Monday, May 22, 2017

Iran’s Foreign Minister Rebukes Trump for Criticizing His Country From ‘Bastion of Democracy’ Saudi Arabia

Iran and its destabilizing regional role was a major point of agreement at the weekend’s U.S.-Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh, and its foreign minister did not like the focus of attention. Read

In Saudi Arabia: Trump Tells Muslim Leaders to Confront 'the Crisis of Islamic Extremism'

President Trump presented the world’s top Muslim leaders Sunday with a message that was both reassuring and direct, offering “closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce” but also challenging them to “drive out” of their societies those who claim inspiration from Islam as they commit terror around the world. Read

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tillerson: Foreign Leaders Ready for Re-Engagement After Period of ‘Neglect,' 'Dismissal of Their Concerns’

People around the world “do not have the time to pay attention to what’s happening domestically” in the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday, disputing a suggestion that difficulties facing President Trump at home may be affecting his credibility or hampering foreign policy. Read

US-Led Coalition Attacks Pro-Assad Regime Forces in Syria

In a rare move, the U.S.-led coalition on Thursday attacked forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in southern Syria, although Defense Secretary James Mattis said the incident did not mean an increased U.S. role in the Syrian civil war. Read

Thursday, May 18, 2017

U.S. Opposes Sudan President’s Travel to Saudi Summit That Trump Is Attending

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Sudan have officially announced that Sudan’s president, accused of war crimes, will take part in a summit with President Trump in Riyadh at the weekend, although it seems unlikely King Salman would jeopardize what is being touted as a hugely important event for the kingdom. Read

Royce to Attorney-General: Charge Perpetrators of Turkish Violence Before They Leave the US

Those responsible for violently attacking anti-Erdogan protestors in Washington, D.C., should be charged before they leave the country, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Wednesday. Read

CAIR to Trump: Avoid ‘Pejorative Terminology’ and ‘Anti-Muslim Stereotypes’ in Your Saudi Speech

If President Trump wants to engage the world’s Muslims when he delivers a speech in Riyadh he should avoid “pejorative terminology” and “anti-Muslim stereotypes” promoted by some of his “Islamophobic” advisers. Read

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Political Repression on Embassy Row: Erdogan’s Men Attack Protesters in D.C.

Protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington on Tuesday afternoon were assaulted by men – many wearing dark suits and presumed to be Turkish officials – in scenes that stoked outrage on social media. Read

Behind Warm Words, Deep Divisions Between US, Turkey Over US Support for Syrian Kurds Fighting ISIS

President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan both touted the strong ties between the two NATO allies during their White House meeting Tuesday, but behind the warm words lay deep and unresolved differences over the nature and role of U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria. Read

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump Expected to Meet With Pakistan’s PM After Sharp Words From Both Sides

President Trump looks set to meet next week with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his first encounter with the leader of a country whose relationship with the U.S. has been characterized by resentment, distrust – and tens of billions of dollars in U.S. assistance. Read

Expanded ‘Mexico City’ Policy Won’t Affect Amount of Funding for, or Continuation of, Global Health Programs

The Trump administration’s significant expansion of a Reagan-era policy that prohibits federal funding for organizations that promote or perform abortions abroad will not affect the amount of funding the U.S. provides for life-saving health programs or the continuation of those programs, administration officials said Monday. Read

Monday, May 15, 2017

Saudis Mum on Whether Sudan’s President, Accused of War Crimes, Has Been Invited to Summit With Trump

Saudi Arabia has not confirmed reports that it has invited Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to a major Arab-Islamic-U.S. summit to be attended by President Trump in Riyadh next week, although Sudanese opposition figures claim that to be the case. Read

Netanyahu: Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Would Not Harm Peace Process

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hinted Sunday that Israel may not want the U.S. Embassy to move to Jerusalem if that could harm peace process prospects, but Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quickly rejected any such suggestion. Read

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tillerson On Climate Change: 'We’re Not Going to Rush to Make a Decision'

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday the Trump administration was in no rush to determine how to approach the issue of climate change, but would “make the right decision for the United States.” Read

Russia’s Foreign Ministry Slams US Media: ‘Colossal Bias …Lack of Independent Thinking’

Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday lashed out at the U.S. media for their coverage of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Washington this week. Instead of focusing on bilateral relations, American media outlets wanted to talk about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election and the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Read

Thursday, May 11, 2017

US Ambassador to Qatar Raises Eyebrows With Tweet Seemingly Critical of Trump

The U.S. ambassador to Qatar drew strong reactions on Twitter after appearing to criticize President Trump on the social media network hours after the president fired FBI Director James Comey. Read

