Posts

Showing posts from 2017

Trump’s ‘Pretty Serious Mistake’ in the Middle East

US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to reverse almost seven decades of US policy and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is “potentially, a pretty serious mistake,” said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

International Olympic Committee Knocks Russia Out of Winter Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s historic decision to ban Russia’s Olympic team from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is a welcome action on the part of the committee, according to Atlantic Council analysts.

Iranian-Backed Houthis Just Caused a Self-Inflicted Wound by Killing Yemen’s Former President

The death of Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, at the hands of his former Houthi allies will weaken the Iranian-backed rebels, according to Nabeel Khoury, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Balkan Officials Have a Message for the EU and the United States: Stay Engaged

Balkan officials on November 29 made a pitch for deeper US and European Union (EU) engagement with the region, noting that its stability is critical for a peaceful Europe.

“Without a stable Balkans, there is no stable Europe,” said Srdjan Darmanović, Montenegro’s foreign minister.

Here’s Why US Commitment to the Western Balkans Matters

The United States and the European Union (EU) must deepen their engagement with the Western Balkans, a region where Russia, Turkey, and wealthy Arab Gulf states have extended their influence and that is considered integral to realizing the idea of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace, speakers and panelists said at the Atlantic Council on November 29.

Dialogue Seen as Crucial to Defusing North Korea Nuclear Crisis

As US President Donald J. Trump grapples with the North Korean nuclear crisis, two former US officials have some words of advice: attempt dialogue before pre-emptive military strikes, and broaden the scope of that discussion to include the security needs of the region, including North Korea's.

Ernest Moniz, who served as energy secretary in Barack Obama’s administration, said heaping sanctions on North Korea alone cannot produce results and that this approach will only “spin wheels.”

Mugabe’s Exit Opens the Door to Hope in Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe’s decision to resign in the face of pressure from the military, his party, and the Zimbabwean people paves the way for a new chapter in Zimbabwe’s history, said the Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham.

Mugabe, a liberation struggle hero who led Zimbabwe since 1980, saw his star eventually tarnished by corruption, cronyism, and misrule. He abruptly resigned on November 21 as impeachment proceedings against him began in parliament in Harare.

The Importance of Being Angela Merkel

If German Chancellor Angela Merkel were to step down from her role it would create uncertainty over the fate of sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine, according to Fran Burwell, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council.

With Mugabe’s Exit, Zimbabwe Will Need All the Help It Can Get

In light of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s resignation, the United States should be prepared to work with his likely successor, a man who is subject to US sanctions, said the Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose ouster from the vice presidency by Mugabe early in November triggered the current political crisis in the first place, will likely be the next leader of Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa is the subject of US Treasury sanctions imposed in the early 2000s for his role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in the country.

The End of the Mugabe Era

The ongoing military intervention in Zimbabwe effectively marks the end of Robert Mugabe’s thirty-seven-year hold on power, according to J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

Did Saudi Crown Prince Just Endanger His Reform Agenda?

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on corruption that has, so far, resulted in the detention of more than two hundred people, including almost a dozen princes.

The most significant targets are former crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, whose assets have been frozen; Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men and a critic of US President Donald J. Trump; and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the chief of the National Guard—the only security service not under the crown prince’s control—who was removed from his post. The detainees are not exactly roughing it out during their detention in Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton.

Trump Goes to Asia: An Opportunity to Assert US Leadership

On his first full business day as president, Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral trade agreement with eleven other Asia-Pacific nations that was viewed as a pillar of US commitment to Asia.

At the height of a nuclear crisis with North Korea, he instructed his advisers to pull the United States out of a free-trade pact with South Korea, a longtime US ally.

Paul Manafort’s Ukraine Connection

Long before Paul Manafort served as Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign chairman he worked for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine.

It was in this role that Anders Åslund, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, first met Manafort.

Getting South Sudan Right

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, delivered a stern message to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in their meeting in Juba on October 24: the United States is “disappointed” in Kiir’s leadership and he must not take US assistance for granted. In a stark reminder of the perilous situation in the six-year-old nation, Haley was later forced to hastily evacuate South Sudan after a group of anti-Kiir protesters turned violent.

