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A View From Congress

Two US lawmakers—one serving and another incoming—listed their top national security concerns at the Atlantic Council’s Annual Forum in Washington on December 14.

Mattis Heads for the Exit

The differences between Donald J. Trump and Jim Mattis were on display in their statements on December 20. While Trump wrote in a tweet that his defense secretary was “retiring” at the end of February; Mattis made clear he was resigning over policy differences with the president.

US Sen. Mark Warner and Adm. Michael Rogers Make the Case for Cyber Security

The United States needs to take a hard look at its national security policies and focus its attention on investing in defensive, as well as offensive, measures to deal with cyber threats, US Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said at the Atlantic Council’s Annual Forum in Washington on December 14.

Why it Will Be Hard to Kill NAFTA if Congress Does Not Approve Trump’s Trade Deal With Mexico and Canada

Despite US President Donald J. Trump’s threat to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it will be much harder to kill NAFTA if the US Congress does not approve a revised trade deal, said Jesús Seade, who served as then Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s chief NAFTA negotiator in recently concluded, and often contentious, negotiations.

Trump, Xi Reach Trade War Truce… For Now

US President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on December 1 agreed to a truce in their trade war in order to allow time for negotiations. In what is a significant de-escalation of a conflict that has been marked by tit-for-tat tariffs, Trump and Xi put on hold threatened tariff increases for ninety days.

With AMLO, an Opportunity to Reset the US-Mexico Relationship

Andrés Manuel López Obrador has his work cut out.

The populist leader, who is more popularly known as AMLO, will be sworn in as the president of Mexico on December 1. This may be good news for the US-Mexico relationship.

Trump Cancels Meeting With Putin

Hours after the Kremlin confirmed a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald J. Trump on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires on December 1, the US president cancelled the appointment with his Russian counterpart citing the continued detention of Ukrainian naval vessels and their crew by Russia.

Is Another Trump-Putin Meeting a Good Idea?

US President Donald J. Trump is expected to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Buenos Aires later this week. Is that a good idea in light of Russia’s latest aggression toward Ukraine and the somewhat stymied success of past meetings between the two leaders? In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump left open the possibility that he might, after all, cancel the meeting over the incident in the Kerch Strait. “Maybe I won’t even have the meeting,” he said.

Trump-Xi Meeting at the G20: An Opportunity to Calm a Trade War

US President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to have a highly anticipated meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Buenos Aires later this week.

Russia-Ukraine Conflict Heats Up the Sea of Azov: Echoes of Russia’s War with Georgia?

Escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov bear eerie echoes of Russian provocations that led to the war with Georgia in the summer of 2008.

United States Sanctions Seventeen Saudi Officials Over Khashoggi Murder

The US Treasury Department on November 15 slapped sanctions on seventeen Saudi officials in response to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

How Will the Outcome of the Midterms Affect Trump's Policy Options?

Democrats captured the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their Senate majority in the US midterm elections on November 6.

Climate Change Is Doing More Than Raising Sea Levels. Your Bar Tab Will Go Up, Too

The past few weeks have produced a steady stream of bad news for the Earth.

Here’s a look at some stories making headlines.

Angela Merkel Will Not Seek Re-Election as Germany’s Chancellor in 2021

Germany’s Angela Merkel, viewed by many as a staunch defender of the liberal world order and a bulwark against the rising tide of populism in Europe, has decided to step down as leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in December and not run again for the chancellorship in 2021. Merkel, who dominated European politics for the past thirteen years, has been chairwoman since 2000 and chancellor since 2005.

“I will not be seeking any political post after my term ends,” Merkel told a news conference in Berlin on October 29.

Brazil Swings Right With Election of Jair Bolsonaro as President

For the first time since the early 2000s, Brazilians have elected a president that does not belong to the Workers’ Party (PT).

On October 28, Brazilians elected as their president Jair Bolsonaro, a populist former army captain who has served as a member of the Chamber of Deputies representing the state of Rio de Janeiro since 1991. Bolsonaro, who belongs to the Social Liberal Party (PSL), defeated his PT rival, Fernando Haddad, in a runoff election after a highly contested election. Bolsonaro won 55.1 percent of the votes against 44.9 percent for Haddad.

Why is a Caravan of Central American Migrants Fleeing to the United States?

