FROM Hassan Hassan
The US and Russia: Frenemies in the Middle East The US and Russia both claim to be fighting ISIS militants in Syria, but their ultimate goals are not the same. Russia supports the Assad regime, while the US is backing rebels in Syria's civil war. The US views Iran as a hostile power, while Russia calls it a partner. As they try to avoid major conflict, tensions grow hot and cold — heating up recently with airstrikes against controversial targets. Meantime, the Trump White House is divided over what the Pentagon should do. We update politics, diplomacy and the military options.
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.
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?