Is Trump’s Muslim ban a gift to ISIL?

We talk to counterterrorism expert and former FBI agent Ali Soufan, and debate Putin’s role on the world stage.

In this week’s UpFront, we speak to former FBI agent and counterterrorism expert Ali Soufan on the potential consequences of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

In the Reality Check, Mehdi Hasan points out the hypocrisy of global leaders of nuclear powers on their ever-expanding nuclear arsenals.

And in the Arena, we debate whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is outmanoeuvring his political opponents both at home and abroad.

Headliner – Former FBI agent: Muslim ban ‘not about security’

Last week, President Donald Trump implemented a travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries coming into the United States.

Will this so-called Muslim ban backfire and simply embolden groups like ISIL, or will it help to protect the US?

Former FBI agent and counterterrorism expert Ali Soufan says Trump’s policy decisions are a “godsend” to ISIL.

“ISIS members and ISIS leaders, at least in their propaganda, have been calling President Trump and his ban and his recent policies a godsend,” says Soufan, who is also the CEO of intelligence think-tank The Soufan Group. “We cannot win this war by dealing with our friends the same way we deal with our enemies.”

Asked if this was in the interests of national security, Soufan said it would “hurt”, not help.

“It’s very difficult, Mehdi, to say it’s about security,” says Soufan, who also serves as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. “It’s very difficult to say there is not an anti-Muslim sentiment in these policies to cater to a specific base that they probably have in Washington.”

“We have to protect our country, but we have to do it in sync with our principles, in sync with our values.”

In this week’s Headliner, former FBI agent Ali Soufan discusses the Muslim ban and its potential fallout.

Reality Check – Nuclear disarmament or nuclear hypocrisy?

President Donald Trump reportedly asked a foreign policy expert three times why the US can’t use nuclear weapons during his presidential campaign.

While world leaders may have been right to criticise Trump’s line of questioning amid global promises to reduce nuclear stockpiles, why are world nuclear powers expanding and updating their arsenals instead?

In this week’s Reality Check, Mehdi Hasan exposes the hypocrisy of the global nuclear elite.

Arena – Has Putin outplayed his rivals at home and abroad?

With Russia’s uncontested hold on Crimea, the air campaign in Syria and Vladimir Putin’s seeming influence with President Donald Trump, does the Russian leader have the upper hand on the international stage strategically, militarily and geopolitically?

“That’s an exaggeration … he has a certain way to approach things and he manifests himself very nicely,” says Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of the Russian parliament. “But, the question is whether Russian people are living better than they were previously? No.”

“Putin is simply using the lack of any initiative on the part of the Western governments, on the part of EU and, obviously, the absolutely disastrous foreign policy of Obama,” says former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov. “I’d rather say the West is losing than Putin is winning.”

When asked about Ponomarev’s 2015 claim that Russia was seemingly like 1930s Germany, the former Duma member said that though Putin is no Hitler, what Putin is doing “reminds” him of Nazi Germany.

“Vladimir Putin is not Hitler, he is just a kleptocrat,” says Ponomarev. “But in terms of what he’s building inside the country, reminds me very much of that period in Germany.”

“Putin has to have a strong hand because you can’t run Russia being a weak leader,” counters Nekrassov. “Russia is still in the transition stage. It had the most horrible dictatorship for more than 70 years.”

In this week’s Arena, commentator and former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov debates Putin’s role on the international stage with former Duma member Ilya Ponomarev.

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