Ashish Kumar Sen

  • Rwandan President Kagame Seeks Transformation in US Ties

    The United States needs to shift its relationship with Africa from a predominantly humanitarian focus to “productive partnerships,” especially in business, strategic development, and security, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said at the Atlantic Council on March 27.

    “For decades, the United States has adopted a monolithic approach to Africa,” said Kagame. “It’s time for fresh thinking.”

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  • Fighting ISIS in Libya

    Libyan foreign minister seeks US engagement in effort to root out terrorists

    Amid concern that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is regrouping in Libya, Mohamed Taher Syala, the foreign minister in Libya’s internationally recognized, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), said the United States must remain committed to defeating the terrorists in his country.

    More than five years after its longtime ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, was ousted and killed in an Arab Spring-inspired uprising, Libya remains mired in chaos. It has two rival governments and is awash in weapons and independent militias. ISIS has sought to exploit this chaos in the North African nation.

    In the summer of 2016, the United States conducted drone strikes against ISIS targets in the coastal city of Sirte. Troops loyal to the GNA—mostly militias...

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  • US Engagement in the Balkans Seen as Vital

    Albanian foreign minister said United States has a ‘decisive’ role in Balkan reforms

    It is critical for the United States to deepen its engagement in the Balkans—a region that faces threats from terrorists as well as Russia, Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said in Washington on March 21.

    In February, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama warned that the Balkan peninsula is in danger of slipping under the influence of Russia if it is ignored by the new administration of US President Donald Trump.

    Bushati conceded in an interview with the New Atlanticist that the region faces “some security challenges.” Russia, for example, is trying hard to prevent Balkan states from joining the European Union (EU) and NATO, he said. “When we speak of the Euroatlantic path and the EU accession process, we...

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  • Despite Sen. Rand Paul, Montenegro’s Foreign Minister is Confident of NATO Membership

    Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic is confident that, despite a procedural setback, the US Senate will ratify a protocol that will allow his nation to become the twenty-ninth member of NATO. This, he said, should happen before the Alliance’s summit in Brussels in May.

    NATO foreign ministers signed the Accession Protocol with Montenegro in May 2016. Prospective members must win approval from all NATO members’ parliaments, as well as the unanimous consent of the US Senate. Once that approval is secured, Montenegro will be invited to join the Alliance. This would represent NATO’s first expansion since Albania and Croatia joined in 2009.

    So far, twenty-four of twenty-eight NATO allies have backed Montenegro’s accession. In the United States, the process has hit a roadblock: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has demanded a roll call vote, which is a lengthier process than a quick voice vote.

    “I am very confident [that the Senate...

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  • Russia’s Support for the Taliban Leaves Kabul Feeling Uneasy

    Afghan foreign minister sees threat to peace process

    Russia’s support for the Taliban—a terrorist group with which the United States has been at war for more than fifteen years and that is dedicated to overthrowing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government—is causing considerable unease in Afghanistan where officials worry it will undermine efforts to make peace in their war-torn country.

    “[E]stablishing contacts with these terrorist groups will give them a wrong message and they will think that the international community is recognizing them,” said Salahuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s foreign minister and a former head of the country’s High Peace Council. This, in turn, would undercut a peace and reconciliation process because the Taliban “will not be encouraged to come to the negotiating table,” he added.

    The peace...

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  • A ‘Strange Allegation’ About UK Spying

    Trump administration must defuse crisis with its ally, says Sir Peter Westmacott, a former UK ambassador to the United States

    US President Donald J. Trump’s support for an unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor, Barack Obama, asked Britain’s spy agency to eavesdrop on him is a “strange allegation” that “calls into question very important elements of our intelligence relationship,” said Sir Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States and a distinguished ambassadorial fellow at the Atlantic Council.

    “This sort of thing does not go on between such very close allies,” Westmacott said, adding, “the intelligence relationship between the US and UK is uniquely close and very precious. It would, in any case, be against US law for any American official to ask us to act in such a way.” Westmacott served as the UK’s ambassador to the United States from January 2012 to January 2016.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer first...

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  • Merkel Puts Europe First

    German chancellor’s visit to Washington puts focus on US-German, US-European relationships, says Atlantic Council’s Fran Burwell

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a tough re-election battle in September and a meeting with US President Donald J. Trump is perhaps not the best way for her to burnish her credentials with the German electorate. The fact that she is making the trip across the Atlantic is an indicator of her determination to shore up the US-German and US-European relationships that have been buffeted by often controversial rhetoric from Trump.

    “If she were looking at this from a purely electoral calculation, she may not have even done this visit because no one in Germany wants to see her necessarily being close to President Trump,” said Fran Burwell, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council.

    Making the point that the visit is more about the US-German and the US-European relationships, she...

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  • A Roadmap for Economic Growth in Europe

    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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  • British Official Calls for Greater NATO-EU Cybersecurity Cooperation

    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....

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  • Trump’s ‘Disastrous’ Proposal to Cut Foreign Aid

    Republican official says defense spending should not come at the cost of foreign assistance

    US President Donald J. Trump’s proposal to ramp up defense spending at the cost of foreign aid is attracting flak from within his Republican Party and retired generals who believe such a move is not in the United States’ best interests.

    Trump is reportedly seeking $54 billion over the sequester caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, putting defense spending in 2018 at $603 billion. This proposed increase would come at the cost of State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding.

    Matt Moore, chairman of the Republican Party in South Carolina, told the New Atlanticist in an interview that these cuts would be “disastrous for American security.”

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