The Trump administration is expected to deploy at least 800 troops to the US-Mexico border in response to a caravan of an estimated 5,000 migrants from Central America that is heading north.

In an October 25 tweet, US President Donald J. Trump wrote that he is “bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!”

Trump Right to Call Out Russia, But is Quitting an Arms Control Treaty the Answer?

If there is one thing most arms control experts can agree on it is this: Russia has for many years been violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Another thing they agree on: US President Donald J. Trump’s intention to walk away from the treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987 has created the impression that it is the United States that is at fault.

US Pastor's Release Signals a New Chapter in US-Turkey Ties

A Turkish court on October 12 freed from house arrest a US pastor whose case had severely strained ties between Washington and Ankara—NATO allies.

Pastor Andrew Brunson was arrested in 2016 and convicted on terrorism charges in relation with a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Brunson has denied the charges.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley Resigns

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s resignation on October 9 caught many, including some within US President Donald J. Trump’s Cabinet, by surprise. She will leave the post at the end of the year.

Led by Leftists Since 2003, Brazil Could Soon Get a Far-Right President

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist who has been compared to Donald J. Trump, won the first round of the presidential election in Brazil on October 7, but fell just short of the majority required to avoid a second-round runoff. The former army captain will face left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) candidate, Fernando Haddad, in a runoff on October 28.

Western Nations Go On the Offensive Against Russian Cyberattacks

Western governments on October 4 unleashed a torrent of accusations against Russia saying its intelligence agency was responsible for cyberattacks on inquiries into Olympic doping, a former spy’s poisoning, and the downing of a commercial aircraft in 2014.

South Sudan’s First Vice President Optimistic About Peace, But No One is Buying It

On a visit to the Atlantic Council in September 2016, South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Deng Gai had a clear message for his interlocutors in Washington: “What we tell them is, ‘Look, there is peace. Let us not allow that to collapse.’”

Deng spoke even as the death toll in South Sudan’s civil war steadily mounted. The war, which broke out in December 2013, was triggered by the bitter rivalry between South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and his on-again-off-again First Vice President Riek Machar. A new study backed by the US State Department concluded that at least 382 900 people have died since 2013; millions have been displaced.

So Much for US-Iran Amity

US President Donald J. Trump’s administration said on October 3 it was terminating the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran. Announcing the decision, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted “the absolute absurdity” of remaining in the treaty given the prevailing high tensions between the United States and Iran.

Meet the New NAFTA: The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Canada agreed, moments before the clock ran out on a September 30 deadline, to sign on to a trade agreement between the United States and Mexico that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new agreement will be known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA.

A Modernized NAFTA

The new trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico “modernizes” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and lifts a cloud of uncertainty that has lingered over the past several months, according to Earl Anthony Wayne, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Says Plan to Swap Territory with Serbia Puts His Country’s Transatlantic Aspirations at Risk

Kosovo’s prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, says a land-swap plan floated by the presidents of his own country and Serbia is a dangerous idea that undermines Kosovo’s aspirations of NATO and European Union (EU) membership.

IMF Throws Argentina a $57 Billion Lifeline

On September 24, Mauricio Macri shared a dinner table (some laughs and an animated conversation) with Christine Lagarde in New York City. The Argentine president told guests at the Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Awards dinner about the great relationship he had with the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

GCA 2018 Highlights: Crushing on Christine Lagarde, Chobani’s Ulukaya is More than Just a Yogurt Maker, And More

More than 500 guests from fifty countries attended the Atlantic Council’s 9th annual Global Citizen Awards dinner in New York City on September 24.

The award was presented to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg; Argentine President Mauricio Macri; Hamdi Ulukaya, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Chobani; and the late Arizona Republican Sen. John S. McCain.

Trump Puts America First at the United Nations

US President Donald J. Trump on September 25 used his second address to the United Nations General Assembly to reaffirm his commitment to an America First approach to foreign policy.

9 Facts You Should Know About the United Nations

The 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly opened in New York on September 18. General debate opens on September 25. US President Donald J. Trump will be among a galaxy of world leaders who will address the meeting.

Atlantic Council Bestows Posthumous Global Citizen Award on John McCain

John S. McCain was remembered at the Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Awards dinner in New York on September 24 as a man who spoke truth to power and was unafraid to stand up for the values in which he truly believed.

