For months now, Russia has been a constructive member of the international consortium negotiating with Iran, often proposing creative fixes to technical hurdles.

But this week, just as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was taking up sensitive Iran-related legislation, Russia announced that it was going forward with an old contract to sell Iran an air defense missile system that could make it less vulnerable to foreign attack.

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WHAT SEEMS lost in the furious, partisan debate about the Iran nuclear deal is just how long it took the United States to actually get back to a negotiating table with the Iranian government — nearly 35 years.

The talks have already achieved something tangible and rare: The United States and Iran are talking again, after decades of a bitter divorce and near total isolation from each other.

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Even as Iran has applied the brakes to its nuclear program over the past 18 months and provisionally agreed last week to a deal lasting more than a decade, it has continued to advance its prowess in the field of cyber-attacks, experts say.

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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.

pdfRead the Spotlight (PDF)

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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


 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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