15 May 2017   Leave a comment

Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and the loss of Sunni dominance in that country, many analysts have noted that Shia Muslims, led by Iran, have been increasing their power in the Middle East.  The narrative overemphasizes the Sunni-Shia differences among the people in the region, but there is an undeniable link between political power and the dominance of one of these interpretations of Islam. Lorenzo Kamel has written an essay on how this dynamic plays out in contemporary Middle Eastern politics.  Interestingly, Kamel points out how the Sunni dominance in some of these polities has relied very heavily on Western dominance which is declining in importance in the region.

 

The Washington Post is reporting President Trump disclosed classified information of a highly sensitive nature that to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in an Oval Office meeting.  The information relates to the new policy barring electronic devices on air flights from certain Middle Eastern countries to the US which is rumored to be possibly extended to all transatlantic flights. According to the Post:

“The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

“The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

”This is code-word information,’ said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump ‘revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.’”

President Trump’s National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster denied the report:

 “There is nothing that the President takes more seriously than the security of the American people.

 “The story that came out tonight as reported is false.  The president the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation.

 “At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed.  And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.

“Two other senior officials who were present, including the Secretary of State, remembered the meeting the same way and have said so.  Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources.

 “I was in the room.  It didn’t happen.”

Note that the McMaster denial only relates to “intelligence courses or methods” and “military operations”.  It does not deny that intelligence information was shared.  McMaster also refused to take any questions from the press about the denial.

It is safe to say that if this report is true it represents a very serious lapse of judgment.  Very few countries will choose to share information with the US.  With this episode, as well as the early episode when President Trump was photographed sharing classified information on the North Korean nuclear program with Japanese Prime Minister Abe at a open dinner table at Mar-a-Lago, there are probably reasons to doubt that President Trump can be trusted.

If true, this report makes the fury over former Secretary of State Clinton’s emails completely bogus.  President Trump’s disregard for security classifications is perhaps treasonous.

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Posted May 15, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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