Thursday, December 31, 2009

Obama’s Year of ‘Engagement’ Saw Few Clear Successes

When the year began, the most pressing foreign policy issues facing the United States included the security threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islamist terrorism, and the North Korean and Iranian nuclear standoffs. Read

December Poised to Be First Month With No Combat Deaths in Iraq War

On the last day of 2009, December was on track Thursday to become the first month since the United States invaded Iraq almost seven years ago when not one U.S. soldier, sailor, airman or Marine has died in that country in combat-related circumstances. Read

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Putin Impedes Obama’s Plan for ‘World Without Nuclear Weapons’

Weeks after hinting that he may return to the Russian presidency, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in a fresh muscle-flexing move Tuesday, threw into disarray one of President Obama’s key foreign policy priorities – talks aimed at reducing the two countries’ nuclear arsenals. Read

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Missionary Carrying Message of Forgiveness and Salvation for Kim Jong-il Is Arrested in North Korea

Four days after an American evangelical missionary crossed the border from China into North Korea in a bid to draw attention to human rights abuses, Pyongyang state media announced Tuesday that an American was being detained after entering the country illegally. Read

Airline Bomb Plot Was Hatched Before Recent Military Operations in Yemen

In claiming responsibility for the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, al-Qaeda listed grievances including recent military offensives in Yemen, but the bomb plot was unfolding before those incidents occurred. Read

Monday, December 28, 2009

Al-Qaeda Determined to Succeed, Analyst Says

The failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day sends the “chilling message” that al-Qaeda has not given up on its desire to attack the United States, despite earlier failures – and that potential suicide bombers are getting through screening, a security analyst said Sunday. Read

Bombing Attempt Puts Nigeria in Spotlight

Friday’s foiled attempt to bomb an American airliner is focusing fresh attention on the suspected bomber’s home country, Nigeria, which on Friday will take a seat on the U.N. Security Council for the next two years. Read

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Obama White House Is Spinning Climate Agreement, India Says

India’s government, under fire from opposition parties for its handling of climate negotiations in Copenhagen, says the White House is spinning the outcome for a domestic audience. Read

U.S.-Backed Lebanon Signals More Support for Iran in U.N. Security Council

Days before his country takes a seat on the United Nations Security Council, one of Lebanon’s most powerful politicians has assured Iran of its full support in international forums. Read

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

U.S. Passes Up Opportunity to Signal Disapproval of Human Rights Council’s Actions

The United States and other democracies erred in not voting against a U.N. resolution endorsing the work of the Human Rights Council, according to a watchdog which has produced a scathing critique of the council’s actions this year. Read

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tehran Braces for Fresh Protests After Death of Rebel Ayatollah

The death of an 87-year-old dissident ayatollah, one of the most senior scholars in Shi’ite Islam, presented a new headache for the Iranian regime Monday, with leading opposition figures declaring a day of national mourning. Read

OIC Slams ‘Demonic’ Portrayal of Islam, But Support for Religious ‘Defamation’ Measures Continues to Erode

An Islamic-led campaign against religious “defamation” has taken another blow the United Nations, where support among member states has dropped to a new low amid escalating concerns that defamation resolutions endanger non-Muslims in Islamic societies and harm freedom of expression. Read

Friday, December 18, 2009

Contentious Trade Issue Arises in Copenhagen As Obama Arrives at Divisive Conference

As President Obama joins other world leaders at the Copenhagen climate conference on Friday, the subject of carbon tariffs – levies on imported goods from countries not actively curbing “greenhouse-gas” emissions – is one of the issues threatening to upend the talks. Read

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chavez, Mugabe Attack Capitalism and the West at Copenhagen Climate Conference

Warning that that “silent and terrible ghost” of capitalism is lurking in Copenhagen, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez roused the global climate conference in the Danish capital Wednesday with a populist speech targeting his perennial target, the United States. Read

U.S. Urged to Show Disapproval of Human Rights Council’s Actions

The United States and other democracies should vote against a resolution at the U.N. General Assembly approving the U.N. Human Rights Council’s actions over the past year, says a watchdog organization. Read

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Legislation Targeting Iran Gas Imports Called ‘Last, Best Hope’ for Ending Nuclear Crisis Peacefully

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill targeting Iranian gasoline imports. A leading advocate for the legislation called it “the last, best hope for diplomatically ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” Read

