Paraguayan army soldiers patrol an area where two German citizens were killed by the Paraguayan People’s Army after they were kidnapped, in Yby Yau, Paraguay, Jan. 29, 2015 (AP photo by Enrique Zarza).

On Sept. 2, Paraguay’s conservative president, Mario Abdo Benitez, cleared his schedule to fly north to a forest on the edge of a ranch in the province of Concepcion. There, around 220 miles from the capital, Asuncion, he posed for photographs—a handgun visible at his side—in a camp belonging to the Paraguayan People’s Army, or EPP, an armed group with barely 50 members. A combined military-police task force, known as the FTC, had just concluded a “successful operation,” Abdo Benitez posted on Twitter. Soldiers had shot dead two EPP fighters, he announced, and were closing in on the others, who […]

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference on the situation in Lebanon, in Paris, Sept. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Lewis Joly).

It’s been a busy few months for Emmanuel Macron. The French president has taken the lead in seeking to resolve a range of crises and conflicts within Europe and on its borders and periphery. That has put Macron where he clearly likes to be: center stage and in the spotlight. But in so doing, he has once again created opposition and resentment within Europe, while underlining the limits to his ability to achieve his desired outcomes. Macron’s diplomatic hot streak began at the European Union summit in late July, when he helped push through the EU’s groundbreaking collective debt mechanism […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, U.S. President Donald Trump and the foreign ministers from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates after signing the Abraham Accords in Washington, Sept. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Over the past 20 years, the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East has been transformed and reshaped. Old rivalries and historical enmities have hardened and deepened, driving strategic realignments and the emergence of a range of new or newly empowered actors from both within and outside the region. At the same time, political change has been harder to come by. With a few notable exceptions, waves of popular protest movements across the region in both 2011 and last year have failed to achieve the reforms and accountability they have demanded from their governments. In today’s big picture Trend Lines interview, […]

Smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant in Hejin, China, Nov. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Sam McNeil).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Lavender Au and Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Carbon neutrality is rarely discussed within China. At the U.N. General Assembly last week, however, Xi Jinping made a high-profile pledge that China’s emissions would peak before 2030 and that the country would go carbon neutral by 2060. Ultimately, the pledge fits into a fundamental domestic objective in Beijing: energy security. Debate over energy policy in China centers around the country’s resilience against supply chain uncertainties. This year, for the first time, two Chinese ministries […]

A man uses his smartphone in front of portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right, in Pyongyang, May 5, 2015 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

Before his arrest, Virgil Griffith had a reputation as a “cult hacker,” a “tech-world enfant terrible.” A 2008 profile in The New York Times Magazine, published when he was 25, called him the “Internet Man of Mystery,” and cast him as “a troublemaker … A twerp. And a magnet for tech-world groupies,” drinking White Russians and “revel[ing] in the attention of his female fans.” Griffith had become notorious the year before, when he launched WikiScanner, a website that used IP address databases to expose the anonymous editors of Wikipedia entries. The site’s release brought on a wave of news coverage, […]

A man walks past a poster for the Disney movie “Mulan” at a movie theater in Beijing, Sept. 11, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

The first stirrings of controversy emerged for Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” more than a year ago, when the film’s lead actress, Liu Yifei, shared a post on the Chinese social media app Weibo that praised the Hong Kong police. The territory’s massive pro-democracy protests were in full swing at the time, and opposition to the security forces’ brutal tactics had become one of the demonstrators’ central organizing principles. Liu’s post quickly went viral, and the hashtag #BoycottMulan trended in response. Disney was not the only business to draw criticism over the Hong Kong protest movement. Last fall brought boycotts […]

President Donald Trump participates in a border security briefing at United States Border Patrol station in Yuma, Ariz., June 23, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Edward Alden is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott. Of all the self-defeating actions in the Trump administration’s war on immigrants, the most puzzling is its obsession with driving foreign students out of the United States. Last week, the administration unveiled a proposed rule that would force out many students by revoking visas if they fail to finish their degrees in four years, and would also limit students from many African and Middle Eastern countries to two-year visas. This comes on top of its failed effort earlier this year to strip visas from foreign students in […]

A police officer walks past a portrait of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 2, 2019 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Dozens of countries took Saudi Arabia to task at the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this month for its human rights violations, demanding accountability for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The rebuke came just days after U.S. President Donald Trump was revealed to have admitted on tape that he helped shield the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, from scrutiny by obstructing Congress’ inquiries into Khashoggi’s brutal murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in October 2018. “I saved his ass,” Trump reportedly said of the crown prince in an interview with the journalist Bob Woodward. […]

A Taiwanese Air Force F-16, in the foreground, flies on the flank of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force H-6 bomber as it passes near Taiwan, Feb. 10, 2020 (Republic of China (Ministry of National Defense photo via AP Images).