Spain's Crisis Sharpens

The crisis in Spain dramatically escalated on October 27 with Catalonia’s regional parliament declaring independence and the Spanish Senate responding with the approval of unprecedented powers for Madrid to seize control of the autonomous region.

Why Intelligence Matters

Michael Morell was with George W. Bush the day terrorists rammed hijacked commercial airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Almost ten years later, Morell was in the White House Situation Room with Barack Obama when US Special Operations forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan.

Mind the Gap: Intelligence-Sharing Challenges Proved Deadly for US Troops in Niger

The death of four US servicemen in a militant ambush in Niger on October 4 has exposed the unsatisfactory intelligence-sharing relationship that exists between Washington and Niamey.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rudy Atallah, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, described this relationship as “not robust.” The consequences have been deadly.

Another Independence Referendum in Catalonia?

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on October 21 announced his government’s intention to remove the leaders of Catalonia’s regional government and called for elections to be held as soon as possible.

A Blueprint for a US Strategy in Asia

The United States should update, revitalize, and defend the rules-based international order while considering “hard-headed” engagement with China, according to the latest in a series of Atlantic Council strategy papers.

Raqqa Falls. Now Comes the Hard Part

As the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is driven from its strongholds in Syria, US-backed forces face the challenge of stabilizing these conflict-ravaged territories.

This task is made more urgent by the fact that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and Iran-backed militias are swooping in on eastern Syria in an attempt to capitalize on ISIS’ defeat, said Frederic C. Hof, director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Iraqi Operation Will Deepen Rift Among Kurds

Iraqi government forces on October 16 seized vital oil fields and the city of Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.

The military action, which pits two US allies against each other, followed a September 25 referendum in which the Kurds voted for an independent state. The Iraqi government had declared the vote unconstitutional. Kirkuk, which is not part of Iraqi Kurdistan but was under Kurdish control at the time, took part in the referendum. (Kurdish forces had controlled Kirkuk since 2014 when Iraqi forces fled as Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants advanced on the city.)

Trump and the Art of the [Iran Nuclear] Deal

As expected, US President Donald J. Trump on October 13 announced that he will not certify Iran’s compliance with the terms of a multilateral nuclear deal, accusing the Islamic Republic of “not living up to the spirit” of the agreement.

While Trump did not take the United States out of the deal, he asserted the right to do so and warned that he would if the US Congress does not make amendments to the agreement.

In Catalonia, a ‘Coup d’État Masquerading as a Referendum’

Catalonia’s illegal independence referendum has thrown Spain into turmoil.

In light of the escalating tensions, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is now toying with the idea of invoking the never-before-used Article 155 of the Spanish constitution that would suspend Catalonia’s regional autonomy. With a view to taking such action, Rajoy on October 11 asked the region’s leaders whether they had formally declared independence from Spain.

What are the Implications of Decertification of the Iran Nuclear Deal?

The expectation that US President Donald J. Trump will decertify the nuclear deal with Iran this week raises the question: what would be the implications of decertification?

Trump faces an October 15 deadline to certify to the US Congress that Iran is complying with the terms of the nuclear agreement that the Islamic Republic struck with the five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council plus Germany in 2015. The deal cuts off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.

Will Trump Ditch NAFTA?

There is a strong likelihood that US President Donald J. Trump will withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Robert Zoellick, a former US trade representative, said at the Atlantic Council on October 5, while advising US lawmakers to be prepared to push back.

EU Membership on the Line: Independence Would Prove Costly for Catalonia

Catalonia would lose membership of the European Union (EU) if it were to declare independence from Spain—a development that would have serious economic consequences for this affluent region, according to the Atlantic Council’s Fran Burwell.

Merkel’s Re-Election Seen as Good News for Transatlantic Ties

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election to a fourth term on September 24 is good news for the United States, which can continue to rely on Germany to be a “great transatlantic partner,” Germany’s Ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, said in an interview.

Dark Money, Shell Corporations in the United States Seen as Invitation to Russian Meddling

If the United States is to succeed in tackling Russian meddling, it needs to address vulnerabilities—dark money and shell corporations—that are “an open invitation to the Russians to continue their election interference,” US Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said at the Atlantic Council on September 26.

