To say that Africa is not a foreign policy priority in the French election would be an understatement. This is understandable, however, considering the dire state of France’s economy and the many international challenges the country faces. But because of France’s historically special relationship with its former colonies, would-be presidents can never completely disregard the continent.

Voters who have sifted through the candidates’ manifestoes in search of their Africa policies find a choice between the anti-globalist Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron whose vision of Africa espouses his liberal internationalist worldview.

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The proposal for de-escalation zones in Syria, which will enter into force at midnight on May 5, is unlikely to be effective in the long term, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

“Maybe” the agreement will temporarily have a demonstrable effect on lowering the number of civilian deaths in Syria, said Faysal Itani, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, speaking in an interview with the New Atlanticist. However, he added, “I don’t see the thing lasting.”

The de-escalation zones, a Russian and Turkish-led initiative, backed by Iran, were agreed upon in a deal signed on May 9 as part of the ongoing United Nations Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. However, few details regarding implementation and monitoring of these zones have been released. The United States is not party to the agreement, and has expressed initial skepticism.

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US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly says improvement in conditions will reduce unauthorized migration

US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has some advice for people thinking of crossing over illegally into the United States: don’t bother coming.

“The message is, ‘If you get here—if you pay the traffickers you will probably get here—you will be turned around within our laws relatively quickly and returned. It is not worth wasting your money,’” Kelly said at the Atlantic Council on May 4.

People from Central America’s Northern Triangle—Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala—make up the vast majority of migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico.

Kelly credited deportations, US government appeals to civil society in Central America, and an improvement in economic opportunities in those countries, in combination with cooperation between the US and Mexican governments, for the reduction by 70 percent in the flow of unauthorized migrants into the United States. It is worth noting that a Pew Research Center study found that over the past few years more Mexicans are actually leaving than coming to the United States.

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In light of Russia’s use of energy as a weapon in Europe, the Three Seas Initiative—a project designed to unite the region of Europe between the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Seas through energy infrastructure—should be a strategic priority for the new US administration, retired Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said at the Council’s Istanbul Summit on April 28.

“This is a truly transatlantic project that has enormous geopolitical, geostrategic, and geo-economic ramifications,” said Jones, who served as national security advisor in the Obama administration. Consequently, he contended, “we need to cultivate the new American administration’s interest.” By strengthening the Three Seas region, and by extension all of Europe, the initiative will strengthen the entire transatlantic community, he said.

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The world continues to wait nervously for US President Donald J. Trump’s promised decision, one that could have global implications for decades to come—will the United States pull out of the Paris climate agreement?

Agreed to by 197 parties in 2015 and entered into force one year later, the Paris agreement set forth the first truly global climate deal. Participating countries have submitted concrete greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets with the aim of strengthening the global response to climate change and keeping global temperature increases well below two degree Celsius. However, Trump vowed to withdraw the United States from the accord.

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In March of 2003, I commanded an EC-130 Compass Call, an aircraft configured to perform tactical command, control, and communications countermeasures, over the skies of Iraq. My crew’s mission was to jam enemy communications and help allied forces preserve Iraq’s oil infrastructure. During these missions, we positioned ourselves some distance from the intended target, while an electronic warfare officer controlled jamming functions using a keyboard located in the back of the aircraft.

While this mission demonstrates how developments in cyber technology can be used to further US security interests, a little more than a decade later a young man named Junaid “TriCk” Hussain aligned himself with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and undertook his own form of electronic warfare. Sitting comfortably away from his targets, like my orbiting EC-130, he used a keyboard to launch attacks through cyberspace. Specifically, Hussain built “kill lists” of US military personnel and published them online. He leveraged the increasing power and reach of social media to call for terror attacks against Western interests. These brash moves quickly attracted the attention of the US government. Ultimately, an airstrike from an unmanned aircraft killed TriCk in 2015.

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Neither of France’s two presidential candidates—Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron—is likely to obtain a favorable majority in the parliament in legislative elections in June. For the first time since the creation of the Fifth Republic in 1958, the president’s party is likely to be a minority party in the National Assembly and the Senate from the start, overshadowed by the leading mainstream parties—currently the Socialists on the center left and the Republicans on the center right. Hence, the campaign promises made by Macron and Le Pen are already in jeopardy.

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US President Donald J. Trump’s first one hundred days in office have been defined by uncertainty, rhetorical blunders, and a degree of success, which, despite the criticism levelled at Trump, is part of the “learning curve” for any new president, according to a former Director of National Intelligence.

“I’ve noted in past presidencies not unsimilar phenomena,” John Negroponte, who served as Director of National Intelligence in the George W. Bush administration and is also a former US ambassador to Mexico, Iraq, and the United Nations, said at the Atlantic Council on May 1.

“People come into office with their own notions of what they’re going to accomplish,” said Negroponte. However, he added, over the course of the first one hundred days, a traditional benchmark for measuring how well a new administration can capitalize on the momentum of electoral victory, “those views get tempered by reality.”

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Since the start of the unrest in Bahrain in 2011, officials in Washington and London have had mainly two attitudes toward the island sheikdom. On one hand, they believe Bahrain’s Western backers must urge the ruling Al Khalifa family to enact reforms in response to concerns such as the marginalization of Shi’ites and violation of human rights. On the other hand, they believe that the United States’ and the United Kingdom’s geopolitical and security interests, particularly when it comes to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and countering Iran’s ascendancy, are more important than promoting human rights.

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Speakers at the Atlantic Council’s Istanbul Summit on April 27 emphasized the importance of strengthening transatlantic bonds to the Middle East with the goal of jointly addressing challenges and harnessing opportunities.

“We all need each other, and we are strong when we can work together, and pull in the same direction, and address the many challenges in the three regions,” said John Bass, the US ambassador to Turkey.

“We’ve got some differences in the meantime, but how we deal with those differences… is an essential piece of what we do,” he added.

This sentiment reflected the theme of this year’s summit: Strengthening Transatlantic Engagement with a Turbulent Region.

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