Neither development would spur the United States to draw down its presence in the region or overhaul its current approach, according to participants in a war game conducted by the Atlantic Council on February 25.
This response would be grounded in the realities of domestic politics as well as the challenge of balancing the interests of allies and partners, especially those in the region.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt know how this will play out or whether it will precipitate a deeper crisis, but one thing is for sure and that is this is a direction in which you do not want things to go,‚ÄĚ said Bharath Gopalaswamy, Acting Director of the Atlantic Council‚Äôs South Asia Center.
‚ÄúIf you want to defuse the political crisis and get the parties to the table you have to work behind the scenes. Issuing a public arrest warrant certainly doesn‚Äôt help,‚ÄĚ he added.
Truce Buys Ukraine Time to Get a Little Real Help From Its Friends
Ukraine and its allies hope this month‚Äôs cease-fire deal agreed with Russia and Russian-backed rebels brings relative calm to southeastern Ukraine. But the Minsk agreement is deeply flawed, and there is every chance it may yet unravel, even if it holds for the short term.
The accord‚Äôs greatest flaw is in letting Russia maintain unsupervised control of Ukraine‚Äôs border in the Donbas region until the end of the year. This will mean Russia can freely continue supplying weapons and equipment to locally controlled ‚Äúpeople‚Äôs militias," armed formations that will now expressly be permitted under the agreement. Moreover, while the accord calls for the withdrawal of ‚Äúforeign armed formations, military equipment, and mercenaries,‚ÄĚ it creates no effective regime for enforcing a pullout of those Russian military assets from the Kremlin-engineered separatist enclave in the Donbas.
Somali terror group has sympathizers, but no active sleeper cell in United States, says Atlantic Council's PhamAl-Shabaab, the al Qaeda-linked militant group in Somalia, has sympathizers in the United States, but likely does not have the ability to strike targets in the West, despite its recent threat to do so, according to Atlantic Council analyst J. Peter Pham.
‚ÄúShabaab has always had a transnational reach, but it has never struck transnationally beyond the region,‚ÄĚ Pham, Director of the Atlantic Council‚Äôs Africa Center, said in an interview.
‚ÄúThere has also been no evidence of an active sleeper cell, but there has been more than sufficient evidence of sympathizers,‚ÄĚ he added.
Atlantic Council analysts say both Washington and Havana have incentives to see progressThe second round of talks between the United States and Cuba on February 27 will be marked by tough negotiations, but both sides have incentives to work toward a breakthrough, according to Atlantic Council analysts.
‚ÄúThe United States wants to do a lot of things very fast. The Cubans want to do everything very slow,‚ÄĚ said Peter Schechter, Director of the Atlantic Council‚Äôs Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
But Political Squabbling Yields a Minority Government, Strengthens Russia‚Äôs Hand
Moldova‚Äôs three-month-long political last week produced a surprise prime minister, Chiril Gaburici, who promised every effort "to ensure that by 2018 the country can qualify to sign an agreement on associate membership‚ÄĚ in the European Union.
But as Gaburici, a cellular telephone company executive, takes up his first political post in replacing former Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, his real political mandate is unclear, according to Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Brian Mefford and other analysts. After Leanca failed to win a parliament majority last week for a new term, his Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition ally, the Democratic Party, got help from the Communists to elect Gaburici with 60 votes in the 101-seat chamber.
Atlantic Council analyst says creditors want to know how Athens will fight corruptionGreece‚Äôs creditors will scrutinize its reforms plan, which is aimed at securing a financial lifeline, for details on how the new government in Athens will tackle endemic problems such as corruption and tax evasion, according to Atlantic Council analyst Andrea Montanino.
Greece on February 24 cleared its first hurdle toward getting a four-month extension of its bailout when euro zone finance ministers approved the package of reforms submitted by the Greek government.
Venezuela, which has suffered political turmoil since protests broke out in February of 2014, has been thrust into a new political crisis following the February 19 arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma. Supporters of Ledezma, a prominent critic of Maduro, took to the street to protest his arrest.
"The Ch√°vez-Maduro government has always followed the same MO: when they are under severe stress they go on the attack,‚ÄĚ said Peter Schechter, Director of the Atlantic Council‚Äôs Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
Ledezma‚Äôs arrest is ‚Äúsymptomatic of a feeling inside the PSUV that things are going very badly for them. They need to shore up their most radical and loyal base, which has historically responded extremely well to conspiracy messages that link foreign powers with domestic opposition groups accused of creating havoc to damage the image of the chavista government,‚ÄĚ he added.
Atlantic Council analyst says military intervention could doom UN effort to build a national unity governmentEgyptian airstrikes in Libya have opened the door for similar intervention by other countries in the region and could doom a United Nations-brokered effort to build a national unity government in the North African nation, according to Atlantic Council analyst Karim Mezran.
Egyptian jets conducted airstrikes on Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) targets in the coastal cities of Derna and Sirte in Libya this week. The attacks were in retaliation for the beheading of twenty-one Egyptian Christians by ISIS depicted in a new ISIS video.
Egypt has conducted airstrikes in Libya before, but the bombings on February 16 were the first time it has claimed responsibility for such operations.
‚ÄúEgypt is in total breach of the UN arms embargo. It has supported one faction of the Libyan spectrum since the beginning of the summer of last year. What they are doing now is simply an escalation of their support,‚ÄĚ Mezran, Resident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council‚Äôs Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, said in an interview.
‚ÄúThey have found a pretext. The video of the beheading of Egyptian Christian Copts is gruesome and horrendous, but it is a good pretext for [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] Sisi to legitimize, not legalize, what Egypt has been doing on behalf of the faction in Tobruk since the beginning of the summer of last year,‚ÄĚ he added.
New Prosecutor Briefly Arrests an Oligarch; Anti-Corruption Bureau Seeks a Director
The Ukrainian campaign to actually begin cleaning up Europe‚Äôs most corrupt government and economy is progressing more slowly than many Ukrainians have demanded. But the past week showed some movement in two critical government agencies: the prosecutor general‚Äôs office and the nascent National Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Just days after being named Ukraine‚Äôs chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin astonished the country‚Äôs political class and delighted its pro-reform commentators on February 14 by arresting a longtime ally of the corrupt former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Two days later, Shokin reshuffled the prosecutor general‚Äôs office, firing several deputies with past connections to Yanukovych‚Äôs team.