European Ambassadors Defend Iran Nuclear Deal

European ambassadors to the United States on September 25 defended the nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is working, while warning that reopening negotiations would be a nonstarter and walking away from the deal would have serious consequences.

This joint defense comes as US President Donald J. Trump, who has to certify to the US Congress by October 15 that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement, has reiterated his displeasure with the deal.

German Election Shows Europe’s Nationalist Wave Has Not Crested

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party came in first, which is good news. But the strong showing by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in elections on September 24 is evidence of the fact that the nationalist wave remains a significant factor in Europe, according to the Atlantic Council’s Daniel Fried.

“The populist and anti-liberal wave, which many had optimistically concluded had crested and was in decline in Europe after the French, Dutch, and Austrian elections is still a significant factor in European politics,” said Fried, a distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future of Europe Initiative and Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.

Trudeau Delivers Rallying Cry to Save Global Order

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister and the recipient of the Atlantic Council’s 2017 Global Citizen Award, on September 19 delivered a passionate rallying cry to protect the alliances that have underpinned global security and prosperity since the end of World War II, warning that this decades-old global order is not cast in stone.

A Strategy for Dealing with North Korea

New sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on September 11 in response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test are “not significant enough,” according to R. Nicholas Burns, an Atlantic Council board member who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

The United States’ ‘Horrible Options’ for Dealing with North Korea

With Kim Jong-un ratcheting up tensions on the Korean Peninsula, US President Donald J. Trump is left with two “horrible” options to deal with the threat posed by the North Korean regime, according to Atlantic Council board member and a former acting and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Michael Morell.

Here’s Why Latin America Matters

Jason Marczak, the newly appointed director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, discussed his vision for the Center and approaches to regional challenges in an interview with the New Atlanticist’s Ashish Kumar Sen. Here are excerpts from our interview.

North Korea Tests Donald Trump

North Korea’s missile test over Japan on August 29 came “perilously close” to being an act of war; the question now is how will US President Donald J. Trump react, said the Atlantic Council’s Robert A. Manning.

Trump’s Commitment to Afghanistan

US President Donald J. Trump’s approach to Afghanistan—marked by an indefinite US troop presence—sends a clear signal of the United States’ commitment to ending the war in that country, said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Trump’s Dangerous War [of Words] with Kim Jong-un

US President Donald J. Trump should ratchet down his rhetoric on North Korea and instead devote his energy to working with the international community to isolate Pyongyang, according to the Atlantic Council’s Robert A. Manning.

“There is no imminent threat of attack from North Korea; there is no crisis,” said Manning, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. “This is all in Donald Trump’s head. I don’t see how we benefit from ratcheting up tensions.”

Erik Prince’s ‘Reckless’ Proposal for Afghanistan

A proposal that would have the United States rely more heavily on private military contractors instead of US troops, and install what would essentially be a US viceroy in Afghanistan, is an example of “reckless foreign policy,” according to Sean McFate, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and the brain behind the proposal, says it will reduce the cost of America’s longest war and allow the United States to shrink its troop presence in Afghanistan.

Libya’s Haftar Comes Out on Top

Diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the chaos that has prevailed in Libya since 2011 have legitimized Khalifa Haftar, a former Libyan general whose forces have been accused of torture and executing prisoners, according to the Atlantic Council’s Karim Mezran.

Duda’s Veto Presents Poland with an Opportunity

Polish President Andrzej Duda’s decision to veto controversial judicial reforms gives Poland—the scene of creeping authoritarianism—an opportunity to mend its relationship with the European Union (EU). It also represents a significant split between the president and Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) and a man to whom Duda owes much of his political career.

OAS Chief Calls for More Sanctions on Venezuela

Targeted US sanctions, including against Venezuela’s oil sector, would be a welcome move against a regime that has plunged this South American nation into an economic and humanitarian crisis, Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on July 21.

Is it Time to Take Sudan Off the State Sponsors of Terrorism List?

