31 July 2018   Leave a comment

This will be the last blog post that will also be posted on Facebook.  Facebook has changed its policy about re-posting and its new terms are not acceptable to me.  So if Facebook readers wish to continue reading these posts, they will have to subscribe to the WordPress Site (https://vferraro1971.wordpress.com/)

 

US intelligence agencies have determined that North Korea continues to work on missile development.  The new data conflicts with US President Trump’s tweet several weeks ago that North Korea is “no longer a Nuclear Threat.”  Abigal Tracy, writing in Vanity Fair, assesses the outcome of the Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore:

“Despite several setbacks in U.S.-North Korea relations since the summit, Trump remains satisfied with the results. “You haven’t had a missile fired off in nine months,” he boasted at a press conference with Italy’s prime minister on Monday. “We got our prisoners back. So many things happened. So positive.” Yet even as he brags about his “great meeting” with Kim, reality is setting in. Citing officials familiar with the intelligence, The Washington Post reports that work is advancing on at least one, if not two, liquid-fueled intercontinental missiles at a research facility in Sanumdong, the same factory where the Kim regime produced the first such missile capable of reaching the U.S. Meanwhile, there are also reports that uranium enrichment continues at another North Korean facility, Kangson. During his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the Kim regime continues to produce fissile material, but declined to say whether missile production is ongoing.

President Trump’s announcement that he is willing to meet with Iranian President Rouhani, just 8 days after tweeting a very hostile threat to Iran, suggests that he regards summit meetings as more important than substantive agreements.

 

Marwan Kabalan, the Director of Policy Analysis at the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar, has written a very interesting op-ed for Al Jazeera arguing that Putin and Trump may have worked out a deal on Syria at their Helsinki meeting.  Essentially, Kabalan argues that the US agreed to bow out of Syria, leaving the Kurds in the lurch, and Russia agreed to contain Iranian influence in Syria in order to protect Israel.  The Russians have denied that they intend to kick Iran out of Syria, but according to al-Arabiya: “Last Monday at a Jerusalem meeting between Netanyahu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Russia offered to keep Iranian forces 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Syria’s border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, according to an Israeli official.”  For their part, the Kurds seem to have decided that their dreams of autonomy within Syria cannot be realized, and have decided to work with the Assad government in Syria.  If this scenario works out, the clear winners are Assad, who will emerge as an uncontested leader of Syria, and Russia, who appears to be the dominant force in Middle East politics.  The clear loser:  the US which will apparently slink out of Syria with virtually no influence in the region.  Even its main regional ally, Israel, will now rely on Russia for its protection.

Posted July 31, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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