Atlantic Council


How would both the United States and Cuba attending the Summit of the Americas impact their relationship?

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For the past two decades, the Summit of the Americas has convened the western hemisphere’s heads of state without the participation of Cuba. That is likely about to change. In April 2015, Panama will host the next summit. An invitation will be extended to the Cuban government.

The United States has long opposed Cuba’s participation in the summit—and President Obama has yet to confirm the United States’ attendance—but all signs indicate that both he and President Raúl Castro will be there. In December 2013, they briefly shook hands at the funeral of former South African President Nelson Mandela. That encounter caused a lot of commotion and no policy change. Will the summit be different?

This meeting is ripe with opportunities for the countries to attack each other. The United States is pushing to add a civil society component to the agenda that puts democracy front and center. Cuba could use the economic discussions to highlight the damage caused by the US trade embargo. But the summit could also present an opportunity to implement policy options that reduce tensions and open the door for further cooperation.

In this month’s Spotlight we ask: How would both the United States and Cuba attending the Summit of the Americas impact their relationship?

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The final results of parliamentary elections had yet to be announced, but Rachid Ghannouchi, head of Tunisia's moderate Muslim Ennahda party, called the head of a secular alliance, Nidaa Tounes, on Monday to congratulate him on what appeared to be a decisive secularist victory.

Once again, Tunisia – the country where the Arab spring began in late 2010 – is showing other countries how post-authoritarian politics should be played.

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In a new Atlantic Council issue brief titled “Reforming Tunisia’s Troubled Security Sector,” Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East nonresident fellow and security sector reform activist Bassem Bouguerra explains the barriers to reforming the North African country’s troubled security apparatus and offers possible paths forward for reform.
pdfRead the Issue Brief (PDF)

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What Does Dilma Rousseff's Victory Mean for Brazil's Future?

Brazil's 2014 presidential election was the tightest race since the 1989 contest between Fernando Collor de Mello and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers' Party (PT) and Governor Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) had polled neck-and-neck throughout the second-round campaign. In the end, Rousseff secured a victory of 51.6 percent of the vote versus 48.4 percent for challenger Aécio Neves.

From now until President Rousseff takes office for her second term on January 1, 2015, three themes will dominate the agenda: the ability to govern (including overcoming corruption and impunity); economic adjustments; and social demands from the rising middle class and urban groups behind last year's protests.

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Among the arguments marshaled by those wary of a nuclear agreement with Iran is that past efforts to negotiate away North Korea's nuclear weapons program failed.

Iran's regime, they argue, is just as untrustworthy as North Korea's and what's more, Wendy Sherman, the chief U.S. negotiator with Iran, was also involved in talks with the North Koreans under the Bill Clinton administration and thus is somehow inherently suspect.

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It was the sort of vote that's still hard to imagine taking place in the U.S. Congress: an overwhelming if non-binding endorsement of an independent Palestinian state by the British House of Commons.

The 274-12 vote on Monday was another indication that much of the world is losing patience with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and wants a resolution that obliges Israel to cede territory to the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas.

Another signal came a day earlier in Cairo when 50 nations and international organizations pledged $5 billion to rebuild Gaza. Several donors, including Norway, said this had to be the last time they paid to reconstruct a tiny enclave that has repeatedly been pummeled by Israel as punishment for shooting rockets onto Israeli territory.

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LIKE THE majority of his modern predecessors, President Obama has looked to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia as the regions where America's vital interests are most often engaged. This year is no different as the United States copes with a lethal combination of challenges from the metastasizing Iraq-Syria civil war to Russian aggression in Ukraine, Chinese adventurism in Asia, and the climate and Ebola crises.

While these threats won't go away anytime soon, there is better news for Americans closer to home in the form of a strategic opportunity right in our own backyard. In an unusually far-sighted report issued last week, two of our country's most impressive global strategists — David Petraeus, former CIA director and head of US Central Command, and former World Bank President Bob Zoellick — make a compelling case that Americans should work with Mexico and Canada to build a new North American partnership for the future. Issued by the Council on Foreign Relations (where I serve on the board of directors), the report suggests we have the opportunity to realize a new era of growth and prosperity for the nearly 500 million people who live in our three countries.

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Does the sixty-five-year-old alliance still matter today? We asked a select group of future transatlantic leaders from NATO member and partner Nations to weigh in.

In advance of the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, United Kingdom, the Atlantic Council asked a select group of future leaders (ages twenty-five to thirty-five) in NATO member and partner countries about the role of the Alliance today. CEOs, elected officials, civil society leaders, PhD researchers, legislative staff, veterans, and active duty military officers were among the respondents.

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A new Atlantic Council issue brief argues that current US counterterrorism efforts in Yemen fail to address deeper structural issues that foment extremism and destabilize Yemen's central government.

In “A Blueprint for a Comprehensive US Counterterrorism Strategy in Yemen,” former US Ambassador to Yemen Barbara K. Bodine and Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Deputy Director Danya Greenfield contend that any US counterterrorism strategy to stem the growth of extremist groups and potential state failure in Yemen must address underlying economic and political issues. The authors outline a long-term and comprehensive approach that provides increased and consistent level of financial and technical assistance to address the pervasive lack of economic opportunity, structural unemployment, cronyism, and inequitable distribution of state resources.

pdfRead the Issue Brief (PDF)
Vice President Joe Biden got into hot water over the weekend when he accused Turkey and other U.S. allies of complicity in the rise of the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS).

Biden, who was forced to apologize to President Recep Tayib Erdogan, was factually accurate – if diplomatically gauche – when he noted Turkey's less-than-scrupulous vetting of aspiring jihadis crossing its territory into Syria and the provision of arms to Syrian radicals by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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