Background Briefing: November 18, 2019


Trump Further Weakens Palestinians’ Claims for Statehood

We begin with the announcement today by Secretary of State Pompeo that the U.S. is repudiating a 1978 State Department legal opinion finding Israeli settlements in the occupied territories “inconsistent with international law”. Khaled Elgindi, a Fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution who served as an advisor to the Palestinian leadership on permanent status negotiations with Israel from 2004 to 2009 whose latest book is “Blindspot: America and the Palestinians from Balfour to Trump”, joins us to discuss this latest in a series of moves by the Trump Administration to weaken Palestinian claims to statehood. We will assess whether this is yet another bone thrown by Trump to support the beleaguered Netanyahu and pander to the Christian Zionist evangelicals in his base, or an effort to make up for Trump’s catastrophic decision to sell out Israel’s friends the Kurds and hand over Syria to Putin, Assad and the Iranians. With more than 700,000 Israeli settlers already in the occupied territories, Palestinians are being squeezed into a smaller piece of the less-desirable territory they occupy and although the rest of the world still recognizes the illegality of Israeli settlements, whatever leverage the Europeans have over Israel, apparently is not being applied. Furthermore until there is competent and cohesive Palestinian leadership, it is unlikely the Palestinians will get any help from the international community, particularly if further eruptions in the Middle East relegate them to the back-burner.


Our Tough Guy President Pardons Murderers and War Criminals

Then we speak with Rachel VanLandingham, a Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School and a former judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force. She was the legal advisor for international law at U.S. Central Command Headquarters overseeing operational and legal issues related to the armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and we will discuss President Trump’s pardoning of U.S. servicemen who are murderers and have been convicted of war crimes. And we will assess the role Trump’s penchant with being “tough” and admiring “toughness” played in this decision emphatically opposed by the Pentagon and his own Secretary of Defense.


Leaked Iranian Intelligence Documents Expose Iran’s Control Over Iraq

Then finally, we look into the leaked reports from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security which were sent to The Intercept and The New York Times by an Iraqi patriot who wanted to “Let the world know what Iran is doing in my country Iraq”. Nader Hashemi, the Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Denver and author of “The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future”, joins us to discuss the growing pressure on Iran’s Supreme Leader and his repressive militias who are shooting down young Iraqis in the streets while Iran’s own people are rising up against the regime over a hike in gas prices amid an Internet blackout.