Russia to ban think-tank formerly run by US ambassador

“We are proud of the council’s long tradition of work with Russians and on Russia, and are disappointed that Russian authorities have announced this step,” the Atlantic Council said in a statement. (Screengrab)
Updated 26 July 2019

Russia to ban think-tank formerly run by US ambassador

  • The move follows steps taken by Moscow against several other foreign non-government organizations
  • US ambassador Jon Huntsman served as chairman of the think tank from 2014 until 2017

MOSCOW: Russia said on Thursday it was preparing to ban the Atlantic Council, a think-tank formerly run by the US ambassador to Moscow, which Russia’s prosecutor general described as a security threat.
“It has been established that the activities of this organization present a threat to the fundamentals of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation,” the prosecutor general’s office said.
It gave no further details of the reasons for the ban.
The move follows steps taken by Moscow against several other foreign non-government organizations since Russia’s relations with the West deteriorated over the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 and financial sanctions that followed.
The General Prosecutor’s Office said it had handed over its ruling to the Russian ministry of justice.
“We are proud of the council’s long tradition of work with Russians and on Russia, and are disappointed that Russian authorities have announced this step,” the Atlantic Council said in a statement sent by email to Reuters, adding that it had not been informed of the decision by the authorities.
US ambassador Jon Huntsman served as chairman of the think tank from 2014 until 2017, when he was appointed to his diplomatic post by President Donald Trump.


3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

Updated 28 February 2020

3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

  • The force would be a significant new player in the Sahel where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year
  • The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: African leaders have decided to work on deploying 3,000 troops to West Africa’s troubled Sahel region as extremist attacks surge, an African Union official said Thursday.
The force would be a significant new player in the sprawling, arid region south of the Sahara Desert where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year — at times working together in an unprecedented move.
The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems. That has sparked pressure from worried security allies including France and regional countries as well as a rare bipartisan outcry among lawmakers in Washington.
Smail Chergui, the African Union commissioner for peace and security, relayed the new troop decision that was taken at the recent AU summit during a meeting Thursday with visiting European Union officials.
The AU continental body is expected to work with the West African regional counterterror force G5 Sahel as well as the West African regional body ECOWAS, which has formed peacekeeping units in the past, Chergui said.
ECOWAS in September announced what Chergui called a “very bold” plan to counter extremism in the region, including mobilizing up to $1 billion through 2024.
“As you see and recognize yourself, the threat is expanding and becoming more complex,” Chergui said. “Terrorists are now even bringing a new modus operandi from Afghanistan and Al-Shabab” in Somalia.
It was not immediately clear what the next steps would be in forming the AU force for the Sahel, which has become the most active region in Africa for extremist attacks.
The force would join France’s largest overseas military operation, the 5,100-strong Barkhane, and the 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, one of the hardest-hit countries in the attacks along with Burkina Faso and Niger.