McCain, a war hero who served for thirty-five years in the US Congress—first in the House and then the Senate—died on August 25 after a battle with brain cancer. He was 81.

Atlantic Council Honors Global Citizens

To Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, being a global citizen means embodying two values: “a sense of shared responsibility and shared purpose.” Speaking at the Atlantic Council’s 9th annual Global Citizen Awards dinner in New York City, Solberg argued that in the world today, as “in a village, you cannot survive without trusting your fellow people. Without joining forces in everyday life.”

Fifth Anniversary of Westgate Mall Attack: Fighting Al-Shabaab in Africa

September 21, 2013, started out like any other day at the Westgate mall. Shoppers in search of deals strolled unaware that their lives would soon be changed forever. At midday, heavily armed militants lobbing grenades and firing indiscriminately turned the upscale shopping center in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, into a war zone. Security forces, caught off guard and woefully unprepared, struggled to rescue hundreds of shoppers and hunt down the assailants. By the end of a four-day siege—the worst attack on Kenyan soil since the 1998 US Embassy bombing by al Qaeda—sixty-seven people were dead and more than two hundred wounded. Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Testing North Korea's Nuclear Offer

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has agreed to dismantle missile facilities in the presence of international inspectors and take steps toward denuclearization—provided the United States takes “corresponding measures.”

US President Donald J. Trump called Kim’s pledges“very exciting” on Twitter.

More Shots Fired in US-China Trade War

This is what a trade war looks like.

On September 18, hours after US President Donald J. Trump announced his decision to impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, China struck back. Beijing retaliated immediately, announcing tariffs on an additional $60 billion in US imports.

The new Chinese tariffs will target more than 5,000 US goods, including meat, nuts, alcoholic drinks, chemicals, clothes, machinery, furniture, and auto parts—nearly everything that China imports from the United States.

In South Sudan, It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

The so-called peace deal between South Sudan’s warring parties is in fact a “desperate play” by the country’s two main political actors to fend off international sanctions and extend their hold on power, according to J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

The Day NATO Stood with the United States

In the early hours of September 12, 2001, as the world was coming to grips with the enormity of the events of the day before, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was busy working the phones. She discussed with the United States’ NATO allies the possibility of doing something never done before in the history of the Alliance: the invocation of Article 5 on collective defense.

Six Years After a US Ambassador Was Killed in Benghazi, Libya Remains Mired in Chaos

On the night of September 11, 2012, the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi was attacked and burned. The US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who was visiting Libya’s eastern city, and three other US citizens lost their lives. At first, the attack was thought to have been carried out by a mob angry about a video made in the United States that mocked Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. It was later determined to be an act of terrorism.

The War in Syria: A Battle Looms in Idlib

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, backed by Russia and Iran, has made clear its intentions to seize control of Idlib province—the last remaining rebel-held stronghold in the war-ravaged nation. Now, with Russian ships moored in the Mediterranean Sea and Assad’s forces closing in from the south, it is methodically going about doing just that.

Trump Picks Zalmay Khalilzad, Atlantic Council Board Director, as Special Representative on Afghanistan

The appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as US President Donald J. Trump’s special representative on Afghanistan sends a clear signal that the US administration is serious about winding down its involvement in the war in Afghanistan. By putting a longtime critic of Pakistan in charge of the peace process, the Trump administration has also put Islamabad on notice that it has little patience for its support for terrorists in Afghanistan.

The War in Syria: Idlib in the Crosshairs

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime, backed by Russia, appears to be preparing for a major offensive on Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold located along Syria’s northwestern border with Turkey.

Trump-Kim Summit’s Success Was ‘Oversold’

The recent setbacks to US efforts to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons hold a lesson for US President Donald J. Trump’s administration: “It is a reminder that we need to engage with Kim Jong-un with our eyes open, and not put so much faith in the value of good personal relations,” according to Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

The United States and North Korea: Back to Square One?

US President Donald J. Trump on August 24 abruptly cancelled Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s planned trip to North Korea. Explaining his decision in a tweet, Trump wrote: “because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Days later, on August 28, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said it appeared the North Koreans were having second thoughts about denuclearization.

US-North Korea Impasse Puts South Korea in a Bind

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has prioritized mending ties with North Korea. His high-stakes diplomacy is playing out on the sidelines of a US effort to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. Moon’s effort has been marked by a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a rare, albeit brief, reunion of families divided by the war six decades ago. There are, however, limits to how far Moon can proceed absent progress in US-North Korean diplomacy.

