The environment-focused Prince Charles will have an interesting meeting climate change skeptic Donald Trump next month when Trump goes to London for a state visit. Observers do not expect the issue of climate change to be addressed during their meeting.
Following the attacks on Saudi oil tankers last week, Saudi Arabia emphasizes that while it does not want war with Iran, it stands ready to respond with “all strength” should a war with Iran be necessary. Iran is accused of attacking two Saudi oil tankers.
“Tehran’s leadership should bear in mind that for Trump, a deal seems to be ‘horrible’ unless it is proposed by his administration. Only then can it be deemed ‘fair’ if not ‘great.’ By making his willingness for a phone call clear, President Trump is laying the groundwork for an attempt, through his bipolar style of negotiations, at an agreement bearing his signature, instead of those of the previous U.S. administration and the other world powers. As Trump stated when he exited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran deal, in May 2018, he seeks ‘to negotiate a new deal.'”
No one seems to know. Republican lawmakers have complained that they’re “left in the dark.” There are rumors that the president feels he’s being coerced into a war he doesn’t want by National Security Adviser John Bolton. And to top it all off, our European allies are disputing the justification for a possible military operation, saying there has been no increased threat from Iran-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.
Gen. Khalifa Haftar, a dual Libyan-American citizen leading a takeover of Libya, faces a possible investigation for war crimes. U.S. lawmakers have asked the FBI to investigate Haftar’s actions and stated that Haftar is directly hurting U.S. interests in the region.
Donald Trump, with his isolationist tendencies, does not want a war with Iran and appears to be upset with his hawkish advisers and aides, whom he sees moving him closer to war. He intends to speak with the Iranians, believing war would be very costly to him politically.
Iran seems to think so. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif rejected allegations that an attack on Saudi oil tankers near a strategic Persian Gulf waterway over the weekend was orchestrated by Iran, saying “some radical individuals inside the U.S. administration and the region” were pursuing “dangerous policies” in an attempt to pull the country into a military conflict with the U.S.
“By the late 1980s—through traditional intelligence-gathering, international monitoring, support for civil society, academic exchange programs, and diplomatic outreach with the U.S.S.R.—we began to understand that the Soviet Union was a failing enterprise. … One can argue that Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela are displaying those same telltale signs of terminal decay. But as I watch the Trump administration’s approach to all three—led by National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—I find myself wishing that today’s leaders would revive some of the late Cold War tactics that worked so well.”
Juan Guaidó is seeking closer communication with the Pentagon as his pressure campaign has so far failed in its goal of ousting Nicolas Maduro. In an interview with an Italian newspaper, Guaidó said that he would “probably” accept a U.S. military intervention if the U.S. proposed it.
Cuba’s support of Maduro has brought upon itself the ire of the U.S. The U.S. has placed sanctions on Cuba that are so heavy, the communist Cuban government has begun rationing food and personal hygiene items.
Venezuela has reopened its borders with Aruba and Brazil after closing the borders back in February. Venezuela maintains closed borders with several other countries, including Colombia, and does not appear to be willing to open any other parts of its border.
While France is celebrating the rescue of two French nationals, an American, and South Korean who were kidnapped in Benin, the country mourns of the loss of two French commandos during the raid. The raid occurred in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso.
“To be sure, literally embracing illiberal strongmen and rubber-stamping stolen elections spans multiple U.S. administrations, both Democratic and Republican. However, the Trump administration’s endorsement of deliberately broken democratic processes and the leaders who have benefitted from them has shifted America’s position toward democracy promotion from tepid to outright hostility.”
In the hours following the launch of two North Korean missiles, the U.S. has announced that it has seized a North Korean cargo ship that it says is used to transport coal in violation of international sanctions. This may be a signal that nuclear talks between the two countries have deteriorated even further.
“It’s not uncommon for presidents to fight with executive-branch departments and agencies for control over policy. Those bodies have multiple masters. But splits between the president and his own staffers in the White House are far rarer, since such people work directly for, and answer only to, the president himself. This presidency is very different.”
“The Middle East remains the land of bad policy options for the United States. But there is a difference between having bad options and making bad choices. The illusions of the ‘deal of the century’ seem only partly born of arrogance and the magical properties of fresh thinking. There is also an element that is purposeful and willful, apparently designed to make it impossible to resurrect hopes for two states for two peoples. That is the riskiest proposition of all.”
As General Haftar’s siege of Tripoli continues, the number of dead, wounded, and displaced continue to rise. The UN is reporting that 443 are dead, 2,110 are injured and nearly 60,000 have been displaced.
The Pentagon has suspended its negotiations with North Korea to recover the remains of U.S. service members. This failure in negotiation signals that talks between the two countries are struggling or suspended at every level.
Another far-right leader will pay Donald Trump a visit at the White House this month — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. A virulent opponent of migration, he’s known for melding crony capitalism with a crackdown on the independent judiciary and media. Orbán, that is. Sounds like they have a lot in common.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a previously planned trip to Berlin to make a surprise visit to Baghdad. The visit comes amid escalating tensions with Iran. It is believed that Iran was targeting U.S. forces in Iraq.
