Pro-Erdogan supporters wave flags and banners in Brussels, Belgium, March 9, 2020 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Over the past decade or so, Turkey, a critical NATO member and once-aspiring candidate for membership in the European Union, has refashioned itself as a revisionist power openly challenging not just its regional neighbors but also treaty allies like France and the United States. Currently, Turkey’s military—NATO’s largest after the U.S.—is actively involved in a number of theaters, including Syria, Iraq, the South Caucasus, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, with the intention to either steer the outcome of a dispute in its favor or alter the existing order. This behavior represents a radical change from Turkey’s earlier predilection for a […]

A plenary session at the NATO summit in Watford, England, Dec. 4, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The future of European security over the next decade could hinge on the outcome of two separate elections taking place outside the continent in the next few days. One poll, the parliamentary elections in Georgia on Oct. 31, could very well shape whether and when NATO next goes to war. The other, the presidential election in the United States on Nov. 3, will likely determine if NATO’s trans-Atlantic alliance even survives. Whatever the outcome in both cases, it’s a foregone conclusion that come 2021, NATO’s European members are going to have to make some very hard decisions about their collective […]

Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wave banners near the White House, in Washington, Aug. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

As the U.S. presidential election campaign comes down to its frenetic closing days, the divisions that have wracked the country for the past four years of Donald Trump’s presidency have come into even sharper contrast. The resulting atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion has only magnified what’s at stake in the election, for the U.S. and the world. Whether Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, they will face a global landscape characterized by great power competition, says Edward Luce, columnist and U.S. national editor for the Financial Times, in which America’s relative power is declining and the appeal of its […]

Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s campaign rally in Dodoma, Tanzania, Oct. 27, 2020 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week. Tanzanian President John Magufuli claimed an overwhelming if dubious victory in a general election this week that was heavily slanted in his favor. But opposition leaders have rejected the results of Wednesday’s polls, which showed Magufuli winning a second five-year term with 84 percent of the vote, according to the country’s National Electoral Commission. The opposition has called on their supporters to stage peaceful anti-government protests, even as […]

Zambian President Edgar Lungu shakes hands with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, Sept. 1, 2018 (pool photo by Nicolas Asfouri via AP).

With its economy in trouble from a high public debt burden as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, Zambia’s government recently suspended interest payments on some sovereign bonds. The country is already in arrears on some of its debt—including $183 million in official bilateral loans from other countries and $256 million from commercial banks—and has asked for a six-month suspension on interest payments from the holders of its $3 billion in Eurobonds, which are denominated in foreign currencies. These bondholders are due to make a final decision on Zambia’s request in mid-November, but a substantial portion of them have so far […]

Supporters of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rally outside of an early voting location in Hialeah, Fla., Oct. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Lynne Sladky).

Which candidate in America’s presidential race would be better for Latin America? The question is being asked across the hemisphere, further abroad and in the United States, where Washington’s relations with Latin America are a major domestic issue for many voters, with the power to tilt election results. The answer, of course, depends on your personal views. There’s hardly unanimity, but when a Colombian student asked me recently whether President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden would be better for her country, it wasn’t difficult for me to reach a conclusion. Biden has the political philosophy, the background […]

President Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during the second and final presidential debate, Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 22, 2020 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Over the past four years, American politics have been consumed and subsumed by one man: Donald Trump. Since his election in 2016, Trump’s disregard for convention has upended the norms of the U.S. presidency and undermined the separation of powers on which America’s constitutional system depends. His iconoclastic approach to foreign policy has further frayed the global order the U.S. has historically used to advance its interests, while raising questions about America’s commitment and dependability as an ally. Long-standing political partisanship and divisions within the U.S. have become particularly acute in the runup to next week’s election, amid heightened anxiety […]

A collection of posts that were removed from Instagram after Facebook, the owner of Instagram, concluded that they originated from Russia and had links to the Internet Research Agency, photographed in Washington, March 4, 2020 (AP photo by Jon Elswick).

Foreign interference in this year’s U.S. election may not be as rampant as it was in 2016, but various Russian actors are adopting more sophisticated tactics, says Shelby Grossman, a research scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory. One new method, which the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency workshopped with a series of operations in African countries last year, is to outsource its content creation to local journalists and organizations. Grossman joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman on the Trend Lines podcast this week to talk about how these tactics are being used to polarize electorates in the U.S. and around the world. Listen […]

People demonstrate against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct. 20, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

