Khashoggi, Trump, and Threats to the Press

Few would call President Donald Trump a “friend of the press.” From the advent of the phrase “fake news” to yelling at reporters in press conferences, the president has fostered one of the tensest relationships with the media that America has ever seen. However, this painful association was taken to a new level in the past month with the disappearance and death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a native Saudi, who left his country in 2017 to continue writing in DC and to avoid the suppression of…

How Mosul Can Reshape Obama’s Foreign Policy Legacy

In mid-June of 2014, smoke rolled into the sky above Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. Burning Humvees littered streets that had once bustled with people. Only days earlier, the Islamic State had invaded the city, crushing the ill-equipped Iraqi security detail that had been assigned to protect it. The stunning defeat gave the radical group its first strong foothold in Iraq (most of its activity had been in Syria up to that point) and allowed it to use the city as its base of operations in the country. The…

Why Is Syria Allowed to Crumble?

With the city’s medical system strained, the World Health Organization expects that the almost 850 civilians wounded in Aleppo last week will die due to a lack of resources – resources that could have been received if alleged Russian fighter jets hadn’t mercilessly bombed a UN humanitarian aid convoy. Of the 850 helpless civilians expected to die, 261 are children. These reports have come after one of the most crippling weeks of violence of the Syrian civil war. With atrocities continuously committed by the Bashar al-Assad regime and Putin’s Kremlin,…

Seeking Peace in Syria

The conflict in Syria has no end in sight, but recent events have provided prospects for peace with some glimmers of hope. The Feb. 27 ceasefire has helped humanitarian aid reach some 150,000 people in besieged areas. On March 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the surprise withdrawal of most Russian forces in Syria. And the self-proclaimed Islamic State has been losing strategic ground in Iraq and Syria, most recently when Syrian army forces took Palmyra; meanwhile, U.S. strikes kill about one Islamic State leader every three days. These are…

The Future of U.S.-Saudi Relations

Saudi Arabia’s leaders are scared — and that’s a problem for the United States. The kingdom is surrounded by instability. To the south, the Houthi rebellion, a local Shiite insurgency, is battling Sunni-led Saudi forces in Yemen. To the north, the Islamic State has targeted Saudi Arabia, calling for an attack on the Saudi royal family. To the east, Saudi troops put down what was seen as an Iranian attempt in 2011 at subversion in Bahrain. Further east, the Saudis are faced with their most feared rival, Shiite-ruled Iran. The Saudis…

Obama and Nuclear Iran: Promoting Peace or Destruction?

I will begin by discussing the key points of the nuclear deal President Obama has tentatively negotiated with Iran. The following information from The Economist outlines main points concerning what Iran is expected to do. One: reduce their centrifuges (machines that enrich uranium) from 19,000 to 6,000, and of those 6,000, 5,000 will be spinning. These will be first generation centrifuges and more advanced models cannot be used for 10 more years. Two: turn their second enrichment facility that is hidden away in a mountain, Fordow, into a physics research…

How ISIS Recruits Through Social Media

The power and influence of social media has become increasingly apparent. The Internet population has now grown to the billions, connecting people from all around the world. Political movements are using social media to coordinate their efforts, which is why so many authoritarian governments limit access to it. These networking sites have become an important tool for democracy; for example, Twitter and Facebook played a central role in the Arab Spring.  However, they can also be used as a tool to spread extremism – most notably by the terrorist group…

Bibi: Be Wary, But Don’t Ignore

In light of Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in front of congress and the subsequent foolhardy letter sent to Iran by the Republicans, the future of the Middle East has been questioned by many, and with reason. Netanyahu has turned increasingly bold, if rash, to appeal to his base (with much success) and the Republicans have been stubborn in their quest to erode Obama’s bargaining power. In spite of this, predictions of an impending war between Israel and Iran are greatly exaggerated. Possibly the most alarmist, José Ignacio Torreblanca, the…