MESOP NEWS TOP OF THE AGENDA : U.S. Hosts Anti-Islamic State Summit

Representatives from the sixty-eight countries that form the U.S.-led coalition against the self-proclaimed Islamic State are meeting in Washington on Wednesday with the expectation to hear from the administration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump on how it will fight the militant group. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (WSJ) will provide opening remarks, during which Tillerson will reaffirm U.S. support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, according to a State Department spokesman. The summit comes as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, reported that an airstrike believed to be carried out by the U.S. coalition near Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State, hit a school being used as a shelter for displaced persons and killed at least thirty people (Reuters).


“Rather than all-out scuttle the Obama initiatives, the Trump administration appears intent on intensifying some of them, including by sending hundreds more troops to Iraq and Syria and loosening the rules of engagement that could, in turn, permit more civilian casualties. The Trump team insists, as Obama did, that the troops being sent are serving as advisers and trainers for local forces, but some critics are warning of mission creep that could entangle U.S. combat troops in another Middle Eastern war,” Nahal Toosi writes for Politico.

Mr. Tillerson may not have much to say. During the campaign, Mr. Trump’s chief foreign policy pledges were to be tougher on China and the Islamic State than President Barack Obama had been. But so far, there are few indications that Mr. Trump intends to do so as president. Mr. Tillerson’s trip last week to China was surprisingly conciliatory, and the Trump administration’s effort against the Islamic State has so far been almost identical to Mr. Obama’s, with a heavy reliance on supporting indigenous armies to fight their own wars instead of deploying large numbers of American forces to far-flung hot spots,” Gardiner Harris writes for the New York Times.

“The president wants to Make America Great (Again), but does he understand how we became great in the first place? It wasn’t just military power. It was by rebuilding Japan and Germany after World War II, turning enemies into allies; it was by helping nations that need clean water and schools; it was by promoting good governance and values that made our country a beacon in the Cold War and since,” Indira A.R. Lakshmanan writes for the Boston Globe.