Issue Briefs

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With a May 12 deadline looming for sanctions waivers, US President Donald Trump is faced with an imminent decision whether to continue US implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Implementation (JCPOA) and remain part of the nuclear deal with Iran and the P5+1 governments (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany). In Iran Sanctions and the Fate of the JCPOA: What’s at Stake if President Trump Fails to Renew the Sanctions Waivers? author David Mortlock, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, explains that while there is still time for US diplomats to reach some kind of accord with their European counterparts before May 12, President Trump is reportedly unsatisfied with the results so far. In the absence of a sufficient agreement with Europe, the president clearly appears prepared not to renew the waivers come May 12, and to reimpose sanctions that could impact an array of activity by private companies, largely outside the United States.

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From cryptocurrencies to blockchain to mobile money, financial technology (“fintech”) is revolutionizing the basic structures of the global economy. Financial services delivered through fintech are becoming more accessible, efficient, and personal. In sub-Saharan Africa, where only 34 percent of adults have bank accounts, fintech companies are already providing financial products and services to millions of unbanked and underserved Africans in ways that traditional financial institutions cannot.

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Disruptive technologies—such as the Internet of Things, robotics, and three-dimensional (3D) printing—have been heralded as the future of the global manufacturing sector. However, in Africa, they could hinder industrialization and result in fewer entry points into global supply chains. While it may be possible for African nations to “leapfrog” directly to newer technologies, it is more likely that developing the relevant worker know-how, infrastructure, and corporate capabilities necessary to leverage the potential value of these technologies will be a very gradual process. African policy makers must therefore pursue multipronged strategies to ensure relevance as 3D printing and other disruptive technologies move into the mainstream.

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Questions have emerged in the United States about the value of America’s transatlantic alliance in an age when many Americans call for fewer foreign commitments and a stronger focus on domestic issues. NATO’s role and value to the United States was highlighted during the 2016 presidential campaign, and President Donald J. Trump has continued to ask questions about the relevance of the Alliance, calling for better burden-sharing between the United States and its European allies.

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This new issue brief by Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Dr. Aaron Stein explores the challenges facing the United States and Europe as Turkish politicians use foreign policy as a tool for populist political gain.

To better understand the relationship between Turkish policy-making and public opinion, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center worked with Metropoll, a Turkey-based independent polling firm, to gauge public opinion about the country’s relationship with its neighbors and allies.

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A predominantly Shia nation, the Islamic Republic of Iran has a substantial Sunni population that receives little attention compared to the country's other minorities. Last year's attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the capital Tehran have raised fears that disgruntled Iranian Sunnis, who have until now largely escaped extremist influences, could become targets of radicalization by regional jihadist groups.

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For decades, the United States has been a global leader in nuclear energy, both in terms of domestic power generation and the formation of global nuclear policy. In his issue brief, US Nuclear-Power Leadership and the Chinese and Russian Challenge, Global Energy Center Senior Fellow Robert F. Ichord, Jr. examines the diverging developments in US nuclear power vis-à-vis its Chinese and Russian counterparts. He concludes that it constitutes a Chinese and Russian challenge to US nuclear power leadership, with significant geopolitical and security consequences.

Nuclear energy remains an important part of the US energy mix, accounting for 20 percent of electricity and 60 percent of carbon-free electricity. However, following years of underinvestment, US nuclear power is in decline. Meanwhile, China and Russia are ramping up investment both at home and abroad, most notably in states that are key players in current geopolitical issues, such as Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

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The third paper in the new Atlantic Council Sudan Task Force series, “Sudan: Soft Power, Cultural Engagement, and National Security” examines the importance of people-to-people engagement and its relevance to broader US strategic aims in Sudan.

More than two decades of isolation have succeeded in funneling Sudan’s best and brightest to seek higher education and post-graduate employment in locations other than the West. The United States has lost valuable ground to other actors, ranging from the benign to the malicious, who are influencing Sudan’s youth and wider population in ways that almost certainly will not serve US interests.

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