Iran is a common target. U.S. officials threatened that countries still importing Iranian oil will face potential sanctions starting last week, after a six-month waiver allowing those countries to find other sources of oil expires. (Still curious? Here are five things to know about why Washington is upping the pressure on Tehran, how Iran might react, and who stands to gain and lose from the sanctions.)
Time’s up for two states: Jared Kushner offered fresh insights on Thursday into the White House’s elusive Middle East peace plan. A key quote: “If you say ‘two-state’ [solution], it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians. So we said, you know, let’s just not say it.”
This makes Kushner just the latest Trump official who has not unequivocally backed a two-state solution, a long-standing tenet of U.S. peacemaking policy.
Secretary(-in-Waiting) of Defense: The former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan took the reins of the Pentagon on an interim basis in December, but Trump still hasn’t officially nominated him for the post, leaving Shanahan in an “endless limbo,” as Gilsinan reported. Will that change this week?
After Shanahan was cleared of wrongdoing in an ethics probe last month, people expected an official nomination. It didn’t happen. On Friday, Trump told reporters that Shanahan’s nomination will “be discussed next week.”
This is to say nothing of whether Shanahan is qualified for the job: Uri Friedman wrote that Shanahan was an “enigma” for leading the Department of Defense with no military experience and just a year and a half in government, while his predecessor, James Mattis, served in the military for decades.
This also happened: The State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent condos at Trump World Tower. (Julia Harte, Reuters)
🇨🇳 EYES ON China
A trade-war truce: The United States and China have been in a trade “war” since the U.S. decided last spring to punish China for what Washington views as unfair trade practices.
But even if negotiators reach a deal this week, long-standing differences remain impossible to resolve: “The trade dispute is about far more than tariffs and deficits. It is a contest of two very different national ideologies,” Michael Schuman noted in January.
And as Annie Lowrey asked in December, “Does Trump even understand how tariffs work?” (The answer, Lowrey wrote: No, and they probably won’t achieve very much.)
Who’s afraid of Chinese tech? On Wednesday, the CFO of Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications giant that has sought to export its 5G technology (which Alexis Madrigal described as “the future of using your phone”), appears in court in Canada. Washington wants Meng Wanzhou extradited to the United States to face fraud charges.
American officials see Huawei as connected to China’s national-security apparatus. Huawei executives claim this isn’t true. But as Schuman writes, “In China, where the distinction between state and society is, at best, blurred, intelligence services could and would exploit the company’s equipment, no matter what its executives promise.”