Recent Chinese military maneuvers were a stark reminder that the Taiwan Strait remains one of the world’s most dangerous flash points. After months of saber-rattling near Taiwan, China’s air force sent dozens of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Sept. 18 and 19, across the median line in the Taiwan Strait that both sides have long tacitly acknowledged as an unofficial border. Days later, and amid further incursions by Chinese aircraft, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson denied the existence of any “so-called median line,” raising concerns of further escalation by Beijing. Although several factors account for this belligerence, […]

A protester holds a United Nations flag at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Los Angeles, Calif., June 6, 2020 (AP photo by Damian Dovarganes).

“The Future We Want, the UN We Need.” That’s the theme Secretary-General Antonio Guterres chose for the 75th U.N. General Assembly, which opened virtually earlier this month because of the coronavirus pandemic. By using the word “we,” Guterres had in mind not just the governments of the U.N.’s 193 member states, but the aspirations of everyday citizens, consistent with the spirit of the U.N. Charter, whose preamble begins, “We the Peoples of the United Nations….” But how do you measure the attitudes and preferences of 7.8 billion people, especially in the midst of a pandemic? In the run-up to this […]

A live broadcast showing Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China April 26, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

After a series of setbacks, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a multibillion-dollar assortment of infrastructure projects that constitutes the Pakistani component of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, is poised for a resurgence. Or is it? Last month, the Pakistani investigative news site FactFocus published a damning expose about Asim Bajwa, the head of a government body overseeing CPEC. It claims that Bajwa’s family developed an extensive overseas business empire, without declaring many of those assets. The allegations come at an inconvenient time for Islamabad, just as it tries to right CPEC’s ship. Launched in 2015, CPEC is a logical partnership for […]

Women protest Sudanese Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan’s decision to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a move toward normalizing relations, in Khartoum, Sudan, Feb. 7, 2020 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

If recent news reports are to be believed, Sudan may be on the verge of joining the list of Arab countries to normalize their relations with Israel, pushed by the Trump administration. Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, the Sudanese military chief who jointly leads the transitional government in Khartoum, met with both U.S. and Emirati officials in Abu Dhabi earlier this week to discuss an agreement that would remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, in exchange for Sudan normalizing its ties with Israel. The New York Times reported Thursday that the State Department is preparing to delist […]

A passenger waits at the departure hall of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, July 9, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. African leaders used this week’s virtual United Nations General Assembly to call for international support to help their economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic, pressing for debt cancellation and up to $100 billion in annual support over the next three years. From a health perspective, the continent appears to have withstood the pandemic better than many experts predicted, registering just 5 percent of global cases and 3.6 percent of deaths. But economies across Africa have been battered by the extraordinary measures that […]

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and then-Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Dec. 18, 2006 (AP photo by Kevin Frayer).

After the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain broke with most Arab countries and established diplomatic relations with Israel, there are already signs of growing tensions in the Palestinian territories. Mahmoud Abbas, the longtime president of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, is apparently trying to foreclose a potential challenge to his leadership from an old rival. Forces loyal to Abbas have been rounding up supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, once a powerful player in Abbas’ ruling Fatah party, who is now living in exile in the UAE. He and Abbas had a dramatic falling out nearly a decade ago. According to the […]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, deliver statements at the 11th BRICS Summit, in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

President Jair Bolsonaro assumed office in 2019 with the goal of aligning Brazil’s foreign policy with Western democracies and ending the economic dependence on China that grew markedly under his predecessors in the left-wing Workers’ Party. In his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro positioned himself as a candidate of the right, speaking out against “socialism” and “communism,” with pointed references to neighboring Venezuela, and openly identified with the right-wing populist message of U.S. President Donald Trump. So far, Bolsonaro’s attempt to reorient Brazil’s foreign policy toward the U.S. has met with mixed success, in part because China’s leaders have outworked their counterparts […]

Suga Yoshihide stands after being elected as Japan’s new prime minister, in the lower house of parliament, Tokyo, Sept. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Koji Sasahara).

After Abe Shinzo’s abrupt announcement last month that he was stepping down as prime minister of Japan due to health issues, three senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced they would compete in an intraparty election to replace him. They held press conferences and campaign events. Media outlets organized televised debates. Opinion polls gauged each candidate’s popularity. It had all the trappings of a normal election. Yet for anyone paying attention, the result was a foregone conclusion. Suga Yoshihide, Abe’s longtime right-hand man, had a virtual lock on the votes needed to win. Even before Suga officially declared […]

DACA students celebrate after the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s effort to end legal protections for young immigrants, Washington, June 18, 2020 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

As recent polling has confirmed, the prestige and image of the United States have suffered a precipitous decline under President Donald Trump. As for Trump himself, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed that people in a variety of other countries place more stock in the leadership of both China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin than in America’s president. Although domestic issues are likely to dominate the upcoming U.S. presidential election, for these reasons and others, a key feature of Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign to send Trump into political retirement has appropriately been addressing the damage to […]

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