Last month, The New York Times reported that the U.S. Department of Defense was considering “a major reduction—or even a complete pullout—of American forces from West Africa.” The proposal is part of a worldwide review of overseas U.S. deployments, based on the Trump administration’s strategic framework of refocusing resources away from counterterrorism missions and toward competition with adversarial great powers like China and Russia. But for many observers, it was just the latest troubling sign of American disengagement from Africa.
In order to understand the mounting tensions in both Taiwan and Hong Kong over their relationships with mainland China, one must abandon the usual time frames of weeks, months or at most a handful of years and instead imagine the scenarios that open up over decades—five decades, to be precise. Over the next 50 years, interlocking dreams and nightmares will hang even more heavily over Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province, and Hong Kong, over which Beijing wants to assert more direct control, with possibly tragic outcomes.
Howard W. French
For years, a cloud hung over a corner of the Middle East, containing fears of yet another conflict suddenly erupting. They centered on what would happen after the death of the longest reigning monarch in the Gulf, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who ruled over the Sultanate of Oman for half a century without leaving behind an heir apparent. Qaboos had been ill for years, and yet, if you tried to gently broach the subject of his successor with Omani citizens, they would recoil. The sultan had set up a system for succession and everyone knew it. But no one knew if it would work.
Among the many glaring pieces of unfinished business on President Donald Trump’s foreign policy ledger is Venezuela, where his campaign of “maximum pressure” on President Nicolas Maduro has failed. Venezuelans are preparing to mark the anniversary this month of a policy to oust Maduro that Trump launched with great fanfare and to high expectations nearly a year ago, when he declared Maduro’s presidency “illegitimate” and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate, interim president. At the time, Trump vowed to restore Venezuelan democracy, declaring that “all options are on the table.”
As the war in Yemen enters its fifth year, the country’s population is coping with an increasingly severe shortage of food. The United Nations’ humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, said last week that three quarters of Yemenis need some form of humanitarian aid, and the situation is nearing a “tipping point, beyond which it will be impossible to prevent massive loss of life as a result of widespread famine across the country.” WPR spoke via email with Noha Aboueldahab, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center, for an update on the crisis and potential steps that can be taken to prevent the situation in Yemen from getting even worse.