Stories We’re Watching
Appointee Turnover Marathon: Zinke, out. Mulvaney, In.
Over the weekend, President Trump named former budget director Mick Mulvaney as acting chief of staff—after several high profile candidates publicly withdrew their interest. Some have pointed to Mr. Mulvaney’s comments in 2016, when he called then-candidate Trump a “terrible human being”. Also this weekend, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced his resignation amid several ethics investigations. Zinke has received increasing scrutiny as the head of the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks. Zinke is yet another of President Trump’s appointees to be investigated for ethics violations. Insiders say that Zinke’s likely successor is a former oil lobbyist.
- Daily Beast: Ryan Zinke’s Disregard for the Environment Was the Real Scandal
- Vox: Trump names Mick Mulvaney acting White House chief of staff
- Politico: Mulvaney called Trump a ‘terrible human being’ ahead of 2016 election
KSA Rejects US Senate’s ‘Interference’ After Landmark Resolution, Canada Considering Similar Withdrawal of Support
Earlier today, in a rare public rebuke, Saudi Arabia officially condemned US Senate resolution to withdraw US military support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen and to officially blame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Analysts caution that although last week’s resolution was the first time any Congress used the 1973 War Powers Act to withdraw US troops, the resolution might be largely symbolic. Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada looking for way to end shipments of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
- Wall Street Journal: Saudi Arabia Denounces Senate Resolution on Khashoggi Murder
- Reuters: Canada is looking for a way out of big Saudi arms deal, says PM
- The Globe and Mail: Trudeau says Ottawa looking for a way out of multibillion-dollar
- Saudi Gazette: Saudi Arabia rejects US Senate position
- Haaretz: Mohammed Bin Salman’s Woes Might Prove to Be Yemen’s Savior
Erdogan Says Trump OK’d Syrian Operation against Key US Allies
Earlier today President Erdogan repeated threats to mount a new incursion against key US allies in northern Syria. Presidents Erdogan and Trump spoke over the phone this weekend after the Pentagon called Erdogan’s plan ‘‘unacceptable.’ Turkish state media report that Erdogan has said President Trump gave the greenlight for the operation. President Erdogan has repeatedly accused the YPG forces of undermining the Turkish state and has called on the US to halt military support for Syrian Kurds. The US says that YPG is a critical ally in the fight against Daesh.
- RFE/RL: Turkey Says Trump Told Erdogan He’s ‘Working On Extraditing’ Gulen
- New York Times: Turkey Threatens Incursion Into Syria, Raising U.S. Concerns
- Reuters: Turkey revives ghosts of Gezi protests as elections loom
- Wall Street Journal: Trump Speaks With Erdogan as US-Turkish Tensions Climb
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US and Taliban Hold Peace Talks in UAE, China to Hold Kabul Meetings on Saturday
Earlier today, US and Afghan Taliban representatives held talks in the UAE to discuss options for ending hostilities in Afghanistan. Representatives were widely expected to discuss President Ashraf Ghani’s peace building initiatives, which call for greater participation by Taliban members. The talks come ahead of China’s Kabul meeting with representatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is scheduled for Saturday. Chinese and Pakistani representatives are expected to discuss an expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan as well as infrastructure investments.
- South China Morning Post: China vows to help Afghanistan, Pakistan resolve their disputes
- Voice of America: Pakistan Takes Credit for Arranging Upcoming US-Taliban Talks
- Haaretz: China Is Driving Use of Armed Drones in Middle East, Report Finds
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Afghan Taliban agrees to meet US officials in UAE
- New York Times: A Generation of Widows, Raising Children Who Will Be Forged by Loss
From Deep State Radio
ICYMI: DEEPTECH SPECIAL EDITION: WHAT HASN’T CHINA HACKED? Forget Big Brother, Big Uncle Is Watching YOU
Cloudhopper, Dragonfly, and Sharp Eyes aren’t whimsical hipster names or Proust’s lost short stories. They are initiatives all run (in some way or another) by China. US intelligence officials say that China appears to be on the rebound following a ‘truce’ reached during Obama’s tenure over corporate cyber espionage attacks. Since that ‘truce’, China has shifted its tactics and its targets, from theft of intellectual property to theft of millions of American civilians’ private data and attacks on critical US infrastructure. They have also upgraded their hacker units, from PLA Unit 61398 to the Ministry of State Security. US officials have attributed the Marriott hack to Chinese hackers and have linked it to two other attacks started in 2014: Anthem Insurance and the US Office of Personnel Management. Together, these three hacks gave China access to security clearance files, health records, passport data, and travel patterns. CONTINUE