Event Recaps

On Wednesday, February 28, the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s Middle East Security Initiative hosted a discussion on Saudi Arabia’s reform agenda with HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, vice-president for planning and development of the Saudi General Sports Authority. The conversation focused on Saudi Vision 2030 and socioeconomic transformation underway in the Kingdom. Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, introduced the discussion and Bina Hussein, associate director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, moderated the conversation.

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Last month, the Venezuelan government fast-tracked the presidential election, announcing April 22 as the official date. To explore the declining electoral conditions and the potential for international engagement, on February 21 the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center hosted a public event and released a new Venezuela poll of 800 in-country respondents that showed collapsing levels of trust in institutions and profound concerns over the economic crisis and food shortages.

Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, opened the event with a  conversation with H.E. Carlos Reyes, the Colombian ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Reyes highlighted the history and the depth of the crisis in Venezuela, noting the urgent need for action by the international community.

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Iran’s missile program has long been a subject of controversy and the Trump administration has in recent weeks tied its continued implementation of a landmark 2015 nuclear accord to European support for more stringent curbs on Iran’s missile development.

At a Feb. 20 panel on the issue organized by the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative, Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, noted that according to the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a missile capable of carrying a 500 kilogram warhead 300 kilometers is considered “nuclear capable.” By that definition, Elleman said, eight of 13 Iranian missiles could be considered nuclear capable. United Nations Resolution 2231, which codified the Iran nuclear deal, calls upon Iran not to test missiles “designed to be capable” of delivering nuclear weapons for eight years.

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On Thursday, February 15, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia H.E. Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu.

Atlantic Council Vice President and Africa Center Director Dr. J. Peter Pham welcomed participants and introduced Dr. Workneh, noting that the meeting was happening one day after the Ethiopian government freed thousands of prisoners and just hours after Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his resignation.

In his remarks, Dr. Workneh gave an overview of Ethiopia’s foreign policy in a regional context, including the country’s role in the South Sudan peace process via the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. He then gave an update on the political situation in Ethiopia, remarking on the government’s agreement—amid massive popular pressure—to make substantial political reforms and allow for more inclusive, democratic governance.

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On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, the Atlantic Council's EuroGrowth Initiative hosted a breakfast discussion on the changing Franco-German attitudes towards European Union (EU) economic governance.

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On February 13, 2018, the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East held a panel discussion on Iraq’s energy potential. Ambassador Richard L. Morningstar, chairman and founding director of the Council’s Global Energy Center, gave opening remarks. Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, the director of the Hariri Center, moderated the event. Dr. Luay Al-Khatteeb, Dr. Harith Hasan, and Ms. Ellen Scholl contributed to the discussion as panelists. Dr. Luay Al-Khatteeb is the founding director of the Iraq Energy Institute and a fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. Dr. Harith Hasan is nonresident senior fellow at the Council’s and leads its Iraq Initiative. Ms. Ellen Scholl is deputy director at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and has an extensive background in energy issues and energy-related legislative work.

During the discussion, each of the panel participants highlighted the opportunities and challenges facing Iraq’s energy potential. Ellen Scholl acknowledged that Iraq has achieved significant production increases in the past, but addressed the current need to create certainty for future and continuing investments. To achieve this, resource development and revenue sharing need to be considered and Iraq needs to address the unresolved political issues between the central government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to eliminate political risk for investors. Addressing these obstacles is extremely important at a time when the country is being rebuilt, as the resources from the oil industry would be essential to those efforts.

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In the aftermath of demonstrations in more than 100 Iranian cities and towns in late December-early January, analysts have been divided over whether the Iranian system can profit from the protests to enact meaningful reforms or whether the system is too repressive and brittle to change through relatively peaceful evolution.

Speaking Feb. 12 at a discussion organized by the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative, Alireza Nader, an independent researcher on Iran and the Middle East, argued that the Iranian political and economic system is on the “verge of collapse” and mere reforms will not resolve its fundamental problems. Nader, who outlined his views in a new paper, Iran’s Uncertain Political Future, said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “is positioning himself” to become Iran’s Supreme Leader after the death of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but that the powerful Revolutionary Guards would block Rouhani’s ascension.

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Last Tuesday, January 31, the Atlantic Council joined the US chapter of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA-US) and George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs' Graduate Student Forum (GSF), and young professionals in DC’s transatlantic community to watch President Trump’s first State of the Union address to Congress.

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On December 6, 2017 the Atlantic Council hosted a day of expert panels that explored different approaches to envisioning and understanding the future and their application to preparing the US Army for tomorrow’s challenges. 
On December 11 the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security launched the thirteenth volume in the Atlantic Council Strategy Papers series.

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