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Hayden: Plan Is a Step Forward, But US Should Know ‘We Are Putting Americans in Harm’s Way’

President Barack Obama’s new strategy for confronting the explosive growth of the ISIS militant movement in Iraq and Syria puts the United States “in a better place than we have been,” said General Michael Hayden, Atlantic Council board director and former CIA director. But it will involve more US troops deployed into the region than Obama’s September 10 speech indicated, he said.  Hayden spoke this morning in a conference call with Council members and journalists.

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A Strategic City Prepares Its Defense; But if Truce Fails, Its Fate Will be Uncertain

Amid the war between Russia and Ukraine, no city is watching the viability of the fragile cease-fire with more apprehension than Ukraine’s second-largest seaport, Mariupol. That is because the city, home to steel mills and, normally, a half-million residents, will likely become an immediate and intense battleground if the fighting resumes. Russian troops and their allied militias in southeastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province launched an offensive toward the city last week just before the truce was declared.

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Following President Obama's September 10 speech outlining the US strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIS, the Atlantic Council held a conference call to assess the president's plan.

Listen to the audio below for expert analysis from Michael V. Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency, former CIA director, and Atlantic Council board director; Ambassador Frank Ricciardone, vice president and director of the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East; and Barry Pavel, vice president and director of the Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

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Inaction by US and NATO to Russia's August Incursion Showed Putin He Could Invade Ukraine

History books to be written about the Ukraine crisis and the Battle for Donbas will likely record as a military turning point the battle on September 5 for the town of Ilovaisk. A massive, pinpoint-accurate artillery barrage, using high-tech reconnaissance and targeting, killed hundreds of the Ukrainian troops who had been closing in on nearby Donetsk, the headquarters of the Russian-backed rebellion. That precisely guided rain of shell and rocket fire shattered Ukraine’s offensive, and was beyond the capability of the ill-trained, informal militias of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic.” It is probably beyond the realm of any doubt that this assault was part of Russia’s direct military intervention in Ukraine.

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Governments and Media, Seized With Iraq-Syria Crisis, Are Paying Scant Attention in Nigeria

In the ninety days since ISIS militants suddenly seized Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, international news media, governments, and even last week’s NATO Summit have swung their attention and agendas to debating how to counter the explosive growth of the group’s apparent capacities and its threat to Iraq and the wider region.

Alarmingly similar is the upheaval spreading with little notice in north-central Africa. The Boko Haram militant group is “achieving many of the same operational and strategic successes . . . including significant dominion over territory and populations,” according to J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. Except for a brief spasm of attention last spring – after Boko Haram kidnapped nearly three hundred girls from a Nigerian government school – the international community has given little, and inconsistent, focus to the African case.

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Nadiya Savchenko Will Refuse to Submit to 'Illegal' Exam, Her Lawyer Says

A Russian court has sent Ukrainian soldier and pilot Nadiya Savchenko for a “forensic psychiatric evaluation” at the Moscow institute where Soviet authorities for years performed abusive treatments on political dissidents. Savchenko says she will refuse to submit to the examination, which she condemns as illegal, according to a hand-written statement made public by her lawyer.

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A Cease-Fire, if It Holds, Could Let the Kremlin Strengthen Its Grip on the Donbas Region

When Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko attended the NATO Summit on Friday, it was clear that the Alliance had chosen not to offer his country the weapons it needs to fight the Russian troops and paramilitaries who have invaded his country, Atlantic Council experts say. So as Poroshenko accepted instead the symbolic support of a meeting with President Barack Obama and other NATO leaders, he instructed his government to accept a risky Plan B: a cease-fire and negotiations with Russia that could give the Kremlin effective control of much of Ukraine’s industrial center.

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Months After ‘National Dialogue’ Opened a Path Forward, Ill-Prepared Reforms Ignite New Turmoil

Eight months after Yemen sparked hope for its stabilization with a broad political accord for a new, federal state, that agreement has eroded into massive protests that threaten to undermine the earlier progress. Tens of thousands of Shia tribesmen from Yemen’s Houthi movement have besieged the capital, Sanaa, for more than two weeks, demanding an end to corruption, the resignation of the government of President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi, and the restoration of fuel subsidies Hadi removed in July.

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The following is a September 5, 2014 briefing from Fred Kempe, president and CEO, the Atlantic Council, Damon Wilson, executive vice president, the Atlantic Council, and R. Nicholas Burns, former US ambassador to NATO, Atlantic Council Board Member, and professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Listen to the audio:

Thugs Beat the Official Who Revealed Kremlin's Secret Burial of Soldiers Killed in Ukraine War

The story Lev Shlosberg told Russians last week is potential political dynamite for President Vladimir Putin: Shlosberg, a provincial legislator from Pskov, visited the funeral for two local men, paratroopers of the 76th Airborne Division, who had been killed in their unit’s secret (and illegal) deployment into Ukraine.

Shlosberg wrote about the funeral, from which he was turned away by military officials keeping it secret, in the local newspaper he publishes in Pskov. And he told the story to those Russians nationwide who can access the independent internet TV station Dozhd (“Rain”). Last Friday evening (August 29), as he left his office, three men attacked him in the street, beating and kicking him until witnesses appeared, according to Sergei Mitrokhin, who leads Yabloko, the opposition political party to which Shlosberg belongs.

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