WPR Articles Aug. 29 — Sept. 2
Would you be happy to live in a world in which 80 percent of the population enjoys more or less peaceful conditions, but the remaining 20 percent are condemned to live with a worsening spiral of war and suffering? This is a useful question, because it is a rough description of the actual world we live in.
In Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic regions, anti-government rallies turned into a bloodbath in early August as security forces again used live ammunition against protesters. The sustained discontent is a major challenge to Ethiopia’s government, as ethnic majorities like the Oromo assert their rights.
Earlier this month, hundreds of people marched in Paraguay’s capital, demanding the resignation of President Horacio Cartes and denouncing widespread government corruption. In an email interview, Mercedes Hoffay and Christopher Sabatini discuss Cartes’ leadership and politics in Paraguay.
Russia is dealing with an anthrax outbreak that has killed two people and more than 2,000 reindeer in Siberia. Authorities believe unusually warm weather triggered the bacteria’s release from previously frozen soil. In an email interview, Elena Lioubimtseva discussed Russia’s climate change policy.
Nicaragua moved closer to one-party rule last month, when its electoral council unseated 28 opposition lawmakers, effectively handing full control of the legislature to President Daniel Ortega’s party. Across Latin America, nominally democratic state institutions have been used to legitimize autocratic behavior.
After several women were murdered earlier this month in Italy, the government has allocated $13 million for a plan to combat violence against women and an additional $14 million to fight human trafficking. In an email interview, Annalisa Rosselli discusses women’s rights in Italy.
Just 25 years after winning the Cold War, the United States is facing a very different world than the one many had expected, with terrorism around the globe, major geostrategic conflicts and, perhaps most dismaying, the decline or even collapse of democratic governance in allies such as Thailand and Turkey.
In May, a Malaysian opposition party successfully tabled a bill to introduce “hudud,” or strict Islamic criminal codes, in the state of Kelantan. But Malaysia isn’t 100 percent Muslim, and the bill has sparked a tense debate about the country’s non-Muslim minority, hardening partisan fault lines.
Syria’s crisis is now generating new insights into the fault lines and even falsehoods of international cooperation. Diplomatic efforts to find some minimal common ground to tamp down the war have repeatedly fallen short. It reminds us that old-fashioned, formal alliances have more meaning than ad hoc coalitions.
Terrorist attacks and other violence have put Germany on edge, worsening political tensions over its handling of the refugee crisis. Proposed security steps have raised concerns of government overreach, but many Germans favor a hard-line approach, shifting away from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy.
Is the world going crazy? Or alternatively, are insane people at the helm, driving major global events? Whether discussing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or so-called lone-wolf terrorists, the question of mental sanity has increasingly crept into public discourse on global affairs.
The European Space Agency expects that its Schiaparelli module will land on Mars on Oct. 19 for a brief mission to study what causes dust storms on the planet. In an email interview, Thomas Hoerber discusses the space agency’s mission and its relationship to the European Union.
Turkey and Russia are patching up their troubled relationship, and both Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin could use their rapprochement as a bargaining chip against the West, and the U.S. in particular. But while it’s true that Turkey is changing under Erdogan, its geopolitical realities are not.
Anyone who thought Syria’s war could not get any more complicated, and the U.S. position within it any more contradictory, discovered in the past few days that there is always a worse scenario at hand. This time, the troubles came via Turkey, which is now targeting America’s Kurdish allies in Syria.
Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region faces a financial crisis as oil production slows, refineries fall offline, and export quality drops. The current economic mess exacerbates widening political divisions between Kurdistan’s main political parties, threatening Irbil’s national project.
One of the most momentous decisions the U.S. made after 9/11 was to go on the offensive against violent extremists, seeking to cut them off at their source. But in Somalia, the U.S. and its partners have struggled to deal with al-Shabab’s deep roots in Somali society. Eventually realism must set in.
In this week’s episode, WPR’s senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the moral case against celebrating world peace, protests in Ethiopia, and post-Cold War threats to democracy. For the report, David Hutt joins us to talk about pushback over proposed Islamic laws in Malaysia.