King Abdullah II Rolling Back Treaty with Israel

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(Photo Credit: Shealah Craighead/The White House)

 

President Trump is ready to play diplomatic hardball with Benjamin Netanyahu, as well.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has informed Israel that he will not renew two key annexes to the treaty his father signed with Israel that pertain to “ownership rights” to two areas Israel considers its own territory. Meanwhile, he’s also continuing to warm his relations with Qatar, Turkey, and Syria. Continue reading

US Is Negotiating With SWIFT To Disconnect Iran From Network

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that unlike Obama’s 2013 Iran blockade, it would be harder for countries to get waivers on Iran oil sanctions as the US is already working on disconnecting Iran from the SWIFT network and dismissed concerns that oil prices could rise, saying the market had already factored in the output losses.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters in Jerusalem on Sunday at the start of a Middle East trip, Mnuchin said countries would have to reduce their purchases of Iranian oil by more than the roughly 20% level they did from 2013 to 2015 to get waivers. “I would expect that if we do give waivers it will be significantly larger reductions,” said the US Treasury Secretary. Continue reading

Saudi admission of Khashoggi death leaves turmoil in Riyadh, fallout on Saudi-US relations

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President Donald Trump saw this when he said: “Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable. It’s a big first step, only a first step.” He also announced he would work with Congress on the response.

There are too many fingers in the pie and open questions for the scandal to die down any time soon. For one, what happened to the body of the dead journalist? The Saudis now report that it was handed to an unnamed “local collaborator.” This mysterious person either got away, was smuggled out of Turkey by Saudi agents or is no longer alive. This may explain the sweep Turkish police have been conducting in the woods near the consulate and other parts of Istanbul. Continue reading

Trump To Pull U.S. Out Of 1987 Nuclear Weapons Treaty With Russia

 

As Russia continues to outmaneuver the US by developing new ballistic missiles like the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile, as well as hypersonic weapons capable of carrying a nuclear payload, President Trump said Saturday that he plans to abandon a 1987 arms-control treaty that has (on paper, at least) prohibited the US and Russia from deploying intermediate-range nuclear missiles as Russia has continued to “repeatedly violate” its terms according to the president, the Associated Press reports.

“We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement,” Trump said Saturday after a campaign rally in Elko, Nevada. “We’re going to terminate the agreement.” Continue reading

Almost Half Of Active U.S. Military Troops Believes Large-Scale War Is Coming Soon

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Almost half of all active military troops in the US army believe that the US will be part of a large-scale war soon, according to a Military Times poll of the active-duty troops. According to the poll, troops are anxious about global instability in general and about Russia and China in particular.

Close to 46% of the questioned active troops believe that the US will be draw into a large-scale war soon. This number has increased from 5% in September 2017’s survey.

Still, more people think that it is unlikely that there will be war at 50%, however in 2017 that number was 67%. Only 4% of people responded with “I don’t know,” in comparison to that share being 28% in 2017. Continue reading

Russia And China Prepare To Ditch Dollar In Bilateral Trade

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In a time when many nations have gone public with their intention to ditch the dollar in part or in whole, in bilateral trade with non-US counterparts, either to prevent the US from having “veto power” of commerce courtesy of SWIFT or simply in response to Trump’s “America First” doctrine, attention has long focused on Russia and China – the two natural adversaries to the US – to see if and when they would accelerate plans for de-dollarization. Continue reading

Panic in Beijing: Caught off guard by Trump trade tactics, CCP courts Pentagon

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As its relationship with other U.S. agencies sours amid President Donald Trump’s trade and twitter offensive, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has worked to maintain close ties to the Pentagon, U.S. defense officials said.

Beijing has stepped up contacts with the Pentagon in recent weeks as Defense Minister Wei Fenghe prepares to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Washington before the end of the year.

