Sep 22, 2019

Trump heads to UN General Assembly against backdrop of global crises

President Trump. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

President Trump will join 192 other world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York City this week for 5 days of speeches and hundreds of meetings — all coming against the backdrop of a string of international crises.

Why it matters: From the China trade war to growing tensions with Iran, the president is facing down multiple global hotspots and a number of unresolved foreign policy deals as he heads to the world’s most prominent diplomatic stage. The self-described "dealmaker" has thus far failed to de-escalate tensions with Iran, North Korea, China, the Taliban, and Israel and Palestine.

Where it stands
  • Iran: Tensions with Iran risk boiling over after the Trump administration announced it is deploying U.S. forces to the Gulf region following an attack against oil processing in Saudi Arabia. Iran has called on the U.S. and its allies to leave the Persian Gulf and has ruled out a meeting between Trump and President Hassan Rouahani at the UN General Assembly.
  • North Korea: U.S. and North Korean nuclear talks have been stalled for months since the summit in Hanoi in February, with dictator Kim Jong-un returning now to near-weekly ballistic missile tests. Trump has been unable to negotiate Kim away from his nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief, but has continued to tout their personal chemistry.
  • China trade war: Though U.S. and Chinese deputy trade negotiators have resumed face-to-face meetings to plan for higher-level talks in October, the possibility of U.S. tariff escalation still clouds trade talks between the 2 countries — threatening a global economic slowdown. Both sides, however, have recently taken steps to reduce tensions by exempting goods from tariffs or delaying tariff increases.
  • Afghanistan peace talks: The longest war in U.S. history remains unresolved after the president cut off nearly a year of U.S. peace talks with the Taliban.
  • Israel and Palestine: The administration's long-awaited peace plan for Israel and Palestine was scheduled to be revealed after the Israeli elections. However, with the failure of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to secure a majority, the future of the peace plan is now in doubt. Since Trump came to office in 2017, the White House has had nearly no contact with Benny Gantz, the opposition leader who may form the next Israeli government.

Go deeper: Axios' special report on the greatest global threats we face

Go deeper

Iran tests U.S. military messaging at UNGA

Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Istanbul in 2017. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tells Axios that Americans should ask themselves why U.S. soldiers should risk dying to protect Israeli and Saudi interests, and he thinks President Donald Trump is "determined not to get militarily involved" in Iran — but others in his orbit are trying to "drag him into" it.

The big picture: As leaders gather this week at the United Nations General Assembly, Iran and the U.S. are trying to figure out how to out-maneuver one another in a protracted dispute over the Iran nuclear deal, regional aggression, sanctions and oil sales.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

Mark Esper: Trump ordered stepped-up military operations in Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Mark Esper (L) and President Trump (R). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Mark Esper indicated on Friday that President Trump has ordered the U.S. military to step up attacks against militants in Afghanistan following failed peace talks with the Taliban, Politico reports.

Where it stands: A Taliban delegation recently met with U.S. diplomat and special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad for informal discussions in the Pakistani capital, the New York Times reports. Taliban members did not identify the talks as formal peace discussions, but said "that one may take place in the future."

Go deeperArrowOct 5, 2019

Pompeo doubles down on claim of Iranian "act of war" in Saudi Arabia

Pompeo this week at the UN. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared today that he had been right to label attacks on Saudi oil facilities an “act of war” by Iran, but said Iran would fail to “goad us into conflict.”

The big picture: The U.K., France and Germany accused Iran yesterday of responsibility for the Sept. 14 attacks. Iran has denied responsibility for the attacks in Saudi Arabia, accused the U.S. of “deception" and warned of "all-out war" if attacked.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019