FROM Laura Rozen
The defeat of ISIS: Not if… but when This week, the Pentagon gave President Trump its best-laid plans to accomplish his campaign promise to accelerate the crushing of ISIS. The Obama Administration already had ISIS on the run, and destruction of the "caliphate" is thought to be inevitable. What would it cost the US to speed up the process? Arming the Kurds could mean trouble with Turkey. Syria’s civil war might continue. US casualties might be unacceptable to the American public. We find out what options the President is likely to be considering and the consequences of going too far, too fast for political reasons.
A defiant Israel and an American reprimand Israel is railing at the Obama administration for not vetoing a UN vote last week condemning settlements in the West Bank. In retaliation, it's pulling envoys and advancing plans for new settlements in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians envision a future capital. Today outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry took Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu to task in a speech making a final plea for keeping the "two state solution" alive. Kerry also rejected the suggestion made by the Israeli Prime Minister that the Obama Administration orchestrated the UN vote behind the scenes. We talk about the Kerry plan, get reaction from Jerusalem, and ask where US Mid East policy is headed under the Trump Administration.
Kerry calls for a two-state solution for Israel In the latest salvo in the diplomatic tensions between Israel and the US, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a bluntly worded, final plea today and warned that the so-called "two state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in "serious jeopardy." It comes five days after a UN Security Council vote condemning Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Laura Rozen is a correspondent for Al Monitor , an online publication covering the Middle East.
Syria's Civil War and the Peace Talks to End Them On the fifth anniversary of Syria's civil war, peace talks are scheduled to begin again with reports that the main opposition group will attend. Russia says the al-Assad government will also go to Geneva. Laura Rosen reports for Al Monitor .
Obama Hails Diplomacy after Freed American Prisoners Leave Iran Iran has reduced its nuclear capacity and economic sanctions are being lifted, but that’s no guarantee that international diplomacy is going smoothly. Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian, was one of three American prisoners set free, but Iranian officials almost refused to let his wife leave the country with him. Laura Rozen, correspondent with Al-Monitor , has an update.
Peace Talks and Warfare in Syria In four and a half years, Syria's civil war has killed 250,000 people and displaced 12 million -- half the nation's entire population. Supporters of both sides agree there cannot be a military solution, but the fighting continues, now to include about 50 American Special Forces . The US and Russia joined 15 other nations last week -- including archrivals Iran and Saudi Arabia — to discuss a diplomatic solution. The al-Assad regime was not represented. The closed-door meeting produced nine points of agreement as well as plans to meet again soon, but international rivalries already threaten to derail any progress.
Iran and EU Leaders Issued Joint Statement on Iran Nuclear Talks After failing to meet Tuesday's deadline, negotiators in Switzerland today announced a " tentative agreement " to limit Iran's nuclear program. Federica Mogherini , European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, said EU sanctions against Iran will end. Correspondent Laura Rozen is in Lausanne, Switzerland for Al-Monitor , an online news outlet focused on the Middle East. Although optimistic, George Perkovich, vice president for studies and director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace , says more clarity on the role of the IAEA is needed, and what criteria it will assess in saying Iran has taken all key nuclear-related steps.
What's Next for Iran's Nuclear Program? Talks in Switzerland between Iran, the US and five other countries may go beyond tonight's midnight hour. Familiar sticking points include centrifuges, nuclear stockpiles, surprise inspections and the schedule for lifting economic sanctions. The elephants in the room are still Iran's Supreme Leader and the American Congress — dominated by Republicans under pressure from Israel. If tonight's "interim" deadline can't be met, how certain is the "final" deadline at the end of June?
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Once Again, It’s Down to the Wire A year ago, six nations forged a temporary agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for a partial lifting of economic sanctions. That led to ongoing negotiations, which are set to expire next Monday. Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Western Europe all have major stakes in the outcome, which could re-shape the political contours of the Middle East. President Obama and Iran’s President Rouhani both want an agreement, but Republicans could pass new sanctions or the Supreme Leader could kill any deal. We hear about possible benefits, potential risks and political consequences.
The Syrian War and Its Humanitarian Crisis UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said today there must be a third round of peace talks between Syria and its divided opponents. The second round collapsed over disputes about the agenda, and some diplomats have declared the effort a failure. It was an agreement between the US and Russia that got the talks started, with each backing a different side. What's the impact of the Ukrainian crisis?
New Hope after Syria Peace Talks Were on Verge of Crumbling The Geneva II Syrian peace talks were scheduled to start today, but a dispute over preconditions almost scuttled the process. Now, representatives of President al-Assad and opposition leaders have agreed to meet tomorrow. It's not yet clear if they'll be "in the same room." Laura Rozen is in Geneva for Al-Monitor , a website that covers the Middle East.
A War of Words about Peace in Syria In Montreaux Switzerland today, Syrian peace talks got under way, preliminary to the so-called Geneva II process scheduled for Friday. Nobody thinks the conference will lead to peace. Even optimists call it a "possible first step" to ending three years of appalling civil war. President al Assad has gained strength by giving up chemical weapons and fighting extremists, despite charges that he's a war criminal. Will the US have no choice but to deal with him, rather than ending his rule-if only to gain a temporary ceasefire for humanitarian reasons? We look at today's angry start of a process that might — or might not — lead to changing unacceptable conditions on the ground.
A New Shot at Peace Talks: Will it be Different this Time? Despite Syria’s civil war, deadly upheaval in Egypt and Iran’s nuclear program, Secretary of State John Kerry’s top priority is a “two state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians. Against all odds, the parties have agreed to negotiate the “final status issues” all at the same time. We’ll hear why there’s skepticism and why there is still hope.
Israeli Envoys Summoned in Protest of New Settlement Plans Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain have summoned Israeli ambassadors to Israel to signal strong objection to Israel’s Plans for expanding settlements in East Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders have said they could mean the end of the so-called “2-state solution.”
The Mystery Behind the Anti-Muslim Video The film that's caused so much trouble around the world is crudely produced and full of blasphemy hateful to Muslims. At first, the producer of Innocence of Muslims described himself as an Israeli-American citizen who raised money from wealthy Jews. Now it turns out he's somebody very different. Laura Rozen reports from Washington for Al-Monitor.com .
Hopeful Signs Ahead of Talks with Iran The five members of the UN Security Council members and Germany will be in Baghdad tomorrow for talks with Iran. Just yesterday, the new director general (seen at right) of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency told reporters of a possible breakthrough after his first visit to Iran. After sanctions, a threatened oil boycott and possible outright war, Tehran may be ready to make concessions about its nuclear program. We update what diplomats call the "atmospherics" as long-delayed negotiations are about to begin in Baghdad.
GOP 'Nukes' the Senate filibuster on SCOTUS nominees Senate Democrats today blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the US Supreme Court… but just for the moment. The Republican majority has changed the rules to force a likely confirmation as soon as tomorrow.
After Syria strike a new Trump doctrine emerges The President who promised an end to entanglements in the Middle East and snuggled up to Vladimir Putin has now outraged Russia with surprise missile attacks on Syria. That's raised questions about who's running the White House? We hear a variety of answers.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?