Atlantic Council Programs Report: January 2019


Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in Austin, Texas and Lille, France

On January 10 – 11, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative (CSI) hosted its first Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin. The Council was joined by 13 teams from across Texas and New York. The competition featured keynotes and judging sessions by Kelli Vanderlee, manager of strategic intelligence at FireEye; Dr. Forrest Hare, solutions architect for cyberspace operations at SAIC; Barry Pavel, Senior Vice President, Arnold Kanter Chair and Director of the Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and Commander Josh VerGow, US Navy Fellow in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and US Navy cryptologic warfare officer.

Shortly after, on January 22-23, 2019, the CSI hosted another Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, this time in France on the sidelines of Europe’s largest cybersecurity conference, the International Forum on Cybersecurity (FIC). Seven teams competed to propose policy recommendations for a fictional crisis involving the 2024 Paris Olympics, presenting their policy recommendations to over 25 judges drawn from French academia, government, and the private sector. The deputy commander of the French Cyber Defense Command, General Didier Tisseyre, welcomed students to the competition, and Michael Daniel, President Obama’s former cybersecurity coordinator delivered a keynote address and served as a celebrity final round judge.

Roundtable Discussion with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg

On January 28, the Scowcroft Center’s Transatlantic Security Initiative hosted a private high-level breakfast discussion with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during his trip to Washington. Ahead of NATO’s seventieth anniversary, Secretary General Stoltenberg met with a high-level group of Washington leaders and experts to discuss how NATO is delivering on its commitments. Stoltenberg, a strong supporter of enhanced transatlantic cooperation, including better burden-sharing across the Alliance, previously served as prime minister of Norway, from 2000 to 2001 and 2005 to 2013. Under his leadership, the Norwegian Government contributed Norwegian forces to various NATO operations. 


Guaidó Takes the Helm: Supporting the New Venezuelan Interim Government

AALAC Jan Event
On January 30, just one week after Juan Guaidó took the oath of office as interim president of Venezuela, the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center held a public event to hear from the interim government’s new diplomatic representatives on their vision for the future and to discuss additional steps that the international community might take to support the interim government. The event was the first public event featuring the new interim government’s diplomatic representatives.

The public event, held during a historic moment in Venezuela’s history, featured H.E. David O’Sullivan, Ambassador to the United States, Delegation of the European Union; H.E. Alfonso Silva Navarro, Ambassador to the United States, Republic of Chile; H.E. Manuel Cáceres, Ambassador to the United States, Republic of Paraguay; The Hon. Ed Royce, Former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, US House of Representatives; Carlos Vecchio, Ambassador to the United States on behalf of the new interim government in Venezuela Julio Borges, Representative of the Interim Government of Venezuela to the Lima Group and former President of the National Assembly; David Smolansky, Coordinator, Working Group to Address the Regional Crisis Caused by Venezuelan Migrant and Refugee Flows, Organization of American States, and former Mayor of El Hatillo Municipality (in exile); Jason Marczak, Director at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council; and Paula Garcia Tufro, Deputy Director at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council.


Brazil’s Bolsonaro in 2019: What to Expect from LatAm’s Newest Leader

AALAC Jan Event 2
On January 23, the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center held a public event to discuss what Brazilians and the world can expect from the region’s newest leader – Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.  Following his January 1 inauguration and the rapid announcement of various controversial decrees along the way, the Bolsonaro government takes the helm of Latin America’s largest democracy. How the Bolsonaro’s administration will approach the Brazilian economy, attract foreign investment, advance anti-corruption efforts and strengthen the US-Brazil relationship; and what effects his proposals will have on the region and beyond were all elements of the event’s discussion. The public event featured Fabio Kanczuk, Director of Brazil at the World Bank; José Pio Borges, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI); Pablo Bentes, Managing Director of International Trade and Investment at Steptoe & Johnson, LLC; Jason Marczak, Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council; and Roberta Braga, Associate Director at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council.



