Russia hosts Afghan peace talks: Trumpdom faces Democrat-led House | Sunday Observer

Russia hosts Afghan peace talks: Trumpdom faces Democrat-led House

The opposition Democratic Party’s upset take-over of the House of Representatives in last Tuesday’s mid-term general elections in the United States will certainly see some modulation of the governing Republican Party’s mad rush to transform American government in its favour. But will this considerable shift in the balance of governmental power in Washington, significantly change US foreign policy - away from its current isolationist track?

Even as domestic political developments revitalise American politics after two years of unmitigated, embarrassingly crude, Trumpism, in Moscow also last week there began a new Russian initiative to bring peace to Afghanistan. And as Iran braced for the impact of sweeping US economic sanctions, the turmoil in Palestine continued with yet another protestor dying from Israeli troop firing in the Gaza Strip last week.

In last Tuesday’s general elections in America, all 435 seats of the House of Representatives were up for election and for the first time in eight years, the opposition Democratic Party won enough seats across the country to gain control of the House. In the Senate, where just 35 of the 100-seat upper chamber, were up for election, the Democratic Party lost two seats while the Republican Party has enhanced its slim majority by another 3 seats.

Thus, the Republicans retain control of the Senate but lost the House. Hence, the US legislature is now divided between the two dominant political parties in the country. The retention of Republican control of the Senate is crucial for President Donald Trump who is currently facing a massive federal criminal investigation into corruption and foreign collusion within his 2016 presidential election campaign leadership. The FBI investigation has so far indicted over a dozen top and minor officials of the Trump campaign. While some have pleaded guilty and are actively cooperating with the investigators, other accused are fighting their cases.

The FBI probe into Russia’s intervention and the suspected collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russian agents is most controversial and politically most significant. But, no one has been found guilty so far of actually collaborating with the Russians to undermine the US electoral process and to tilt the election outcome in favour of the Trump candidacy.

If the FBI probe uncovers proof of a Russian collusion and that Trump was aware of it, then the US President becomes the chief accused in what will then be a serious case of violation of national security and of subversion. Since the President cannot be judicially prosecuted, the constitution provides for impeachment by the Senate. The Republican Party that controls the Senate is highly unlikely to proceed with impeachment unless the FBI probe findings indicate high treason on the part of the accused.

Thus, the outcome of last week’s election indicates the great likelihood of Donald Trump continuing with his term in office. How much he will retain the confidence of Republicans to be able to stand for re-election will be decided on how much more he misbehaves in office. Already there are many Republicans who are getting tired of having to cover-up the blunders of their President.

Analysts the world over are intrigued over the major new political development in America and its possible effect on Washington’s geo-political behaviour. For instance, can the newly Democrat controlled House of Representatives compel the White House to soften its current mad total rejection by the US of the Iran Nuclear Pact?

The Iran Nuclear Pact, after all, was one of the greatest foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration, and is currently working perfectly in terms of Iran’s steady compliance with the nuclearisation controls imposed by it. At least that is what the United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regularly report and, what the rest of the world community accepts as the right picture. The Iran Pact was supposed to have also helped somewhat stabilise geo-politics in West Asia as a result of the socio-economic stabilisation within Iran as well as the defusing of tensions between Iran and the US and ally Saudi Arabia.

Likewise, the management of the environment and fighting climate change are key policy interests of the Democratic Party and it is likely to try to roll back some of the changes that the White House had effected to the domestic pollution control regime

With their new majority in the lower chamber of the US legislature, the biggest club that the Democrats will have to wield against the Republican Presidency is the FBI’s historic criminal probe against the Trump presidential campaign. The FBI probe, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller (a former FBI chief) has been grinding its way through the cases involving several Trump campaign officials, but there is yet no indication as to when Trump himself is likely to be the subject of investigation. Others awaiting probes include the President’s multimillionaire son-in-law Jared Kushner who held a key position in the Trump campaign and is suspected to have actually had dealings with Russian agents.

It is now highly likely that the newly powerful Democrats in the House of Representatives will launch their own House investigations into Trump’s many nefarious activities - from illicit women lovers and cover-ups of affairs to receiving kickbacks and favourable real estate deals from Russian oligarchs seeking to launder billions of dollars’ worth of black money.

Analysts are also waiting to see if the Democrat led House will endeavour to intervene in US trade practices in a bid to revitalise the longstanding US trade deals with its many friends and allied states. Many in the US – and in the rest of the world – are hoping that the arrival of the Democrats will see some modulation of America’s new wave of isolationism and movement away from the current White House’s aggressive discarding of several major multilateral trade dealings maintained so far between the US and its major trade partners.

China may be hoping that the Democrats might attempt to push the White House toward a constructive dialogue with Beijing over the ongoing trade war between the two most powerful economies.

Meanwhile, Russia has again stepped into the vacuum caused by US’s isolationism. Earlier, it was Russia’s mediation and facilitation of negotiations between the relevant geo-political actors that has seen some movement towards stability in the Syrian civil war. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an extended negotiation initiative drawing in all the principal actors in the Afghan civil war. The Afghan government (through some civilian proxies), the Taleban, China, India and several neighbouring central Asia states are involved in the negotiations.

The US, which has begun secret talks with Taleban representatives based in Qatar, is also sending an observer to the meeting being held in Moscow over the weekend, India is attending a process that has the ‘terrorist’ Taleban in it, for the first time, in a break from an earlier policy that kept the Afghan Islamist ‘terrorists’ at a distance.

A notable feature of the historic Democrat success in the mid-term general elections is the record number of women candidates who contested and the record number who won seats in the House.

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