In the wake of deadly attacks by sympathizers of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Paris, Brussels, and San Bernardino, hate crimes against Muslims in the West have soared to levels last seen in the period after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
The Atlantic Council and the Aydın Doğan Foundation jointly hosted a panel discussion in Washington to discuss the challenge of Islamophobia and to seek solutions to counter the spreading sentiments. The event was convened ahead of the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition on “The Art of the Quran,” which opens on October 22.
The recent resolution passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has prioritized security before elections in Ukraine—a major diplomatic breakthrough that needs to be consolidated in Paris. If the Normandy Four process cannot deliver provisions that stabilize the security situation, Ukraine risks being locked into Russia’s war of attrition. Russia’s strategy is to grind Ukraine to the point of collapse through a persistent loss of resources and public support, eventually bearing out Russian President Vladimir Putin’s view that Ukraine cannot govern itself.
“Iran is not a pure adversary of the United States. We should be able to manage the challenge of Iran in a slightly more agile and productive way than we have in past decades,” said Laipson.
She said that while the United States has to ensure its security priorities and those of its partners in the Middle East, “I would like to see us take a little more risk in deepening the channels for engagement [with Iran]…I would like to think of the nuclear agreement as a new factual reality that would allow the next president to think of a decade-long process to begin moving toward normalization.”
Normalization of relations will depend to a large extent on Iran’s domestic politics and US national security interests, “but it should be a long-term objective of the United States to try to get to a more normal relationship,” with Iran, she added.
Yet, Russia’s stability must not be overestimated. Last year, retail sales fell by 10 percent and this year by more than 5 percent, reflecting declining living standards, though social protests remain insignificant. But the real source of instability centers on conflicts in the security services. Putin is attempting a major transformation of Russia’s security services and state administration, trying to consolidate his power, but KGB generals in their 60s still dominate the security council and stand in his way.
Ultranationalist parties have never been popular in Ukraine, and Azov is just another boogieman in a long line of failed ultranationalist groups that have tried their hand at politics.
Ukraine too hosts enormous numbers of people who have had to leave their homes because of war. Millions fled their homes in 2014 after Russian operatives and tanks invaded Ukraine’s eastern regions and annexed Crimea.
But they are not labeled “refugees.” Instead, they are defined as “internally displaced persons,” or IDPs, and are living in hovels, on couches, in shelters, or sometimes five to a room throughout the country. Some of them have to rent flats, dorms, or hostels. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy, 1.7 million Ukrainians are officially registered as IDPs. Approximately 50 percent of them have applied for financial help from the state, which amounts to about $34 per month for people who are able to work and $17 per month for disabled persons.
Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election on November 8, “the current and existing work programs [of the Arctic Council] will continue moving forward until we hand it over to Finland,” said Melanie Nakagawa, deputy assistant secretary for energy transformation at the State Department’s Bureau of Energy. Finland will assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council when the US tenure ends in the spring of 2017. Nakagawa noted that the US’ work on the Arctic Council “is an area that we have seen incredible bipartisan support for.”
The system of interrelating, connected computing devices with the ability to transfer data, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), “is not a trend, it’s a full-blown phenomenon,” said Robert Silvers, assistant secretary for cyber policy at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The pervasiveness of IoT, from medical devices to driverless vehicles, has led to “a national dependency,” according to Silvers. Our reliance on connected devices means that “IoT security is not a public safety issue; it’s now a homeland security issue,” he added.
Three-Fourths of Russian Oil Sold to EuropeOn October 20, the Council of the European Union will consider its strategy toward the Russian Federation. Following the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Europe faces a genuine challenge: to recognize Russian aggression against Ukraine for what it is, and to provide truly effective measures to stop Moscow.
The EU’s most powerful lever is its energy imports, which are to be considered as part of the new EU strategy. By importing energy from Russia, the EU is allowing the Kremlin to continue its aggression against Ukraine and Syria and to spread fear and uncertainty in European societies.
Russian energy exports feed Russian aggression. Two-thirds of Russian export revenues come from the sale of energy raw materials—oil and its refinery products, natural gas, coal, and electricity—and the EU-28 is their major importer. Three-fourths of Russian oil is sold to Europe.