This was excerpted from the January 8 edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff John Kelly has been reflecting on the President’s temperament, which led after four chaotic years to his incitement of a mob assault on the US Capitol. “From a distance, it’s impossible to understand who he actually is,” Kelly said in an unusually candid and disturbing interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper last week.

The respected retired general observes the military code of never speaking ill of the chain of command, and doesn’t typically badmouth his former boss in public. But he now says that if he were still in the Cabinet, he’d argue Trump was unfit for office and to invoke the 25th Amendment.Trump’s personality deficiencies are no secret, with publicly vengeful, vain and juvenile behavior every day. So perhaps Kelly should have understood what he was in for when he went to the West Wing.But he sought to explain why respected US officials stayed in their posts even as Trump obliterated their reputations — at least in the early years of his term. “When you begin to start working for him and understand how flawed he is, then it’s a matter of staying in the job as long as you can stand it and try to prevent some disaster,” he said. Kelly also partly blamed events like Wednesday’s riot on successors’ failure to “manage” the President. (It’s always troubling to hear the man with America’s nuclear codes characterized as a child.)Read MoreThe Capitol siege has magnified long-standing concern about Trump’s temperament. Whatever you think of his politics, the final days fretting over Trump’s psychological state and his fitness for the job underscore what should have been obvious for years: His presidency is a tragic, historic mistake.Meanwhile in the Middle EastSaudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomes the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a screen in the media centre ahead of the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomes the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a screen in the media centre ahead of the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomes the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a screen in the media centre ahead of the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.What Gulf Arab politics lacks in transparency, it makes up for in pomp and fanfare. On Tuesday, a long hug between Qatar’s Emir Tamim Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke volumes: Throwing caution about the pandemic to the wind, the embracing leaders looked eager to erase a nearly four-year Gulf Arab rift from memory.Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt began their boycott of Qatar in mid-2017, but in a flash their demands disappeared this week from leaders’ speeches. The detente agreement is still under wraps, so it’s unclear if Qatar has made concessions to its former foes, but the tiny Arab state seems so far unaffected. For one thing, the so-called “Arab Quartet” had originally demanded that Qatar close its Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera — but not only has the pan-Arab TV station continued to broadcast, it began hosting Saudi guests again on the day the dispute ended. It was a spell of déjà vu for Arab spectators. For regional pundits, the hug confirmed what many suspected: Gulf Arab leaders, trying to curry favor with President-elect Joe Biden, are attempting to undo some of the Trump administration’s effects on the region. Because Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, helped to patch up the dispute, it’s easy to forget that Trump himself took credit for the original boycott — which began less than six months after he took office —implying that Arab leaders had heeded his calls to combat terrorism when they severed ties with the gas-rich state. Gulf Arab unity, which many took for granted, shattered at that moment, and Arabs have braced for more regional transformations. But with leaders’ reconciliation on Tuesday came a sigh of relief, premature though it may be. The Middle East may not exactly be back to “normal,” but familiar power plays in a crisis-ridden region are more comforting than the unknown future of a divided Gulf. — CNN’s Tamara Qiblawi writes to Meanwhile from Beirut’What a spectacle’Foreign governments and diplomats expressed shock over Wednesday’s rioting in the US capital, but not all Meanwhile readers were taken by surprise. “I watched the scenes from my warm living room in Normandy. Quite frankly, as horrifying as they were (funny though, if it had been Venezuela, Bolivia or some African country I don’t think I would have paid that much attention) I can’t say I’m entirely surprised,” wrote Marta from France. “I think Wednesday was incredible but the most incredible thing was Trump’s election.” Sabine in Germany also said the violence was “expected” — especially after a similar attempt in Berlin last year. “This was total horror, even if it was totally expected. Actually, I had expected the US to descend into civil war right after the November election,” she wrote. “In Germany, there had been a very similar situation last summer, the only difference was that the head of our government is not the head of a terrorist organization. … I think it is absolutely plausible that Trump himself actively discouraged Federal forces from defending the Capitol.”Some readers said they were surprised — though largely by Washington’s weak security response to thousands of people storming a government building.”I just could not believe what I was seeing on the TV, from my comfortable sofa in Spain,” wrote Peta. “My thought was, ‘Why are there no reinforcements, where are they?’ These sort of scenes are played out in countries that are ruled by Dictators, but those demonstrators do not get very far.””Astounded that it could occur in the seat of American democracy; astounded that the police took so, so long to gain control of the situation. … That there was no rapid reaction force (of whatever stripe) available to protect both the Whitehouse and Capitol beggars belief!” — David in WalesLeciel in Zimbabwe saw parallels from history in Trump’s incitement of the riot. “I have lived in Africa for 74 years under the likes of Robert Mugabe and so have seen how banana republics’ leaders behave and conduct elections … ,” they wrote. “My goodness, what a spectacle.”And watching it all from South Africa, Beverly said schadenfreude was out of the question. “Our own struggle to democracy was painful and bloody. We know how delicate and precious it is,” she wrote. “To see America’s democracy, which was also hard-won, trampled into the gutter is not a triumphalist, told-you-so moment, as much as it is a deep mourning from the side of a grave.”

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https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/10/world/meanwhile-in-america-january-8-intl/index.html

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