23 July 2017   Leave a comment

The Trump Administration is trying to figure out how to respond to the crisis in Venezuela.  As the economy crumbles and President Maduro takes an increasingly hard line against protesters, the US has a very strong interest in seeing such a close and important neighbor avoid a catastrophic collapse.  But that objective is difficult to attain since many would view American intervention as a self-interested intrusion.  Additionally, some interventions might be counterproductive.  One sanction currently being advanced in Congress is to embargo Venezuelan oil, a step that would undoubtedly crash the economy.  But a Russian oil company, Rosneft, owns 49.9% of CITGO, the Venezuelan oil company.  If an embargo were to occur, it would probably lead to a Russian takeover of CITGO which would give Russia an important foothold in the economies of the Western Hemisphere.

The US Congress is close to passing, by a substantial majority, new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.  If the bill passes, we will have to see if President Trump vetoes the bill.  Mr. Trump has been opposed to new sanctions on Russia (not to Iran and North Korea) because he believes that the law intrudes upon his authority as Chief Executive to determine foreign policy.  Congress does have authority to regulate international trade, but the bill is also a test of Mr. Trump’s willingness to confront Russia on the charges of electoral interference.  It is not clear whether the Republican majorities in Congress will support a veto, but doing so would also be a test of the Republican Party’s stance on the issue of interference.

Violence continues in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the issue of Israeli controls over the al-Aqsa Mosque.  The leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, declared that security cooperation with Israeli authorities would cease until the security measures were removed.  There was also an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, which some fear is related to the situation in Jerusalem.  Jordan serves as the custodian to the Mosque even though Israel physically controls the site.  The issue over the Mosque is essentially symbolic, but the violence indicates how important the symbolism is to many.

Posted July 23, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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