The U.S. is looking to alleviate the current humanitarian crisis in Venezuela by deploying the USNS Comfort hospital ship. The ship tours around the world and its presence does not indicate an impending U.S. military operation in Venezuela.
Reporting is indicating that Iran is moving short range ballistic missiles by boat, possibly in an effort to target and attack U.S. forces in the region. This intelligence contributed to the decision made by the Trump administration and the Pentagon to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers in the region.
Russian forces together with Assad’s Syrian forces began escalating their attack on Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria. While Putin says a full-on attack on Idlib is “impractical”, an increased number of air strikes is meant to weaken the rebels’ resolve and to put pressure on Turkey to stop supporting the rebels.
The USS Preble and USS Chung Hoon traveled through a contested region of the South China Sea. China claims territory and islands in the area and thus views the navigation of U.S. ships there as an insult to its sovereignty.
While in Helsinki, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on Russia’s activities and China’s newfound interests in the Arctic. Pompeo is concerned that both China and Russia will use the guise of civilian activities as a cover for boosting their military presence in the region.
“Americans can be forgiven if they struggle to find any coherence in the Trump administration’s foreign policy. It zigs and zags, with senior administration officials saying one thing and President Trump contradicting them without warning the next day. It punishes our allies and coddles our adversaries; it privileges demagogy over democracy. Mr. Trump’s approach appears impulsive, improvisational and inchoate — devoid of clear purpose, values or even ideology. The unifying theme of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy is simply to service his domestic politics.”
A statement from U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton reads, “In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the Trump administration is offering a broad range of options to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, including “diplomatic options, political options, options with our allies, and then ultimately a set of options that would involve use of U.S. military.” He also said support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó remains strong, and he demanded that interfering countries end their involvement in the conflict.
Canada and China have been embroiled in a political and economic dispute following Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. Canada made the arrest because of a U.S. warrant. Since then, China has detained two Canadian citizens, and unleashed economic weapons to make Canada pay. Canada, with no leverage over China, needs the U.S. to help, but American authorities are showing little interest in helping their neighbor to the north.
Turkey will never bow to U.S. sanctions over its agreement to purchase Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems, says Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay regarding a deal that has strained ties between the NATO allies. The U.S. has warned of possible sanctions if Ankara goes on with the Russian deal.
“Understanding President Trump’s foreign policy is a challenge, since he has written and spoken little on the subject for most of his life. So how to make sense of his worldview? Is there a Trump Doctrine? … [B]ecause Trump is rarely consistent and could change his mind tomorrow — it reflects the views of the man closest to him on foreign policy, National Security Adviser John Bolton. … As a former U.S. official told the New Yorker, Bolton believes that Thomas Hobbes’s famous description of life without order applies precisely to international life — ‘nasty, brutish, and short.'”
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan expressed confidence in U.S. intelligence on Venezuela as pressure mounts on the administration. U.S. intelligence has been scrutinized as Maduro remains in power. Shanahan insists that failures in intelligence like those that led up to the Iraq war in 2003 will not occur now with Venezuela.
More than 3,000 Afghans met in Kabul to demand an immediate cease-fire and demand the departure of foreign troops. These efforts raise the urgency of peace talks between the US and Taliban currently underway in Doha, Qatar.
National Security Adviser John Bolton continues to warn of potential U.S. military action against Venezuela, whose socialist government appears to have gained a foothold in the uprising against Nicolas Maduro. “There are a lot of options underway,” Bolton said. “I spoke with Pat Shanahan myself. Mike Pompeo and I have been talking.”
Republicans in the US Senate blocked a resolution to end US support for Saudi Arabia in the Yemen War, which has starved can estimated 13 million people. The United States has been providing Saudi Arabia with logistical support during the brutal war, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians and left millions on the brink of famine.
In a rare occurrence, Jared Kushner spoke about the administration’s much-anticipated Middle East peace plan at the Washington Institute Thursday night. After 2 years of anticipation the public still doesn’t have any information of what the plan might entail, but it’s probably just as likely that Jared doesn’t know either.
In its campaign to weaken Nicolas Maduro and bolster Juan Guaidó, the US is seeking ways to unfreeze assets and loans to allow Guaidó to pay government works and the military. While money is extremely tight for Maduro, the move seeks to show Venezuelans that Guaidó can provide a future for the country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in Finland to discuss the situation in Venezuela. The two had a heated discussion on Venezuela by phone earlier this week.
President Trump has never seen a problem that he thought sanctions could not fix. From North Korea to Iran, President Trump has shown that he is not afraid of placing sanctions on any country, even to the frustration of US allies.
National Security Adviser John Bolton warned today of potential U.S. military action against Venezuela, whose socialist government appears to have countered an uprising against Nicolas Maduro. “There are a lot of options underway,” Bolton said. “I spoke with Pat Shanahan myself. Mike Pompeo and I have been talking.”