With new leadership shaking up Ecuador’s politics, the country has joined many of its neighbors in a renewed battle against corruption at the highest levels of government. In early August 2017, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno used an executive decree to strip his Vice President Jorge Glas of all his powers. Moreno’s measure—aimed at neutralizing Glas, rather than ousting him—resulted from growing disagreements with the vice president, who is enmeshed in corruption allegations.

Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa repudiated Moreno’s move to strip Glas of authority, adding to his long list of criticisms against the new president. Although Moreno was Correa’s handpicked successor—he served as Correa’s vice president from 2007 to 2013, their relationship has turned sour. While Moreno has embraced a national dialogue with numerous political parties and civil society groups —his predecessor’s most bitter rivals included—Correa has accused his successor of a “mediocre” and “disloyal” betrayal. This rivalry has sparked rifts in the ruling party, setting the scene for a political clash that will determine the future of the party and the country.

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On the eve of US President Donald J. Trump’s first meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington on June 26, the US State Department approved the sale of twenty-two Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial System drones to India. This prospective purchase of drones manufactured by General Atomics marks the first of its kind from the United States by a country that is not a member of NATO. General Atomics (GA) and its affiliated companies now constitute one of the world's leading resources for high-technology systems ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to electromagnetic systems, remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electronic, wireless and laser technologies.

Both governments will need to finalize the terms and conditions of this foreign military sale.

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As the United Kingdom (UK) proceeds with negotiations to leave the European Union (EU), it must account for mounting security concerns regarding the potential drop-off in shared intelligence with EU countries.

A recent report published by the UK’s House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee concluded there will be a “barrier” to security if data transfers between EU nations and the UK are obstructed after Brexit, which would negatively impact the national security and counter terrorism efforts of not only the UK, but EU member states as well.  

In recent years, especially after the attacks in Brussels, Paris, Nice, and Berlin, there has been more cooperation within the EU to keep European citizens safe, highlighting both the growing importance and validity of intelligence sharing. The most recent attack in Barcelona on August 17, when a vehicle driven through crowds of pedestrians killed twelve and injured eighty, only underscores the growing need for collaboration in counterterrorism efforts throughout Europe. As a result, the UK needs to make the reconciliation between its security system and that of the EU a priority in the Brexit negotiations, working hard to secure the best UK-EU intelligence-sharing arrangement possible.

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On August 4, the administration of US President Donald J. Trump formally notified the United Nations (UN) of its intent to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, while a forthcoming report points to the increasing effects of climate change.

In providing formal notification, Trump confirmed his June announcement that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. However, in line with Trump’s desire for a better deal, Washington stipulated that the United States would be willing to re-engage with the terms of the Accord on “terms more favorable to it.”

This move by the Trump administration raises more questions than it answers. Will the United States play a constructive role at COP23, the UN climate change conference in Bonn this fall, or will it be relegated to the sidelines? How will the rest of the world respond to US participation at COP23 and the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue to follow? More broadly, how will Washington engage in a process that is now driven by a framework (and a responsibility) for emissions reductions that it has rejected?

Adding to these questions, the administration’s official notification was followed by a reminder of just how real, and how serious, the implications of a changing climate are.

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Though incumbent Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has won the 2017 presidential election, the country remains on edge due to allegations of voter fraud by his opponent, Raila Odinga, which could plunge the country into post-election violence.

In 2007, a horrific spasm of post-election violence swept across Kenya when Odinga, who has made four bids for the presidency, contested his defeat, claiming the vote was rigged. Every few years since then, Africans and Africanists abroad have watched the approach of elections in Kenya with dread. Taken off guard by the violence that occurred in 2007, and then over-pessimistic about the next elections that occurred in 2013, the international community seems unable to correctly predict whether significant bloodshed will occur, turning every Kenyan election into a nail-biting event. This year’s elections have upheld that pattern.

According to the official results of the election, announced August 11, Kenyatta secured 54.27 percent of votes, while Odinga won 44.74 percent.  

Even before the final result was announced, Odinga’s opposition party announced that it would reject the results of the August 8 election if he did not win. Despite pressure from the international community, he has not yet conceded, claiming the votes were manipulated and urging supporters to stay home from work in protest. Odinga has provided no evidence for this claim – but he may not have to. Though the Western nations and international observers denied it at the time, the 2007 election was certainly rigged, and so the current denials by the same groups of officials are likely to ring hollow to Odinga's supporters. Amid the controversy surrounding election results and allegations of inaccuracies, post-election violence is a looming threat with historical precedents.

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White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was right in one part of his polemic with CNN’s Jim Acosta on August 2:  the Statue of Liberty was not, in its origins, a celebration of immigration. But the statue’s meaning, its original intent so to speak, will not advance Miller’s or anyone’s nativist agenda. 

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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.”

“It is irresponsible, dangerous, and counterproductive; and it is unfortunate because I think the actual thrust of the policy is going in the right direction,” he added.

Trump has steadily ratcheted up his rhetoric on North Korea. On August 10, he said his earlier vow to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s efforts to build and launch a nuclear weapon “wasn’t tough enough.” On August 11, Trump tweeted "military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely."

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Fake news has reared its ugly head in elections again—this time in Kenya. As East Africa’s most tech-savvy country went to the polls on August 8, its citizens were inundated with fake news that colored the campaign season and now threatens hard-won gains to prevent post-election violence.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his primary challenger, Raila Odinga, maintained large followings throughout the campaign season, and went to the polls with a razor-thin margin of popular support between them. As of August 10, Kenyatta claimed a strong lead, though Odinga casts doubt on those numbers.

An overwhelming majority of Kenyans encountered inaccurate news about both candidates during the run-up to the elections, one recent poll found, and nearly all Kenyans surveyed reported that the inaccuracies were deliberate.

In light of Kenya’s history, the aftermath of the country’s elections is arguably more important than the contest itself—in 2007, violence erupted after the results were announced, continuing for nearly two months and leading to more than 1,100 deaths. Now, the waiting begins, and early reports bear a concerning likeness to 2007: at least three people were killed by police amid opposition protests across the country.

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The United States, working with its allies, must gradually ramp up economic sanctions on Venezuela as part of a strategy to change Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian behavior, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

“The goal of the sanctions is to change the calculus of President Maduro and his supporters… so they realize there are much more significant costs to his government pursuing these undemocratic steps,” said David Mortlock, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. However, he added, “those sanctions must be accompanied by a clear narrative” of what the United States and the international community expects to see change.

“The end goal here is not the sanctions themselves but a negotiated diplomatic solution,” said Mortlock, adding that the cost to all governments, to the oil sector, and to the global economy, should Venezuela collapse due to unrest and economic recession, “is too great to simply step back and let Venezuela continue down this path.”  

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Atlantic Council’s Sean McFate warns against plan that would rely more on military contractors

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.

McFate agrees that what the plan has going for it is that contractors are cheaper than US troops. Nevertheless, he added, there are serious problems with Prince’s proposal, the first being that it is “deeply un-American.”

“Using a neocolonial model to ‘fix’ Afghanistan is preposterous,” said McFate, a former private military contractor who has worked in Africa.

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