Trump continues to give Iran sanction waiver; wants changes in agreement

US President Donald Trump has announced that he will continue with extending key sanctions to Iran under the Iran nuclear deal formed in 2015. This will keep refrain from jeopardizing the accord. However, Trump is expected to give a deadline to the European allies to make marked improvements to the deal, barring which the US will withdraw from the agreement.

Trump was on the fence about whether he would approve the sanctions or not. His disapproval to offer sanctions would have effectively ended the deal. The deal is between Iran and six powerful nations to limit Iran’s nuclear powers. However, he will possibly form a fresh set of sanctions for other Iranian companies or groups of people.
The current President, a Republican has always been vocally critical of the agreement which had been entered into by his predecessor Barack Obama. In the past, Obama had been widely appreciated for having preventing Iran from realizing its nuclear programme fully. Other members of this deal are China, Russia, France, Germany, the UK and the European Union.
Despite the International Atomic Energy Agency stating that Tehran is keeping in line with the deal, Trump is the opinion that the US has been handed a raw end. In the end, he succumbed due to facing a huge amount of pressure from Europe to comply.
Sources – Reuters, BBC

USA had a dream, but what of it now?

US President Donald Trump has made many changes to the administration and policy since his term began in January of this year. Many of them have not been well-received and have aroused both anger and hatred from many across the world. A determined pushback of policy by Trump has been directed towards the vast area of immigration. Overcoming the lengthy controversy and vitriol stirred up by his decision to ban immigration from a number of countries to the USA that was widely seen as a policy of racial and religious discrimination, Trump has done it again. This time again, it has left many wondering about their future in the US.

Trump came to power on the strength of promises that he made during his campaign, one of the biggest being that he would build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. Mexico has repeatedly refused to pay for a wall and while this discussion has not progressed, Trump has taken a decision that will affect those already living in the USA, on a policy that is much lesser known and perhaps one that many do not fully understand.

In 2012, then president Barack Obama created a federal government programme that would protect from deportation those who arrived in the US as children and allow them to grow up in the country and find work in the US, legally. This was seen as a chance for these undocumented migrants to build themselves a life in the US, giving these children a right to temporarily residen, study and work in the US. This was known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and those protected by it were called the Dreamers. This programme was a compromise on the part of the Obama government on the DREAM act after Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act failed to pass. This bill had first been introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001 by United States Senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch and reintroduced many times since, without ever being passed.

Beneficaries of the DACA Act had to  necessarily be under the age of 18 and undocumented when they arrived in the US, were vetted thoroughly for any criminal history, threats they posed to national security, and had to be students or have completed school or military service. They also had to be below the age of 31 on 15 June 2012, the official date on which the programme began and had to be living continuously in the US for the last five years, i.e., since 2007. While the Dream Act allowed the migrants a chance to become permanent residents of the US, the DACA could merely defer deportation by two years, with a chance of renewal and allows them basics such as a work permit, a driver’s license and a change to enrol in college. Approximately 7,87,580 people are beneficiaries of this programme till date. A large chunk of these numbers hail from Mexico, brought to the US by their parents as children.

While one of Trump’s many promises during his campaign was to rollback DACA, no such measure had been taken till now. But on September 5, Trump and his administration announced that they would be ending DACA in March 2018, with “an orderly, lawful wind down”, as well as “the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program”. As Barack Obama said, the decision was “self-defeating” and contrary to “basic decency” and that  “A shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again.” Trump’s reversal of Obama’s policy has cast the fate of almost 800,000 people into doubt.

So what happens to them? Since Obama created this programme as an executive policy decision, Trump was only able to reverse the policy and has given Congress a period of six months to come up with a legislative policy. Till then, no more applications to DACA will be entertained and as of March 2018, the privileges enjoyed by those in the programmme will begin expire. In short, the status the Dreamers hold will be snatched away from them, unless Congress brings out a legislation allowing for some other method of temporary or permanent legal immigration status. As they lose their status, they become vulnerable to deportation and could be sent back to countries that they were born in.

