Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY
Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are unlikely to agree completely on all issues, Netanyahu suggested yesterday ahead of his trip to Washington today where he is due to meet Trump for the first time Wednesday, a meeting that is expected to set the tone for the American-Israeli relationship, writes Ian Fisher at the New York Times.
Netanyahu must not use the phrase “Palestinian state” and has been urged by his coalition partner Naftali Bennett to abandon his hesitant commitment to the two-state solution during the non-stop consultations between Netanyahu and his advisers in preparation for his meeting with Trump, reports William Booth at the Washington Post.
Trump and Netanyahu are “destined to clash,” predicts Aaron David Miller, explaining why Trump’s love affair with the Israeli prime minister won’t last at POLITICO MAGAZINE.
There is talk of a possible meeting between Russian President Putin and President Trump before the G20 summit in July, the Kremlin said today. [Reuters]
A joint Japanese-US statement saying the two nations’ leaders affirmed US backing for Japan in its dispute over islands in the East China Sea during their meeting last week is a cause for concern, China’s Foreign Ministry said today. [Reuters]
The British-American defense partnership has never been stronger and President Trump has probably spurred on the two nations’ efforts to strengthen NATO and compel allies to contribute more to mutual defense, UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon – scheduled to speak with Secretary of Defense James Mattis this week – opined Saturday. Ben Kesling reports at the Wall Street Journal.
Having an “idiot” in the White House is cause for optimism and “the beginning of relief for the oppressed around the world,” the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said yesterday. [AP]
A bill that would defund the international organization that monitors and helps to prevent nuclear-weapons tests proposed by two close congressional allies of President Trump risks triggering similar actions by other nuclear weapon states, experts have warned. David Axe writes at The Daily Beast.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres “deeply regrets” the US’ decision to block former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad from leading the body’s political mission in Libya, he said, calling it “a loss for the Libyan peace process.” The US said it blocked the appointment in support of its ally Israel. [AP]
World diplomats are counting on US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley to serve as a coolheaded adviser to Trump but have their doubts about whether she has Trump’s ear, Somini Sengupta writes at the New York Times.
Critics say Defense Secretary James Mattis’ “fixation” with Iran combined with President Trump’s own hostility toward the Gulf state could lead the US into a replay of Iraq – but this time with much more disastrous consequences for the region, Ted Regencia writes at Al Jazeera.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s strategy for ensuring that the State Department does not become an outpost of opposition to the White House but an integral and influential part of the Trump administration is playing out in his selection of key officials, including new Chief of Staff Margaret Peterlin, writes Josh Rogin at the Washington Post.
“We do not interfere in US politics … and Europeans expect that America does not interfere in European politics.” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House advisers last week to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the US-EU relationship, which Mogherini said she envisions as more “transactional” under Trump, expressing concerns over the pick for US ambassador to the EU Ted Malloch, NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports.
The MUSLIM BAN
The White House is considering a range of options to push through Trump’s 90-day ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said yesterday, Philip Rucker reporting at the Washington Post.
“The whole world will soon see” that Trump’s executive powers “will not be questioned,” Miller prophesized yesterday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” Molly Redden reports at the Guardian.
Washington State will fight a new executive order from the Trump administration if it violates the Constitution, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said yesterday, Daniel Strauss reporting at POLITICO.
Future US-Iraqi security cooperation, a key alliance in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq, is being threatened by President Trump’s travel ban and other actions, Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Susannah George write at the AP.
The division of Americans from millions of people in the Muslim world caused by the travel ban may be exactly what some members of the White House want – most notably chief strategist Steve Bannon, who has publicly championed apocalyptic theories of history that center on a forthcoming fight between Western countries and the Muslim world, suggests Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept.
OTHER EXECUTIVE ACTIONS and APPOINTMENTS
Neither Trump nor any of his adviser have publicly defended White House national security adviser Michael Flynn as he faces growing political pressure over reports that he misled senior administration officials about his conversations on sanctions with a Russian envoy before President Trump took office, Philip Rucker, Adam Entous and Ed O’Keefe report at the Washington Post.