US President Donald J. Trump’s administration should conduct a long-overdue review of the designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, according to a new report from the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

Qatar Crisis Gets Mired in Mixed Messages

Mixed messages from US President Donald J. Trump’s administration and an apparent belief in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that they have the ear of the White House have exacerbated the crisis between the United States’ Arab Gulf partners, according to Richard LeBaron, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

What in the World is Vladimir Putin Up To?

Russia has decisively expanded its global footprint in a way that analysts say challenges the West and will force US President Donald J. Trump to rethink his “America First” strategy.

This challenge extends well beyond Russia’s neighborhood—Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltic States—to Syria, Libya, and even Afghanistan. Western governments and intelligence agencies have also accused Russia of meddling in elections in the United States and Europe.

Entering a ‘Very Dangerous Era’ With North Korea

North Korea’s successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that has the ability to strike Alaska could embolden Pyongyang to be more aggressive in the future, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

Here’s How to Deal with Russian Propaganda

Fighting fake news—no, not the kind US President Donald J. Trump has made it a habit of railing against—has been the subject of a weeklong series of meetings and public events co-hosted by the Atlantic Council and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung from June 26-30.
Cyberattack Cripples Ukraine, Spreads The massive cyberattack that crippled public transportation, the central bank, government offices, the state power distributor, and public firms in Ukraine on June 27 serves as a potent reminder of the havoc that can be unleashed by low-level actors, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.
Saudi Arabia and the United States are on a Collision Course with Iran Donald J. Trump and Mohammed bin Salman have a similar outlook when it comes to Iran. Both see the Islamic Republic as a threat that needs to be contained. What then does the elevation of Mohammed bin Salman, commonly known as MBS, to the role of crown prince of Saudi Arabia mean for the Sunni kingdom’s relationship with Shi’ite Iran?
Macron’s Putin Policy: ‘Firmness Without Provocation’French President Emmanuel Macron would like to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to seek mutually acceptable solutions to crises that have bedeviled ties between the West and Russia over the past few years, France’s ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, said in an Atlantic Council phone briefing on June 19.

Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia “is not an existential threat” to Europe, said Araud.
Dialing Back US Engagement with Cuba Would be a Mistake If US President Donald J. Trump were to roll back engagement with Cuba it would chill US private sector investment, hurt Cuban entrepreneurs, and create an opportunity for Russia to assert itself on an island that lies merely ninety miles off the US coast, according to the Atlantic Council’s Jason Marczak, director of the Latin America Economic Growth Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
Theresa May’s Failed Election GambleBritish Prime Minister Theresa May made a gamble when she decided to call early elections with the hope of shoring up political support ahead of difficult Brexit negotiations. That gamble did not pay off.
Pence Affirms US Commitment to NATO, Collective DefenseUS Vice President Mike Pence affirmed the United States’ support for NATO and its commitment to the collective defense of the Alliance at the Atlantic Council's Distinguished Leadership Awards reception in Washington on June 5.

“Our commitment [to NATO] is unwavering,” Pence said.  The United States, he added, will “meet our obligations to people to provide for the collective defense of all of our allies. The United States is resolved… to live by that principle that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
Trump Will Need to Deepen US Engagement in AfghanistanUS President Donald J. Trump’s America First approach will have to take a back seat when it comes to Afghanistan.

As the Trump administration wrestles with a decision on whether to send several thousand additional US troops to Afghanistan in an effort to end a fifteen-year-old war and make peace with the Taliban, there is a firm belief in policy circles that there is a critical need for the United States to deepen its engagement in that country.
Trump's 'Huge Mistake'US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to take the United States out of a global agreement that seeks to limit the damage caused by climate change is “shortsighted and reckless,” a “huge mistake,” and cedes US energy leadership to China and Europe, according to Atlantic Council analysts.

“The president’s decision to withdraw from Paris is a huge mistake. There is no upside,” said Richard Morningstar, founding director and chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center.
Manchester Bombing Puts Libya’s ISIS Problem Back in the SpotlightA horrific suicide bombing in Manchester has put a spotlight on Libya—the North African nation where the chaos that has prevailed for the better part of the past six years has become a fertile breeding ground for a mélange of terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Trump Shared Secrets with Russia. Here’s Why It Matters. The Washington Post reported on May 15 that US President Donald J. Trump disclosed highly classified information to two Russian officials—Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak—in their White House meeting on May 10.
A Simple Security Update Could Have Prevented Ransomware Attack 
A cyberattack that has crippled 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries could have been prevented had the victims conducted a simple security update.

