Original pieces written by Atlantic Council staff or affiliates.
  • The Golan Heights: Avoiding an Unforced Error

    A July 17, 2018 hearing in the United States House of Representatives considered the possibility of Washington recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. The hearing took up this issue months after it was first tabled by Republican Representative Ron DeSantis of Florida. At least one cabinet member of Israel’s government is calling on President Trump to follow up on his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel. If Mr. Trump takes this advice, he would inadvertently hand an unearned victory to Iran, the Assad regime, and Russia.

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  • Iraq Protests Highlight Gap in US Policy

    As most headlines continue to focus on US President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and fallout from the NATO summit, Iraq is witnessing some of the largest and most prolonged protests in years. The protests began last week, triggered by water and electricity shortages, unemployment, and government corruption. Despite the growing unrest in a country where the United States has significant interests and forces deployed, there has been little mention of current events in Iraq by American officials or the mainstream media.

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  • Bill Browder Warns Trump Against Making a Deal with Putin

    Bill Browder believes that US President Donald J. Trump will be “handing me over to my death” if he agrees to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to get access to eleven Americans in exchange for allowing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to interview twelve Russian intelligence officials indicted in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

    Browder spoke via Skype at a conference hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center on July 19. A financier and an outspoken critic of Putin’s, Browder inspired the Magnitsky Act after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died under mysterious circumstances in a Russian jail in 2009.

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  • Not a Good Day for Ukraine

    Ukraine tries to project a proud image of a Western country with enormous potential held back by Russia, which is absolutely true, but it’s also true that it often holds itself back.   

    Take yesterday as an example. It was not a good day for Ukraine.

    A peaceful demonstration in Kyiv meant to highlight the country’s inability to prosecute criminals and apply justice blindly turned ugly when counter-demonstrators disrupted the proceedings and assaulted a prominent activist

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  • MASHAV: How at 10, Israel was Busy Helping Others

    Ten years after its founding, Israel established MASHAV—Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation—that has over the past six decades helped nations in need.

    On July 18, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center co-hosted a celebration of MASHAV’s sixtieth anniversary.

    Ambassador Gil Haskel, deputy director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and head of MASHAV, recalled that the agency was born out of a trip by then-Israeli foreign minister Golda Meir to Africa in 1957. On the trip, Meir “went into the communities first hand to see what the challenges were,” and, despite the considerable economic and political obstacles facing the Israeli state, “came back with a very deep conviction to establish an international development agency.”

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  • It's What Wasn't Said at the Trump-Putin Press Conference That Really Matters

    Donald J. Trump’s summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16 resulted in some very poor optics for the US president. While Trump faced tough questions from American journalists, the Russian president appeared on equal footing with his US counterpart. It is important, however, to not get caught up in the theatrics of the press conference. Little, if anything, is known about the content of Trump and Putin’s one-on-one meeting, which lasted more than two hours. Indeed, what wasn’t said at the press conference is potentially more important than what was said.

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  • NATO is Stronger With Montenegro

    In his interview with US President Donald J. Trump, Tucker Carlson of Fox News asked why the United States should come to the defense of Montenegro, a tiny country in the Western Balkans with a population the size of Washington, D.C., that is a NATO ally.

    It’s a perfectly reasonable question, with a good answer.

    Montenegro is a proud nation with a proud people, who have proven strong and resilient throughout their difficult history. They will defend their nation and now our alliance. And we are all stronger – including the nations of the Balkans, including Americans – for having Montenegro in NATO.

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  • NATO Summit a Success, For Now

    Budgetary bombast aside, the agenda in Brussels was a political success, but the proof will be in the subsequent grunt work to produce results

    BRUSSELS – Despite all the contradictory signals, divergent headlines, and alarmist bombast over defense spending during NATO’s July 11-12 summit in Brussels—and there was plenty of that coming from the US president—the meeting, in the end, was a productive one. But delivering the concrete follow-on results will be the big challenge.

    By most NATO standards, the summit was a political success. Its communiqué was wrapped up and agreed nearly a week before—early by usual summit standards. There was no ambiguity over Article 5, NATO’s opposition to Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea was reaffirmed, and, perhaps most important of all, a long list of decisions and initiatives was approved.

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  • What's Next After Helsinki?

    Whatever they may have discussed privately, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump did not announce a grand bargain over Syria at their joint press conference in Helsinki. They indicated agreement on several issues: Israel’s security, increased humanitarian assistance, the need to finish off ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State), and the soundness of Russian-American military deconfliction. They seemed to be leaving it to subordinates to try to flesh out a broad, operational agreement.

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  • Reflecting on Mandela’s Centenary

    In the predawn hours of July 18, 1918, not far from the medieval cathedral town of Soissons in northeastern France, twenty-four French divisions, including two segregated American infantry divisions (the storied 92nd “Buffalo Soldiers” and the 93rd) under French command, supported by other Allied units—including eight other US divisions of the American Expeditionary Force led by Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing for whom the day would bring one of their first combat operations—crossed the Marne River, launching the massive counterattack that, one hundred days and just over 271,000 casualties later, would lead to the armistice ending the “Great War,” the most brutal conflict known to humankind up to that point.

    That very same day, some 9,000 kilometers to the south, in the small village of Umtata, in the remote eastern part of the Cape Province of what was then the Union of South Africa, a baby boy was born among the local Thembu people. The child was given the name Rolihlahla, which in the Xhosa colloquial meant “troublemaker”; in later years, the man would be affectionally known by his clan name, Madiba (it was only when he was seven and sent to a nearby Methodist mission school that his teachers would have him christened with the English name of “Nelson” and register the name of his grandfather as his surname). Who would have predicted that the child would not just survive, but, overcoming his rather modest beginnings (his father died when he was not even ten years old, leaving behind four wives, four sons, and nine daughters) as well as the many vicissitudes of his long life, cause a great deal of “trouble” for some of the great and powerful of this world—all without recourse to arms?

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