Jan 1, 2020

Trump's twin war threats

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

Go deeper

Kim Jong-un announces end to moratorium on nuclear weapon tests

Kim Jong Un giving his New Year's speech on Dec. 30, 2019. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in a New Year's speech that his country would abandon a self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, declaring that there "will never be denuclearization on the Korean peninsula" unless the U.S. drops its "hostile" policies, according to state media.

Why it matters: North Korea has not conducted a nuclear or long-range missile test in more than two years, hoping for a breakthrough in negotiations spurred by Kim's friendly personal relationship with President Trump, according to the New York Times. Trump has often touted this moratorium as a diplomatic achievement.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 1, 2020

Protesters withdraw from U.S. embassy in Baghdad after militia orders

Supporters of the Iranian-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31. Photo: Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Protestors withdrew from the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday following orders from the Iranian-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The militia leaders said they had won a victory that allowed their message to be heard, signaling they would now try to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by taking action in the country’s parliament.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 2, 2020

U.S. deploying 750 troops to Middle East after embassy attack in Iraq

Smoke billowing from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Photo: U.S. Embassy in Iraq/AFP via Getty Images

The United States has stepped up its response to unrest in Iraq after the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was attacked by deploying 750 troops to the region at the direction of President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday.

"[The] soldiers will deploy to the region immediately & additional forces from the [Immediate Response Force] are prepared to deploy over the next several days. This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today. The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world."
— Esper's announcement via Twitter
Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 1, 2020