This piece is part of a two-part series on current US-Turkey relations. See the other piece here.

There was a time when Turkish people mourned together with the people of the United States, such as when John F.  Kennedy was killed, or when they fought shoulder to shoulder together during the Korean War. How did such a great alliance turn into a cold shoulder?

The historically strong US-Turkey relationship has been tested in recent years by a seemingly never-ending series of disagreements and crises. After each development, commentators claim again and again that US-Turkey relations have never been so bad. Each point of conflict seems to make relations that much worse and the recent sanctions on two Turkish ministers have initiated a new wave of such claims. So far, relations have remained resilient and a meeting on August 3 between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu is a testament to the two NATO allies’ ability to maintain dialogue despite increasing tensions.

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On July 25, the European Union and the United States took an important step in de-escalating the threat of a trade war by agreeing to not only begin walking back US tariffs on European steel and aluminum and Europe’s retaliatory measures, but also by starting to discuss an ambitious forward-looking agenda for reducing trade barriers and expanding trade liberalization in other sectors, such as energy, soybeans, services, and non-tariff barriers (NTBs).

The goal of eliminating NTBs is laudable. We welcome the transatlantic effort to find a way out of the dead-end associated with increased trade barriers. As we noted before the White House meeting between Presidents Juncker and Trump, such an approach could provide an off-ramp from the current trade war dynamics, while delivering considerable opportunities for economic growth and high-value job creation. 

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As part of the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the US Treasury Department will restore sanctions on a number of key Iranian sectors and activities on August 6.

Here’s what you need to know about this set of sanctions:

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It has been twenty years since that morning of August 7, 1998, when suicide bombers detonated, almost simultaneously, trucks laden with explosives outside the United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The attacks, the first claimed by al-Qaeda against US targets, left 224 people dead, including a dozen Americans, and around 5,000 wounded. While the bombings took place eight years to the day after US troops arrived in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait—Osama bin Laden took offense at the presence of American forces in the land of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina—they also opened in Africa what would become a major front in what only came to be recognized in the years after 9/11 as the “long war” against jihadist militancy.

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The Venezuelan regime will likely turn even more repressive in the wake of a purported attempt to assassinate President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas on August 4, according to Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

Maduro was delivering a speech at a celebration of the 81st anniversary of Venezuela’s National Guard when what in initial reports were described as low-flying drones exploded in midair. The attack sent assembled National Guard troops scurrying for cover. Maduro was unharmed and blamed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for the attempt on his life.

Marczak was reluctant to agree with Maduro’s characterization of the incident as an assassination attempt. “Yesterday's incident is one more example in a long list of events that show the fragility of the regime, and will likely prompt it to take even more drastic measures,” said Marczak. 

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With concern rising on both sides of the Atlantic about Washington’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance, NATO’s newest champion is also one of its oldest supporters: The United States Congress. On August 1, a group of twenty US senators met privately with NATO officials and ambassadors from allied governments to make clear that the American legislative branch remains committed to the United States’ involvement and leadership in NATO.

At a time when the White House has aggressively pushed NATO allies to spend more on defense – and suggested that American involvement in NATO could be dependent on increased allied commitments – members from both sides of the aisle in Congress have increasingly voiced their unified support for the transatlantic alliance.

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After days of uncertainty, protests, and violence following Zimbabwe’s July 30 presidential and parliamentary elections, “everyone has got to take deep breath,” Dr. J Peter Pham, the Atlantic Council’s Vice President for Research and Regional Initiatives and the Director of the Council’s Africa Center said.

In the early hours of August 3, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that current president Emmerson Mnangagwa won the election with 50.8% of the vote, avoiding a potential run-off. The election was the first one not featuring former president Robert Mugabe in more than four decades.

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We urge the government of South Sudan to end the arbitrary detention of Peter Biar Ajak, an alumnus of the Atlantic Council Millennium Fellowship, who was arrested in Juba July 28, 2018.

The Millennium Fellowship is the Atlantic Council’s premier program for young leaders. Peter joined the extended Atlantic Council family upon his selection as a Millennium Fellow. He is the Founder and former Director of the Center for Strategic Analyses and Research, a policy think tank based in Juba, South Sudan. Peter is one of over 4,000 Sudanese “Lost Boys,” who came to the United States in 2001.  

We urge that Peter’s rights be respected, his safety assured while in custody, and that he be released immediately. 

Peter is one of many people to be arbitrarily detained in recent years in South Sudan. Too often, these cases go unnoticed and no one is held accountable.

We call on our community to raise awareness using the hashtag #FreePeterBiar so this injustice does not continue to go unnoticed. 

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At the Atlantic Council, we are proud of the work that we have done with our friends from Latvia over the years. Our core mission is to promote constructive American global leadership and international engagement, built upon the solid foundation of the transatlantic alliance – the United States’ most important international relationship. The Atlantic Council and its staff believe firmly that the United States is stronger with its allies than it is alone. We staunchly defend the value of NATO, promote continued American engagement in Europe, and push American policymakers to remain steadfast in our commitment to defend our allies – every single one of them.

We are surprised and disappointed to see that record ignored. Recent reports have suggested that the Atlantic Council is allowing itself to be influenced by those who do not have the best interests of Latvia at heart. Such claims are misplaced and impugn the good work of our team.

Atlantic Council staff are among the most outspoken and most consistent advocates for the Baltic countries. Our publications, events, media appearances, and ground-breaking digital forensics work have sought to inform Washington policy makers of the threats facing the Baltic nations from Moscow and argue for strengthening America’s commitment to defend our friends in the region. The team associated with our institution has probably done more than any other to drive home the nature of the threat posed by a revisionist Kremlin, the breadth of tools used in this hybrid war, and the best means to defend our societies.

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“If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.''

After a long week of Iran headlines – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laying out the administration’s Iran strategy, Presidents Trump and Rouhani trading implicit threats of war, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qassem Suleimani addressing Trump by name in a speech - one might be forgiven for mistaking the above as a recent quote.

But that threat is actually from 2012, when Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi decried Obama administration oil sanctions in response to Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s recent threat to close the Strait of Hormuz is not new, but rather a tactic Tehran has turned to again and again to get what it wants.

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