Original pieces written by Atlantic Council staff or affiliates.
  • What Did Ukraine's Maidan Revolution Really Accomplish?

    Yale University history professor Marci Shore’s new book, The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution(Yale University Press, 2018), captures the historic period surrounding the Maidan revolution that took place in Kyiv, Ukraine, from November 2013 to February 2014, when ordinary Ukrainians took to the streets and demanded justice and dignity.

    Shore’s book couldn’t have come at a better time. Four years after the Maidan, civil society in Ukraine is exhausted, most of the reformers who served in government are long gone, and the powers that be are distracted by next year’s elections already.

    “We are very tired,” leading anticorruption activist Daria Kaleniuk admitted in Washington last year. One can count the number of reformers within the Cabinet of Ministers on one hand, and there are real concerns that President Petro Poroshenko, despite putting a number of positive reforms in place, doesn’t want to go any further. He never managed to deliver the central demand of the revolution—justice—to this post-Soviet country of forty-five million. Some predict that there will be no more structural reforms this year, and any remaining momentum will be focused on relatively easy policies like education, health, and pensions, avoiding real legal reform altogether.

    In this blah year, when little appears to be going in the right direction, The Ukrainian Night is a must-read for reformers, the diplomatic corps, journalists, and friends of Ukraine—if for no other reason than to remember what they sacrificed, what bound strangers together, and how far the country has come.

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  • Women Seek a Bigger Role in Arab Gulf’s Energy Sector

    Women are a rare sight at the headquarters of Saudi Aramco, and they’re almost never seen in the oilfields. Hiba Dialdin wants to change that—even if it means changing the entire corporate culture of the largest petroleum conglomerate on Earth.

    Dialdin, a petroleum engineering consultant at Saudi Aramco, was one of five women to speak January 13 in Abu Dhabi at a panel during the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum. The discussion coincided with the release of the Council’s report, “Energy: Driving Force Behind Increasing Female Participation in the Gulf?”

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  • All Eyes on China

    International Energy Agency chief, Fatih Birol, says China’s shift toward renewables has global implications

    Sharply falling prices for solar energy, China’s new pro-environment policies, and emerging US dominance in world oil and gas production are all shaping global energy markets for decades to come, said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

    Delivering a keynote address January 13 on the second and final day of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi, Birol said the cost of solar power will tumble by half in the next three years as major countries turn to the sun as their preferred source of energy.

    At the same time, he said, China’s new economic policy favors a shift from heavy industry such as manufacturing to a lighter, more modern and less polluting economic base.

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  • Trump Maintains Steady Course on Iran, But Rougher Seas Ahead

    On January 12, US President Donald J. Trump announced he would renew a number of waivers to provide limited sanctions relief to Iran in order to continue to implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  At the same time, Trump committed to withdraw from the deal if he could not reach agreement with European allies and obtain US legislation to threaten additional sanctions against Iran if it does not address what Trump perceives as flaws in the nuclear deal. Trump’s move marks a continuation of the successful policies of former US President Barack Obama to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, yet supplements this policy with unpredictability and potential chaos in the future.

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  • What Will Replace Nuclear Energy?

    When it comes to nuclear energy, there are two distinct and opposing trends in the world today—in the United States and Europe, aging reactors are being phased out and there is a reluctance to build new ones, while countries like China are on a building spree, according to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.

    Birol worries about what will replace nuclear energy in countries that are decommissioning their aging plants. “What are we going to do with the phasing out of nuclear… what are the environmental, economic, and market implications? For me, that is a very serious issue for the OECD countries,” he said referring to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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  • The Future of OPEC and Oil Markets

    Stabilizing petroleum prices, “peak oil,” and the implications of a possible collapse of the Iran nuclear deal dominated a January 13 panel discussion in Abu Dhabi on the long-term future of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

    But for now, OPEC’s fourteen members have little to worry about, Mohammad Barkindo—the organization’s Nigerian secretary general—assured participants on the second and final day of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum.

    “We have survived so many funerals, and we are so proud of being the proverbial cat with nine lives,” said Barkindo, who in August 2016 assumed leadership of the Vienna-based organization for a three-year term.

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  • US Energy Official Says ‘War on Coal’ Has Put Nation at Risk

    US Deputy Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette, on January 13 lashed out at what he described as the “war on coal” in the United States which, he said, had thwarted the construction of clean power plants, discouraged investments in new mining operations, and, as a result, put the nation at risk.

    Noting that coal and nuclear account for more than half of the total grid energy in the United States, Brouillette said: “When a crisis strikes our grid these two fuels are some of the most reliable that we have. They are available 24x7 to keep the lights on and disaster away.”

    “So, clearly, fewer coal and nuclear plants mean that the lights will go out and stay out when we face our next emergency. From the functioning of our hospitals to the maintenance of our military assets, the results could be catastrophic,” he warned.

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  • De-Escalation Agreements On the Brink of Failure

    In a fourth round of talks on 4 May, 2017, the nations overseeing the Astana negotiations (Turkey, Russia, and Iran) arrived at a “de-escalation” agreement to establish safe zones in Syria.

    This development came as military factions were severely weakened over an uninterrupted two-year period of violent and asymmetric clashes in all parts of Aleppo. To end the siege of Aleppo, two rebel led battles to break the siege on the city were waged and failed; leading to the city’s evacuation and its fall to regime forces and their allies. This came after battles in the countryside of southern Aleppo allowed the regime to approach the Damascus-Aleppo highway. Additionally, al-Nusra Front reduced the numbers of Free Syrian Army and Ahrar al-Sham forces.

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  • 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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