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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

The United States and NATO must take steps to preserve the unity of the transatlantic alliance in the face of a “complex and dynamic security environment,” said Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, supreme allied commander Europe and commander, US European Command.

Noting skepticism about the strength of the rules-based international order, Scaparrotti said: “This is why now, more than ever, we must articulate our principles with clarity, consistency, and conviction. We must communicate our narrative of freedom, democracy, and rule of law. We must affirm the importance of our alliances and partnerships, which remain the backbone of our global security.”

Read More

Former US president makes a pitch for preserving PEPFAR

Former US President George W. Bush, accepting the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished International Leadership Award in Washington on May 10, warned of the dangers of isolationism and said it is critical that the United States step up to the responsibilities of global leadership.

Bush also made a pitch for securing a program started on his watch that has saved the lives of more than thirteen million people in Africa who are suffering from HIV/AIDS.

“America is indispensable for the world,” said Bush. “The dangers of isolation loom."

Read More

Tun Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister on May 10 after an astonishing electoral victory that stunned many Malaysians and the world. The ninety-two-year-old is now the world’s oldest leader.

Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition trounced incumbent prime minister, Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in general elections held on May 9. This is the first time since Malaysia’s independence in 1957 that an election has brought about a transfer of power and an end to BN rule in the Muslim-majority nation. It is also a big win for democracy.

Read More

BRUSSELS — When the other twenty-eight allies gather for NATO’s next summit in Brussels in July, many among them will undoubtedly be waiting nervously for the arrival of Air Force One and the 29th allied leader it will carry to the Belgian capital—US President Donald J. Trump.

The reason for their nervousness will be money: they aren’t spending enough of it on defense, as Trump made so abundantly and bluntly clear to his NATO counterparts during their previous summit in May 2017, also in Brussels.

Read More

US President Donald J. Trump’s May 8 announcement that he would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal was broadly consistent with what many observers expected from the administration. However, because the sanctions component proved tougher than most predicted, the full scope of economic and political ramifications remains unknown.

While the United States gears up for the reimposition of broad secondary and narrower primary US sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activity, there will be a wind-down period for ceasing business, allowing for at least some transition time. 

Read More

The US government recently sent a large delegation to China in hopes of averting a looming trade war with a major economic competitor. While the intent of the May 2-4 meetings was laudable, it failed to produce any significant outcomes. Negotiators—including US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Trade Adviser Peter Navarro—left the meetings with only an escalation of previous demands made by both Washington and Beijing.

However, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser Liu He will visit Washington next week to continue the talks.

Read More