– – – Tearline – – – Jul. 20, 2017

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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?!

Despite consistent trash talk about the Iran nuclear deal, this week, the Trump administration yet again certified that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal. With the second anniversary of the deal passing last week, it’s clear that criticism of the deal is fictitious. But there is still a very real danger that the Trump administration is spoiling for a fight with Iran, as one expert outlines here. This week, Tom Shannon, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, is participating in regular multilateral talks with Iran about implementation of the nuclear deal. Watch closely for what statements and signals come out of the next couple days.

What’s missing?

Venezuela is further descending into chaos. After months of protests, economic collapse, and political gridlock, things may be coming to a head. In advance of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s planned July 30 election of an assembly to remake Venezuela’s political system—presumably to keep him and his allies in power—opposition parties are protesting and held a symbolic referendum in which reportedly 7.6 million people opposed Maduro’s plans for a new system. President Donald Trump has threatened economic sanctions on Maduro and the region is clearly concerned. But it’s unclear what the path forward is.

What’s on deck in the world for next week

There were further signs this week that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is attempting to gut the U.S. Department of State, with reports that the offices handling cyber security and war crimes will be closed. As the State Department now moves into the next phase of its “reorganization” efforts, watch closely for signs that this reorganization is really more of a dismantling.

Better ideas

Things are bad in Turkey right now: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has consolidated increased political power; political and civil freedoms are shrinking; and Turkey is turning away from the United States, Europe, and NATO. While the situation is bleak, CAP has some suggestions for how Turkish civil society can help improve the political environment in Turkey today.

Quote of the week

Over the past few weeks, we’ve mentioned the famine that’s threatening the lives of 20 million people in Africa and the Middle East. This week’s quote of the week is actually a statistic of the week: Despite the urgency of the crisis, the International Rescue Committee reported that only 15 percent of Americans were aware of the famine.

Read of the week

Before Mosul, Iraq, was the center of the struggle between the Islamic State group and Iraqi forces, it was a city with soccer fields, parks, schools, a business district, and neighborhoods. This stunning article reminds us of the immense destruction that the past few years of conflict have incurred on the city.

Weekly Trump-Russia reminder

The president of the United States thinks that when campaigns meet with individuals offering foreign government help, “That’s politics!” It’s also against the law to receive such campaign help from a foreign government. And we learned this week that President Trump had a second meeting with Putin—with no other U.S. officials present—on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, and no sense of what was discussed.

182 days still violating the Constitution

President Trump has been violating the Constitution’s prohibition against corruption by foreign governments for 182 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.
Please send feedback, comments, and ideas to mhfuchs.af@americanprogressaction.org, stefaniemerchant.af@americanprogressaction.org, and mleal.af@americanprogressaction.org.