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Photos: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images; Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images; Leader.ir/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump suddenly faces two global crises in North Korea and Iran — via Iraq — both with the real possibility of U.S. military action, if not war.

Why it matters: Trump has benefited from relative peace abroad and prosperity at home. But these twin challenges will truly test his diplomatic mix of bluster and buddying up to bad guys on the world stage. 

Iran-backed militiamen attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday for the second day in a row. Marines guarding the embassy fired tear gas after the protesters lit a fire on the roof of the reception area, per AP.

  • On New Year's Eve, Trump ordered the deployment of 750 soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., to the Middle East. 3,000 more prepared for possible deployment in the next several days.
  • The protestors at the embassy later withdrew after orders from the militias, saying their message had been heard and that would now try to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by taking action in the country’s parliament.

"Little Rocket Man," North Korea's Kim Jong-un, is threatening to resume nuclear-missile testing, and said he'll soon introduce "a new strategic weapon" as the momentum of the past few years has stalled.

  • He declared in a New Year's speech that there "will never be denuclearization on the Korean peninsula" unless the U.S. drops its "hostile" policies, according to state media.

Don't forget: Russia said last week that it had deployed a hypersonic nuclear missile that President Vladimir Putin claims is in a class of its own, "fueling concerns of a new arms race with the U.S.," per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: Trump's New Year's crisis

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Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.