Friday, February 27, 2009

Fresh Political Upheaval in Pakistan Adds to Security Concerns

New political turmoil in Pakistan, triggered by a court ruling against a popular politician, could have a spillover effect in the troubled frontier areas and Afghanistan, distracting the central government and allowing Taliban-led insurgents a freer hand. Read

Australia Seeks Ways to Reduce Animal Gas Emissions

In its ongoing quest to reduce the emissions of gases blamed for climate change – and placate grumbling green activists – the Australian government has earmarked $17 million for research into how to prevent the country’s 120 million farm animals from emitting so much methane. Read

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Free Speech Advocates Launch Campaign for ‘International First Amendment’

Troubled by attacks on free expression by groups wanting to shield Islam from criticism or scrutiny, free speech advocates are preparing to unveil a campaign for an “international First Amendment.” Read

China Slams US Report Saying Its Rights Record Has Worsened

China’s human rights record deteriorated in some areas in 2008, according to a State Department assessment released just days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to downplay human rights as a priority in Washington’s engagement with Beijing. Read

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hamas Stance on PLO May Complicate Palestinian ‘Unity’ Talks

Following the recent Israeli elections and military operation in Gaza, Palestinian factions are due to meet in Cairo on Wednesday, but recent Hamas attacks on the once-sacrosanct Palestine Liberation Organization are complicating attempts to achieve Palestinian unity. Read

OIC Welcomes U.S. Shift on Durban II; Denies Anti-Semitic Intent

Everyone should have the right to criticize breaches of human rights, and if Islamic states use an upcoming U.N. racism conference to criticize Israeli policies this “should neither be perceived nor portrayed as anti-Semitism,” according to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Read

Monday, February 23, 2009

Islamists Kill African ‘Crusader’ Peacekeepers

Jihadists in Somalia responsible for the deaths of 11 African Union peacekeepers on Sunday targeted their victims while they were attending a church service, according to a spokesman for the Islamists. Read

Iran Denies It Offered the West A Deal to Continue With Its Nuclear Program

Iran has denied a top British diplomat’s claim that Iranian officials secretly offered to end attacks on coalition soldiers in Iraq and stop interfering in Iraqi affairs in return for Tehran being allowed to continue its nuclear program. Read

Friday, February 20, 2009

Turn to China, Islamists Urge Pakistan Government

Mainstream Islamists in Pakistan are urging the government to turn to China to extricate the country from “the clutches” of the United States, arguing that the two Asian countries are both targeted by U.S. conspiracies. Read

OIC Military Force Remains No More Than a Vision

A month after a top Malaysian government minister stirred debate on the need for a joint Islamic military force, the country’s foreign minister has shot down the idea “for the moment,” saying there were too many differences between Islamic states. Read

Thursday, February 19, 2009

‘Never Again’ Appeal Made by Lawmakers Worried About Durban II

As a U.S. delegation attempts to salvage a controversial United Nations conference on racism, a gathering of lawmakers from mostly Western countries laid down a new marker: never again should international institutions be used to legitimize anti-Semitism. Read

North Korean Uranium Enrichment Issue Re-Emerges as Clinton Visits Seoul

Just days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to play down the importance of North Korea’s uranium enrichment activities relative to its plutonium-based program, a major South Korean newspaper has put the uranium issue back in the spotlight. Read

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Israel Concerned Hamas May Use Missing Ordnance in Future Attacks

Israel is concerned that five tons of unexploded ordnance from its recent offensive against Hamas, now missing from a warehouse in Gaza City, could be used against Israeli civilians. Read

South Korea Signals Tougher Stance Towards North

Four years after softening its terminology regarding North Korea in its biennial defense blueprint, the South Korean government this week said it was adopting tougher language, reflecting growing concern about the threatening behavior of its Stalinist neighbor. Read

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Indonesia Viewed As A Potential Bridge Between Islam, U.S.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Asian tour this week takes her to a country that some believe is well positioned to act as a bridge between America and the Islamic world. Read

Monday, February 16, 2009

Obama’s Policy Shift on Durban Racism Conference Draws Concern, Criticism

When diplomats meet at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday to continue hammering out plans for an international conference on racism in the spring, representatives of the United States will take part for the first time in years. Read

Captured Soldier Moves to Top of Israel’s Priority List

Israel will not agree to a ceasefire with Hamas or open crossing points into the Gaza Strip unless a soldier kidnapped in Gaza 32 months ago is freed. Read

‘Welcome to the Bolivarian Decade’

Fresh from winning a referendum scrapping term limits, Venezuela’s left-wing President Hugo Chavez late Sunday declared the start of a new “Bolivarian” decade and confirmed he would stand for re-election again in 2013. Read

Friday, February 13, 2009

Two Decades On, Rushdie Death Sentence Fatwa Still Valid

Twenty years after Iran ordered the death of British author Salman Rushdie and his publishers for blaspheming Islam, Tehran has confirmed that the verdict still stands. Read

Sen. Kerry to Visit Syria As Hariri Tribunal Prepares to Begin Work

U.S. Senator John Kerry’s planned visit to Damascus this month will take place just days before a United Nations tribunal probing the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is due to begin its work. Read

Thursday, February 12, 2009

‘World Arrogance’ is Defeated, Ahmadinejad Says of U.S.

