Atlantic Council


This Week’s Internet Conference in Istanbul Follows an Historic Debate at Brazil’s NETmundial

“History,” John W. Gardner reputedly said, “never looks like history when you are living through it.” Maybe that is why one of the recent years’ biggest events in shaping the future of the Internet got so little attention recently. Global news media largely ignored the conference, called NETmundial, which took place in April in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Yet some potentially historic developments took place there. In true Internet form, the results were slightly ambiguous.

NETmundial was one of a series of conferences and debates that gradually are shaping the future model of governance for the Internet. Its biggest impact may have been to reverse the momentum in that debate away from those (led by Russia) who favor an internet run mainly by governments – and toward pluralists (mostly from liberal democracies) who want to keep civil society and the private sector involved. Still, this battle will continue, leading up to what is seen as a potentially critical conference to be held in fall 2015 in New York. And the discussions at NETmundial suggest that the pluralist, or “multi-stakeholder” vision for the Internet may need a little help if it is to survive.

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Conflict and bloodshed on the periphery of the NATO region must be dealt with head-on at this year’s summit if the Alliance is to remain relevant to its members’ interests, argues Damon Wilson

As NATO leaders gather in Wales, transatlantic security faces the most serious challenges it has confronted since the end of the Cold War. From Ukraine and Syria, to Iraq and Libya, the frontiers of the Alliance are plagued by conflict and bloodshed. Yet, as NATO seeks to look beyond Afghanistan and chart its future course in Wales, many Allies are reluctant to face these new challenges head-on. Dodging these issues at the UK Summit would be a mistake. In fact, focusing exclusively on the defence of NATO Allies’ risks would leave the Alliance less secure over time.

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To say that there are a lot of moving pieces in the Middle East these days is certainly an understatement.

From Libya to Yemen, Gaza to Iraq, outside powers are intervening in complex confrontations that pit religious fundamentalists against secularists, dictators against democrats and ethnic minorities against each other.

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Ukraine, the Middle East and Afghanistan test alliance’s future, writes Nicholas Burns

When allied leaders meet in Wales at the end of this week, they will confront three critical tests for Nato's future.

Given all that has happened in the past half-year alone, these three challenges – Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine, the disastrous unravelling of the Middle East and an Afghanistan in peril – may make this among the most consequential summits in Nato's 65-year history.

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THIS LAST week's deeply contrasting stories of two New Englanders caught in the Middle East's maelstrom of violence — the savage murder of James Foley and the joyous release from captivity of Peter Theo Curtis — point to a central question: Why do some hostages die while others are released?

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For over a decade, NATO has greatly improved its cyber capabilities. In a new issue brief, “NATO’s Cyber Capabilities: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” Jason Healey, director, and Klara Tothova Jordan, assistant director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, argue that there is still much that NATO can and should do to reinforce the Alliance’s cyber defenses.

pdfRead the Issue Brief (PDF)

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Bottom Line Up Front:
  • Opposing militias are battling for the control of Libya among the worst violence since the fall of the Qadhafi regime in 2011; a civil war which may continue for years has begun
  • The Libyan government's mistakes early during the transition process after the fall of Qadhafi included delegation of policing authority to newly formed militias whose members were bound by allegiance to clan, city, or region rather than the newly formed government
  • The civil war is increasingly taking the form of casts of many ethnic and sectarian factions
  • After the 2011 revolt, the economy went into a tailspin, but surged in 2012 as oil and natural gas exports and commensurate GDP growth resumed; but failed governance in late 2012 caused energy sector exports to plummet
  • Since mid-2013, GDP declined by almost 10%, and the government's current account is almost in negative territory, infrastructure investment has ground to a halt, and government payrolls are at risk
  • Stabilization efforts will most likely be led by military forces from the nearby and broader region—Algeria, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates, with material assistance and logistical advice provided by NATO and the US
  • The stabilization of Libya is critical, however, to regional states' national interests as the conflict can easily spill into nearby Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Algeria, and Mali.

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A report by the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center argues that Mexico's recently enacted energy reform will "transform Mexico into a major energy and industrial power."

Co-authored by the Arsht Center's Senior Nonresident Energy Fellow and former US State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, David Goldwyn, NEW report reviews the implementing legislation for the energy reforms signed by President Peña Nieto on August 11, 2014. It concludes that the reforms seek to increase investment in Mexico's hydrocarbons sector and boost oil and gas production levels, and also present ample investment opportunities in the pipeline or midstream infrastructure that will bring natural gas to and throughout Mexico. "Natural gas is the lynchpin of the energy reform", said Goldwyn, "The key to delivering lower cost and more reliable electric power to Mexico is increasing access to natural gas first by pipeline from the U.S., and then over time from indigenous production."

pdfRead the Report (PDF)

pdfEnergy Reform Fact Sheet (PDF)

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Only weeks after the recent Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing suggested a US-China relationship moving forward, there are growing fears among US experts and, if a recent Pew poll of Asian opinion is accurate, among many in Asia, that the US and China may be on a collision course.

It is the topic of endless Washington think tank meetings: What are China's intentions? There are concerns that China's assertive maritime behavior seeks to subtly change the status quo through small, incremental steps, and in the process, erode US credibility in the region.

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The impressive results of U.S. air strikes in Iraq this month are prompting new calls from some quarters for similar U.S. intervention in Syria.

Abdulrahman Dadam, president of the Free Aleppo Governorate Council, wrote an impassioned plea for a U.S./NATO no fly zone to protect his historic city from both the Islamic State (IS) and the regime of Bashar al-Assad and establish a safe corridor from Turkey for humanitarian aid.

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