Amid Dispute Over U.S. Arming Syrian Kurds, Mattis Says Relationship With Turkey ‘Not Always Tidy’

Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed confidence Wednesday that a dispute with Turkey over a U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters in the campaign to dislodge ISIS terrorists from their Raqqa stronghold will not affect a relationship between the NATO allies which he described as “not always tidy.” Read

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

‘Palestine’ Will Be There, But Taiwan Faces Exclusion From Annual UN Health Assembly

When the World Health Organization holds its annual general assembly in Geneva this month, the “State of Palestine” will be among observers but – unless China relents – the independent island democracy of Taiwan will not. Read

‘Islam Wants Domination’ Says Franklin Graham As Jakarta’s Christian Governor Is Jailed for Blasphemy

The world’s most populous Islamic country took another lurch backwards Tuesday when a court sentenced the capital city’s first Christian governor in half a century to two years’ imprisonment for “blasphemy.” Read

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Defense Secretary Says U.S. Will Decide 'Shortly' on Increasing Troops in Afghanistan

Defense Secretary James Mattis confirmed Monday that a decision could be expected “very, very shortly” on expanding the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, following reports indicating that between 3,000 and 5,000 additional personnel may be deployed. Read

As Russia Pushes Safe Zones in Syria, Mattis Asks, Who Will Ensure Safety?

Russia has presented a draft U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing safe or “de-escalation” zones in Syria, but Defense Secretary James Mattis cautioned Monday that the proposal leaves many questions unanswered. Read

Monday, May 08, 2017

Palestinian Leader of Prison Hunger Strike Filmed Eating Secretly in His Cell

Israel’s public security minister has slammed as a “hypocrite” the leader of a group of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike after he was filmed apparently eating surreptitiously in his cell. Read

Iran’s May 19 Election Will Not Change Nature of Brutal Regime, Critics Say

The May 19 election in Iran will make very little difference to Tehran’s major policies of repression and terror-sponsorship, two critics of the regime said during a press conference discussion in Paris on the upcoming vote. Read

Trump Congratulates Macron, France’s Youngest President-Elect, on ‘Big Win’

President Trump joined other world leaders on Sunday congratulating Emmanuel Macron, after the former banker with no previous electoral office roundly defeated Marine le Pen, the far-right populist whose rise was seen by some as part of the same nationalist wave that brought Trump to power and saw Britons vote to leave the European Union. Read

Friday, May 05, 2017

Trump May Speak at Symbolic Jewish Fortress When Visiting Israel

President Trump’s first trip abroad as president may include a speech at the highly symbolic ancient Jewish fortress of Masada, Israeli media outlets reported Thursday, after the White House announced a visit later this month to Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Vatican, Italy and Belgium. Read

Trump Says Social Media Helps Him to ‘Circumvent’ Fake Media

Social media enables him to “circumvent” unfair or false media reporting and quickly share the message he wants to get out, President Trump said Thursday. Read

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Trump: Achieving Mideast Peace ‘Maybe Not As Difficult As People Have Thought’

President Trump expressed optimism Wednesday that he may succeed where predecessors have failed in mediating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, even as visiting Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas recited the same list of positions rejected by Israeli governments in past negotiations. Read

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Putin: ‘We Never Interfere in the Political Affairs … of Other Countries’

President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday Russia “never” interferes in other countries’ political affairs but was itself a victim of outside interference, including through “so-called non-governmental organizations.” Read

UN Report: 70% of Egyptian Men Approve of Female Genital Mutilation

Most men in the Arab region hold rigid views about the place of women and assert their right to control their wives’ decisions – ranging from where they go to whether to work, and from what they wear to when the couple has sex, according to a survey conducted by UN Women and Promundo, a non-governmental organization focused on equitable gender relations. Read

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

60% Jump in Refugees Admitted to U.S. from March to April

With President Trump’s immigration executive orders still being held up by federal courts, the number of refugees admitted into the United States from around the world increased by 60.2 percent in April, with 3,316 arrivals compared to 2,070 in March. Read

Hamas Revamps Its Image, But Still Embraces ‘Armed Resistance’ and Does Not Recognize Israel

In a bid to shed its image as an Islamist terrorist group, Hamas on Monday launched a new political program that draws a distinction between Jews and “Zionists” as the enemy, but stopped short of recognizing Israel or renouncing violence. Read

