Articles

In this month’s Spotlight, we ask: What will be the top headlines at the VII Summit of the Americas?

The Summit of the Americas on April 10-11 is generating an unprecedented amount of attention, thanks in large part to the dramatic changes in the US-Cuba relationship. Though historic, the novelty of seeing Cuban President Raúl Castro and US President Barack Obama at the same table is sure to wear off after the first photo, and the region's attention will quickly turn to other pressing matters.

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There is much work to be done and much that can still go awry, but April 2, 2015 will go down in history as the day when the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States finally got to yes.

After 36 years of mutual demonization, proxy wars and occasional direct conflict, the two old adversaries, joined by negotiators from other major world powers, agreed in Lausanne, Switzerland on a framework for a long-term deal curbing Iran's nuclear program and potentially doing much more.

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Last month when Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu made his ill-advised plea to Congress to scuttle the nuclear negotiations with Iran, fringe Republican elements in Congress, along with right wing fellow travelers, called Bibi the 21st century's version of Winston Churchill. Clearly they must have been referring to Churchill's flip-flops to and from the Conservative Party as Netanyahu would do vis a vis opposing the two state solution. Possibly they may have been referring to Churchill's tenure as First Lord of the Admiralty and the disastrous Gallipoli assault he initiated in 1915 or his five years as Chancellor of the Exchequer after World War I and the monumental economic blunder he made returning the pound sterling to the gold standard.

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Bottom Line Up Front: 

• On Tuesday, retired military dictator General Muhammadu Buhari surged to victory over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria’s most hotly contested presidential contest since the end of military rule

• Buhari’s win stunned observers: it is the first time that an incumbent has been defeated in Nigeria’s history

• Perhaps more surprising still, the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, preempted a much-feared round of violent protests by quickly and gracefully conceding victory

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General Wesley K. Clark (Ret.)
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
March 30, 2015

Background

 The Kremlin has been waging a covert, hybrid war against Ukraine since February of 2014. In this war, Moscow has used a combination of local separatist forces, irregular volunteers, and Russian special forces and regular (conventional) forces. Since the original Minsk I ceasefire in September and the Minsk II ceasefire in February, the Kremlin-directed forces have taken additional territory.

The team consisted of General Wesley K. Clark (Ret.), former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Lieutenant General Patrick M. Hughes (Ret.), former Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Lieutenant General John S. Caldwell (Ret.), former Army Research, Development and Acquisition Chief. The team met with senior civilian and military officials, including Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko, US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, and Ukrainian ministers, parliamentarians, and leaders at all levels of the military, both in Kyiv and in the operational area.

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Reports on Wednesday that the president of Yemen has fled his country underline the latest crisis to strike the state system in the Middle East.

Three other Arab nations – Libya, Syria and Iraq – are already fractured among religious, ethnic and tribal groups, with fighting exacerbated by outsiders bankrolling and arming proxies.

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The voters of Israel have spoken, and their answer augurs more friction with the United States and Europe over issues ranging from Iran nuclear negotiations to creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, campaigning fiercely for his political life, led his Likud Party to an impressive victory, roaring past a somewhat reinvigorated center-left.

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Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham authored an essay for the latest edition of the French-language magazine Pouvoirs d'Afrique.

In the piece entitled "What Legacy will Barack Obama Leave in Africa?", Pham writes, "With both U.S. political parties, Democratic and Republican, under pressure to demonstrate to the electorate ahead ofthe 2016 presidential election that they are capable of governing, rather than merely obstructing their opponents, there is demand for policy areas where genuine bipartisan consensus can be found and Africa has traditionally stood out as one of those exceptions where there has been broad continuity between administrations."

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Bottom Line Up Front:

• The Islamic State accepted Boko Haram’s allegiance, or bay’at, pledged to the Iraq and Syria-based extremist group over the weekend

• Given the recent military setbacks for Boko Haram and the Islamic State, and their increasing convergence, this development is unsurprising and a propaganda victory for both groups

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Among those attending the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington last week was Roger Cukierman, president of an umbrella group of Jewish organizations in France.

Anti-Semitic violence there has gotten global attention since the January attacks on a Jewish deli and the headquarters of a satirical magazine in Paris, but the trend began more than a decade ago, Cukierman says.

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