New Atlanticist

Of 2 Million Refugees in Kurdish Zone, Most Languish Outside Camps, With Little or No Aid


Amid the world attention focused on 3.8 million Syrians uprooted by the violent spread of the ISIS Islamist army, a little-noted part of that crisis is the flood of perhaps 2 million refugees from both Syria and Iraq into Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

As of November, Kurdistan had received more than 250,000 Syrians and 1.5 million Iraqis fleeing the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The office in the Kurdish regional capital that tracks displaced persons estimated 2 million of them in the region as of the end of the year. For the Kurdish region’s own population, estimated at 5-6 million, this is a crushing tsunami of human misery. It’s analogous to the United States suddenly absorbing between 90 million and 120 million people—the total population of, say, the Philippines or Mexico.

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While US Articulates a Defined Role for India in Asia, the Reverse Is Not True


President Barack Obama’s visit to India shows the importance he places on that relationship, but New Delhi has yet to spell out where the US fits into its plans, says Bharat Gopalaswamy, a South Asia analyst at the Atlantic Council.

“I don’t think we have seen a clear Indian articulation of how they conceptualize the world and where America fits into their conceptualization,” said Gopalaswamy, acting director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

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Atlantic Council’s Bilal Y. Saab Sees ‘Profound and Generational Problems’


Saudi Arabia’s new king will have his hands full dealing with multiple challenges, both at home and abroad, says Atlantic Council analyst Bilal Y. Saab.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who ascended to the throne following the death of his half-brother Abdullah on Friday, was quick to indicate his intention to continue his predecessor’s policies.

“Saudi Arabia has profound and generational problems that go beyond Abdullah, his successor, or any leader for that matter who will preside over the kingdom,” Saab, a resident senior fellow for Middle East security at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said in an interview.

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‘Continuity, Cohesion, and Consolidation Will Be the Watchwords,’ Says LeBaron

 
Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, is unlikely to depart sharply from the policies of his half-brother and predecessor, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who died on Friday, according to Atlantic Council analyst Richard LeBaron.

“Continuity, cohesion, and consolidation will be the watchwords,” LeBaron, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said in an interview.

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Pro-Europe Parties Won a Narrow Victory at the Polls, But Can’t Agree on a Government


Eight weeks after voters in Moldova gave a narrow victory to the three main parties inclined toward greater democracy and ties with Europe, those groups are locked in a political battle that has prevented the formation of a government. The three-party coalition, called the Alliance for European Integration, which broke the Communists’ eight-year hold on power in 2009, is at an impasse over the distribution of government posts, writes Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Brian Mefford.

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As Kremlin Escalates, the War Costs Ukraine $6 Million-Plus Daily, Atlantic Council’s Herbst Says


A “substantial number” of Russian Federation special forces troops led this week’s capture of the Donetsk airport amid what appears to be Russia’s biggest direct military offensive in Ukraine since last summer. The offensive, by thousands of Russian troops, appears aimed at least in part at forcing a re-negotiation of the September cease-fire agreement, which has proven an obstacle for the Kremlin in its key goal: constraining Ukraine’s pursuit of closer ties with Europe and the West.

After months of intense, high-explosive combat amid the ruins of southeastern Ukraine’s main airport, Russian special forces commandos this week led the attacks that killed or drove back the Ukrainian troops and national guardsmen that both sides had dubbed “cyborgs” for their tenacious, defense of the airport’s main buildings, according to Atlantic Council analyst John Herbst. The Russian special forces are fighting at the airport “in substantial numbers,” said Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine who returned this week from a talks with Ukrainian and Western officials in Kyiv and Brussels.

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Vickers Sees Terrorism and Cyber Attacks as Top Threats to US


There is a “heightened risk” of terrorist attacks in the West by groups that have proliferated as a result of the war in Syria and the influence of social media, according to the Pentagon’s top intelligence policy official.

Terrorist attacks in Paris this month underscored the fact that there are multiple groups sponsoring such violence and “attacks on the West, in particular, are high on their list and increasing in priority,” Michael G. Vickers, under secretary of defense for intelligence, said at the Atlantic Council on January 21.

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Opposition to Easing Embargo Is Vocal But Small, Atlantic Council Analyst Says


As US and Cuban officials meet in Havana this week for their first talks on normalizing relations, Congress is likely to favor moving slowly on President Obama's request for the lifting of the United States’ five-decade-old trade embargo on Cuba, says Atlantic Council analyst Rachel DeLevie-Orey.

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Panel Sees Hope as Brazilian President Pledges to Visit US in September


Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s second term in office may present an opportunity for Washington and Brasilia to improve relations.

Despite recent bumps in the road in the US-Brazil relationship, Anthony S. Harrington, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil from 1999 to 2001, said he was “cautiously optimistic that we can turn the page again in 2015 and begin to regain the momentum that we saw at the beginning of President Rousseff’s administration.”

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US and Allies Need to Help Build Economy, Governance, and Justice, Analyst Says


The chaos in Yemen underscores that the United States and its allies need a comprehensive security and economic strategy for that country, says Atlantic Council analyst Danya Greenfield. Yemen’s decline, marked yesterday as Shiite tribesmen besieged the presidential offices, has given new room for growth to the Yemen-based Islamist militant group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

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