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On the War Path: Bill That Threatens Iran Deal Passes Senate Committee By Landslide

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly advanced legislation that could kill the Iran Nuclear Deal, according to advocates of the initiative, including former Secretary of State John Kerry. A bill that would impose additional sanctions on Iran passed the committee on Thursday in an 18-3 vote. The only “no” votes came from Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.). The legislation would penalize Iranian entities involved in Tehran’s ballistic missile program. Proponents of the nuclear deal say this would violate terms… Keep Reading

Another Year, Another SIGAR Panning of Afghan Rebuilding

The watchdog charged with overseeing the US government’s costly reconstruction effort in Afghanistan has more bad news: the campaign is still plagued by corruption. It is a common refrain from John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), who produces quarterly reports on the $117 billion rebuilding mission. “The big issue…is corruption,” he said on C-SPAN Monday, discussing the oversight body’s latest report. “We have problems of intense corruption in the Afghan military and police,” Sopko added. He used a metaphor his office has… Keep Reading

More US Troops, Airstrikes Could Soon Be Headed to Afghanistan

The Trump administration looks poised to send up to 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan while loosening the rules of engagement for US forces there. The deployment and ratcheting up of hostilities would be aimed at strengthening the Afghan government’s hand in peace negotiations with the Taliban, according to The Washington Post and The New York Times. The Post, which first reported the development late Monday, said that President Trump has yet to approve of the plan. He is expected make a decision before a May… Keep Reading

Kushner Sister Invokes Jared, In Appeal to Chinese Investors

The sister of White House aide Jared Kushner leveraged her brother’s name in a sales pitch to Chinese investors, on behalf of the family’s real estate venture. Nicole Meyer cited the high-level Presidential staffer and his recent involvement with Kushner Companies in Beijing, on Saturday, while attempting to raise capital to build luxury apartments in Jersey City, N.J.. Meyer mentioned her brother and touted the investment opportunity as important to “me and my entirely family,” according to both The New York Times and The Washington… Keep Reading

US Pacific Command Chief Refuses to Rule Out Invasion of North Korea, Says Pyongyang Has “Provoked Us”

Attempts by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to ease the concerns of North Korean leadership may have backfired spectacularly on Thursday, when a high-ranking military commander refused to rule out the possibility of the US toppling Pyongyang “for the heck of it.” Adm. Harry Harris, head of Pacific Command, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to brief lawmakers about the simmering conflict on the Korean peninsula—tensions that could ratchet up following the unsettling exchange between the admiral and Sen. Graham. Characterizing Kim Jong Un’s dash… Keep Reading

Pentagon Ties Russia to Taliban Attack, Publicly Accuses Moscow of Arming Afghan Militants

The US military has increased its confidence in reports accusing Russia of arming the Taliban. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. John Nicholson, the Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, spoke about the claims on Monday, at a press conference in Kabul. When asked directly by a reporter about alleged Russian weapon shipments to the Taliban, Gen. Nicholson said: “Oh no, I’m not refuting that.” “The level of granularity and the level of success they’re achieving, I think the jury is still out on that,”… Keep Reading

While Verifying Iran Deal Compliance, Tillerson Outlines How Trump Could Scrap the Agreement

The Trump administration could still annul the Iran nuclear deal despite certifying Tehran’s compliance with the agreement, observers warned. The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) said Wednesday that President Trump could effectively rip up the accord, by violating its terms on sanctions. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed late Tuesday that Iran is currently abiding by the terms of the multilateral deal–one that involves all five permanent members of the UN Security Council. “With this certification, President Trump must now uphold the United States’ obligations and… Keep Reading

Iran Deal Working, Trump Administration Concedes

President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Iranian nuclear deal, and last month promised to approach enforcement of the agreement with “great strictness.” But according to one administration official, the agreement is doing precisely what it set out to accomplish. The head of US Strategic Command said Tuesday that Iran is not attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, and that it is abiding by the terms of the deal—agreed to in 2015 by the Iranian government, the Obama administration, Germany and the five permanent members of the… Keep Reading

Trump Aims to Upgrade US-Egypt Relationship Status from “It’s Complicated”

Egyptian leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was warmly welcomed to the White House on Monday, four years after he assumed power in a military coup. During a brief sit down in front of reporters, President Trump described his relationship with Sisi as “very close,” and added that the US was “very much behind” the controversial world leader. The new administration’s invitation and effusive praise for the former general marks a shift from the prior US president’s posture—at least optically. Sisi took power in Cairo in 2013, deposing… Keep Reading

CENTCOM Chief Denies Loosening Civilian Targeting Rules, Deflects Blame For Mosul Deaths

A top US military commander is denying reports that that the Pentagon has relaxed its targeting protocols, despite rapidly increasing civilian casualty rates in Syria and Iraq. The head of US Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. Joseph Votel, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, providing details on the military’s probe of a series of airstrikes in Mosul in recent weeks that have reportedly killed upwards of 300 civilians. Votel noted he agreed with an analysis made Tuesday, by Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend, that concluded there… Keep Reading

Congress Seeks to Penalize Peaceful Pro-Palestine Movement, Amid Annual AIPAC Lobbying Blitz

The influential pro-Israel group AIPAC is asking supporters to back recently-drafted legislation that seeks to punish a peaceful movement in solidarity with Palestinians. The organization, which is in Washington this week for an annual policy conference, is dispatching members to lobby lawmakers to pass the bill. One Washington-based group decrying Israel’s occupation of Palestine has said the proposal is unconstitutional. “This dangerous bill seeks to impose fines on corporations that boycott business dealings with illegal Israeli settlements,” said Josh Ruebner, the policy director of the US… Keep Reading

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