Monday, May 01, 2017

Legal Think Tank Warns Hotel Group That Hamas Event May Violate US Law

A U.S. legal think tank has warned an international hotel group that it risks legal liability under U.S. federal law if it allows Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, to use one of its properties in Qatar for an event on Monday. Read

Trump: Dealing With North Korea Nuclear Threat ‘Maybe More Important’ Than a Trade Deal With China

President Trump has expressed a willingness to accept a less-than-ideal trade deal with China if necessary to get Beijing to help end the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and prevent a potentially devastating war. Read

Friday, April 28, 2017

North Korea Threatens to ‘Cut the Windpipe of U.S. Imperialists’ with Nuclear ‘Sword’

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to chair a special U.N. Security Council session Friday on the North Korean nuclear threat, Kim Jong-un’s regime accused the administration of risking “lighting the fuse of a total war” and repeated its threat of a nuclear response to any U.S. military action. Read

Russia, Other Autocracies Are Abusing Interpol Arrest Warrant System to Target Opponents, Critics Say

European lawmakers expressed concern this week that autocratic governments abuse the Interpol “red notice” system to target political opponents and dissidents, with Russia in particular named as a major culprit. Read

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Religious Freedom Watchdog For the First Time Urges Blacklisting for Russia

Declaring the general state of affairs for religious freedom around the world to be “worsening,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Wednesday called for the first time for Russia to be blacklisted. Read

Who Voted Saudis Onto UN Gender-Equality Body? Democracies Still Won’t Say

Fallout from Saudi Arabia’s election onto a top U.N. gender equality body continues, with lawmakers in Norway demanding to know whether their government was among a group of democracies which, under the cover of a secret ballot vote, helped to award the post to the kingdom. Read

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Palestinians Fume After UK Gov’t Rules Out Apology For Jewish Homeland Declaration

A Palestinian campaign to secure an official British apology for the 100-year-old Balfour Declaration has hit a wall, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s government saying it has no intention to do so. Read

State Dep’t to Turkey: Don’t Wage Your Anti-PKK War at Expense of the Anti-ISIS One

Turkey should not pursue its fight against the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at the expense of the broader campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), the State Department cautioned on Tuesday. Read

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Trump Disappoints Armenian Advocates by Not Referring to ‘Genocide’

Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, President Trump on Monday marked the anniversary of Ottoman Turkey’s mass atrocities against Armenians a century ago without using the weighty term “genocide,” prompting some Armenian critics to decry what they called “capitulation” to Ankara. Read

Trump: ‘You Just Don’t See the United Nations, Like, Solving Conflicts’

President Trump on Monday described the United Nations as an “underperformer,” telling a gathering of Security Council ambassadors that the world body “doesn’t like taking on certain problems.” Read

Monday, April 24, 2017

Unnamed Democracies Voted Saudi Arabia onto UN’s Top Gender Equality Body

When an influential U.N. commission last week voted to fill 13 vacancies on the top U.N. body dealing with gender equality and the advancement of women, 47 out of 54 countries agreed that Saudi Arabia deserved a slot from 2018-2022. Read

Russian-Backed Separatists Blame Kiev For Death of US Observer in Rebel-Held Eastern Ukraine

Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine blamed Ukrainian special forces for the death of an American observer killed in an apparent landmine explosion Sunday – saying it part of the “provocation” increasingly deployed by Russia and its proxies engaged in various conflicts. Read

Le Pen, to Face Centrist Macron in the French Presidential Run-off, Says the ‘Survival of France’ is at Stake

Populist right-wing National Front leader Marine le Pen and independent centrist Emmanuel Macron look set to go through to a run-off in France’s presidential election, after Sunday’s first round ended the presidential aspirations of the country’s two major political trends. Read

Friday, April 21, 2017

Out of 1,600 Iranian Presidential Hopefuls, 6 Deemed Eligible, Including Hardline Cleric

More than 1,600 Iranians formally applied to be allowed to run for the presidency in next month’s election, but a small legal-religious body appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has now announced that just six, including incumbent President Hasan Rouhani, are eligible. Read

Questions on Child Marriage, Genital Mutilation, Wife-Beating Included in New Australian Citizenship Test

Future applicants for Australian citizenship will asked a series of questions on “Australian values,” touching on subjects such as wife-beating, child marriage, genital mutilation and girls’ right to an education. Read

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Christian Religious Freedom Group Wins UN Accreditation After Years of Rejection by Repressive Regimes

