FROM Phebe Marr
The Iraqi Ceasefire: Winners and Losers Baghdad and Basra are calmer now that Muqtada al-Sadr has told his Mahdi Army to stop fighting government forces, but government politicians went to Iran to make the deal. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's surprise offensive has revealed more weakness than strength. The shaky ceasefire occurred after US forces took sides in a struggle between two groups of Shiites. What’s next for Sunnis, Kurds and other factions? What’s the role of Iran, now and in the future? Will US troop withdrawal depend on local players and events it has no way to control?
US Ally Sheik Abu Risha Killed in Iraq Last week, President Bush traveled not to Baghdad but to Anbar Province, one of the few bright spots for the US military in Iraq. One of the Sunni leaders who shook his hand was Abdul Sattar, head of a clan alliance called the Anbar Salvation Council . Today, Sheik Abdul Sattar was killed by either a roadside bomb or a bomb in his car. Phebe Marr, an advisor to the Iraq Study Group , is author of The Modern History of Iraq .
Senate Debates Military Draw-down in Iraq Democratic Senate leaders staged an all-night debate on their plan to give President Bush just 120 days to start bringing troops home from Iraq. Republicans called it a "circus," a "mockery" and "Kabuki theater." Before noon today, the Democrats lost a procedural vote to cut off debate. Yet, despite today's outcome, there's no doubt that many Republicans are uncomfortable about the President's course in Iraq —especially those who are up for re-election next year, and back an alternative that incorporates recommendations of the Iraq Study Group . Meantime, polls show that a majority of Americans think it's time for the troops to come home. We hear about the marathon session and what's next for efforts to force the President to change direction. We also talk to authorities about troop withdrawal, whether the "surge" still has a chance or if it is only postponing the inevitable.
The Growing Standoff between the US and Iran over Iraq President Bush told NPR yesterday he has no intention of attacking Iran. Yet while the United States is not engaged in armed conflict with Iran, sources confirm that we are at "war by other means," and that America's allies in the Middle East are very supportive. Meantime, responding to the Bush Administration's promise of evidence of Iran's meddling in Iraq, by arming and training insurgents to destabilize the new government, Iranian and Iraqi officials say they have business together. While nobody knows for sure whether the US is gearing up for war with Iran, it's certain that there's new concern beyond the issue of developing the capacity to make nuclear weapons. We hear more about rumored US plans for military action against Iran from journalists and Middle East experts, including a former advisor to the Iraq Study Group. (An extended version of this discussion was originally broadcast earlier today on To the Point.)
Is It 'War by Other Means' against Iran? President Bush said flatly yesterday there's no intention to "invade" Iran , but there's no doubt that the US is becoming more confrontational. Nuclear development isn't the only issue. There are Iran's alleged activities in Iraq and its support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia reportedly are increasingly alarmed, and even Israel now calls those countries "helpful." What's the state of relations between Iran and Iraq? After their long and bloody war, are Shiite rulers bringing them closer together? Will the proxy war between the US and Iran turn into the real thing? We get perspective from journalists and experts on the Middle East, including a former advisor to the Iraq Study Group.
Getting answers on phone taps, Russia and leaking The Directors of the FBI and the NSA testified on Capitol Hill today there's no evidence for President Trump's claim he was wire-tapped by former President Obama. We'll hear about that and the investigation into Russian tampering with last year's presidential campaign.
Trump's travel ban and the long-term agenda The Trump Administration's revised travel ban may be good news for some visa holders and others, but it's still being challenged as unconstitutional. Some reporters call it the beginning of a long-term effort to change the demographic make-up of the United States.
East Asia: President Trump's first foreign policy test Starting with North Korea's latest test of nuclear missiles, a chain of events is causing instability in Asia. Could it turn into the first real foreign policy crisis of the Trump Administration?
House Republicans release their Obamacare replacement As two House committees take up "repeal and replacement" of "Obamacare," there may be life left in the Affordable Care Act after all. Even Republicans are divided, and proposed changes won't make good on President Trump's promise to provide "health insurance for everybody."