Can Putin Stop Israel and Iran Going to War?
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If anyone can prevent a war between Iran and Israel, it might be Vladimir Putin.
The Russian president hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the annual Red Square military parade, hours before Israeli forces struck dozens of Iranian targets inside Syria.
Netanyahu did his best to please, wearing on his lapel a brown-and-black St. George’s ribbon, a symbol of Russian World War II remembrance that has come to be the banner of the Kremlin’s intervention in Ukraine.
He had a big ask: That Putin not deliver advanced air-defense missiles to Syria, a move that could threaten Israel’s aerial dominance.
For now, Moscow seems willing to let the Jewish state mount limited strikes. While Iran is a key ally in the Syrian war, the Kremlin doesn’t want it to get too powerful. Russian officials are also worried about the risk of escalation, especially with thousands of Russian troops based there.
Putin has a vested interest in keeping Iran in his corner, and is sending a top diplomat today to Tehran for talks.
Trump, triumphant | The president reveled in a rare feel-good foreign policy moment early this morning as he welcomed the three American detainees freed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump declared the release of the prisoners — who arrived to the assembled press corps and a giant, billowing American flag — as evidence of Kim's desire to “do something very meaningful.” He also joked that the homecoming event would set a 3 a.m. television ratings record.
Comeback kid | Mahathir Mohamad, who ran Malaysia with an iron fist for more than two decades and played political kingmaker after leaving power, came out of retirement at the age of 92 to dethrone Prime Minister Najib Razak in a shock political upset. Ending a six-decade run in power for Najib’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, Mahathir has big plans to abolish a key tax and boost law and order and race relations.
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Breakthrough in Italy | After more than two months of negotiations and quarreling since Italy's inconclusive elections, Silvio Berlusconi folded yesterday, paving the way for a populist alliance to take power. The anti-establishment Five Star and Berlusconi's ally, the euroskeptic League, are thrashing out who should lead the government after the former prime minister dropped his objections to their working together.
Drug money probe | A torrent of drug-cartel money flowed through the U.S. arm of a Dutch banking giant, and now federal investigators are pursuing former senior executives for allegedly covering it up, Jesse Hamilton and Tom Schoenberg exclusively report. Rabobank NA’s former chief executive officer is among those the Justice Department is considering charging with obstructing efforts to dig into the firm’s failures to prevent money laundering.
And finally ... Trump campaigned on a pledge to stop China's “rape” of the U.S., which he described as “the greatest theft in the history of the world.” But it's the states whose voters helped put Trump in the White House that would be hit hardest by China's plans to retaliate against new U.S. trade tariffs, according to a report to be released today. The American Action Forum, a Washington-based group that opposes protectionism, found that seven of the 10 states facing potential Chinese tariffs on more than $1 billion of exports backed Trump in 2016.
— Corrects spelling of Mahathir Mohamad’s name.
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