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Showing posts from October, 2017

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.