After Failed Assassination Attempt, Expect Maduro to Lash Out in Venezuela

The Venezuelan regime will likely turn even more repressive in the wake of a purported attempt to assassinate President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas on August 4, according to Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

A Free and Open Indo-Pacific

The Trump administration has turned its attention squarely toward the Indo-Pacific, with one eye firmly on an increasingly assertive China.

In a significant policy speech in Washington on July 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States seeks “partnership, not domination,” in the Indo-Pacific. In a thinly veiled reference to China, Pompeo added: “We… have never and will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific, and we will oppose any country that does.”

Zimbabwe at an Inflection Point

On July 30, for the first time in more than thirty years, Zimbabweans will vote in a presidential election in which one name will be conspicuously absent from the ballot: Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe stepped down in the face of pressure from the military, his party, and the Zimbabwean people on November 21, 2017, even as impeachment proceedings got underway in parliament.

Zimbabwe, which Mugabe transformed from southern Africa’s bread basket to a basket case, now stands at a critical inflection point.

Trump’s Angry Iran Tweet

US President Donald J. Trump, in a late-night, all-caps tweet on July 22, threatened Iran with “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have suffered before” if Iranian leaders continued to threaten the United States with war.

Trump Picks Putin

US President Donald J. Trump on July 16 appeared to believe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials over the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections, saying he saw “no reason why” Moscow would have acted in that way.

Speaking at a joint press conference following his first summit with Putin in Helsinki, Trump said: “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today” on meddling.

Trump-Putin Summit: Expect the Unexpected

Donald Trump and Theresa May: On the Issues

Donald J. Trump and Theresa May attempted to paper over their differences—at least in public—at a joint press conference on July 13. This interaction followed a controversial interview Trump gave to the British tabloid The Sun in which  the US president criticized the British prime minister’s approach to Brexit.

US Senators Back NATO as Trump Leaves Allies On Edge

In Brussels, where US President Donald J. Trump has castigated allies and cast doubt about the US commitment to NATO, two US senators—one a Republican and the other a Democrat—speaking at the NATO Engages event co-hosted by the Atlantic Council on July 12 expressed their full-throated support for the Alliance.

“Congress has your backs,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Trump’s NATO Strategy: Shake, Rattle, and Commit

US President Donald J. Trump on July 12 reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to NATO after declaring that allies had agreed to his demands to spend more on defense. This affirmation came hours after the US president chastised allies for not spending enough on defense and even threated to pull the United States out of the Alliance.

Ghani Hopeful 'Real' Dialogue Will Bring Peace to Afghanistan

Unlike in the past, there is now a “real” and “constructive” dialogue on bringing peace to Afghanistan and this effort is based in mutual trust, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in Brussels on July 12.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Stands Up for NATO

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 11 delivered a resounding defense of NATO—the transatlantic military alliance that today grapples with external as well as internal challenges—and sought to address questions of burden sharing noting that it is the quality of the output rather than the quantity of the input that actually matters.

NATO Engages: Shoring Up the Alliance

The opening day of NATO Engages: The Brussels Summit Dialogue was marked by passionate endorsements of the transatlantic military alliance that has been credited with giving the West its longest period of peace without a major power conflict in centuries.

NATO’s Jamie Shea Signs Off On a Positive Note… And With Some Advice

At a time where there are so many doubts about NATO at the political level, the paradox is that the Alliance on July 11 came out with a communique—agreed to by all member states—that is “the most substantive… the most complete, the most consensual,” notes Jamie Shea, NATO’s outgoing deputy assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges.

The Brexit Showdown

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government was engulfed in turmoil on July 9 as she lost two senior Cabinet members over her plans for a soft Brexit.

Within a span of twenty-four hours, David Davis resigned as Brexit secretary and Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. If forty-eight members of Parliament write letters of no confidence, May will be forced to face a vote of no confidence.

Finally, Peace in the Horn of Africa?

The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea on July 9 signed a declaration ending the state of war between the two countries.

The summit between Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on July 9 marked the first time that the neighbors’ heads of state have met in nearly two decades.

Six Facts You Should Know About NATO

The heads of state and government of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member nations will meet in Brussels on July 11 and 12. US President Donald J. Trump will be among those present.