Private Roundtable with Prof. Dr. Kudret Özersay, Turkish Cypriot Chief Diplomat and Negotiator
FEI Jan Event
On January 9, the Future Europe Initiative organized a private roundtable discussion with representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Community. This event featured Prof. Dr. Kudret Özersay in a candid discussion about the future of Cyprus amid growing concerns of regional competition and questions over energy policy in the Eastern Mediterranean. Council experts and other attendees were given a unique, inside perspective of the Turkish Cypriot community as Prof. Dr. Özersay spoke openly about the overall political situation on the island and his beliefs of how the two sides can benefit moving forward.

See more about the Future of Europe Initiative 


Nobel Peace Prize Laureate on Sexual Violence in the DRC

On January 28, the Africa Center hosted 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital, for a discussion on the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This event was an opportunity to draw greater attention to the magnitude of systemic gender-based violence in the DRC. Dr. Mukwege discussed ways the international community could impose harsh costs on those who employ sexual violence as a weapon against civilians. His visit underscored the preeminence of the Africa Center’s Congo on the Edge initiative, especially in the wake of Félix Tshisekedi’s controversial election victory and the DRC’s first peaceful transfer of power since gaining independence in 1960.

See more about the Africa Center


The Belarus Dilemma: For Minsk and the West

On January 31, the Eurasia Center hosted a public panel discussion on the future of Belarus, the challenges of Belarusian security, and its implications for NATO and Russia. Strategically located between Europe and Russia, Belarus has leaned largely toward Moscow, but has also maintained a good relationship with Ukraine and sought to improve its relationship with the West. Following an introduction from Eurasia Center director Ambassador John Herbst, panelists included General Benjamin Hodges, Lieutenant General (Retired) of US Army Europe; Dr. Oleg Kravchenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus; Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security; and Dr. Celeste Wallander, president and CEO of the US-Russia Foundation. Dr. Michael Carpenter, senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and Eurasia Center senior fellow, moderated the conversation.

International Women Leaders on the Future of Ukraine

Eurasia Jan Event 1
On January 22, the Eurasia Center hosted a panel on the future of Ukraine as part of Ukraine House Davos’ week of activities under the theme of ‘Ukraine: Creativity, Innovation, Opportunity.’ Fred Kempe chaired the panel, which included Ms. Ieva Ilves from the Latvian Ministry of Defense; Ms. Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration; and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, US Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Special Representative on Gender Issues for the OSCE Chairmanship, and Executive Director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

See more about the Eurasia Center


SAC Ten Year Anniversary Reception
SAC Jan event

On January 9, the South Asia Center hosted a public reception with Shuja Nawaz, founding director and current Distinguished Fellow. This event featured opening remarks by Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director of the South Asia Center, and Damon Wilson, Vice President of the Atlantic Council, which were followed by a brief ceremony recognizing and honoring Mr. Nawaz for his service with the Atlantic Council. Also in attendance was H.E. Dr. Arjun Kumar Karki, Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal to the United States.

See more about the South Asia Center 


Trade Trends 2019
GBE Jan Event
The Global Energy Center hosted European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom. She addressed the state of bilateral negotiations with the US over a potential free trade agreement, and also discussed trilateral negotiations with the US and Japan on WTO reform and coordinated policy against China’s unfair trade policies. This event was part of our EuroGrowth Initiative.

See more about the Global Business & Economics Program


The Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi
GEC Abu Dhabi

In January, the Global Energy Center hosted the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi, the premier international gathering of government, industry, and thought leaders to set the global energy agenda for the year and anticipate and respond to the dramatic changes in the world of energy. Convened in partnership with the Ministry of Energy of the United Arab Emirates, ADNOC, and Mubadala, the forum is part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

See more about the Global Energy Center  

Millennium Leadership Program

2019 MLP Delegation to the Abu Dhabi Global Energy Forum

Seven Millennium Fellows met in Abu Dhabi to attend the Global Energy Forum. 2017 Fellow Ali Ahmad led a workshop on nuclear power in the Middle East, and all Fellows benefited from the networking and learning opportunities. In addition to the Forum, Fellows met for informal dinners and cultural activities, including visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. They also enjoyed their time chatting with Fred during the beach party on Saturday evening.