“One of the lessons learned here is that people just do not patch their systems,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, a nonresident senior fellow in the Cyber Statecraft Initiative of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.
To Secure the United States' Southern Border, Look to Central AmericaUS Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has some advice for people thinking of crossing over illegally into the United States: don’t bother coming.

“The message is, ‘If you get here—if you pay the traffickers you will probably get here—you will be turned around within our laws relatively quickly and returned. It is not worth wasting your money,’” Kelly said at the Atlantic Council on May 4.

People from Central America’s Northern Triangle—Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala—make up the vast majority of migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico.
Erdoğan Asks US to End Support for Kurdish Militias, Hand Over ClericTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking at the Atlantic Council’s Istanbul Summit on April 28, urged the United States to end its support for Kurdish rebels in Syria and to extradite a cleric Turkey says orchestrated a failed coup attempt in July of 2016; he also accused some European countries of harboring terrorists. 

Erdoğan’s remarks offered a preview of his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington on May 16. The Turkish leader had been unsuccessful in his efforts to convince former US President Barack Obama to drop his support for the Kurdish militias who have proven to be one of the most effective forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Syria. He was optimistic that he could open a new, and very different, chapter in the US-Turkey relationship with Trump.
AIIB: A Platform for US-China Cooperation The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) should be a platform for cooperation, not a point of conflict between the United States and China, the bank’s president, Jin Liqun, said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on April 24.
Trump Sends a Clear Message in AfghanistanThe United States sent a clear message of its commitment to fighting terrorism when it dropped the so-called mother of all bombs on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on April 13, said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.
In Egypt, Watch this (Shrinking) Space Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi’s decision to impose a three-month state of emergency in response to deadly church bombings will likely further shrink the space for freedom of expression and dissent in Egypt, according to Mirette Mabrouk, director of research and programs at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
Assad Must Be Held Accountable for All Types of Terror US missile strikes on a Syrian air base from where a deadly chemical weapons attack is believed to have been launched send a clear message that the United States is now “directly engaged” in addressing the mass homicide perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, said Frederic C. Hof, director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

“The president’s top priority in Syria will continue to be the defeat of the so-called Islamic State, but in the wake of the chemical attack, the president realized that the Bashar al-Assad side of this problem is closely related to his top priority,” said Hof, noting that Assad’s brutal crackdown has helped recruitment for terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Trump-Xi Summit: ‘America First’ Paves the Way for the ‘Chinese Dream’US President Donald J. Trump’s “America First” policy—marked by a retreat from multilateralism—has paved the way for China to step into the void and for its president, Xi Jinping, to realize his “Chinese Dream,” according to two Atlantic Council analysts.

Trump and Xi met at the US president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on April 6 for a two-day summit.
Putin is Not Russia Two US senators—one a Republican and the other a Democrat—and a Russian opposition activist who has survived two apparent attempts on his life made a call for greater international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to respect human rights. Speaking at the Atlantic Council on March 30, all three stated quite clearly that even as this pressure is applied, care must be taken not to hurt the Russian people in the process.
Rwandan President Kagame Seeks Transformation in US Ties The United States needs to shift its relationship with Africa from a predominantly humanitarian focus to “productive partnerships,” especially in business, strategic development, and security, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said at the Atlantic Council on March 27.