Here are six facts you should know about the Alliance that has been credited with maintaining peace in Europe for the past seven decades.

President-Elect AMLO: A Seismic Shift in Mexico

For Andrés Manuel López Obrador it was third time lucky.

The new president-elect, popularly known as AMLO, won Mexico’s July 1 presidential election by a landslide picking up more than 50 percent of the vote.

Beyond the Trump-Kim Summit: A Coalition is Critical for Achieving Denuclearization

In the wake of US President Donald J. Trump’s June 12 summit with North Korean leader  Kim Jong-un, R. Nicholas Burns, an Atlantic Council board member who served as US undersecretary of state from 2005 to 2008, discussed the tough work that lies ahead and lessons from a not too distant past.

Trump-Kim Summit: It’s What Happens Next that Counts

US President Donald J. Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12 is a diplomatic win for the United States, but whether it is a strategic victory will depend on the implementation of the joint agreement signed by the two leaders, according to Michael Morell, an Atlantic Council board member and former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Trump-Kim Summit: Expect the Unexpected

Even if US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fail to achieve a breakthrough in their highly-anticipated summit in Singapore on June 12—Trump administration officials have been privately ratcheting down expectations—the summit in and of itself will be historic. It will be the first time that a sitting US president has met the leader of North Korea. The meeting provides an important opportunity to make headway on a protracted nonproliferation challenge.

The United States Stands Isolated at a Meeting of its Friends

Cracks in the United States’ relationships with some of its closest friends and allies were on full display at a meeting of the world’s largest economies in Canada this week.

The fissures have been caused by US President Donald J. Trump’s America First approach that has led to the US withdrawal from two multilateral agreements—the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement—and imposition of metal tariffs on the European Union (EU), Mexico, and Canada on the pretext of protecting US national security.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: Russia is Attempting to Influence US Midterms, Divide Transatlantic Alliance

Russia is attempting to influence the midterm elections in the United States in November as well as divide the transatlantic alliance, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned at a meeting co-hosted by the Atlantic Council in Normandy, France, on June 8.

Trump Wants Russia Back in the G7

US President Donald J. Trump’s suggestion that Russia be invited back to a grouping of the world’s largest economies is likely to deepen divisions with allies already irked by the president’s policies.

Trump on June 8 called for Russia to be reinstated into the G7 from which it was expelled following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Trump-Kim Summit is Back On

US President Donald J. Trump said on June 1 that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will proceed as initially planned in Singapore on June 12.

Trump’s announcement followed his meeting at the White House with Gen. Kim Yong-chol, the vice-chairman of North Korea’s Workers’ Party’s Central Committee. Kim is the first North Korean official to visit the White House in eighteen years.

US Imposes Tariffs on the EU, Mexico, and Canada

US President Donald J. Trump’s administration announced on May 31 that it will no longer exempt Canada, Mexico, and the European Union from previously announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. This means tariffs—25 percent on imports of steel and 10 percent on imports of aluminum—will go into effect at midnight on June 1. The decision will strain US ties with some of its closest allies and has already sparked retaliation.

North Korea’s Other Kim Comes to New York

North Korean Gen. Kim Yong-chol was seated barely a few feet away from Ivanka Trump at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on February 25. The world’s attention was focused firmly on them amid signs of a thaw in relations between North and South Korea. The two did not exchange a word.

Trump Calls off Date with Kim Jong-un

US President Donald J. Trump on May 24 abruptly called off a June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The highly anticipated summit—one frequently touted by Trump himself—was to be held in Singapore.

“I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote to Kim. “Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.”

With Summit Off, United States Needs to Think Through its North Korea Strategy

US President Donald J. Trump’s administration must use the opportunity presented by the president’s decision to scrap his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to think through its strategy on North Korea, according to the Atlantic Council’s Robert A. Manning.

Congolese Opposition Leaders Join Forces

Two prominent Congolese presidential hopefuls, speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on May 23, announced that they were joining forces against the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s longtime president Joseph Kabila.

Venezuela’s Sham Election

Nicolás Maduro is expected to be re-elected president of Venezuela on May 20 in an election that most experts agree is a sham the United States and several Latin American countries have refused to recognize, and the European Union wants suspended until the conditions are suitable to organize a free and fair vote.