See more about the Millennium Leadership Program  


Private Roundtable On Iraq

On January 9, the Hariri Center held a private roundtable discussion moderated by Rachel Brandenburg, Director of the Council’s Middle East Security Initiative, featuring  Iraq Initiative Director Abbas Kadhim. Director Kadhim shared insights from his recent trip to Iraq, where he met with the prime minister, the president, and several other key officials and members of parliament in addition to meetings with leading activists and experts. The event was extremely well-attended, particularly by key USG officials.

See more about the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East


Pandemics: An Evolving Threat
Resilience Jan Event
In January, the Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience launched its newest suite of programming, aimed at understanding today’s pandemic threats and recommending implementable ways of improving resilience to these challenges. In the coming weeks and months, the Arsht Center for Resilience is first releasing a series of infographics describing the threat of pandemics and possible solutions. The first infographic in the series – an animation titled Pandemics: An Evolving Threat – explores how demographic changes (e.g., rising global population, population density and urbanization rates) have contributed to the growing pandemic threat today. Follow-on infographics will lay out the Arsht Center’s policy recommendations aimed at addressing the growing challenge. This series of infographics will culminate with the release of a report later this year that applies the Arsht Center’s “Resilient-by-Design” principles to mitigating the threat of pandemics.

See more about the Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience

Briefs & Blogs 

Venezuela Infographic 
Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center 

January 10 was both the start of Nicolás Maduro’s second term in office as well as a day to reinforce the lack of democratic conditions that led to his declaring victory and what is at stake. The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center released an infographic that depicts the illegitimacy of this new term, Maduro’s first-term results, and options for the road ahead. Although the 2018 electoral event was not recognized by the international community, Maduro has been unwavering in his quest for power. His authoritarianism and the schemes enriching high-level government officials and members of the military persist despite a ramp-up of international sanctions and growing internal and external pressure. Now is the moment to double-down on the urgent need for a return to democracy. A continuation–or a deterioration–of the conditions in Venezuela will yield even greater domestic and international consequences, with implications for regional stability. This infographic is a reminder of what January 10 really marked: a new mandate illegally won; six years of an accelerated downward spiral; and a moment for renewed international attention toward Venezuela.

In the News

Atlantic Council experts are in the news regularly. Some examples are below. You can see all of our media mentions here.

Pham Update 2015J. Peter Pham, Vice President for Research and Regional Initiatives; Director, Africa Center – African Arguments
“…the probability Tshisekedi could have scored 38% in a free election is less than 0.0000…. Broadly reliable polling data…point instead to a solid and statistically robust victory by [opposition candidate Martin] Fayulu.”

hellyer photoH.A. Hellyer, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East – Newsweek
“America should build on what it has achieved in three generations of global leadership, working with those friends with whom it has achieved it. Not alone, but with its allies, America has the power still to resist Russian aggression, manage the rise of China, improve the global trading system, and tackle climate change and other long-term challenges. It should remember the virtues—the combination of principles, determination, and strength—through which it has achieved so much. As the saying used to go, that’s the American way.”

Westmacott PeterSir Peter Westmacott, Distinguished Ambassadorial Fellow, Future Europe Initiative – Bloomberg
“One way of doing that is for the United Kingdom to stay in a customs union of its own with the European Union, which then means there’s no more [Irish] border problem.” 

livngston davidDavid Livingston, Deputy Director, Climate and Advanced Energy, Global Energy Center – Axios
“Solar plus storage is having a breakout moment. The technology allows the power generated by intermittent renewables to be better matched to times when the grid needs it most, which is critical for clean energy growth to continue. It also means that renewables may come to compete more directly with natural gas in some markets, rather than requiring more gas to balance their intermittency, as has been the case so far.” 

“A dramatic rise in borrowing, especially by governments, has set the stage for a cyberattack to cause disruption that could cascade throughout the global economy.”


Nimmo BenBen Nimmo, Information Defense Fellow, Digital Forensic Research Lab – The New York Times

“This is the first time we’ve seen a takedown of this scale linked directly to the national propaganda channel,”…“This is the first time we’ve had something that was so directly traced back to Sputnik itself.”

