23 January 2015   Leave a comment

The diplomacy behind Congress’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to deliver a message to Congress without informing the White House has taken a decidedly murky turn.  THe initial interpretation of the invitation was to buttress Israel’s desire for Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran in the hope that such sanctions would scuttle the current negotiations.  US Secretary of State Kerry countered this move by quoting the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, as believing that the sanctions would indeed end the negotiations.  Then Kerry persuaded the European Union to issue a statement warning against any new sanctions on Iran.  This convoluted diplomacy thus suggests that the invitation to Netanyahu was a deliberate attempt to undermine President Obama’s efforts to reach a negotiated settlement with Iran–in effect, the Congress working with a foreign leader to destroy a Presidential initiative.

There is evidence that the situation in eastern Ukraine is deteriorating to the point where a complete collapse of the cease-fire is likely.   Low level violence has been persistent between Ukrainian authorities and Russian-speaking separatists in the eastern part of the state, but there are signs that the separatists are mobilizing for a major offensive.  The Ukrainian army has not demonstrated either the capability or the will to resist further separatist moves.  Much will depend on how the outside world reacts to a renewed offensive.

For the second time while in office, US President Obama will visit India, signalling the importance of Indian ties to American foreign policy.  It is also Obama’s first meeting with the new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who was once banned from the US for his role in anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002.   Significantly, the visit will also highlight the growing demographic interdependence of the two countries as the Indian-born population in the US continues to increase dramatically.  One can be sure, however, that the Chinese and the Pakistanis will be watching the visit very carefully.

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Posted January 23, 2015 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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