Moïse Katumbi, a prominent opposition leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), will return to the country to continue the fight for the first peaceful, democratic transition in its history.

“My heart is with the Congolese people,” Katumbi said on February 16 at a meeting hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. “I look forward to returning to my country and working toward our first democratic transition and the establishment of enduring democracy, prosperity, and peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

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While sub-Saharan Africa has enjoyed an average economic growth of over 5 percent since the turn of the century, a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate has sparked worries of a continent-wide slowdown. The report estimated that Africa’s combined gross domestic product (GDP) has grown by a mere 1.5 percent rate in 2016, the continent’s worst performance in more than twenty years. Although this figure is still to be confirmed by the IMF, it comes as a blow to the widely-touted “Africa Rising” narrative that has often been employed by government and business leaders in Africa to incentivize foreign investment.

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It's not a secret that expatriate Americans, along with Europeans, tend to feel more closely aligned with the Democratic Party in the United States. Even when overseas liberals supposedly “fell out of love” with Barack Obama or didn’t, more recently, adore Hillary Clinton as much as they had her husband, there’s no contest between any Democratic candidate and a Republican when it comes to popularity in Europe.
 
Democrats Abroad boasts a healthy contingent of active members in major European capitals, staging events and teeing up national elections every four years.  In Brussels, Republicans Overseas, the GOP counterpart, has been represented by one man: Michael Kulbickas.

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It is the international community’s responsibility to maintain peace and security in the face of growing cyber threats to a society that is increasingly vulnerable because of its dependence on connected technology, Henne Schuwer, the Netherlands’ ambassador to the United States, said at the Atlantic Council on February 8.

“We have to all band together to make sure that this Internet, this cyberspace… will be a peaceful movement around the world from which we all benefit,” he said.

In light of the Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections, and concern looking ahead to upcoming elections in Europe in 2017—in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and possibly Italy—it has become necessary to establish a legal framework for the international community to understand a common set of rules of the road in cyberspace.

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US President Donald Trump has been outspoken in his opposition to multilateral trade agreements.  He will seek only to sign bilateral agreements in order to leverage the strength of the United States, the larger economy in any negotiation.  In such an environment, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union (EU), is unlikely to survive in its original form.

As indicated by Trump’s rhetoric, the new US administration seems ready to give up the principles of openness, not just in the sphere of economics, that have greatly benefited the entire world. Future generations of Europeans and Americans will pay for this mistake if leaders on both sides of the Atlantic do not pave the way for an alternative agreement, keeping the talks alive. The new reality calls for a rethinking of TTIP, not its abandonment.

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The New York Times reported on February 14 that Russia has secretly deployed two batteries of a new nuclear-capable cruise missile in violation of its international treaty obligations. The news is disturbing, but hardly surprising. Unless the United States and its allies respond promptly, the situation is likely only to deteriorate further.

Russia’s missile deployments violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the only arms control agreement in history to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons. It banned US and Russian ground-launched missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers and contributed to reduced tensions in Europe for over a quarter century.

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A new Atlantic Council report—Breaking Aleppo—uses satellite images, TV footage, social media, and security camera videos to debunk Russia’s claims that no civilians were killed in its airstrikes on the city of Aleppo in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“In an era where we’re facing a mixture of falsehoods and truths, the report is incontrovertible evidence,” said Fred Kempe, Atlantic Council president and chief executive officer, adding, “it exposes the deliberate and systematic destruction of Aleppo.” Kempe delivered opening remarks at the report’s launch at the Atlantic Council in Washington on February 13. He described how the report’s findings prove that the Assad regime, backed by Russia and Iran, targeted civilians and noncombatants “in a bid to break the will and spirit of the city.”

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On February 5, Jordan launched airstrikes in southern Syria, directed at the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jaysh Khalid bin Al Waleed. Occurring shortly after King Abdullah II’s meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in late January and with US President Donald Trump in Washington at the beginning of February, Jordan’s stepped-up action in Syria underscores Amman’s continued pivot toward Russia and commitment to continuing coordination with Moscow in Syria. At the same time, the Hashemite kingdom is signaling to the Trump administration that it will not permit terrorists from Syria to enter Jordan. This is in line with Turkey’s announcement that it is ready to set up a buffer zone in northern Syria once the battle with ISIS at al-Bab is over.

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European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said all sides must abide by terms of the agreement

The 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.

Speaking at the Atlantic Council, Mogherini said she found “common ground” with the Trump administration on the deal that seeks to cut off Iran’s pathways to building a nuclear bomb. Mogherini said: “I heard from my interlocutors the intention to make sure that the deal is 100 percent implemented.”

“It is a clear European shared interest to preserve the agreement,” she added.

The EU, she said, will monitor in a “very strict manner” the implementation of the deal “in its entirety, from all sides.” The nuclear deal was struck between Iran and the so-called P5+1 countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, and Germany in 2015. The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has found Iran to be complying with the terms of the agreement. Mogherini’s statement was a clear message to the United States to also stick to its commitments.

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Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a former president of Estonia, sees the dangers of digital warfare

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.

“Today, unconstrained by the limits of kinetic war, by the range of missiles and bombers, by the logistics needed to support an armored division, we can succumb to digital warfare,” Ilves said. “You don’t have to hack the power grid, let alone attack with a division of tanks, if you can hack the elections and change the policies of a country,” he added.

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