Flynn’s security clearance should be revoked, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Rep. Elijah Cummings said in an interview broadcast yesterday. Daniel Strauss reports at POLITICO.
The CIA denied a security clearance for one of Flynn’s key aides last Friday, the rejection reportedly approved by CIA Director Mike Pompeo and effectively bringing his tenure on the National Security Council to an end, Kenneth P. Vogel and Josh Dawsey report at POLITICO.
These are “chaotic and anxious days” inside the N.S.C., from Flynn at the top down to council staff members who each day have to make policy fit Trump’s Twitter posts of the night before and are kept in the dark about what President Trump tells foreign leaders, write David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt and Peter Baker at the New York Times.
Aside from Flynn’s dealings there are even deeper ties between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, with more to come on the extent of Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, but also a “clear ideological affinity,” observes Ishaan Tharoor at the Washington Post.
President Trump’s concerns about his staff go beyond Flynn, prompting questions about whether he is considering an early staff shakeup, write POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey and Alex Isenstadt.
Assad regime forces are advancing toward the ancient city of Palmyra, Russia’s defense ministry said today. [AP]
The final goal of Turkey’s operation in Syria is to create a 5,000 square kilometre “safe zone,” Turkey’s President Erdoğan said, promising to press on toward the Islamic State’s self-declared capital in Syria, Raqqa. Al Jazeera reports.
Russia’s claims that its airstrikes in Syria were restrained is challenged in a new report by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, which concludes that Rusisan aircraft used incendiary munitions and cluster bombs contrary to the Kremlin’s denials and used chlorine gas on a much larger scale than is commonly understood. Michael R. Gordon reports at the New York Times.
US airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province may have killed at least 18 civilians, according to the UN and local sources. Sune Engel Rasmussen reports at the Guardian.
Lawmakers called for a show of strength toward North Korea after its launch of a ballistic missile over the weekend, including military exercises with regional allies, the rapid deployment of regional missile defences and increased sanctions, Peter Nicholas, Carol E. Lee and Jonathan Cheng report at the Wall Street Journal.
The US, Japan and South Korea requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on North Korea’s latest missile test, a spokesperson for the US mission to the UN confirming that the meeting is expected to take place today. [AP]
The missile test was a “success,” North Korea’s state news agency said. [BBC]
Trump’s response to North Korea’s missile test was surprisingly restrained, in sharp contrast to his reaction to Iran’s recent ballistic missile test, observes Peter Baker at the New York Times.
China dismissed calls to intervene more in North Korea’s military affairs, saying the missile test was precipitated by Pyongyang’s strained relations with Washington and Seoul, CNN’s Joshua Berlinger reports.
The Senate Torture Report on CIA “black sites” was delivered to a federal court vault in Washington, D.C. by the Trump administration, it said Friday. Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.
The commander of Guantánamo Bay detention facility says he has not seen and does not want any say on any Trump administration executive order on law of war detention at the prison, Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.
CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is “not afraid” of being returned to the US following reports that intelligence officials have information that Russia is considering sending him back to America as a “gift” for President Trump, NBC News’ Mark Hanrahan reports.
Former CIA analyst Pat Eddington is trying to prove right NSA whistleblowers who spoke out about the ThinThread intelligence program by suing the Defense Department, Jenna McLaughlin writes at The Intercept.
The UK government was accused of launching a “full-frontal attack” on whistleblowers over proposals for a major overhaul of secrecy legislation that would dramatically increase prison sentences for revealing state secrets and prosecute journalists, Rob Evans, Ian Cobain and Nicola Slawson report at the Guardian.
A bomb attack in the South Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan near the Afghan border killed three paramilitary soldiers late last night, the AP reports.
“Very important and very constructive” discussions on potential future political solutions for Yemen and Libya took place between UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Guterres told reporters yesterday.
Illinois-based EP Aviation, LLC, the mercenary air force that became a symbol of the US occupation in Iraq is back in action, this time in Central Africa supporting a little-reported US Special Forces commando operation targeting the Lord’s Resistance Army, David Axe writes at The Daily Beast.