“For decades, the United States has adopted a monolithic approach to Africa,” said Kagame. “It’s time for fresh thinking.”
Fighting ISIS in Libya Amid concern that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is regrouping in Libya, Mohamed Taher Syala, the foreign minister in Libya’s internationally recognized, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), said the United States must remain committed to defeating the terrorists in his country.
Russia’s Support for the Taliban Leaves Kabul Feeling Uneasy Russia’s support for the Taliban—a terrorist group with which the United States has been at war for more than fifteen years and that is dedicated to overthrowing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government—is causing considerable unease in Afghanistan where officials worry it will undermine efforts to make peace in their war-torn country.
Despite Sen. Rand Paul, Montenegro’s Foreign Minister is Confident of NATO Membership Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic is confident that, despite a procedural setback, the US Senate will ratify a protocol that will allow his nation to become the twenty-ninth member of NATO. This, he said, should happen before the Alliance’s summit in Brussels in May.
US Engagement in the Balkans Seen as Vital It is critical for the United States to deepen its engagement in the Balkans—a region that faces threats from terrorists as well as Russia, Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said in Washington on March 21.
In February, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama warned that the Balkan peninsula is in danger of slipping under the influence of Russia if it is ignored by the new administration of US President Donald Trump.
A ‘Strange Allegation’ About UK Spying US President Donald J. Trump’s support for an unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor, Barack Obama, asked Britain’s spy agency to eavesdrop on him is a “strange allegation” that “calls into question very important elements of our intelligence relationship,” said Sir Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States and a distinguished ambassadorial fellow at the Atlantic Council.
Merkel Puts Europe First German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a tough re-election battle in September and a meeting with US President Donald J. Trump is perhaps not the best way for her to burnish her credentials with the German electorate. The fact that she is making the trip across the Atlantic is an indicator of her determination to shore up the US-German and US-European relationships that have been buffeted by often controversial rhetoric from Trump.
A Roadmap for Economic Growth in Europe A new Atlantic Council report provides a roadmap for the European Union to stimulate economic growth, and, by doing so, safeguard the European project and reinvigorate the transatlantic alliance.

The report, Charting the Future Now: European Economic Growth and its Importance to American Prosperity, was launched by the Atlantic Council’s EuroGrowth Initiative in Washington on March 10.
Is Reunification Within Reach in Cyprus? Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, as well as the leadership in Athens and Ankara, are committed to ensuring the success of a protracted process aimed at the reunification of Cyprus, a top United Nations (UN) official said at the Atlantic Council on March 8.
British Official Calls for Greater NATO-EU Cybersecurity CooperationIn the aftermath of Russian cyberattacks during the US presidential election last year and amid concerns about a repeat of such a strategy in Europe as Germany, France, and the Netherlands go to the polls this year, British officials are calling for greater cooperation on cybersecurity between NATO and the European Union.
Trump’s ‘Disastrous’ Proposal to Cut Foreign Aid US President Donald J. Trump’s proposal to ramp up defense spending at the cost of foreign aid is attracting flak from within his Republican Party and retired generals who believe such a move is not in the United States’ best interests.
EU Seeks to Preserve Iran Nuclear DealThe European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said on February 10 that Brussels is committed to the full implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran, and that she came away reassured from her meetings with US officials that Washington shares that commitment.
Russia’s Cyberattacks Put Transatlantic Security in ‘a Whole Different Light’ Russian cyberattacks that aim to disrupt elections in Europe—much like they did in the United States in 2016—have put transatlantic security in “a whole different light,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a former president of Estonia, said at the Atlantic Council on February 9.

Restricted Access

In November 2015, Donald Trump sat down for an interview with Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of the Breitbart News Network, a far-right news and opinion site. In the course of the conversation, Bannon made the startling assertion that Silicon Valley has far too many Asian CEOs. An ominous portent of things to come? It certainly seems so today.
IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, Has Some Advice on Addressing the Challenge of Populism The challenge posed by populism, which is fueled by an anti-globalization sentiment, can best be addressed by rallying nations around common goals of financial stability, sustainable and inclusive growth, and job creation, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said at the Atlantic Council on February 8.
Trump’s Travel Ban: A Self-Inflicted Wound US President Donald Trump’s executive order that prevents refugees from around the world and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States has triggered warning calls from critics about the damage it could inflict on US interests, values, and national security.
Trump’s Immigration Ban Will Have ‘Catastrophic Implications’ US President Donald Trump’s executive order that curtails immigration and the rights of refugees is illegal, has “catastrophic implications” for the United States, and is a “gift” to hardliners in Iran as it paints all Iranians as a security threat to the United States, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on January 30.
Trump’s Wall Drives a Wedge Between the United States and Mexico US President Donald Trump’s demand that Mexico pay for a border wall has plunged the US-Mexico relationship into an unseemly crisis, according to two Latin America analysts at the Atlantic Council.
Can Trump’s Anti-EU Rhetoric Unite Europe?While US President Donald Trump’s predictions that other member states, besides the United Kingdom, will desert the European Union (EU) are unhelpful, they serve as a wake-up call for the EU to set its house in order, according to a senior European official.
Trump to Meet British Prime Minister May. Here’s What You Should Know. US President Donald Trump will meet British Prime Minister Theresa May—his first meeting with a head of state or government since his inauguration on January 20—at the White House on January 27.

