FROM Ali Al-Ahmed
Sectarianism Renews Divisions in the Middle East By executing a Shiite cleric last weekend, the Sunni nation of Saudi Arabia created a martyr. It also inflamed its dangerous rivalry with Shiite Iran. Hardliners in both countries are now using sectarian differences to pursue political goals. Stability in the Middle East is at risk, along with implementing the Iran nuclear deal, finding an end to Syria's civil war and defeating the Islamic State. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia violate human rights and make war on their neighbors. Should the US choose one over the other or look for middle ground?
Is Saudi Arabia Serious about Declaring War against Terror? Saudi Arabia says it's formed a coalition of 34 Muslim nations against ISIS, other terrorist groups and their "violent ideology." The US was surprised, but calls the announcement "welcome." Pakistan, one of 34 nations named as a partner, says it wasn't even consulted. Iran, Syria and Iraq weren't included at all, raising questions about the divide between Sunnis and Shiites. Is Saudi Arabia just responding to Western critics, diverting attention from warfare in Yemen or making a real bid for leadership in collective security?
Saudi Arabia: Human Rights and Public Persuasion Saudi Arabia's justice system features public beheadings, hangings and floggings, which — to Western eyes -- are violations of human rights. But the Kingdom is so important to defense contractors, intelligence agents and stability in the Middle East that Western governments usually don't say a word. Now rare public criticism has outraged the Saudi royal family, and British leaders are struggling for damage control. Should recent incidents cause the US to be heard from, or would complaints fall on deaf ears?
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 longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
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.