Why North Korea is Not Libya

Can Muqtada Al-Sadr And The United States Be Friends?

Amid the uncertainty that has followed the Iraqi parliamentary elections on May 12 one thing is clear: formerly anti-US Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s list is the top vote-getter.

Sadr is trailed by Iran-backed Shia militia leader Hadi al-Amiri in second place and current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in third according to the unofficial results that are subject to change in the upcoming days.

North Korea Threatens to Pull the Plug on Trump-Kim Summit

North Korea has threatened to cancel the highly anticipated summit between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in light of what it called “provocative military disturbances with South Korea,” North Korea’s state news agency reported early on May 16 local time. The Trump-Kim summit is set to be held in Singapore on June 12.
All You Need to Know As The United States Prepares to Open its Embassy in Jerusalem The United States will on May 14 become the world’s first nation to have an embassy in Jerusalem.

The US Embassy will be formally relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—the two cities are about an hour’s drive apart. US President Donald J. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka; son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will be part of the US delegation in attendance at the ceremony. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be present, too.

On December 6, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The decision is a controversial one.
Iraq Votes: Expect Uncertainty Iraqis will vote on May 12 in their first election since the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). With nearly 7,000 candidates vying for 329 seats in parliament, no single political alliance is expected to emerge with an outright majority. As a consequence, the days after the vote will be marked by desperate attempts to cobble together a ruling coalition.
George W. Bush Warns Against Isolationism Former US President George W. Bush, accepting the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished International Leadership Award in Washington on May 10, warned of the dangers of isolationism and said it is critical that the United States step up to the responsibilities of global leadership.

Bush also made a pitch for securing a program started on his watch that has saved the lives of more than thirteen million people in Africa who are suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Scaparrotti: Preserve the Alliance The United States and NATO must take steps to preserve the unity of the transatlantic alliance in the face of a “complex and dynamic security environment,” said Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, supreme allied commander Europe and commander, US European Command.
Howard Schultz's Venti Call to Action Amid questions about the “moral leadership of America,” Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks Corporation, said in Washington on May 10 that business leaders must realize that the onus is on them to step up to the plate.

“Businesses and business leaders must understand that we are living at a time where the rules of engagement for a public company are very, very different than they’ve ever been, because we must pick up the slack and, unfortunately, the lack of responsibility of the political class,” Schultz said.
North Korea Releases Three US Prisoners US President Donald J. Trump announced in a Twitter post on May 9 that North Korea has released three American prisoners.

Trump said the three men, all US citizens of Korean descent, were freed during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang on May 9.
A Brief History of Sanctions on IranUS President Donald J. Trump is expected to announce his decision on May 8 on whether to continue to waive sanctions on Iran or pull the United States out of a multilateral nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic.