Trump has stated that law-abiding Daca recipients will not be acted against. This is small consolation, however, and fear has been rising in the US since the announcement was made. The Trump administration and the Congress holds in its hands the fate of the Dreamers, for now.

Obama bans Offshore Drilling in Parts of Arctic and Atlantic

The Obama Administration announced a ban on offshore drilling of oil and gas in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans on December 20 in an attempt to legitimise the President’s environmental legacy. The announcement of the ban came shortly after Canada’s decision to implement a similar ban, with a set of actions that are to be reviewed at intervals of five years.

Obama’s move was made with the help of a 63-year-old law that states that the President of the United States has the ability to permanently cease offshore drilling in certain regions. The ban will hinder Donald Trump’s proposed policy to increase US energy production, and Trump could face significant legal barriers if he attempts to reverse the order.

Offshore drilling will come to a halt in the US part of the Chukchi sea, along with large parts of the Beaufort Sea. The protected regions span 115 million acres and have been chosen due to their rich biodiversity and collapsing ecosystem. They are also natural habitats for several critically-endangered species, like the bowhead whale, polar bear and Pacific Walrus.

The move was criticised by the American Petroleum Institute. Erik Milito, the group’s Upstream director, was quoted saying, “The administration’s decision to remove key Arctic and Atlantic offshore areas from future leasing consideration ignores congressional intent, our national security, and vital, good-paying job opportunities for our shipyards, unions, and businesses of all types across the country.” While the ban is indefinite, it is not permanent, and may be overturned in the future.


Sources: Sky News, The Washington Post

Obama promises action against Russia for hacking

In a recent interview, given to National Public Radio, to be aired on Friday morning, Barack Obama, the US President said that there will be action taken against Russia for attempting to hack the elections, which was an attempt for “impacting the integrity of” the American Presidential elections.

He mentioned that he was waiting for the final report he had ordered into the range of the hacking attacks by Russia, but guaranteed that proper action will be taken against the country.

According to a CIA assessment, which has been reported by various news agencies in America, Russia aimed to help Donald Trump win the elections by this act, but Obama has refrained from commenting on this claim.

Although in his interview, Obama did hint that the hack proved to be more problematic for Clinton’s campaign rather than Trump, saying, “ in fact what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign”, reported the TOI.

The hackers working for Russia broke into both the Democratic (party) National Committee’s (DNC) computer network as well as Hillary Clinton’s top advisor John Podesta’s private email account, as reported by various American intelligence officials.

In light of all these events, the intelligence agencies have been ordered by Obama to conduct a complete review of the cyber attacks before the beginning of Trump’s tenure.

Sources – TOI ,Washington Post

Image Source: AFP

Obama urges Trump to improve cybersecurity

To upgrade the cybersecurity and keep US secure, President Barack Obama has laid down certain recommendations under special commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. He has emphasised on the point that President-elect Donald Trump should follow these recommendations within 100 days of joining the office. “Now it is time for the next administration to take up this charge and ensure that cyberspace can continue to be the driver for prosperity, innovation, and change both in the United States and around the world,’’ said the outgoing leader.

Obama had set up this committee to identify cyber issues and provide necessary solutions to curb it. The duty of private sector in helping and providing useful measures for digital security has been focus point of the 100-page report. The commission also states that public and private sector should work together towards attaining the goal.

The report has been made by 12 legal and security experts like Thomas Donilon, former US national security adviser to Obama and former national security agency director General Keith Alexander. A recommendation has been made to set up a type “nutritional label” for devices to help the consumers in improving their purchasing decision.

The report is a proposal and it is up to Trump to accept those recommendations or discard them.

Sources: BBC, IBT

World’s toughest to-do list at UN General Assembly

While the United Nations General Assembly in session in New York this week, 140 heads of state gather to discuss the agenda for this year, in 71st  annual assembly. In addition, this will be Ban Ki- Moon’s last meeting as the UN Secretary General. Also, Barrack Obama will attend the assembly and make his final address for the last time as the President of the Unites States. Here are the few instances where dialogue translated into peaceful resolution:

Curbing violent extremism:


Terrorism has cast a dark spell in quite a few parts of the world this year and the central forces are failing miserably to check what seems to be the greatest threat to mankind. In fact, while the General Assembly is in session on the East River in Manhattan, the city was bombed injuring 29 people, which is now being by the New York Police. On the same day, a man stabbed nine people at a mall in Minnesota; and a blast disrupted a Marine Corps charity run in New Jersey.

