FROM Ben Hubbard
Military escalation… without diplomacy President Trump wants the Pentagon to "fight to win," and battlefield commanders now make decisions that used to come from the Obama White House. There's been increased action in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and a dramatic rise in civilian casualties — providing fodder for Islamic State propaganda. What's missing is diplomacy and political planning for what to do when the wars are over. But even Trump's critics say Obama didn't have any "endgames" either. We hear about America's increased involvement in murky wars where victory might be possible… but not sustainable.
Obama in Riyadh amid Increasing US-Saudi Tensions President Obama is in Saudi Arabia today at a tense moment in USSaudi relations. The long-standing alliance is based on oil and security concerns, but now is being frayed by diverging goals in Middle East conflicts, by Obama's recent reference to the Saudis as "free riders" and renewed calls from Congress to allow Americans sue them for 9/11. President Barack Obama is greeted by officials upon his arrival at King Khalid International Airport for a summit meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 20, 2016. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters We hear more about the growing tensions from Ben Hubbard, Middle East correspondent for the New York Times , and Fred Wehrey, senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace .
More than 700 Killed in Hajj Stampede Saudi Arabia takes pride in hosting the Hajj every year, when millions of Muslims travel to Mecca, but once again the pilgrimage has turned deadly. Less than two weeks ago a construction crane crashed, killing 111 people. Today, six miles from Mecca, more than 700 were killed and almost 900 were injured in a stampede. Ben Hubbard is Middle East Correspondent for the New York Times .
In Homs, Respite from Siege Provides Little Relief Syrian peace talks resumed today in Geneva—with no face-to-face negotiations yet between dissidents and the government. Meantime this weekend’s three-day humanitarian cease-fire in the City of Homs did not provide the moment of relief hoped for by trapped civilians. That’s according to Ben Hubbard, who’s in Antakya, Turkey for the New York Times.
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.
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?