Next week there will be at least three major events of importance: The search for a new National Security Adviser, possible expansion of U.N. sanctions against Yemen, and the birthday of Robert Mugabe.
New National Security Adviser
With the resignation of General Mike Flynn as Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, the administration is scrambling to find his replacement. This story is quickly developing and could be very different before the weekend is over. Currently, retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg is the active National Security Adviser and is not expected to keep the position. So far the Trump administration has relied on and preferred senior military officials to lead his national security apparatus. Vice Admiral Robert Harward was offered the position, but turned down the offer this past Thursday. General David Petraeus’s name has also been floated around as a possible replacement. However, the choice of Petraeus may be problematic because he is still on probation from being found guilty of mishandling classified information while CIA director.
Some important questions will be asked about whomever Trump picks as his new National Security Adviser. How will the intelligence community view that person with the current seriously strained relations? And, will they keep most of the NSC even though it was custom picked for General Flynn?
That last part is important. The next National Security Adviser does not have the luxury of time, and the world will not wait for them to settle in to their new position. At this moment, Iran is being belligerent with its international obligations by firing banned missiles. North Korea is also doing the same and just this week Kim Jong Un’s brother in law, Kim Jong Nam, was assassinated in Malaysia. At this moment, Kim Jung Un is the primary suspect behind the death. Also, Russia is being very provocative by parking a spy ship off the East Coast of the U.S. Currently that ship is near Norfolk, Virginia.
Next week the United Nations will review its mandate in Yemen and possibly apply new sanctions. Yemen has been particularly important in Trump’s new administration. Shortly after taking office, he sent special forces there on a mission that resulted in the death of a U.S. Soldier (Read Article Here). Civilians were killed during the mission causing the Yemen government to ban U.S. ground operations in the country.
Yemen has been in an ongoing civil war since 2015 between the forces aligned with Ali Abdullah Saleh (Houthi’s have been a very dynamic part of that force) and those aligned with the former government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in the civil war with millions of civilians displaced.
The situation in Yemen has become very complicated with the introduction of Saudi Arabia, Iran, ISIS and Al Qaeda into the mix. Saudi Arabia has joined the fighting and has been criticized for human rights violations. These human rights violations caused President Obama in December to halt weapons sales to the Saudi military. President Trump is looking to reinstate the weapons sales as part of his emerging policy. Iran has also injected itself on behalf of the Houthi’s in the everlasting regional war of domination between Shia and Sunni’s in the Middle East. It is suspected that Iran is delivering arms to the Houthi’s either directly or through Hezbollah. On top of all this, ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are fighting for influence in the region.
The Trump administration will be watching closely what goes on the United Nations next week in regards to Yemen.
Next week Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe turns 93 years old. He has been president of the country since 1987 making him one of the longest serving world leaders today. His birthdays have been ostentatious affairs contrasting the downward spiral the country’s economic situation under his rule. Recently, Zimbabwe abandoned its floundering currency in favor for the U.S. dollar. Zimbabwe has always been a very resource rich country, but its economy has been badly run.
Mugabe holds on to power primarily because he is seen as the great liberator of the past when he freed the country from the white leadership of Rhodesia. However, those watching his birthday are looking for any signs of succession. Obviously Mugabe is very old and will only be alive for just so much longer, but it is a mystery how any transfer will occur. Some believe his wife, Grace, who is in her 50s could become the country’s main power figure. Others are watching Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a possible heir. Elections will be held next year, but Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has said he will be their nominee.