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Friday, May 27, 2016

WPR Articles May 23 — May 27

WPR Articles May 23 — May 27

Can Duterte Back Up His Tough Talk as President of the Philippines?

By: Prashanth Parameswaran | Briefing
Earlier this month, Rodrigo Duterte, a tough-talking mayor, emerged as the winner of the Philippines’ presidential election, sparking worries about a dramatic reversal from his reform-minded predecessor, Benigno Aquino III. But how much will Duterte’s rhetoric actually translate into reality at home and abroad?

Can the Nordic Countries Capitalize on Their Strategic Position in Europe?

By: Maria Savel | Trend Lines
Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark have found themselves at the center of key security debates in Europe on growing Russian aggression and the migrant crisis. But can the Nordic countries translate their geostrategic importance into lasting influence in NATO and the European Union?

Netanyahu Uses Lieberman Appointment to Bring Israel’s Military to Heel

By: Michael A. Cohen | Column
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as the country’s defense minister struck at the very heart of the civilian-military relationship in Israel, in the process showing once again that there is nothing Netanyahu won’t do to increase his political advantage.

Patronage and Ethnic Divisions Hobble Sierra Leone’s Political Parties

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
In late April, on Sierra Leone’s independence day, police raided the headquarters of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party, firing shots and arresting supporters. In an email interview, Jimmy Kandeh, a professor at the University of Richmond, discussed domestic politics in Sierra Leone.

The Mansour Killing Raises as Many Questions as Answers in Afghanistan

By: Steven Metz | Column
Last weekend, a U.S. military drone killed Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, as he drove home from Iran to Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. No one thinks that killing Mansour will defeat the Taliban, but it might alter the trajectory of the conflict at least a bit.

Africa’s Counterterrorism Growth Industry May Backfire

By: Richard Gowan | Column
Counterterrorism is a growth industry across large parts of Africa, overshadowing the continent’s other security challenges. There is a risk that this will initiate an endless cycle of wars, as African militaries and regional organizations might inspire further resistance in crushing Islamist groups.

Failure to Manage Commodities Windfall Forces Congo Budget Cuts

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
In the wake of declining commodities revenues, the prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo proposed a new budget that included cutting government spending by 30 percent. In an email interview, Yvan Yenda Ilunga discussed the effect of falling commodities prices on the DRC’s economy.

Despite Loosened Embargo, Bankers’ Fears Block U.S. Commerce With Cuba

By: William M. LeoGrande | Briefing
One of President Barack Obama’s most significant measures to promote commerce with Cuba isn’t working. U.S. banks can now legally process Cuban transactions with non-U.S. parties, but banks are refusing to do it. “It turns out it’s easier to impose sanctions than it is to dismantle them,” admits a U.S. official.

Rhodes Profile: Citizens, Spin and Truth in the Hybrid Information Era

By: Ellen Laipson | Column
The latest mini-drama in Washington is centered on whether the Obama administration manipulated the truth about the Iran nuclear talks to sell the deal to Congress and the public. The larger story is about how citizens can navigate the complicated landscape of information, spin and advocacy.

With Putin’s ASEAN Outreach, Russia Sets Sights on Southeast Asia

By: Nikolas Gvosdev | Feature
Vladimir Putin’s so-called tilt to Asia has taken on new importance recently, as Moscow looks eastward for new economic and diplomatic opportunities. But despite this new push and the Russia-ASEAN Summit in May, numerous hurdles stand in the way of deeper Russian engagement with Southeast Asia.

The Struggle to Reform Odessa Reflects Wider Malaise in Ukraine

By: Dan Peleschuk | Briefing
When controversial former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was tapped as governor of Ukraine’s strategic Odessa region last year, he hired a young team to build a showcase for reform in post-revolutionary Ukraine. But today the prospects for success seem to be growing dimmer by the day.

Malaysia Moves Forward With TPP as Opposition Fails to Materialize

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
Last week, the Malaysian government announced the creation of a national committee to oversee the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In an email interview, the Malaysian Institute for Economic Research’s Shankaran Nambiar discussed the potential impact of TPP membership on Malaysia.

Russia and Saudi Arabia Are Only Feigning Restraint in Syria

By: Alexander Decina | Briefing
Although they are on opposite sides of Syria’s war, Russia and Saudi Arabia find themselves in similar positions. Both are presenting themselves as trying in earnest to rein in their respective proxies, Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the opposition. Yet neither is willing to put conditions on their support.

Sri Lanka’s Painful Past and Uncertain Future on Display in Tamil North

By: Frida Ghitis | Column
The scars of Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long civil war remain plainly visible in the country’s north. More than half a decade after the fighting ended, much needs to be done before the conflict is relegated to the pages of history, allowing Sri Lanka to work toward a prosperous and stable future.

Looking Back to Look Ahead: The U.S.-Japan Alliance in Today’s Asia

By: Sheila A. Smith | Briefing
The symbolism of Obama’s landmark visit to Hiroshima aside, for many, the U.S.-Japan alliance appears to be a Cold War artifact. But the strategic bargain struck during the Korean War serves a far different purpose today, as the U.S. and Japan have adjusted to new geopolitical currents in Asia.

Russia’s Push to Gain Influence in Southeast Asia

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss rolling back Cuba sanctions, counterterrorism in Africa, and the hybrid information era. For the Report, Nikolas Gvosdev joins us to talk about Russia’s outreach to Southeast Asia.

Sadr Weathers Iraq’s Twists and Turns to Re-Emerge as Political Player

By: Frederick Deknatel | Trend Lines
A key character from the Iraqi insurgency is back center stage in Baghdad. The re-emergence of Muqtada al-Sadr, a notorious Shiite cleric, has sparked all manner of coverage. A toned-down Sadr has gone the political route so far, but his calculus could change as violence and tension rise in Baghdad.

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