The latest developments in U.S.-Iran tensions. Lawmakers return to Washington to wrangle over details of the impeachment trial. We look ahead to a busy week in the news.
Darlene Superville, White House reporter, Associated Press. (@dsupervilleap)
From The Reading List
The New York Times: “Qassim Suleimani, Master of Iran’s Intrigue, Built a Shiite Axis of Power in Mideast” — “He changed the shape of the Syrian civil war and tightened Iran’s grip on Iraq. He was behind hundreds of American deaths in Iraq and waves of militia attacks against Israel. And for two decades, his every move lit up the communications networks — and fed the obsessions — of intelligence operatives across the Middle East.
“On Friday, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the powerful and shadowy 62-year-old spymaster at the head of Iran’s security machinery, was killed by an American drone strike near the Baghdad airport.
“Just as his accomplishments shaped the creation of a Shiite axis of influence across the Middle East, with Iran at the center, his death is now likely to prove central to a new chapter of geopolitical tension across the region.
“General Suleimani was at the vanguard of Iran’s revolutionary generation, joining the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in his early 20s after the 1979 uprising that enshrined the country’s Shiite theocracy.”
The Hill: “Pressure builds over impeachment impasse in Senate” — “The Senate is set to return on Friday with impeachment trial negotiations stuck at an impasse.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) left town last month without a deal on key points like rules for the proceeding and who, if anyone, will be called to testify. Schumer left Washington urging Republicans to use the two-week break to consider an initial offer.
“But the holidays have done little to break the stalemate between the Senate leaders, or between McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has not yet revealed when she plans to send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate.
“McConnell didn’t speak to either Schumer or Pelosi about the trial over the holiday recess, according to aides, underscoring the depth of the standoff.
“The GOP leader kept a relatively low profile over the holidays after indicating during a press conference that the talks were on ice until January. That makes Friday the first chance for McConnell to fire back at Democrats, when the Senate reconvenes at noon.”
Slate: “Australia’s Worst Wildfires in Decades Are About to Get Even Worse” — “The worst wildfires to ravage Australia in decades—already blamed for the deaths of at least 17 people—are expected to cause more damage over the weekend, as the country faces soaring temperatures and no rain in sight.
“The fires have prompted authorities to announce a state of emergency in New South Wales, where the fires are concentrated, to cope with the dangers expected Saturday. On Thursday, the state’s premier, Gladys Berejiklian, warned in a news conference that many more people would likely have to flee their homes in the next few days. A large “tourist leave zone” has been declared in New South Wales, and according to the BBC, the resulting exodus has been called “the largest relocation out of the region ever.” Thousands already have evacuated from New South Wales and the neighboring state of Victoria this week.
“Around 4,000 people in the popular tourist town of Mallacoota, Victoria, sought refuge at the beach on Monday after the fire overtook the town, and the Australian navy began evacuating them on Thursday. Some 800 were being rescued on a naval ship.”
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.