One day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Tehran was ready for talks with Washington “in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect,” he declared that the power of “world arrogance” – Iranian terminology for the United States – had been broken. Read

Britain Deports Anti-Islamist Dutch Lawmaker

Dutch anti-Islamist lawmaker Geert Wilders tried without success Thursday to defy a ban on traveling to Britain, where he was invited to attend a screening at the House of Lords of his provocative film linking the Koran to extremism and terrorism. Read

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ambiguous Election Result Leaves Israel in Flux

Israeli voters handed Kadima and its leader, Tzipi Livni, a small victory in elections Tuesday, but the strong showing of right-wing parties makes it far from certain that she will be able to build a workable governing coalition and become Israel’s second female prime minister. Read

Iran’s Future Behavior A Factor in Missile Defense Plans, Clinton Says

The Obama administration has given its clearest indication of a willingness to shelve a proposed ballistic missile defense umbrella in eastern Europe, linking movement on the program with Iran’s future conduct. Read

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

China Eases Through U.N. Human Rights ‘Review’

A United Nations “review” of China’s human rights record this week highlighted the weakness of a new procedure that was supposed to be the chief improvement in the U.N.'s reformed human rights system, critics say. Read

Deadly Australian Wildfires Fuel Debate About Controlled Burning

The deadliest wildfires in Australia’s history are still burning, but fingers are already being pointed in various directions, with climate change and green-inspired policies in the crosshairs as a decades-old debate is rekindled. Read

Monday, February 09, 2009

Biden Offers Russia A New Start, But Key Disagreements Remain

Russian officials responded favorably to Vice President Joe Biden’s policy speech at a weekend security conference in Germany, but the two major irritants in bilateral relations during the Bush administration – Russian conduct in former Soviet territories and U.S. missile defense plans – show no sign of going away. Read

Pakistan Frees Scientist Who Leaked Nuclear Secrets to Iran, N. Korea

The Pakistan government is trying to play down and distance itself from a court order releasing the world’s most notorious nuclear proliferator from house arrest. The move threatens to exacerbate tensions with the West. Read

Friday, February 06, 2009

Security Council Divided As Darfur Indictment Decision Looms at International Criminal Court

United States leadership is being put to the test at the U.N. Security Council, where there are growing calls to block an anticipated International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for the president of Sudan, who is accused of war crimes relating to the conflict in Darfur. Read

Intercepted Cargo Ship Carried Little Aid to Gaza

A Lebanese cargo ship diverted by the Israeli Navy en route to the Gaza Strip was found to be carrying only several dozen kilograms of humanitarian aid, the Israeli military said Thursday, after Arab governments accused Israel of “piracy” and urged the United Nations to intervene. Read

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Secretary of State Clinton Urged to Raise Case of Jailed Dissident With Chinese

The news that Hillary Clinton’s maiden voyage abroad as secretary of state will take her to East Asia has buoyed the family of a pioneering pro-democracy activist, now serving his seventh year of a life sentence in a Chinese jail. Read

Address ‘Root Causes’ of Terrorism, Muslim Envoys Urge Obama

Looking ahead to President Obama’s planned address to the Muslim world, leading Islamic governments say improving relations between Islam and the West will require a review of anti-terror policies, dialogue with extremists, and a recognition of the need to address what they say are the “root causes” of terrorism. Read

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Threat to Close Central U.S. Air Base in Central Asia Could Impede Afghanistan Plans

The United States hopes to continue using its sole remaining air base in Central Asia despite an announcement by the host government Tuesday that it would be closed. Read

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Senior Iranian Rules Out Engaging Biden at Conference

A high-profile Iranian politician will attend a security conference in Germany this week, but he says he has no plans to meet there with members of a U.S. delegation that will be led by Vice President Joe Biden. Read

Gaddafi, Newly Elected African Union Head, Strongly Opposes Darfur Indictment

African nations have elected Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as head of the African Union, a move likely to further bolster the 53-nation bloc’s opposition to a war crimes trial for Sudan’s president. Read

Monday, February 02, 2009

Jewish Groups Say Hugo Chavez Is Creating A Climate for Attacks

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has condemned a attack on a Caracas synagogue, but Jewish human rights advocates say the left-wing government paved the way by fostering a climate of politically motivated anti-Jewish sentiment. Read

Calm Iraqi Election Reflects Continuing Security Gains

Despite a modest turnout, Iraq’s provincial elections Saturday went off relatively smoothly and with no serious violence, reflecting a significantly improved security situation. Read