Why Russian Subs Are Worrying NATO

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

May 18, 2017

How a Special Counsel Could Save Trump’s Presidency: Lake

The decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in last year’s election could ultimately end up saving the Trump presidency, argues Eli Lake in Bloomberg View.

Yes, there are risks for the administration, Lake says. “A special counsel has the authority to pursue all kinds of leads, even if they are not about collusion with Russia during the election.”
But the assistant attorney general “has offered the president a reset. Trump has a chance to try to focus on foreign and domestic policy,” Lake writes.
“Trump will travel to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium on his first foreign trip as president, starting Friday…On the domestic front, Trump can now focus on getting his health-care legislation and tax cuts through the Senate.”

Saudi Arabia Going All Out for Trump: NYT

Saudi Arabia is pulling out all the stops for President Trump’s upcoming visit in an effort to convince him “that his priorities are theirs, too, and that they are indispensable partners in fighting terrorism, in confronting Iran, in bolstering American businesses and perhaps even in pursuing peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” reports Ben Hubbard for the New York Times.
“The number of events scheduled throughout the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday and Sunday is staggering,” Hubbard says.
“There are three summit meetings planned: between Mr. Trump and King Salman, the Saudi monarch; between Mr. Trump and the leaders of a Gulf coalition, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates; and between Mr. Trump and more than 50 leaders and representatives from across the Muslim world.”

Also expected: Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and U.S. country singer Toby Keith.

  • Be careful what you ask for. The “Saudis and others in the region should be careful about hitching their stars too closely to the Trump wagon,” writes Philip Gordon in the Washington Post.

“In the short run, Trump may say what they want to hear and offer some marginal additional support on policy issues. In the longer run, he is likely to prove an unreliable partner whose incompetence, disloyalty and unpopularity could prove costly to all concerned.”

Why Russian Subs Are Worrying NATO

Worried by a Russian submarine fleet “increasingly able to operate in the Arctic and North Atlantic without detection,” NATO is considering reviving a Cold War naval command, Julian Barnes reports for the Wall Street Journal.

“Developing strategies to protect Atlantic sea lanes has risen in importance amid an alliance resurrection of Cold War plans for moving heavy military equipment rapidly from the U.S. to Europe in case of a confrontation with Russia.

“If that were to happen, military planners and defense experts believe Russia’s submarine fleet could complicate protecting U.S. convoys.”

Erdogan Outgunned

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came away empty-handed from his meeting with President Trump, writes Simon Tisdall in The Guardian. “For this disappointing result Erdoğan can blame, among others, Vladimir Putin.”

“In short, Erdoğan was outgunned. This was in large part because any hopes the Turkish leader had of U.S. movement on the Syrian-Kurdish issue had already been dashed by Putin the day before,” Tisdall argues. “Speaking in Beijing, the Russian president’s position appeared identical to Trump’s. His message to Turkey was the same: don’t mess with us in Syria…As such, Erdoğan has found himself facing a combined U.S. and Russian front.”

  • Not in our town. The Washington Post editorializes on the clash between protesters and Erdogan supporters on Tuesday: “This is not the first time Mr. Erdogan has come to the United States and ended up bullying those who dare to disagree with his cruel regime. His appearance at the Brookings Institution during the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit was marred when his security detail roughed up demonstrators and tried to eject ‘undesired’ journalists.

“There need to be consequences…Turkish personnel instigating this violence must be identified and, if possible, prosecuted or, if shielded by diplomatic immunity, made persons not welcome in this country.”

Rouhani vs. Iran’s Hardliners

Iran’s presidential campaign “has gotten ugly in recent weeks,” forcing the usually cautious President Hassan Rouhani onto the offensive, argues Alex Vatanka in Foreign Policy. But it is unclear how the system might bite back in Friday’s poll.
Under attack from hardliners, Rouhani’s strategy has “shifted into a full-fledged assault on the core of the opposition to him: [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] generals, the powerful judiciary branch, and other elements in the country’s security-intelligence apparatus,” Vatanka writes.
“Inside the Islamic Republic, two competing states constantly wrangle for power, divided by their relative openness to releasing the government’s grip on society and the economy. The likes of [presidential candidates] Raisi and Qalibaf hail from the least accountable part of the regime, which wants to be protected from the scrutiny of foreigners and Iranians alike. The key to Rouhani’s re-election is whether he can underscore that fact convincingly — and whether Iran’s power brokers decide to take revenge by stealing the election from him.”

Do Israelis Even Care Where the U.S. Embassy Is?

For all the headlines it receives, the issue of whether the U.S. should locate its embassy in Jerusalem is actually of little real consequence to many Israelis, writes Shalom Lipner in Politico Magazine.

True, doing so would be “sending a signal that the United States respects its ally’s choice of its own capital,” Lipner writes.

But “if the president wants to land in Israel bearing gifts, there are plenty of other things that take rightful precedence for Israelis anyway. He can escalate pressure on the Palestinian Authority until it halts the scandalous payment of salaries to convicted killers of Israelis. He can grant a coveted visa waiver for Israelis traveling to the United States. He can act to ensure Iran’s meticulous compliance with all conditions of the nuclear deal it signed with the P5+1, and the enforcement of all outstanding sanctions against the regime in Tehran. He can even give Israel greater latitude to build new homes in Jerusalem itself.”



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