Middle East

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Ep. 27: The Next U.S. President’s Challenges in Iraq and Syria
The Big Story

Show Notes:

The U.S.-backed military campaign in Iraq to drive the Islamic State from the city of Mosul is expected to succeed, but it could open the door to a host of problems the next U.S. administration will have to tackle, says Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute. In a conversation with CQ Roll Call’s National Security reporter Ryan Lucas and Managing Editor Adriel Bettelheim, Salem explains the complications hindering stability in Iraq, including the conflict in Syria, where U.S. diplomatic efforts face challenges from an assortment of players, including Russia and Iran.

White House Hedges on Syrian Refugees
Only around 1,500 refugees have been admitted to the U.S. so far

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, right, displays the iconic photo of a dead Syrian boy at a news conference in December. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The White House sounded only moderately confident Friday that it will reach President Barack Obama’s goal of taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees by Oct. 1.  

Since Obama made the pledge last September , only around 1,500 have been admitted into the United States. The State Department has been working on a plan to admit almost as many each month in order to meet the president's benchmark.  

White House Picks a Fight With No. 3 House Republican
Press Secretary: On Iran deal, Scalise 'either wrong or lying'

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., right, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., after a meeting of the House Republican Conference. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House is picking a fight with Rep. Steve Scalise over Iran, saying the House majority whip possibly lied about how much Tehran could realize in relief from economic sanctions in exchange for agreeing to curb its nuclear ambitions.  

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday was asked about Secretary of State John Kerry ’s assertion that businesses should not blame the U.S. financial system for the failure to strike deals with Iran. Some firms claim sanctions not addressed by the nuclear deal Tehran reached with Western powers last year still block Iran from accessing the American system or using U.S. currency for business deals.  

Rubio in Mideast When Trump Closed Deal
Florida senator has been deep in Hill work since ending his White House bid

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio met with the Qatari foreign affairs minister, right, and the U.S. ambassador to Qatar on Monday. (Courtesy office of Sen. Marco Rubio)

As the Republican primary process came to a close , one former Trump rival had moved on — to the other side of the world.  

Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, is in the Middle East getting updates on the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, during the Senate recess.  

Biden Trip Won't Include Mideast Peace Push

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) will meet separately with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. during his Mideast trip. (Photo by CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)

There will be no attempts to secure a final-year Middle East peace pact when Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meets with Israeli and Palestinian leaders next week.  

Biden will depart Washington for the region Saturday night for a week-long trip during which he will meet with U.S. allies in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the West Bank. The White House on Friday, however, advised against expecting major progress toward an ever-elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace pact.