9 May 2019   Leave a comment

For the first time, the US has seized a North Korean cargo vessel that it claimed was violating sanctions by carrying coal. The seizure came just hours after North Korea tested two short-range missiles, as it rattles the US cage to speed up the nuclear negotiations. North Korea has also ceased to cooperate with the US on the return of military remains from the Korean War. These actions will undoubtedly make further negotiations between the US and North Korea more difficult. They also complicate the situation for South Korean President Moon who has been steadily losing favor among the South Korean population. The US has not gained much in its two-year pursuit of better relations with North Korea and it appears as if it is losing credibility with one of its main allies, South Korea.

As the US ratchets up its pressure on Iran, it also seems to be unaware that it is heavily dependent on states that have good relations with Iran. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went to Iraq to persuade it to reduce its relations with Iran. Iraq politely refused, hardly the outcome the US anticipated when it overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003 (if Hussein were still in power, he would gladly acquiesce to Pompeo). The US also sent 4 B-52 bombers to the region to reinforce the aircraft carrier group it sent to the Persian Gulf. But those bombers are based in Qatar, another country with good relations with Iran (dictated by the fact that the two countries share a large natural gas reservoir in the Persian Gulf). The strong military presence of the US in the region rests upon two very tentative allies–not the strongest bargaining position.

Posted May 9, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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