Ashish Kumar Sen

  • Cuba’s New President Sails into Choppy Waters

    For the first time in sixty years, Cuba will be led by a man whose last name is not Castro. However, this reality is unlikely to herald change in Cuba or soften US President Donald J. Trump’s hard line toward the island that sits just ninety miles off the US coast, according to the Atlantic Council’s Jason Marczak.

    “The Trump administration is not going to be refining its Cuba strategy. If anything, it is going to be putting more pressure on Cuba” because of Havana’s support for Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, said Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council.

    Miguel Díaz-Canel, the fifty-seven-year-old vice president of Cuba, was elected president, unopposed, on April 19. He succeeds Raúl Castro, eighty-six, who, while no longer president, will remain a powerful force in Cuba as head of the Communist Party.

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  • Emmanuel Macron: The Trump Whisperer?

    French President Emmanuel Macron said in a television interview on April 15 that he convinced US President Donald J. Trump not to withdraw troops from Syria.

    “Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria.’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term,” Macron said in the TV interview.

    Macron said that he had also persuaded Trump “that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons [sites], after things got a little carried away over tweets.” He has since tried to walk back those comments.

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  • Strikes Will Not Change Assad’s Calculus

    There is no evidence that US President Donald J. Trump has any intention of changing Bashar al-Assad’s calculus in Syria, according to H.A. Hellyer, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    US, British, and French forces conducted airstrikes on chemical weapons facilities in Syria on April 14. Hellyer said the strikes on Syria were a “continuation of an as yet incoherent strategy.”

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  • Syria: Mission Accomplished?

    The morning after US, French, and British jets targeted chemical weapons facilities in Syria, US President Donald J. Trump took to Twitter to declare “Mission Accomplished.”

    That declaration—the two words that former US President George W. Bush came to regret—has left many scratching their heads.

    “I found the comment itself puzzling because I don’t know what exactly the president (or the briefers at the Pentagon press conference) mean by it,” said Faysal Itani, a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. “They seemed to pitch it as meaning ‘successful operation.’”

    Itani said there was no doubt that the strikes hit their targets without any loss of US lives or equipment. “But if ‘Mission Accomplished’ is supposed to mean that Bashar Assad has been deterred from using chemical weapons, the most that I can say is ‘maybe,’” he said.

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  • World Reaction to Strikes on Syria

    The United States, the United Kingdom, and France on April 13 launched strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack which they blamed on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

    While US Defense Secretary James Mattis described the strikes as a “one-time” shot, the Western allies warned more strikes could come in the event of another chemical weapons attack in Syria.

    Here's a look at world reaction to the strikes.

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  • The United States, Britain, and France Launch Strikes on Syria

    The United States and its European allies have launched strikes against Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack blamed on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

    US President Donald J. Trump announced the strikes on April 13.

    In remarks at the White House, Trump said he had "ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad."

    Trump, who earlier this month talked about getting US troops out of Syria, said: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents."

    The president said the strikes were aimed at preventing the use of chemical weapons, which he described as “a vital national security interest of the United States.”

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  • A Question Mark Over the Fate of Libya’s Haftar

    Reports that Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar is in a coma will deepen the chaos in a country that has been in flux for the past seven years. Haftar is a military strongman whose forces have fought Islamist militias, but has himself proven to be an obstacle in efforts to unite Libya.

    Media organizations reported that Haftar had slipped into a coma after suffering a stroke. He was flown to Paris earlier in April after falling ill in Jordan.

    If Haftar is incapacitated, or dead as some unconfirmed reports suggest, it could create a vacuum which would be hard to fill, said Karim Mezran, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    “There are no figures of Haftar’s stature who can control special forces, tribal groups, and Salafists all at once,” Mezran said.

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  • Trump’s Change of Heart on TPP

    On January 23, 2017, his first full business day as president, Donald J. Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    A little more than a year later, on April 12, 2018, Republican lawmakers said Trump had instructed his staff to look into rejoining the multilateral trade agreement with eleven other Asia-Pacific nations.

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  • Missile Strikes on Syria, But Then What?

    Atlantic Council's Frederic C. Hof says Assad will not be deterred by a one-off strike

    With missile strikes imminent in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, the looming question is: what next, said Frederic C. Hof, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    “The most important thing here is what’s next,” Hof said at the Atlantic Council on April 11. “Critically, this is what was missing almost exactly one year ago.”

    “The objective here, narrowly, has to do with deterring future chemical use and perhaps more broadly deterring mass homicide, but it all depends on the follow-up,” he said. “If Assad sees this as he saw the incident one year ago, as a one-time, one-off event then it will accomplish precisely nothing.”

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  • Syria: All Eyes on Trump (and His Tweets)

    US President Donald J. Trump is weighing his options as he decides how to respond to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. He has not ruled out military strikes.

    In a tweet on April 11, Trump warned Russia that missiles targeting its ally, Syria, "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'"

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