FROM Harith Hasan
Al Qaeda in Iraq and Maliki in Washington When the US completed its troop withdrawal nearly two years ago, President Obama said Iraq could stand on its own. But today, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is back at the White House asking for heavy military equipment and intelligence aid against a growing and especially violent al Qaeda faction called The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It's averaged 68 car-bombings a month and many thousands have been killed this year at open markets in Baghdad and elsewhere around the country. But Maliki's regime is part of the problem. Politically, he's favored Shiites and outraged Sunnis, while bureaucratic incompetence cripples the economy. Did the US withdraw troops too soon? Has the Obama Administration's "pivot" to Asia compromised US influence in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East?
Nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula slowly coming to a head North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test this weekend, but it did show apparent progress in developing a missile that that could strike the United States. The Trump Administration says it has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what that might -- or might not -- mean for North Korea, China and the prospects for diplomacy.
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.