Here’s a quick look at the history of sanctions on Iran.
Trump Quits Iran Nuclear Deal US President Donald J. Trump on May 8 pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal saying the agreement did not satisfactorily address the Islamic Republic’s ability to build a nuclear bomb or limit its “malign activity.” He also signed a memorandum to reimpose sanctions on Iran.
The United States Gets Tough With South Sudan US President Donald J. Trump’s administration, expressing displeasure with the government in South Sudan, has started a comprehensive review of its aid programs to that country.
Where Does the P5+1 Stand on the Iran Nuclear Deal?US President Donald J. Trump is expected to reveal his decision on May 8 as to whether he will extend key sanctions waivers on Iran. A failure to do so would effectively take the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the Iran nuclear deal—which it signed with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and Iran in 2015. 
Are Israel And Iran Headed To War? Early in the morning on April 9, missiles streaked through the Syrian sky toward the Tiyas (T-4) air base in Homs province, northeast of Damascus. Besides Syrian forces, the base hosts Russians and Iranians, members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force. Several Iranians were killed in the strikes.
Trump-Kim Summit: Distrust and Verify If the upcoming summit between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fails to move the conversation closer to a peaceful resolution, it could result in a return to the belligerence of a few months ago, according to John McHugh, an Atlantic Council board director and former secretary of the US Army.
The Korean Summit: Cautious Optimism The leaders of North and South Korea agreed on April 27 to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and work to formally end the Korean War this year.
Making history, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walked across into South Korea where he was greeted by a beaming South Korean President Moon Jae-in. This was the first time that a North Korea leader has set foot in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Kim then asked Moon to step back with him into North Korea; Moon obliged, eliciting applause from onlookers.
The Koreas: Charting a Path to Peace The big question following the historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 is what denuclearization means in the context of the summit declaration, according to the Atlantic Council’s Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow.
Six Things You Should Know as the Koreas Prepare to Make HistoryGiven the frenetic pace of the news cycle these days it would be easy to have missed the fact that the leaders of North and South Korea are poised to make a little bit of history of their own—and, perhaps, bring peace to two countries that have technically been at war with each other for the past sixty-eight years.
Nigeria’s Buhari Goes to WashingtonNigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will on April 30 hold the distinction of becoming the first African president to meet US President Donald J. Trump at the White House in Washington.
Macron Pitches a New Iran DealFrench President Emmanuel Macron said on April 24 that he wants to work on a “new deal” with Iran that would retain the 2015 nuclear agreement as a primary pillar.
Cuba’s New President Sails into Choppy WatersFor the first time in sixty years, Cuba will be led by a man whose last name is not Castro. However, this reality is unlikely to herald change in Cuba or soften US President Donald J. Trump’s hard line toward the island that sits just ninety miles off the US coast, according to the Atlantic Council’s Jason Marczak.
Emmanuel Macron: The Trump Whisperer?Trump and Macron make an unlikely pair. What the two have in common is that they tapped into populist anger and by doing so pulled off surprising electoral victories. They are also both policy disruptors.
World Reaction to Strikes on Syria The United States, the United Kingdom, and France on April 13 launched strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack which they blamed on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Syria: Mission Accomplished? The morning after US, French, and British jets targeted chemical weapons facilities in Syria, US President Donald J. Trump took to Twitter to declare “Mission Accomplished.”

That declaration—the two words that former US President George W. Bush came to regret—has left many scratching their heads.
Strikes Will Not Change Assad’s Calculus There is no evidence that US President Donald J. Trump has any intention of changing Bashar al-Assad’s calculus in Syria, according to H.A. Hellyer, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
A Question Mark Over the Fate of Libya’s Haftar Reports that Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar is in a coma will deepen the chaos in a country that has been in flux for the past seven years. Haftar is a military strongman whose forces have fought Islamist militias, but has himself proven to be an obstacle in efforts to unite Libya.

Media organizations reported that Haftar had slipped into a coma after suffering a stroke. He was flown to Paris earlier in April after falling ill in Jordan.
The United States, Britain, and France Launch Strikes on Syria The United States and its European allies have launched strikes against Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack blamed on Bashar al-Assad’s regime. US President Donald J. Trump announced the strikes on April 13.
Trump’s Change of Heart on TPP On January 23, 2017, his first full business day as president, Donald J. Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
A little more than a year later, on April 12, 2018, Republican lawmakers said Trump had instructed his staff to look into rejoining the multilateral trade agreement with eleven other Asia-Pacific nations.
Missile Strikes on Syria, But Then What? With missile strikes imminent in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, the looming question is: what next, said Frederic C. Hof, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
Trump’s Decision to Skip the Summit of the Americas Sends the ‘Wrong Message’ US President Donald J. Trump’s decision not to attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru this week sends the “wrong message” to many of the United States’ friends in Latin America, according to Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
Syria: All Eyes on Trump (and His Tweets) US President Donald J. Trump is weighing his options as he decides how to respond to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. He has not ruled out military strikes.

In a tweet on April 11, Trump warned Russia that missiles targeting its ally, Syria, "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'"
A Brief History of Chemical Weapons in Syria US President Donald J. Trump said on April 9 that he will respond within forty-eight hours to an alleged chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has denied responsibility for the attack.
Halting the ‘Caravans’ US President Donald J. Trump on April 3 announced that he would deploy US troops to the border with Mexico to stop the flow of unauthorized migrants into the United States. The comment followed a series of tweets in which the president warned about the “caravans” of migrants that are headed through Mexico to the United States.
Trump Tells Baltic Leaders He is Tough on Russia US President Donald J. Trump has assured leaders of the three Baltic States—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—that no one has been tougher on Russia than him. He also said that he thinks he could have a “very good relationship” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump made the comments in a joint press conference with the three Baltic presidents—Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia, Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania, and Raimonds Vējonis of Latvia—at the White House in Washington on April 3.
LTG H.R. McMaster: The Toughest Man on Russia? US President Donald J. Trump assured the leaders of the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—at a White House meeting on April 3 that no one has been tougher on Russia than him.

