Saturday, January 28, 2017

Obama creates difficulties for Trump as he leaves office

As Obama ends his term he has been busy trying to make relations with Russia worse and create other problems for Trump. His most recent move is to try to impose UN sanctions on Syria through the UN Security Council.
Earlier, Obama expelled five diplomats and before that expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two compounds in response to alleged hacking by the Russians. The Russians have not responded with similar actions, perhaps to set the stage for better relations with Trump. Trump praised Putin for not responding. Obama has also sent U.S. troops and tanks to eastern Europe including Poland.
The U.S. wants to impose sanctions on Syria due to alleged chemical weapons use by the regime early in the civil war. Both Britain and France have been working to delay the vote until Obama is out of office. As a result, the issue is almost dead for now. Nevertheless, Obama has carried on with unilateral sanctions in effect a recognition that no UN sanctions are going to be voted at this time.
There are two main reasons for resistance to the vote now. First, U.S. allies do not want to start off with the new Trump administration with arguments over the fresh sanctions. Secondly, the action against Syria might make the Syrian peace talks later this month more complicated. Even President Obama had previously delayed the resolution when he was trying to get the talks going. Since the Obama administration will not be part of the peace process, he seems to now think it is fine to sabotage the process for Trump. An announcement of the sanctions can be found here. A video is also appended on the sanctions.
Russia has already invited the U.S. under Trump to the Syrian peace talks which will also include Turkey and Iran. If the U.S. participates it will be the first sign of increased U.S.-Russia cooperation. If an agreement is actually reached it would be a feather in Trump's hat. Assad claims that he has placed no conditions on the talks which are to take place in Astana, Kazakhstan on January 23rd. Obama seems determined to do everything he can to do the opposite of what Trump claims he wants, create better relationships with Russia.


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