Monday, August 31, 2009

Japan’s Election Landslide Expected to Produce Changes in Foreign Policy

For the first time since World War II, Japanese voters on Sunday handed a parliamentary majority to a party other than the 54-year-old Liberal Democratic Party, paving the way for the world’s second biggest economy to be governed by a center-left coalition including socialists opposed to the military alliance with the U.S. Read

Weapons Seizure Turns Spotlight Onto Two Rogue States

The Australian government is investigating the seizure of weapons being shipped from North Korea to Iran that were found on an Australian cargo vessel in the Persian Gulf. Iranian officials are denying the incident, calling the reports a “Zionist” plot aimed at increasing international pressure over its nuclear activities. Read

Friday, August 28, 2009

Japan’s Likely Next Ruling Party Seeks ‘More Equal’ Alliance with U.S.

Opinion polls ahead of weekend elections point to a political sea change in Japan. Although the party predicted to win by a large margin has in the past called for policies more independent of the U.S., analysts are unsure whether to expect significant changes to Tokyo’s foreign policy. Read

Stop the Military Surveillance, China Tells U.S.

China’s military wants the United States Navy to stop surveillance operations in waters and airspace near its territory, following a series of incidents this year in areas that Beijing views as within its zone of influence. Read

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Democratic Senator’s Call to Drop Burma Sanctions Draws Fire

Senator Jim Webb on Wednesday called for the United States to drop sanctions against Burma’s government immediately and urged the political party of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to consider taking part in elections planned by the ruling military junta next year. Read

U.S. Applies New Pressure in Attempt to Resolve Honduras Crisis

In a new effort to prod Honduras’ interim government into returning the country’s ousted president to office, the Obama administration as of Wednesday stopped issuing visas to Hondurans except in emergency cases. Read

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Preparing to Mark 60 Years of Communist Rule, China Worries About Terrorism

As China deploys heavy security ahead of a massive celebration to mark 60 years of communist rule, officials have reportedly approached Pakistan about keeping in check Islamists linked to China’s restive Xinjiang region. Read

Early Results Point to Possible Second Round of Voting in Violence-Hit Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai widened his lead as more results in Afghanistan’s presidential election trickled in Wednesday, but with only 17 percent of polling stations reporting it remains too early to say whether he can avoid a second-round runoff. Read

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Latin American Leaders Prepare to Squeeze Colombia Over Military Base Deal With U.S.

Leaders from a 12-nation bloc of Latin American countries will meet for an extraordinary summit Friday to discuss expanding U.S.-Colombia military ties. The gathering comes amid charges by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez that Washington wants to topple governments and steal the region’s resources. Read

Monday, August 24, 2009

Silence From British PM Amid Sharp Criticism Over Lockerbie Case

Amid continuing transatlantic fallout over the early release from prison of the Libyan convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is coming under growing criticism for remaining silent in the face of claims that lucrative oil deals were behind the move. Read

Ahmadinejad’s Choice of Terror Suspect for Defense Minister Stirs Anger

Iran’s leaders have triggered another international row by nominating a suspected terrorist to a top cabinet position – and dismissing criticism of the move as a “Zionist” plot. Read

Friday, August 21, 2009

Disregarding U.S. Appeals, Libya Celebrates Freed Lockerbie Convict

A month before Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi plans to visit the U.S. for the first time, his regime Thursday ignored President Obama’s direct appeal not to give the Libyan convicted for his role in the Lockerbie bombing a hero’s welcome on his return to Tripoli. Read

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lockerbie Convict About to Be Freed, Returned to Libya

The only man convicted in the bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland is expected to walk free Thursday in time for Ramadan, despite an appeal by victims’ families and the U.S. government and lawmakers for British officials to keep him in prison. Read

Israel Says U.N.’s Nuclear Watchdog Is Withholding Evidence on Iran Nukes

The annual meeting of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog next month is shaping up to be a dramatic affair: Israel is expected to press the agency’s outgoing chief to come clean on Iran, and Iran is seeking support for an initiative to prohibit armed attacks on nuclear facilities, a measure clearly designed with a preemptive Israeli strike in mind. Read

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Governments Urged to Improve Quality of U.N. Human Rights Council

A month before the United States takes its place as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the first time, rights advocacy groups from around the world are urging governments to change practices that have allowed rights-abusing nations to join the body and tarnish its work. Read

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obama’s Envoy in London Won’t Pay Traffic Congestion Fee, Either

The new U.S. ambassador to Britain, like the Bush-appointed envoy before him, will not pay London’s traffic congestion fee. The revenue dispute between the U.S. government and city authorities in London has been going on for four years, with no resolution in sight. Read

Numerous Challenges Confront Afghanistan’s Second Democratic Election

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has assured the people of Afghanistan of U.S. support as they prepare to go to the polls Thursday amid challenges ranging from violent intimidation to fears that the vote will be rigged. Read

Monday, August 17, 2009

American Politician Leaves Critics of Burma Regime Unimpressed

One swam in, invited, while the other flew in and was permitted a 45-minute meeting, but as far as some Burma advocates are concerned neither the exploits of U.S. Sen. Jim Webb nor those of the now-freed American John Yettaw have brought opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi closer to freedom or the country closer to democracy. Read

Islamist Groups Fight Each Other in Gaza Strip

Hamas announced on Sunday that it was fully in control of the Gaza Strip after another terrorist group declared an “Islamic emirate” in southern Gaza, triggering the deadliest internecine clashes since Hamas seized the territory in mid-2007. Read