“The Chinese are definitely eager to stay connected to the department,” a senior official said, according to Breitbart News. Continue reading

Mattis: China’s Island Militarization Continues

James Mattis

James Mattis (Getty Images)

 

Beijing’s South China Sea encroachment on agenda for meetings in Southeast Asia

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis this week voiced new U.S. opposition to China’s continued militarization of islands in the South China Sea.

“We remain highly concerned with continued militarization of features in the South China Sea,” Mattis told reporters on Monday as he traveled to Vietnam.

Mattis also said China is using predatory economics to seek control over other nations. Continue reading

U.S. Foreign Policy Faces Grave Danger, Part 5

In March 2005, Bush adviser Karen Hughes was named to a State Department post, Deputy Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. In late September 2005 she traveled to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to open a dialogue with important Muslim countries. Her task was to persuade them that Bush’s War on Terror was not a War against Islam.

On September 26, 2005, Hughes met with a small group of Egyptians who had studied in the U.S. She told them “it’s sometimes hard to talk about difficult issues,” but that “we’re open to ideas.”

Prominent Egyptians told Hughes that the U.S. can improve its image in the Middle East only by changing its policies, namely, that its policies on Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and what the U.S. said was inconsistent with its [favorable] treatment of repressive Arab governments. Continue reading

Saudis Vow to Retaliate if ‘Punished’ for Khashoggi Disappearance

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(Photo Credit: Common Action Forum/Twitter)

 

The kingdom has effectively threatened to cut off oil supplies if it is sanctioned.

As many countries around the world have rallied to say they will punish Saudi Arabia if it is found to have been involved in the disappearance and possible death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom vowed it would retaliate against any such action. Continue reading

Neo-Ottomanism Surges in Middle East Politics

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The fate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hangs in the balance. The common perception is that everything depends on which way President Donald Trump moves – go by his own preference to bury the scandal over Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance or give in to the rising demand that Saudi-American relations can no longer be business as usual. Trump’s mood swing suggests he is dithering. Continue reading

What Happens to the World When America Stops Standing for What’s Right?

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A security personnel looks out from the entrance of the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (AP PHOTO/PETRAS GIANNAKOURIS)

 

The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi drives home the consequences of the Trump administration’s refusal to champion democratic values around the globe.

The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi has shocked many in the United States, but it should not come as a surprise. Indeed, it is a logical outgrowth of the policies that the Saudi leadership has been pursuing for the past two years, and the support that it has found for its approach in the Trump White House and parts of the American establishment. Continue reading

An end to the dollar’s global hegemony? The Kremlin sees an opportunity.

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An exchange-office screen on a Moscow street shows the currency exchange rate of the Russian ruble and US dollar in April. The Kremlin has begun making moves to insulate the Russian economy from escalating US sanctions. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

 

The dollar has long been the world’s reserve currency. But some countries, angered by sanctions, are challenging that status, potentially undermining one of the US’s most influential tools for shaping global policy.

For average Russians, a small personal hoard of US dollars has always represented a place of safety amid the wild ups-and-downs that continue to beset the country’s national currency, the ruble.

So it triggered a touch of panic among them when the Russian government confirmed long-standing rumors that it is working on a plan to insulate the economy from escalating US sanctions through “de-dollarization.” Continue reading

A New Era for the China-Russia-U.S. Triangle

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Nearly a half-century ago, President Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, established a successful U.S. strategy for dealing with America’s two most dangerous rivals. He sought closer ties to both the Soviet Union, with its more than 7,000 nuclear weapons, and Communist China, with the world’s largest population.

Kissinger’s approach was sometimes called “triangulation.” But distilled down to its essence, the phrase meant ensuring that China and Russia were not friendlier to each other than each was to the United States

Given that the Soviet Union was much stronger than China at the time, Kissinger especially courted Beijing. Continue reading

Russian Official: Cold War Arms Race Back On

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The deputy foreign minister says he sees no desire on the U.S. side to engage in discussions to renew or extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Financial Times the “complete malfunction” of the U.S. system of government has meant that key treaties are likely to lapse and leave the world’s nuclear powers “without constraint in the event of a conflict.” Continue reading