– – – Tearline – – – Sept. 14, 2017

In this week's Tearline: Trump seeks to undermine the Iran Deal, tensions rise with upcoming the Kurdish independence referendum, devastation in the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma, and a look at the Russian government's use of Facebook during the 2016 election.

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Tearline noun | ‘ter ï lin
The portions of an intelligence report that provide the substance of a more highly classified or controlled report without identifying sensitive sources, methods, or other operational information.

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What was that?!

The Trump administration continues to make clear that it wants to undermine the deal that has stopped Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. While we commented on this a couple of weeks ago, more reports are emerging that President Donald Trump is developing a strategy to pull the United States out of the deal. This would be an absolute disaster—reversing a successful deal that is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and greatly increasing the chances of conflict. In October, President Trump will once again have to certify that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal, which he has already certified, and which the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed to be true. Regardless of these facts, President Trump may choose not to recertify the deal, which could set the stage for its unraveling. Lawrence J. Korb, a Center for American Progress senior fellow, outlines here what a dangerous mistake it would be to undermine the deal.

What’s missing?

Iraq’s parliament passed a resolution calling the upcoming Kurdish independence referendum scheduled for September 25 “unconstitutional.” The Kurdish-controlled territory is autonomous and on many issues operates as a sovereign state. However, Iraqi political leaders are concerned with the political and economic ramifications of a Kurdish push for independence—especially if it includes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Neighboring states such as Turkey have expressed similar discontent with the referendum in fear of igniting their own domestic Kurdish movements. The U.S. government has urged the Kurds to delay the vote and is concerned primarily with possible tensions between Iraqi and Kurdish forces, whose cooperation has been essential in the fight against the Islamic State group (IS). A further political rift between Iraqi and Kurdish leaders could impede future progress against IS. Here’s hoping the adults around Trump are paying close attention.

What’s on deck in the world for next week

Leaders of countries from around the world will gather in New York next week for the annual U.N. General Assembly. President Trump is supposed to host a meeting focused on U.N. reform, though with the Trump administration looking to slash the United Nation’s budget, Trump may have a very different idea than U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres—who will also speak at the event—as to what reform means.

Better ideas

President Trump welcomed Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to the White House on Tuesday. While increased engagement with Southeast Asian leaders is welcome in theory, Prime Minister Najib is under investigation for corruption by the U.S. Department of Justice. CAP’s Trevor Sutton and Brian Harding make the case for why Trump is sending a dangerous message for democracy by embracing authoritarian leaders like Najib and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.

Quote of the week

“It is so freaking scary.” That is how one resident of the Dutch side of the Caribbean island St. Martin described the scene there after Hurricane Irma hit. Before striking Florida, Hurricane Irma devastated a number of Caribbean islands—including U.S. territories—that are now in tremendous need of help. As the Trump administration mobilizes recovery efforts in Texas and Florida, it cannot forget our neighbors to the south.

Read of the week

President Trump’s erratic behavior and reckless talk about nuclear weapons has unnerved a lot of people and reminded many just how easy it would be for him to quickly—and without checks or balances—launch a nuclear weapon. Two scholars with tremendous national security experience have some interesting ideas about how the United States should require the president to seek approval from others in the government—potentially including the vice president, the secretary of defense, and congressional leadership—before launching a nuclear attack.

Weekly Trump-Russia reminder

In addition to buying Facebook ads, the Russian government organized protests on U.S. soil during Trump’s 2016 campaign. Facebook has confirmed the existence of multiple Russia-created events, and the Daily Beast identified a 2016 anti-immigrant rally in Twin Falls, Idaho, as one. Back at the White House, the Wall Street Journal broke this week that earlier this summer, several members of President Trump’s legal team recommended that Jared Kushner step down due to possible legal complications stemming from his role in the Russia probe.

237 days still violating the Constitution

President Trump has been violating the Constitution’s prohibition against corruption by foreign governments for 237 days because his companies are receiving payments from foreign governments. For an in-depth look at Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, see this CAP interactive map and series of columns.

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Michael Fuchs

Senior Fellow

Meredith Leal

Program Coordinator

Abigail Bard

Former Policy Analyst, Asia