FROM Laura Rozen
Trump Administration takes a new hard line approach to Iran In 2015, the Obama Administration struck a landmark deal with Iran and other world powers to curtail the Iranian nuclear program. From the campaign trail, then candidate Donald Trump called it a bad deal -- He still does. However, as part of the agreement the President has to certify every 90 days whether Iran is complying and so far he’s done just that. But today Trump went further. Despite threats to scrap the deal, instead he kicked responsibility for what happens next to Congress , where Republicans, who would prefer to focus on their tax reform effort, are reportedly unlikely to invalidate the agreement by imposing sanctions.
Why is Qatar really being isolated and its diplomatic ramifications Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab allies embraced by President Trump have broken relations with Qatar, where a massive American military base commands US operations against the Islamic State.
President Trump in search of the 'ultimate deal' President Trump is talking "peace" between Israelis and Palestinians — without any detailed plan to confront the all-important "core issues" between them. Today, he met with Mahmoud Abbas -- but Palestinians are divided between his Fatah faction and Hamas, located in Gaza. Mr. Trump then followed up with a speech that failed to mention the "two-state solution" -- which divides Israelis. As he moves on to Rome, we update the President's first try at international diplomacy in one of the world's most complex and confusing regions.
The defeat of ISIS: Not if… but when This week, the Pentagon gave President Trump its best-laid plans to accomplish his campaign promise to accelerate the crushing of ISIS. The Obama Administration already had ISIS on the run, and destruction of the "caliphate" is thought to be inevitable. What would it cost the US to speed up the process? Arming the Kurds could mean trouble with Turkey. Syria’s civil war might continue. US casualties might be unacceptable to the American public. We find out what options the President is likely to be considering and the consequences of going too far, too fast for political reasons.
A defiant Israel and an American reprimand Israel is railing at the Obama administration for not vetoing a UN vote last week condemning settlements in the West Bank. In retaliation, it's pulling envoys and advancing plans for new settlements in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians envision a future capital. Today outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry took Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu to task in a speech making a final plea for keeping the "two state solution" alive. Kerry also rejected the suggestion made by the Israeli Prime Minister that the Obama Administration orchestrated the UN vote behind the scenes. We talk about the Kerry plan, get reaction from Jerusalem, and ask where US Mid East policy is headed under the Trump Administration.
Kerry calls for a two-state solution for Israel In the latest salvo in the diplomatic tensions between Israel and the US, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a bluntly worded, final plea today and warned that the so-called "two state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in "serious jeopardy." It comes five days after a UN Security Council vote condemning Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Laura Rozen is a correspondent for Al Monitor , an online publication covering the Middle East.
Syria's Civil War and the Peace Talks to End Them On the fifth anniversary of Syria's civil war, peace talks are scheduled to begin again with reports that the main opposition group will attend. Russia says the al-Assad government will also go to Geneva. Laura Rosen reports for Al Monitor .
Obama Hails Diplomacy after Freed American Prisoners Leave Iran Iran has reduced its nuclear capacity and economic sanctions are being lifted, but that’s no guarantee that international diplomacy is going smoothly. Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian, was one of three American prisoners set free, but Iranian officials almost refused to let his wife leave the country with him. Laura Rozen, correspondent with Al-Monitor , has an update.
Peace Talks and Warfare in Syria In four and a half years, Syria's civil war has killed 250,000 people and displaced 12 million -- half the nation's entire population. Supporters of both sides agree there cannot be a military solution, but the fighting continues, now to include about 50 American Special Forces . The US and Russia joined 15 other nations last week -- including archrivals Iran and Saudi Arabia — to discuss a diplomatic solution. The al-Assad regime was not represented. The closed-door meeting produced nine points of agreement as well as plans to meet again soon, but international rivalries already threaten to derail any progress.
Iran and EU Leaders Issued Joint Statement on Iran Nuclear Talks After failing to meet Tuesday's deadline, negotiators in Switzerland today announced a " tentative agreement " to limit Iran's nuclear program. Federica Mogherini , European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, said EU sanctions against Iran will end. Correspondent Laura Rozen is in Lausanne, Switzerland for Al-Monitor , an online news outlet focused on the Middle East. Although optimistic, George Perkovich, vice president for studies and director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace , says more clarity on the role of the IAEA is needed, and what criteria it will assess in saying Iran has taken all key nuclear-related steps.
What's Next for Iran's Nuclear Program? Talks in Switzerland between Iran, the US and five other countries may go beyond tonight's midnight hour. Familiar sticking points include centrifuges, nuclear stockpiles, surprise inspections and the schedule for lifting economic sanctions. The elephants in the room are still Iran's Supreme Leader and the American Congress — dominated by Republicans under pressure from Israel. If tonight's "interim" deadline can't be met, how certain is the "final" deadline at the end of June?
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Once Again, It’s Down to the Wire A year ago, six nations forged a temporary agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for a partial lifting of economic sanctions. That led to ongoing negotiations, which are set to expire next Monday. Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Western Europe all have major stakes in the outcome, which could re-shape the political contours of the Middle East. President Obama and Iran’s President Rouhani both want an agreement, but Republicans could pass new sanctions or the Supreme Leader could kill any deal. We hear about possible benefits, potential risks and political consequences.
The Syrian War and Its Humanitarian Crisis UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said today there must be a third round of peace talks between Syria and its divided opponents. The second round collapsed over disputes about the agenda, and some diplomats have declared the effort a failure. It was an agreement between the US and Russia that got the talks started, with each backing a different side. What's the impact of the Ukrainian crisis?
New Hope after Syria Peace Talks Were on Verge of Crumbling The Geneva II Syrian peace talks were scheduled to start today, but a dispute over preconditions almost scuttled the process. Now, representatives of President al-Assad and opposition leaders have agreed to meet tomorrow. It's not yet clear if they'll be "in the same room." Laura Rozen is in Geneva for Al-Monitor , a website that covers the Middle East.
A War of Words about Peace in Syria In Montreaux Switzerland today, Syrian peace talks got under way, preliminary to the so-called Geneva II process scheduled for Friday. Nobody thinks the conference will lead to peace. Even optimists call it a "possible first step" to ending three years of appalling civil war. President al Assad has gained strength by giving up chemical weapons and fighting extremists, despite charges that he's a war criminal. Will the US have no choice but to deal with him, rather than ending his rule-if only to gain a temporary ceasefire for humanitarian reasons? We look at today's angry start of a process that might — or might not — lead to changing unacceptable conditions on the ground.
A New Shot at Peace Talks: Will it be Different this Time? Despite Syria’s civil war, deadly upheaval in Egypt and Iran’s nuclear program, Secretary of State John Kerry’s top priority is a “two state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians. Against all odds, the parties have agreed to negotiate the “final status issues” all at the same time. We’ll hear why there’s skepticism and why there is still hope.
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?
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.