Rachel Ansley

  • Is Uncertainty Over Nuclear Deal Fueling Protests in Iran?

    The uncertainty caused by US President Donald J. Trump’s criticism of the Iran nuclear deal has contributed to a stagnation of Iran’s economy—the underlying cause of the ongoing anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic, according to a former Obama administration official.

    On January 12, Trump agreed to one last time waive sanctions on Iran, but gave the US Congress and European allies 120 days to fix the nuclear deal or else the United States would unilaterally pull out.

    “We do have to keep the pressure up,” said Amos Hochstein, senior vice president for marketing at Tellurian Inc. “I think we can keep the deal and not threaten to leave it unilaterally, work with allies to improve whatever we can, while upgrading pressure on Iran,” he said.

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  • Global Warning: Energy Industry Exhorted to Address Climate Change

    New York City’s lawsuit against the Big Five oil companies holding them accountable for the destruction of the city caused by climate change-related storms makes apparent that the energy industry must change course in 2018 in order to sustain investment and production, according to a top official at a major petroleum company.

    “The oil and gas companies are being sued and blamed for climate change like the cigarette companies were blamed for cancer,” Majid Jafar, chief executive officer of Crescent Petroleum, said at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi on January 12. “I believe in climate change, but we’re not going to get there with slogans and politics.”

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  • How North Korea Went from Testing Missiles to Figure Skating in the Winter Olympics

    The most recent example of sports diplomacy between North and South Korea will not solve all problems between neighbors on the divided peninsula, but it certainly marks a step in the right direction.

    During a meeting between negotiators from Pyongyang and Seoul in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) along the border between North and South Korea on January 9, it was agreed that North Korea would send a delegation to the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea in February, military talks to decrease tension between the two neighboring nations would begin, and a military hotline would be reopened.

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  • Competition and Continuity Define Trump’s New National Security Strategy

    While US President Donald J. Trump’s new national security strategy (NSS) solidifies his campaign rhetoric into the fundamentals of foreign policy, it also sets forth a surprising degree of continuity from the approaches of previous administrations, according to a former US national security advisor.

    “The threats we face have a lot of continuity [with] the same threats we’ve been facing over the last decade,” said Stephen J. Hadley, executive vice chair of the Atlantic Council’s board of directors and founding partner at RiceHadleyGates. Therefore, he added: “there is a lot of continuity in [the new NSS] because American interests have not really changed, basic friends and allies have not changed.”

    Overall, said Hadley, who served as national security advisor to former US President George W. Bush, “I thought the document was pretty good.”

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  • Tillerson's Takes on US Foreign Policy: A Year in Review

    Diplomatic negotiations with "no preconditions" will be the US approach to solving the problem of North Korea, while working in concert with friends and allies, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the Atlantic Council on December 12.

    “We’re ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk,” said Tillerson, “and we’re ready to have the first meeting without preconditions.”

    “Let’s just meet and let’s – we can talk about the weather if you want. We can talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table if that’s what you’re excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face?” he added.

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  • Attack on Peacekeepers in DRC Indicates Increasing Extremist Activity

    The attack on United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by lesser-known violent extremists called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) indicates that the group poses a more serious threat than previously believed as it continues to ratchet up its activity in region, capitalizing on the persistent political instability in the DRC, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    “If this attack was indeed carried out by the so-called Allied Democratic Forces, it is signals an escalation in the group’s violence that is not surprising given that it has, over the course of the last year or two, been ratcheting up its activity, fueled not only by possible links with other jihadist organizations, but also the failure of governance in the Congo,” said J. Peter Pham, vice president for regional initiatives and director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

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  • Reconstruction Funds Will Not Change Assad’s Behavior in Syria

    The promise of foreign reconstruction aid will not induce cooperation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is why international efforts to rebuild the war-ravaged country should focus on local solutions, removed from the regime’s sphere of influence, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    “A regime that would rather have gone through what it had to go through over the past six years… than [share] political power… is not going to do so if we offer them money,” said Faysal Itani, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    Among others, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, has deemed reconstruction funding the last bit of leverage Western nations still hold over the Assad regime. However, Itani said: “I don’t see it.” He said Assad would...

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  • Sparking Entrepreneurship in the Balkans

    The solution to persistent problems in the Balkans lies with the region’s people, particularly the youth who can catalyze economic reforms and drive the countries of Southeastern Europe toward a vibrant, entrepreneurial economy.

    The key, according to US Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), is rolling back government regulations in order to “spark entrepreneurial zeal.” That spark, said Johnson, is essential for the Balkans—a region with “so many opportunities.”

    Speaking at the Atlantic Council’s conference—“A Coming Storm? Shaping a Balkan Future in an Era of Uncertainty”—on November 29, Johnson said: “You need a government regulation system to set the rules of the road… but you don’t need much more than that.” The real source of economic dynamism lies with the entrepreneurs and owner-operated businesses, who, according to Johnson, have the ability to change the region for the better and begin to induce more foreign direct investment (FDI).

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  • Could North Korea Hit the United States with a Missile? Perhaps. Or, Maybe Not?

    While it does not confirm any specifics regarding Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, North Korea’s latest test of an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) indicates it may be able to strike the continental United States.

    According to the Pentagon’s initial assessment, the missile travelled approximately 1,000 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan. It flew higher and for a longer duration than two previous ICBM launches.

    “North Korea's missile launch is yet another step forward in the country's march toward fully deliverable nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, and any other potential targets,” said Jamie Metzl, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

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  • Debt Default Pushes Venezuela Further into Russian Orbit

    Venezuela’s default on a massive international debt and Russia’s ongoing financial assistance to the South American country that is under both US and European Union (EU) sanctions, will push Caracas further into Moscow’s sphere of influence, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    “The Russians are throwing lifelines to the criminal Venezuelan regime with the intention of further pushing Caracas into Moscow’s orbit. With Venezuela both under US and EU sanctions and being shunned by the major countries of the hemisphere, the Russians see an opportunity to swoop in and use the situation to their advantage,” said Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. He described how a country that is diplomatically isolated and run by an anti-US regime “provides a huge opportunity for Russia to establish a further footprint in a country that is within the geostrategic, geographical orbit of the United States.”

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