One of Europe’s longest terrorist campaigns is finally over.

The dissolution of Basque separatist group ETA puts an end to the use of deadly violence for political goals in Spain, namely, establishing an independent nationalist state in the country’s Basque region.

Like the Good Friday Agreement that sealed the peace process in Northern Ireland in the 1990s, the end of ETA contributes to the long-term decline of violent nationalist movements in Western Europe.  

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North Korea has threatened to cancel the highly anticipated summit between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in light of what it called “provocative military disturbances with South Korea,” North Korea’s state news agency reported early on May 16 local time. The Trump-Kim summit is set to be held in Singapore on June 12.

In a surprise move, North Korea also suspended talks with South Korea scheduled for May 16 in protest over the latter’s military exercises with the United States.

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Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe reflects on President Trump’s Iran decision and the 2018 Distinguished Leadership Awards

It was a piquant coincidence that we scheduled the Atlantic Council’s annual Distinguished Leadership Awards dinner, saluting former President George W. Bush for his life-saving work against HIV-AIDS, opposite President Trump’s most consequential leadership decision to date, the undoing of the Iran nuclear deal.

Receiving his award on May 10, the date on which Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940, President Bush spoke with a clarity that ensured his meaning was not missed:

“Churchill said in his lifetime two world wars had shown that oceans no longer protected the new world from the problems of the old. The only way for peace was through partnership and engagement. If we are together, nothing is impossible. If we are divided, all will fail. That’s why the Atlantic Council is important today. And I appreciate your good works.”

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The European signatories to the Iran nuclear deal are seeking ways to soften the bite of US sanctions on companies doing business in the Islamic Republic, David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador to the United States, said at the Atlantic Council on May 14.

Though upset by US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal, the European signatories are committed to the agreement. “The European Union (EU) will maintain its commitment to the nuclear deal, as long as Iran does the same,” said O’Sullivan. “We Europeans believe that we are bound by our commitment if we want Iran to stay in the deal,” he added.

O’Sullivan delivered a rousing endorsement of the deal and expressed his profound dismay at Trump’s May 8 decision to withdraw from it.

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Trump to meet Uzbek president at the White House on May 16

US President Donald J. Trump will meet his Uzbek counterpart, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, at the White House on May 16. This will be the first time since March 2002 that the president of Uzbekistan has made an official visit to the United States.

In general, US foreign policy in Central Asia has been built, developed and, often, stalled in the following areas: political, military, economics, and human rights. Washington found in Tashkent a ready partner for security and intelligence cooperation, but never developed a close, cooperative relationship because of its concerns about political authoritarianism in the country and, in particular, human rights abuses. 

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[Editor's note: This blog post has been updated.]

Massive protests have erupted in the Gaza Strip on May 14 as the United States relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, becoming the world’s first nation to have an embassy in the holy city.

On December 6, US President Donald J. Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to shift the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—the two cities are about an hour’s drive apart.

The decision is a controversial one. Palestinians turned out in large numbers to protest the decision. At least fifty-two Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire at the Gaza border. Health officials said 2,400 Palestinians were wounded, hundreds of them by live bullets. Protests were also reported in the West Bank.

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The Iraqi parliamentary elections on May 12 are likely to be critical in their symbolism but far from definitive in their outcomes. Free and fair elections that lead to the peaceful political transition of members of the Council of Representatives—a process consistent with the 2005 Constitution—could help to solidify Iraqi democratic confidence. Nonetheless, how Iraqis vote is unlikely to clarify the political trajectory of the state.

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Iraqis will vote on May 12 in their first election since the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). With nearly 7,000 candidates vying for 329 seats in parliament, no single political alliance is expected to emerge with an outright majority. As a consequence, the days after the vote will be marked by desperate attempts to cobble together a ruling coalition.

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Relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have been fractured for much of the past year. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 citing reports that Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had made remarks of the United States while offering support for Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran, and claiming Doha’s policies fueled regional terrorism and extremism.

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Amid questions about the “moral leadership of America,” Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks Corporation, said in Washington on May 10 that business leaders must realize that the onus is on them to step up to the plate.

“Businesses and business leaders must understand that we are living at a time where the rules of engagement for a public company are very, very different than they’ve ever been, because we must pick up the slack and, unfortunately, the lack of responsibility of the political class,” Schultz said.

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