An increase of investment and innovation in Africa has made the continent a rising power on the global stage and an essential partner for the United States in facing today’s myriad global challenges, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, said at the Atlantic Council on March 9.

“The truth is we can’t meet today’s global challenges without Africa,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “When one thinks about ending poverty, fighting extremism, and boosting economic growth, Africa is central to these efforts.”

Despite the many challenges the continent has faced, Africa “is the next frontier for global opportunities,” she said.

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A new Atlantic Council report provides a roadmap for the European Union to stimulate economic growth, and, by doing so, safeguard the European project and reinvigorate the transatlantic alliance.

The report, Charting the Future Now: European Economic Growth and its Importance to American Prosperity, was launched by the Atlantic Council’s EuroGrowth Initiative in Washington on March 10.

“In our view… the greatest threat to the European Union comes from the absence of sustained economic and job growth,” said Stuart Eizenstat, co-chair of the EuroGrowth Initiative, “and the best way to revive confidence in the European Union and in the whole European integration project is to stimulate greater economic and job growth and more innovation.”

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In order to end the civil war in Libya, those competing for power must meet, negotiate, and establish a path to free and fair elections early in 2018, Jonathan Winer, a former US State Department special envoy for Libya, said at the Atlantic Council on March 9.

The three factions claiming sole legitimacy and authority in Libya should “negotiate a deal… come together for the good of the country, create an interim government, and have elections in 2018,” said Winer. Of international allies and partners invested in the region, he said, “everybody pretty much sees it the same way. That’s what needs to happen.”

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On March 7, WikiLeaks released a large collection of documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with a catalogue of technical tools in the agency’s arsenal and the techniques it uses to get around privacy protections. This release has been compared to the ones facilitated by Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. While it is comparable in scale, are we premature in comparing their impact?

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the CIA (or indeed any intelligence agency in the world) uses hacking to conduct espionage operations. What is important here is that these methods have been forced into the open. These leaks raise several important questions that must not be derailed by alarmist analyses, mass paranoia, and clickbait content.

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Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, as well as the leadership in Athens and Ankara, are committed to ensuring the success of a protracted process aimed at the reunification of Cyprus, a top United Nations (UN) official said at the Atlantic Council on March 8.

“I am more and more convinced that all parties would like this to be solved now,” said Espen Barth Eide, the special adviser to UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Cyprus.

“On the strategic outlook map of each of these players, a solution in Cyprus is factored as a positive thing. What we have to do is align their positions sufficiently that they can agree on something that they can all live with. I think that is possible,” he added.

With the Mediterranean island seemingly on the brink of peace, the Atlantic Council hosted a conference—“Strategic & Sustainable Development for a Unified Cyprus”—in partnership with Concordia and One Cyprus Now on March 8.

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On March 29, Jordan will host the Arab League summit amid chaos across the Middle East.  There is speculation that Russia and Egypt are pressing the Arab League to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the summit in light of reports that Syrian military officers have visited Jordan and Egypt over the past few weeks. Assad’s presence at the summit could bring about a sea change in Syria’s relationship with a host of other Arab states. 

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In the aftermath of Russian cyberattacks during the US presidential election last year and amid concerns about a repeat of such a strategy in Europe as Germany, France, and the Netherlands go to the polls this year, British officials are calling for greater cooperation on cybersecurity between NATO and the European Union.

“NATO is the first and most important part of an international response, but it cannot be the whole answer,” Stephen Lovegrove, the British defense ministry’s permanent secretary, said at the Atlantic Council on March 6.

Citing threats from Russia’s “hybrid model” of warfare, Lovegrove called for military and non-military responses, which, he said, includes building on the agreement from NATO’s Warsaw summit in 2016 to reinvigorate the NATO-EU relationship through cooperation on cybersecurity and boosting counter-hybrid capabilities.

NATO needs to be configured quite clearly to meet the threat posed by Russia, said Lovegrove. “This is not an aggressive posture, it needs to be a defensive posture,” he added.

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“Fake news” is the term du jour in the current discussion on the new media landscape. We knew long ago, however, about the prevalence and proliferation of fabricated stories produced by so-called media entrepreneurs looking to make a profit with flashy headlines or fly-by-night “news sites” churning out outrageous click-bait stories. The Russians (and the Soviets before that) had a different word for it: dezinfomatsiya, literally translated as disinformation. In the United States, we called it propaganda.

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In recognition of International Women’s Day 2017, and under the banner of #BeBoldForChange, the United Nations (UN) is calling upon all actors to strive for equal representation of men and women in the professional world. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka emphasized this focus in a message entitled: Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” where she outlined an agenda for gender equality in the workplace.

However, anyone who has attended a meeting or two in the energy sector must have noticed that this is a sector dominated by men. As energy minister in the Icelandic government from 2013-2017, I attended several meetings, both at home and abroad. I led business delegations, attended ministerial meetings, conferences, and exhibitions; time and again the rooms were usually filled with men. On average, one in ten participants in these meetings was a woman. The inequality was even more visible if the events were smaller and only attended by top management. One of the most striking examples is when I led a twenty-two-member business delegation from the Icelandic geothermal industry to Nicaragua in 2014. I was the only woman in the delegation.

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Mexican presidential candidate sees risk of an anti-American Mexican leader

The “rhetoric of hate” that has dominated US President Donald J. Trump’s approach to Mexico could impact the outcome of Mexico’s presidential elections in 2018 and determine the future of the US-Mexican partnership, Margarita Zavala, a candidate for the Mexican presidency, said at the Atlantic Council on March 7.

“We have a rhetoric of hate coming from the president of the United States, beginning with the campaign,” said Zavala, urging: “It’s important to take that kind of rhetoric seriously because of what it gives rise to. That’s the risk we’re seeing in Mexico.” She said Mexico is ready to take a step back from its relationship with Washington “and that’s because of what’s happening in the United States.”

The prospect of an anti-American Mexican president “is a matter that has an impact on future relations and the future of us all,” she added.

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