Hours later, he was almost upstaged by his outgoing National Security Advisor LTG H.R. McMaster who delivered a blistering rebuke of Russia in remarks at the Atlantic Council. McMaster said that the West has "failed to impose sufficient costs" on Moscow for its aggressive behavior that has ranged from cyberattacks to near-fatal poisonings.
Pork with a Side of Tariffs China’s decision to impose tariffs on about $3 billion worth of US importssent stocks tumbling on April 2 and fueled fears that a trade war—or at the very least a trade skirmish—is imminent.

The Chinese tariffs, which went into effect on April 2, target 128 US products, including pork, fruit and nuts, and steel pipes.
Trump in a China Shop Attention Walmart shoppers: Those cheap electronics and apparel with “Made in China” tags on them will soon cost more.
US President Donald J. Trump on March 22 slapped $60 billion in tariffs on China, retaliating against its theft of technology and trade secrets.

The tariffs come at a particularly delicate time as the Trump administration requires China’s support for dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis.
Putin’s ‘Election’ And Why It’s Time for the West to Get Its Act Together Vladimir Kara-Murza bristles when the words “election” and “Vladimir Putin” are strung together in the same sentence.

“There are many ways to describe what happened in Russia [on March 18]. Election is not one of them,” said the Russian opposition figure who, despite surviving two apparent poisonings, remains an ardent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
US Imposes Sanctions on Russia Over Election Meddling US President Donald J. Trump’s administration on March 15 announced new sanctions on Russian individuals and organizations in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and cyberattacks, including attempts to the hack the US energy grid.

This is the most significant action by the Trump administration against Russia to date.
Britain Expels Russian Diplomats Over Attempted Assassination. Is that Enough? British Prime Minister Theresa May on March 14 expelled twenty-three Russian diplomats and suspended high-level contacts with Moscow after blaming Russia for poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom. The expulsion, which May described as the largest in more than thirty years, will add further strain to an already tense relationship between London and Moscow. But is that an adequate response to ongoing Russian belligerence?
Trump and North Korea: From ‘Fire and Fury’ to Diplomacy Last summer, US President Donald J. Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it endangered the United States. A few months later, he derided North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “Little Rocket Man” and said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was wasting his time attempting to negotiate with the regime in Pyongyang. Kim in turn threatened the United States noting in his new year’s day speech that he has a “nuclear button” on his desk and is ready to use it.
It’s Time for Trump to Test North Korea North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has, in a surprise move, reportedly agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests and start talks with the United States on dismantling his nuclear weapons. Both were prerequisites set by US President Donald J. Trump’s administration before it would agree to an initial, exploratory meeting.
US President Donald J. Trump promptly tweeted that the rare opportunity to defuse the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, while a sign of “possible progress,” could also be “false hope.”
Trump May Get His Trade War After All US President Donald J. Trump’s surprise decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and a tweeted declaration that “trade wars are good” have set off alarm bells across the globe while causing the stock market to plunge.
In China, the Dawn of the Xi Dynasty? Chinese President Xi Jinping was nine years old when his father, a prominent communist revolutionary and vice premier of China, had a falling out with Mao Zedong.
The year was 1962. Xi Zhongxun was accused of supporting a novel that Mao opposed. For this crime he was stripped of his titles, demoted, and sent to work in a factory. His wife, Qi Xin, was forced to do hard labor on a farm.

Six years later, the younger Xi was among the millions of “intellectual youth” who were sent to the countryside for “re-education” during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which sought to purge the “impure” elements of Chinese society and preserve a communist ideology.
I Spy A North Korean at the Olympics North Korean Gen. Kim Yong-chol is believed to have orchestrated a deadly attack on a South Korean warship, the bombardment of a South Korean island, and, possibly, the cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

Now, the former North Korean spy chief is on a different mission. Kim Yong-chol will lead his country’s delegation to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on February 25. There he is expected to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in to pave the way for a peace summit proposed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The diplomatic thaw between North and South Korea follows several months of missile and nuclear tests by Pyongyang and is playing out in the high-wattage arena afforded by the Winter Olympics.