Sir Peter Westmacott, distinguished ambassadorial fellow at the Atlantic Council who served as the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States from 2012-2016, discussed what to expect from the meeting, the future of the US-UK “special relationship,” and the challenges in the transatlantic relationship and those posed by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
The United States Quits TPP: A Gift for China US President Donald Trump’s decision to take the United States out of a free-trade agreement with eleven other Pacific Rim nations is a “gift” for China because it undermines a deal through which the United States had sought to write the rules of the road for global trade, according to two Atlantic Council analysts.
Samantha Power Outlines Russian Threat to the United States, Rules-Based OrderThe United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, on January 17 described Russia as a “major threat” facing the United States and the rules-based liberal world order, and cautioned Americans against allowing Moscow to divide them in the face of this threat.
Transatlantic Relationship Forecast: Stormy Weather AheadThe transatlantic relationship is in for a rough ride over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency simply because there is no “correcting mechanism” among the incoming cabinet to counter the next US president’s rhetoric on the European Union, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

In an interview with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild newspaper published on January 15, Trump bashed NATO as “obsolete,” described the European Union (EU) as “basically a vehicle for Germany,” applauded the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, and predicted that more EU member states would follow. The comments rattled the United States’ European allies.
With Migration Policy Change, Obama Leaves Cuba Relationship to TrumpUS President Barack Obama’s decision to end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed any Cuban migrant who reached US soil to stay in the country will slow the number of Cuban immigrants rushing to the United States, but is unlikely to deter US President-elect Donald Trump from reversing some of the recent progress in the bilateral relationship, according to two Atlantic Council Latin America analysts.
Trump’s Energy, Climate Positions Causing Concern While there is “quite a bit of concern” about the direction of US President-elect Donald Trump’s energy policy, he is unlikely to take the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement for the simple reason that doing so would cause “huge collateral damage” to the United States, Todd Stern, a former US State Department special envoy for climate change, said in Abu Dhabi on January 13.
Democrats Making a Mistake by Looking for a ‘Scapegoat’ for Clinton’s Loss, says Trump AdvisorA senior national security advisor to US President-elect Donald Trump said on January 10 that the Democrats are making a mistake by looking for a “scapegoat” on which to blame Hillary Clinton’s presidential election defeat.
Trump’s National Security Advisor Seeks to Reassure AlliesUS President-elect Donald Trump’s national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, on January 10 sought to reassure US allies of the incoming administration’s commitment to alliances.

Flynn said the incoming National Security Council’s mission, guided by Trump’s vision to “make America great again,” will be supported by an overarching policy of “peace through strength.”
John Kerry Sets the Record StraightUS Secretary of State John Kerry on January 10 took a thinly veiled swipe at US President-elect Donald Trump while warning of the perils of living in a “factless political environment” and expressing consternation that the process for nominating officials to serve in the next administration is being flouted.
Donald Trump: A Bull in a China Shop? China could retaliate in several ways that would cause serious damage to the United States if President-elect Donald Trump were to overplay his hand with the Asian nation, according to an Asia expert at the Atlantic Council. 
Noting that Trump has a “grotesquely inflated sense of American leverage,” Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and its Strategic Foresight Initiative, said: “What would he do if China took its $1.3 trillion in Treasury bonds that fund our deficit and put it into euros? Our economies are very interdependent and there is a mutually assured destruction if we start getting into tit-for-tat trade wars.”
In the DRC, Joseph Kabila Kicks the Can Down the Road Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is unlikely to abide by the terms of an agreement that aims to end his fifteen-year rule and ensure the DRC’s first-ever democratic transition of power, said J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.