“To the extent that the Trump administration has a strategy for the Middle East, it appears light on military presence and heavy on rhetoric and economic sanctions – Echoing Obama, Pompeo called this a ‘new beginning,’ but whether it will be any more successful than his predecessors’ initiatives remains to be seen.” 

sultoon samanthaSamantha Sultoon, Visiting Senior Fellow, Global Business & Economics Program and Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security – The Hill
“While the Trump administration should seek to capitalize on the opening for thoughtful, strategic denuclearization negotiations, it is essential that all levers of the largely effective maximum pressure campaign remain fully engaged.” 

Ariel Cohen
Ariel Cohen, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Eurasia Center  – Newsweek
“This controversial decision has thrown the U.S. strategic posture from the Arctic to the Mediterranean into question, and has given Russia a basis for claiming a victory.  America appears to be in retreat, and its opponents are taking notice.” 

Marczak Jason 175Jason Marczak, Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center  – Axios
“The next few days — and Maduro’s response — will be crucial for the future of Venezuela, which holds the world’s largest oil reserves. The path forward will be determined by whether the military, including lower ranks, stays united in backing Maduro and how the interim government consolidates power.” 


Spotlight: Brazil’s Anti-Corruption Fight: What Lies Ahead? 
Rodrigo Janot
On October 28, Brazilians elected Jair Messias Bolsonaro as the next president of the republic, following a hyper-polarized and contentious election. The impetus, in part, for the frustration: Brazilians’ anger with rampant corruption. Today, Brazil finds itself at an important crossroads. On January 1, 2019, President Bolsonaro entered office. The next few months will define, among several critical issues, whether Brazil can advance the fight against corruption—one of the central pillars of discussion in this year’s election. The spotlight outlines and discusses the five most important areas the Brazilian government should prioritize to effectively fight corruption: pass electoral reform to reduce fragmentation in Congress; reaffirm the autonomy of Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office and judicial institutions; make the Ministério Público Brazil’s central authority; support the use of plea bargain agreements in the collection of evidence for corruption investigations involving high-level officials; and expand and amplify compliance mechanisms laid out in Brazil’s Anti-Corruption Law.

From Paris to Beijing: Implementing the Paris Agreement in the People’s Republic of China
Craig Hart
In his paper, “From Paris to Beijing: Implementing the Paris Agreement,” Craig A. Hart identifies the disparate national and local government offices that have varied roles in setting emissions targets in order to provide context for the challenges that China faces in fulfilling its climate commitments.

Sovereign Investors: A Means for Economic Diversification?
Bina Hussein
In her report, “Sovereign Investors: A Means for Economic Diversification?” Bina Hussein provides case studies of four sovereign wealth funds: the Kuwait Investment Authority, the UAE’s Mubadala Investment Company, the Qatar Investment Authority, and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. As an analytic counterpoint, Hussein also examines the case of Singapore’s Temasek. Throughout, Hussein argues for transparency metrics and measures in governance that will help sovereign investors build partnerships in a wide range of industries, bolstering countries’ efforts to move beyond reliance on oil.

Reforming US’ High-Skilled Guestworker Program
Bharath Gopalaswamy & Ron Hira, Research Associate, Economic Policy Institute
The H-1B visa program is one of more than twenty US guest worker programs, but it has arguably been in the spotlight more than any other. While the H1-B was originally intended to attract foreign workers to satisfy unmet demand for skilled labor, the current system undercuts opportunities for US workers and enables the exploitation of H-1B workers, many of whom who are underpaid, vulnerable to abuse, and frequently placed in poor working conditions. This report explores how adopting safeguards to ensure H-1B workers are provided fair working conditions and given greater employment rights would both improve the lives of visa holders and better protect US workers.

Facebook’s Sputnik Takedown – In Depth
Nika Aleksejeva, Kanishk Karan, Donora Barojan, Ben Nimmo

Facebook removed almost 300 pages from its platform for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” across the former-Soviet space on January 17, 2018. The pages masqueraded as groups with special interests — ranging from food to support for authoritarian presidents — and amplified content from the Kremlin’s media agency, Rossiya Segodnya, especially that of its subordinate online news outlet Sputnik. This article sets out the evidence behind those findings, under the following sections: Cross-border operation; Fan pages and special interests; In Latvia, run by Sputnik; Rossiya Segodnya connections; Cross-posting; Amplifying Sputnik; Amplifying TOK; Audience; Creation dates; and Covert to fraudulent.