President Donald Trump will soon meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. When he does, he must respond to a challenge Putin threw down in Syria, on the heels of Trump’s diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea.
How Trump and his administration respond to that challenge will affect not only the future of U.S.-Russian relations, but also Trump’s ability to operate credibly on the international stage. And, more acutely, it will impact the prospect for a major war in the Middle East.
Last July, despite nearly desperate Israeli opposition, Trump and Putin concluded a ceasefire accord regarding southern Syria. Jordan was also a party to the deal.
On Saturday, in a highly destabilizing and contemptuous move, Putin threw the deal into the garbage can.
The deal, the “Memorandum of Principle for De-escalation in Southern Syria” had three main components.