28 December 2016   Leave a comment

US Secretary of State Kerry delivered a speech today on US-Israeli relations.  The speech was designed to explain the US decision not to veto the UN Security Council Resolution condemning the settlements in the Occupied West Bank, and he had three audiences: the Israeli government which has condemned the decision, US Congresspeople who have also roundly condemned the decision, and the larger international audience which has a powerful interest in Middle East peace.  For those who lack a strong background in the US position in the Israeli-Palestinian duspute, Kerry does a very good job of placing the US decision in a larger historical context.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu issued a statement condemning the decision. When the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues a rebuttal to Kerry’s speech, I will provide a link to that analysis.  Vox has an essay entitled “9 questions about the UN vote on Israeli settlements you were too embarrassed to ask” which also offers good background to the resolution.

US President Obama has indicated that he is prepared to retaliate against Russia for its interference in the US Presidential elections.  Some of the retaliatory measures will include additional sanctions to those already levied against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine and some sanctions will likely include specific individuals in the Russian government and economy.  But there will likely be cyberattacks that will not be announced.  How President-elect Trump will navigate these sanctions is unclear.  Many Republicans support a strong policy against Russia.

The discussions among Russia, Iran, and Turkey on the future of Syria appear to have come up with an agreement that is pure realpolitik.  The Turks wish Syrian President Assad to leave, while the Russians and the Iranians wish him to stay in office.  In order to assure that all parties are satisfied, the parties are contemplating dividing Syria into various spheres of influence with Assad ruling only one of those zones and only for a limited period of time.  It is difficult to imagine such a arrangement working without the very active participation of all three powers, nor is it an arrangement that could last for very long.  But it may be a face-saving short-term measure that allows Russia to exit as a victorious power, leaving Iran and Turkey holding the bag.

Posted December 28, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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