5 June 2018   Leave a comment

There are signs that the alliance of convenience between Russia and Iran in Syria seems to be fraying now that their common enemy of ISIS seems to have been defeated.  The division between the two countries seems to be caused by the different interests each side has in the perpetuation of the Assad regime.  Iran wants Assad to remain in power so that its ally, Hezbollah, can receive its support.  Russia wants Assad to remain in power so that it can maintain a presence in the Middle East.  But Russia has been quietly courted by Israel, which wants Iran to have no influence in Syria, and Russia is well aware of the US resistance to an Iranian presence.  Moreover, Russia wishes to court Saudi Arabia, which is also opposed to the Iranian presence in Syria, and Russia wants Saudi cooperation in propping up oil prices.  Iran has some support from Qatar and from Iraq, but the balance of power seems to be against it.  We will see how Iran uses its oil power to redress the imbalance.

 

Mexico has imposed tariffs on a wide list of goods in retaliation for the US tariffs imposed on its steel and aluminum.  The move follows a comment made by one of President Trump’s advisers that there was a chance that the negotiations on the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) would be changed from one among the US, Canada, and Mexico into two bilateral negotiations between the US and Canada and the US and Mexico.  Mexico has targeted products produced in crucial congressional districts.  According to Reuters:

“Mexico’s trade negotiators designed the list, in part, to include products exported by top Republican leaders’ states, including Indiana, where Vice President Mike Pence was formerly governor, according to a trade source familiar with the matter. Bourbon-producing Kentucky is the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican.

“The new tariffs could also have political implications in some hotly contested races as the Republicans seek to maintain control of both chambers in Congress in November’s election, illustrating the potential perils of Trump’s aggressive efforts to set right what he sees as unfair trade balances with allies and rivals.”

The Republican Party has traditionally been strongly in favor of free trade.  President Trump’s tariff decisions represents a serious challenge to the identity of the Party.

Posted June 5, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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