After these possible terror attacks, the security has been tightened around all the UN events. Europe, on the other hand, has seen multiple instances of infiltration by extremists as well as ISIS militants, and very frequently at that.In addition the recent attack on the Uri Army Base in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by Pakistan’s denying any involvement in the assault when India has concrete evidences against them, has been the talk of the town ever since. To top it up, anti democratic speeches, coupled by counter speeches, particularly by Nawaz Sharif and other international political dignitaries outweighed the forum’s agenda to avoid war and negotiate differences.

Foster peace in the ravaged Middle East


In what seems to be an undying remnant of the cold war, Syria has born the maximum brunt of the never-ending tension between the US and Russia. The issue, which started with Moscow’s intervention in Syria after a strenuous meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Obama last year, has escalated out of proportion. This in response to the US strike on Syrian forces that the military had thought was an ISIS target. Moscow argued that the US was not ready to fully cooperate with them to fight militancy in the Middle-East, especially Syria, in an emergency Security Council meeting called by Russia after the US strike. Moscow also warned that the Syrian ceasefire might break down as a result of the assault.  

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the architects of the nascent ceasefire, are expected to meet and offer an update on its progress.

The world faces the worst global refugee crisis in a quarter century:


As per statistics offered by the United Nations, more than 21 million people are displaced today, half of them children, all of them in need of food, shelter, safety and livelihoods.  Waves of people fleeing countries such as Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan have overwhelmed the international refugee system. This record- breaking number of destabilised refugees has not only overwhelmed European nations leading to redefining its political landscape, but has also increased the risk of terrorist infiltrators. Moreover, it is giving rise to of right-leaning anti-immigrant political parties in Europe and becoming a divisive US presidential campaign issue as well. Emphasizing on the unprecedented strain that the refugees have placed on the host countries, Donald Trump warned a crowd to “lock your doors” to stay safe from Syrian refugees, and in June added that “a lot of those people are ISIS.” However, Obama announced that that it will increase the number of refugees it absorbs from 85,000 this year to 110,000 in 2017. Apart from expanded refugee settlement, the US is also ready to provide them with new opportunities such as improved access to education and legal employment. In addition, the administration said it would give $11 million to a UN fund that helps countries accepting refugees.

Threat of nuclear weapons


This month, North Korea’s largest nuclear test has managed to raise quite a few eyebrows at various international forums, mostly because the area accounts for 40 per cent of the global economy. Barrack Obama is all set to discuss all major Asian issues with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, besides North Korea’s nuclear tests.

Amongst the acoustics echoing in the grand hall that allows for shouts and screams to be heard by all, the ubiquitous issues of ending poverty, disease and hunger seem somewhat meek to be subjugated. However, the Assembly often plants the seeds for resolution of conflicts and hot button issues; even if it does not manage to provide absolute solutions.


US House passes JASTA

The US House of Representative passed “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” or JASTA on Friday by voice vote. The legislation would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for any kind of damage.

The White House has threated to veto the measure. According to them, the bill has the potential to strain relations with the Middle East. They have also added that it may provoke the foreign countries to make retaliatory laws that would allow their citizens to sue Americans for involvement in acts of terrorism.

The Bill had been cleared by the Senate four months ago.

A series of attacks carried out on September 11, 2001 killed more than 3,000 people in Washington D.C, New York and Pennsylvania. Four hijacked airliners were used in it out of which two attacked the World Trade Centre. Fifteen of the nineteen involved hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Saudi Arabia has not made any comments on it yet.

Two months ago the Congress released 28 declassified pages from a Congressional report which shows Saudi links including some governmental officials in the attack. The reaction from the House came after the release.