FROM Karim Sadjadpour
A Moment of Opportunity in US-Iranian Relations? America's rapprochement with Cuba has changed international diplomacy and domestic politics. Could Iran be next? President Obama recently told NPR that Iran has "incredible talent and resources and sophistication" — if it could "break through its isolation." President Hassan Rouhani recently took on his country's hardliners in a speech of "jaw-dropping boldness." That has some diplomats and reporters talking about a nuclear deal that could be a game-changer. Is that wishful thinking? Would Congress and America's allies, including Israel, find it unacceptable?
US and Iran Talk after Three Decades of Silence President Obama spoke by phone last week with the new President of Iran, who was in New York for the United Nations' opening session. It was the first such conversation since Iran’s Islamic revolutionaries took over the US Embassy in Tehran 35 years ago. Only 10 years ago, a journalist in Iran could be sent to prison for even advocating such a thing. Despite years of suppression of political protest, both supporters and demonstrators turned out when Hassan Rouhani arrived home on Saturday. Karim Sadjadpour is senior associate in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace .
America's Tangled Diplomacy in the Middle East In Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, diplomats from some 50 countries are meeting this week on the future of Iraq . Prime Minister al-Maliki is under intense pressure, asking forgiveness of $50 billion in debt rolled up by Saddam Hussein while trying to show he can hold on to his own job. Today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Syria's foreign minister--the countries' most senior diplomatic contact since 2005, when the US pulled its ambassador from Damascus after the assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister. Rice may also meet her Iranian counterpart, but there are new problems with Saudi Arabia. Will King Abdullah help Iraq rebuild by forgiving debts racked up by Saddam Hussein? Is America's most important Arab ally trying to distance itself from US interests in the Middle East?
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Trump's new look at civil rights and global warming President Trump is reportedly ready to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We look at the possible consequences. On the second half of the program, we hear about cuts in Obama-Era civil rights programs called for by the Trump Administration's first budget plan.