According to Fran Townsend, CBS News senior national security analyst and former homeland security adviser under President George W. Bush, it’s a signal that the world should expect a tougher stance from the U.S. on Iran.
“This administration is not going to be passive about what they perceive – and what is rightly – a very aggressive Iran,” Townsend said Friday on “CBS This Morning.”
In a significant shift, the Trump administration also dispatched U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday to make a statement demanding that Russia withdraw from Ukraine.
“I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia,” Haley said. “We do want to better our relations with Russia. However the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.”
Townsend said the Trump administration is trying to send another clear signal.
“We should not assume that Nikki Haley was freelancing here. … Russia cares about many things, whether it’s the Assad regime [or] its access to their port in Tartus in Syria,” Townsend said. “There is a larger sort of Russian policy that’s being formulated here, and Ukraine and Crimea is one piece.”
After President Trump met behind closed doors with Jordan’s King Abdullah Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., the White House issued a statement suggested Israel curb its settlement building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, saying it “may not be helpful in achieving” peace. So does this mean the Trump administration’s position on Israel and settlements has changed?
“I wouldn’t read too much into that,” Townsend said. “Look, this is not the Obama administration policy about ‘settlements are an impediment to peace.’ This is, ‘it may not be helpful.’ I think it’s a signal to Prime Minister Netanyahu that from this point forward he should not be so aggressively pursuing new settlements, but I think this is a much more friendly administration in terms of understanding Netanyahu’s position.”
According to the White House, during the meeting with King Abdullah, Mr. Trump said the U.S. was committed to Jordan’s “stability, security, and prosperity” and thanked the king for his leadership in the Middle East.
“The Jordanian king is our strongest ally there and he’s under tremendous pressure, whether it’s refugees coming in from Syria, Israel policy,” Townsend said. “I think we have to be, and the administration is signaling, they’re going to be receptive and listen to the Jordanian king and seek his advice and counsel.”