donald Trump’s cavalier approach to trade rules and alliance relations. If the dispute is not resolved quickly, it could complicate efforts to deal […]

Lamin Saidykhan, a migrant from Gambia, in the “Ghetto,” a squatter settlement on the outskirts of Rome, Italy, Nov. 2018 (Photo by Jason Florio).

Late last year, a decree abolishing humanitarian protections for migrants in Italy became law. Pushed by far-right leader Matteo Salvini as part of a crackdown on migrants and refugees, the law threatens to drive Italy’s migrant community further to the margins as anti-immigrant sentiment rises across the country. ROME—Things were looking up for 21-year-old Gambian migrant Lamin Saidykhan in early November 2018. Two years after arriving in Italy via a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, he had finally been granted humanitarian protection status by the Italian government, which would allow him to legally stay and work in the country for […]

Activists protest with a cow against the EU-Mercosur trade deal, in front of the German Ministry of Finance, Berlin, March 26, 2018 (Photo by J’rg Carstensen for dpa via AP Images).

After 20 years of on-and-off negotiations, leaders from the European Union and South America’s Mercosur trade bloc announced late last month that they had reached a sweeping trade agreement encompassing 800 million people and almost a quarter of the global economy. Hailed on both sides of the Atlantic as a “landmark,” the accord must still be ratified by the negotiating parties’ legislatures, and it faces stiff opposition in key European countries like France and Ireland as well as in the four Mercosur member states of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. In an email interview with WPR, Bruno Binetti, a Buenos […]

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses National Guard soldiers during a ceremony in Mexico City, June 30, 2019 (AP photo by Christian Palma).

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador does not waste time with mundane political rhetoric. Long before he won the presidency on his third attempt, a year ago this month, the man better known in Mexico as AMLO had already gained a reputation for setting sky-high expectations. The leftist veteran of Mexican politics hailed his administration as ushering in the country’s “fourth transformation”—the previous three being events no less groundbreaking than its Declaration of Independence in 1810, the War of Reform, which led to the separation of church and state in the mid-19th century, and the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Yet […]

U.S. President Donald Trump, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence, after signing an executive order to increase sanctions on Iran, at the White House, Washington, June 24, 2019 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Stewart Patrick this week. On July 18, in the Trump administration’s first punitive measure since Iran announced earlier this month that it would exceed the levels of enriched uranium permitted under the international nuclear deal, the United States expanded sanctions against Tehran to include a network of international companies it said were linked to procuring materials for Iran’s nuclear program. In announcing the sanctions, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department was “taking action to shut down an Iranian nuclear procurement network that leverages Chinese- and Belgium-based front companies […]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, center, speaks to U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, third left, at the presidential palace in Kabul, Jan. 28, 2019. (Photo by the Afghan Presidential Palace, via AP)

If there’s still any question about whether President Donald Trump will actually deliver on his promises to “get out” of Afghanistan, the answer seems simple after this week. No, Trump won’t, not while he remains convinced that he could win the war there in 10 days by killing 10 million people and wiping Afghanistan “off the face of the earth.” Trump’s statement, made in a stomach-churning Oval Office meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on July 22, may have been shocking, but it wasn’t all that surprising. After 19 years at war, the bumbling that has passed for U.S. […]

President Donald Trump during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office of the White House, July 22, 2019, Washington (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan enjoyed a warm visit to Washington this week, with his hosts, from President Donald Trump to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Lindsey Graham, all affirming the importance in particular of cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan in Afghanistan. For a Pakistani government that viewed Khan’s visit as an opportunity to reset a relationship that suffered immensely during the early months of the Trump administration, it was an encouraging sign. The bilateral relationship has indeed come a long way since 2017 and 2018, when Trump threatened a harder line on Pakistan, tweeted angrily about […]

New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street, London, July 24, 2019 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein; managing editor, Frederick Deknatel; and associate editor, Laura Weiss, talk about Boris Johnson’s investiture as the U.K.’s new prime minister. They also look at U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s four-country tour of Latin America and the surprisingly warm reception he received. 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 article every day of the week, plus […]

Rather than wait out their asylum application process, Central American asylum-seekers board a bus to return home, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, July 2, 2019 (AP photo by Christian Chavez).

Since the early days of his administration, U.S. President Donald Trump has made multiple attempts to limit asylum—an international right defined by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights—as part of an often-virulent anti-immigrant platform. From his so-called Muslim ban to reports this week that his administration is mulling efforts to punish the Guatemalan government by banning its nationals from entering the United States, Trump has shown an alarming lack of understanding of international norms about refugees and asylum-seekers. His administration’s moves to further dissuade migrants and would-be refugees from seeking asylum in the U.S. have exacerbated a humanitarian crisis […]

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine, who will challenge President Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 election, in the Kamwookya slum, Kampala, Uganda, July 2019 (Photo by Sophie Neiman).

KAMPALA, Uganda—His striking image adorns the rundown brick walls of the Kamwookya slum in Uganda’s capital. He looks like an icon watching over hawkers selling ripe papaya and watermelon and boda-boda-boys, or motorcycle taxis, racing down the dirt roads. The pop star-turned-opposition politician Bobi Wine, who was born Robert Kyagulanyi, grew up on these hardscrabble streets, before becoming a symbol of hope for many poor Ugandans—first in song and later in Parliament’s posh chambers. On July 24, the young parliamentarian formally announced that he would run for president in the 2021 elections. Wine had previously discussed his intention to challenge […]

Presidential hopeful Daniel Martinez of the leftist Broad Front casts his vote during primary elections, Montevideo, Uruguay, June 30, 2019 (AP photo by Matilde Campodonico).

Uruguay, the small country wedged between South American giants Brazil and Argentina, has become something of a leftist icon in Latin America, albeit a calmer, more restrained one. While other countries caught up in the now-receding “pink tide”—both Brazil and Argentina, plus Venezuela, Ecuador and elsewhere—fell under the spell of charismatic populists, Uruguay engaged in politics and policies that have been decidedly short on leftist agitation. Instead, it was guided by a conciliatory and pragmatic progressivism, blazing trails without polarizing the nation. It is an approach that worked well for the governing coalition, the Broad Front, or FA, keeping it […]

Activists celebrate outside the High Court in Gaborone, Botswana, June 11, 2019 (AP photo).

In a major victory for LGBT rights, Botswana’s High Court moved last month to decriminalize homosexuality. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that a colonial-era law prohibiting “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” punishable by up to seven years in prison, was unconstitutional. The landmark decision was widely hailed by advocates who had been stung by a recent high-profile defeat in Kenya, where its High Court upheld sections of the penal code that outlaw consensual same-sex relations. More than 30 other countries in Africa have similar laws on the books, according to Human Rights Watch, but hopes […]

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