After having its application slapped down more than a dozen times by a committee often dominated by repressive regimes, a Christian non-governmental organization advocating religious freedom finally won official U.N. accreditation on Wednesday. Read

Tillerson on Iran Deal: ‘Another Example of Buying Off a Power Who Has Nuclear Ambitions … Someone Has to Deal With it Later’

Sharply criticizing previous administrations’ approaches to dealing with rogue regimes, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday described the Iran nuclear deal as “another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions.” Read

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WH Says Trump’s Congratulatory Call to Erdogan Was Not an Acceptance of Election Result

Defending President Trump’s decision to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following Sunday’s controversial referendum win, a White House spokeswoman said Tuesday “the president’s number one job is to keep Americans safe.” Read

Pence Warns North Korea That ‘the Sword Stands Ready’

Vice President Mike Pence sent another clear warning to North Korea on Wednesday, telling personnel aboard a Japan-based U.S. aircraft carrier that “all options are on the table” when dealing with the Stalinist regime. Read

Incumbent Christian Governor Faces Muslim Challenger in Jakarta Election Marred by Blasphemy Allegations

After a campaign marred by religious tensions, charges of blasphemy, and threats of violence, millions of voters in the Indonesian capital go to the polls Wednesday to choose between the incumbent Christian governor and a Muslim challenger. Read

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NYT Concedes It Should Have Mentioned That Palestinian Op-Ed Writer Is Convicted Killer

After a storm of protest, the New York Times on Monday acknowledged it should have informed readers that the author of an op-ed excoriating Israel over the imprisonment of Palestinians was in prison for terrorist murders. Read

North Korea Pledges to ‘React to Any Mode of War Desired by the Americans’

United States’ policy in the Korean peninsula has created “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any minute,” North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the U.N. said in New York on Monday. Read

Monday, April 17, 2017

Syrian Dictator Urges UN to Act Against U.S. and Others It Accuses of Supporting Terrorists

The Assad regime on Sunday called on the United Nations to act against the United States and other governments that it says support terrorists in Syria. Read

A Deeply Divided Turkey Votes to Give President Far-Reaching New Powers

In a victory for Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish voters have decided by a narrow margin to usher in constitutional changes giving the president far-reaching new powers, after a campaign marked by tensions between NATO’s only Muslim member-state and European partners. Read

Friday, April 14, 2017

Assad Says U.S. ‘Fabricated’ Chemical Weapons Claims as Pretext for Airstrike

Claims that his regime used chemical weapons against civilians in Khan Sheikhun on April 4 were “fabricated” by the U.S., colluding with al-Qaeda terrorists, to provide a pretext for Friday’s cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview released Thursday. Read

Ahead of Vote, Erdogan Tells Supporters to Show ‘Turkey Is Not a Country to Mess With

Ahead of a fiercely-contested referendum Sunday on constitutional changes that would give him greater powers, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks Thursday to give a clear response to his critics in the West by voting “yes.” Read

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Putin Says Level of Trust Has ‘Probably Worsened’ Since Trump Succeeded Obama

The level of trust between Russia and the United States has not improved since President Trump took office, but has “probably worsened,” President Vladimir Putin has said in a new interview. Read

In Moscow, Tillerson Defends Trump’s ‘Animal’ Comment: Assad ‘Brought [it] Upon Himself’

Blasting what he called “media hysteria” over a April 4 chemical weapons attack in Syria, Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov disagreed sharply with his U.S. counterpart Wednesday over the Assad regime’s responsibility for the deadly assault, and delivered a curt lecture about past Western efforts to dislodge dictators. Read

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Putin on US Chemical Weapons Allegations: ‘It’s Boring, Ladies. We Have Seen This All Before’

Russian President Vladimir Putin charged Tuesday that the U.S. was wielding allegations of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime as a pretext for military action, just as it did in 2003 with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Read

Obama to Return to Limelight Next Month, Alongside Candidate Merkel in Germany

President Obama looks set to return to global headlines in late May, four months after leaving the White House, when he takes part in a discussion on democracy alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a religious festival in Berlin. Read

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pentagon, Russian Military at Odds Over U.S. Airstrike Damage

The Pentagon’s assessment of the damage caused by last week’s cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase stands in stark contrast to the Russian military’s claims that the effectiveness of the strike was “extremely low.” Read

Obama in 2015: ‘Assad Gave Up His Chemical Weapons…Those Have Been Eliminated’

The Obama administration’s assertions about the surrender and destruction of President Bashar al-Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons are back under the microscope following last week’s toxic gas attack on a town in northwestern Syria. Read