Friday, August 14, 2009

House Majority Leader Blames Palestinians, Not Israeli Settlements, For Stalemate

A top congressional Democrat has blamed the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to return to talks, rather than Israel’s stance on settlements in disputed territory, for the lack of movement in Mideast peace efforts. Read

Burmese Opposition Groups Troubled by Visit of Democratic Sen. Jim Webb

Democratic Sen. Jim Webb’s potentially groundbreaking trip to Burma this weekend has some Burmese opposition groups concerned that the ruling junta will exploit the visit for propaganda purposes. Read

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Putin’s Provocative Caucasus Visit Signals Plans to Boost Military Presence

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin crossed Georgia’s internationally recognized borders without permission Wednesday, paying a visit to the Moscow-backed rebel region of Abkhazia and signaling increased military presence in the area a year after the Russia-Georgia war. Read

Secretary of State Clinton Invokes Bush-Gore 2000 Election Dispute in Remarks on Nigerian Corruption

Two days after snapping at an African student who asked a question she did not like, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday courted controversy again with a comment appearing to link democracy in the U.S. with what passes for democracy in Nigeria. Read

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jailed Terror Leader Elected to Fatah Leadership, Prompting New Calls for His Release

Palestinian militant Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five consecutive life sentences for the murders of five people in terror attacks, has been elected to serve on Fatah’s Central Committee, and that is sparking new calls by left-wing Israeli politicians for his release. Freeing Barghouti would bolster the “moderate” Fatah organization, left-wing Israelis say. Read

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fatah’s New Platform Fails to Abandon Terror, Does Not Bode Well for Peace, Critics Say

The “moderate,” U.S.-backed Palestinian faction Fatah on Tuesday was awaiting the results of an election of a new generation of leaders, after adopting a platform that retains the right to use violence to achieve its ends and endorses a terrorist organization as the party’s “military wing.” Read

Targeting of Top Taliban Terrorist Draws Muted Criticism, This Time, From Pakistani Lawmakers

The reported death of Baitullah Mehsud not only has removed one of the most dangerous terrorists in the Pashtun belt along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, but it also appears to have quieted, temporarily at least, the chorus of criticism in Pakistan about U.S. unmanned drones targeting Islamic extremists. Read

Monday, August 10, 2009

More Americans in the Hands of Hostile Regimes

A week after three Americans went missing near the Iraq-Iran border, Tehran has officially confirmed that it is holding them -- amid concerns that the regime may view them as political pawns, just as North Korea viewed two U.S. journalists it captured earlier this year. Read

Iran Using Trials, ‘Confessions’ to Step Up Confrontation With the West

Iran ratcheted up its row with the West over the weekend by putting on trial a French citizen as well as Iranian employees at the French and British embassies, all of whom publicly admitted to wrongful conduct during the protests that followed the disputed June election. Read

Friday, August 07, 2009

Horn of Africa Conflict Prompts Tough Talk by Administration

The Obama administration has drawn flak from critics for seeking to engage with Iran and Syria, but it is talking tough with one country it accuses of sponsoring terrorism – Eritrea. Read

Administration Dumps ‘Jihadist’ Term

President Obama does not see the terrorism challenge as a fight against “jihadists” because that conveys an undeserved religious legitimacy and risks reinforcing the view that the U.S. is at war with Islam, his counterterrorism adviser said Thursday. Read

Thursday, August 06, 2009

U.S. Unconcerned About Russian Subs off East Coast; Moscow Says Patrol Is Routine

The Russian and United States militaries both played down the significance of two Russian attack submarines patrolling in international waters off the East Coast of the U.S., although the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that it had been years since Russian subs had extended their reach into the region Read

It’s Not for Us to Pass Judgment on Fairness of Iran’s Election, Says White House Spokesman

The White House backtracked Wednesday on an earlier statement calling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran’s “elected leader.” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs later said it was not up to the administration to say whether Ahmadinejad was legitimate. Read

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

As Clinton Heads Home With Freed Americans, Questions Surround His Visit to North Korea

Former President Clinton and two American journalists whose release he secured during a brief visit to North Korea flew home Wednesday, as questions surround the details of Clinton's mission to the reclusive dictatorship. Read

U.S. Affirms Ahmadinejad As Iran’s ‘Elected Leader,’ Despite Disputed Election

Despite deep misgivings about the conduct of Iran’s presidential election and subsequent clampdown on opposition supporters, Western governments, including the U.S. and Britain, look set to recognize -- and seek to engage -- with the president whose re-election was so controversial. Read

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bill Clinton Lands in North Korea on A Mission to Free Two Americans

Almost nine years after he called off plans to visit North Korea, former President Clinton has arrived in the reclusive Stalinist nation, reportedly on a mission to secure the release of two jailed American journalists. Read

Blasphemy Laws Seen As Root Cause of Violence Against Christians

A deadly attack by Muslims against Christians in Pakistan has turned attention once again to notorious blasphemy laws that carry the death penalty and are frequently used against the Christian minority. Read

Monday, August 03, 2009

Fatah Conference to Consider Non-Recognition of Israel, Closer Ties to Iran

As Fatah, the “moderate” Palestinian faction, prepares this week to hold its first convention in 20 years, a series of platform proposals threatens to take relations with an already skeptical Israeli government to a new low. Read

U.S. Casualties in Iraq Dropped to All-Time Low in July

The month after U.S. forces completed their withdrawal from Iraqi cities has been the least deadly for U.S. forces in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, while the death toll for Iraqi civilians in July also dropped significantly compared with the previous month, despite continuing terrorist attacks. Read