On Oct. 20, Nigerian security forces opened fire on two groups of unarmed demonstrators in the sprawling metropolis of Lagos, reportedly killing at least a dozen people. The victims had been part of a weeks-long civic uprising to demand more accountability from law enforcement and an end to rampant police brutality in Nigeria. In the wake of last week’s shootings, the direction and future of the protest movement remain unclear. Several states, including Lagos, have implemented curfews due to increased violence and pockets of unrest, much of it targeting the peaceful protesters. In the aftermath of last week’s shootings, several […]

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, right, walks near the Monument to the People’s Heroes during a ceremony to mark Martyr’s Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Sept. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

When the world first started learning about the outbreak of a dangerously contagious new respiratory virus in the city of Wuhan, in central China, the Chinese government was defensive and secretive about it. Many foreign commentators were quick to cast China’s reaction as a metaphor for the inherent weaknesses of an authoritarian system. Under the constantly tightening grip of its power-monopolizing leader, Xi Jinping, we were told, bad news has had an increasingly hard time traveling from China’s provinces to the capital in Beijing, and from there, into the higher echelons of the chain of command in the Communist Party. […]

A security guard stands outside a voting center in San Francisco, Oct. 20, 2020 (AP photo by Jeff Chiu).

This year’s election season in the U.S. has been unusual in many ways, unfolding against the backdrop of a raging global pandemic, a historic economic recession and an incumbent president who is willing to discard America’s democratic norms. But there is one thing that has become predictable about recent U.S. elections, and sadly, other polls around the world: the torrent of misinformation that inevitably seems to accompany them. At the same time, the modalities of how misinformation spreads aren’t necessarily consistent across elections. According to Shelby Grossman, a political scientist and research scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory, foreign influence […]

Surveillance cameras near the portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, March 15, 2019 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

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. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week. Last week, China’s National People’s Congress released the first draft of the Personal Information Protection Law, which would set up the first dedicated system to protect privacy and personal data in China. Having been in the works for well over a decade, it has been a wait. Personal information in China has been governed by a patchwork of regulations; some scholars […]

LGBTQ rights supporters protest in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

A thousand miles separate the quaint French commune of Saint-Jean-de-Braye, in the central Loiret region, from the rural Polish town of Tuchow, east of Krakow. But for 20 years, they could have easily been next-door neighbors. Educational exchanges first brought the municipalities together in the mid-1990s, followed by the signing of a formal twin town agreement in 2000. The next two decades were filled with signs of their close relations: Local officials regularly traveled back and forth to see each other, while residents took sightseeing visits and pupils were offered apprenticeships. The small, tight-knit nature of the two communities—their combined […]

President Donald Trump arrives to speak about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program, at Flavor First Growers and Packers in Mills River, N.C., Aug. 24, 2020 (AP photo by Nell Redmond).

President Donald Trump still just doesn’t get tariffs. On the campaign trail in Wisconsin recently, Trump again bragged—wrongly—about how China is paying for the higher taxes he slapped on imports over the past two years. He then touted the $28 billion in ad hoc payments that the federal government has doled out to farmers in that time to compensate for the hit they took when China retaliated against U.S. exports. What Trump doesn’t say is that it is American consumers and taxpayers who are footing the bill for his failed trade wars. Analysts project that American farmers will receive a […]

A worker burns cables and other parts of old electrical devices at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard in Accra, Ghana, June 12, 2018 (Photo by Gioia Forster for dpa via AP Images).

In Agbogbloshie, a commercial district in Accra, Ghana, around 10,000 of the poorest people in the country sort through much of the world’s electronic waste. With no other way of making a living, they use crude methods to dismantle electronic devices—burning them or dousing them in acid—which expose them to toxic emissions and substances that often lead to acute and long-term health problems. In 2014, Agbogbloshie was deemed one of the 10 most polluted places on Earth, with lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium found in the air, water and soil at concentrations 100 times higher than safe levels. Agbogbloshie has […]

President Donald Trump on a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, announcing their normalization deal, in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Oct. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Editor’s Note: Welcome to WPR’s new weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo. Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best local news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week. When is a peace deal not all it’s chalked up to be, even if it ends a formal state of hostility? The Trump administration’s race to pressure Arab countries to normalize their ties with Israel, goaded by promises of American financial assistance and weapons, isn’t really changing the […]

Aung San Suu Kyi, center, leaves a demonstration of voting for the upcoming  elections, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Oct. 20, 2020 (AP photo by Aung Shine).

Myanmar is set to hold general elections next month, for the second time since the end of military rule in 2011. The last election, in 2015, ushered Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy into power with a landslide victory. Since then, the NLD has had a mixed economic record, and Suu Kyi, now the country’s de facto leader, has gone from human rights icon to international pariah for defending the army’s brutal persecution of the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority concentrated in western Myanmar. More recently, the government has mismanaged its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and […]

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