U.S. Defense Ties With Vietnam Deepen, But Critics of Hanoi Worry

A low-key visit to Washington by Vietnam’s defense minister Tuesday underlined expanding military-to-military ties between the two former foes, amid concerns about Hanoi’s use of the army to quell internal dissent. Read

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Iran’s Nuclear Deadline Looms, Amid Little Sign of Urgency From the Int’l Community

The Obama administration’s year-end deadline for Iran to respond to international demands on the nuclear issue or face “tough” sanctions is looming, but any sense of urgency was dispelled Monday by reports that China is unable to fit in a meeting in the coming days to discuss the matter. Read

Monday, December 14, 2009

Islamic Group Condemns Attack on Mosque, But A Double-Standard Emerges

The Organization of the Islamic Conference is condemning the attack on a mosque in the West Bank, but the Saudi-based body often is silent when Islamic sites are attacked by other Muslims – even when scores of people are killed. Read

Friday, December 11, 2009

U.N. Security Council Criticized for Failure to Act Against Abuses in Burma

The U.N. Security Council came under fresh calls Thursday to take action on Burma. Hundreds of lawmakers from 29 countries urged the world body’s most powerful organ to pass a resolution setting up an inquiry into human rights violations and imposing a global arms embargo on the military junta. Read

Chinese Minister Links ‘One-Child’ Policy to Emissions Reduction at Climate Conference

A senior official of the Chinese ministry responsible for the country’s coercive population-control program is citing the controversial “one-child” policy as a successful way to reduce emissions of the gases blamed for global warming. Read

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama Administration Makes First Direct Approach to North Korea

At the end of a year marked by belligerent actions and rhetoric from North Korea, Washington’s special envoy left Pyongyang Thursday after holding the highest-level talks since President Obama came to office pledging to engage with hostile regimes. Read

David vs. Goliath Split Emerges Among Developing Nations at Climate Conference

The most intriguing development to come out of the three-day old U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen is not the “rich versus poor nation” dispute -- but signs of an emerging split between vulnerable, small, developing nations and fast-developing giants determined to avoid legally binding carbon emission reductions. Read

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

U.S. Lawmaker Urges U.S. to Withhold Funding From Corrupt, Iran-Rewarding United Nations

A leading conservative lawmaker points to Iran’s new leadership positions at the United Nations as another reason for her colleagues to pass a bill linking U.S. funding of the world body to “concrete, structural, sweeping reforms throughout the U.N. system.” Read

Share Jerusalem With the Palestinians, European Union Tells Israel

In a rare, partial diplomatic victory for Israel in the face of international pro-Palestinian sentiment, European Union foreign ministers have dropped from a draft statement a call for eastern Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Read

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

As Turkey Tilts Away From the West, Obama Hails Erdogan As ‘Friend’

President Obama said Monday Turkey could be “an important player” in efforts to prod Iran to keep its nuclear program peaceful – although an increasingly assertive Ankara has tilted perceptibly towards Tehran this year in its standoff with the West. Read

Monday, December 07, 2009

Iran Reminds Students That Anti-Americanism Is a ‘National and Religious Duty’

Fearful that a traditional students’ solidarity day on Monday would turn into an anti-regime event, Iranian authorities took steps to clamp down on potential trouble while reminding young Iranians of the anti-U.S. origins of the state-sponsored commemoration. Read

No Christmas Trees at Global Warming Conference -- And Other Copenhagen Snippets

As delegates from 192 countries kick off the United Nations global climate gathering in Copenhagen on Monday, offers some angles that are unlikely to make mainstream media headlines. Read

Friday, December 04, 2009

U.S. Offers Rewards for Arab Terrorists in Long-Ago Hijacking Linked to Gaddafi

Four Palestinians added to the FBI’s list of “most wanted terrorists” this week were involved in a deadly hijacking of an American airliner 23 years ago – an attack which some reports have linked to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Read

Iran Takes on Additional Leadership Roles at United Nations, Despite Flouting U.N. Resolutions

Iran was reprimanded last week by the United Nations atomic agency for its nuclear activities, and criticized last month by a General Assembly committee for post-election human rights abuses, but the Islamic republic is far from isolated at the world body. Read

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

America Is the Enemy, Says Hezbollah

Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’ite group viewed by its critics as an Iranian proxy, has reiterated that it will not disarm – as demanded by U.N. resolutions – and that it regards the United States as “the enemy.” Read

U.S. May Rejoin A U.N. Agency It Once Dismissed As Ineffective

Thirteen years after the United States withdrew from a United Nations agency established to support industrial development – and viewed with suspicion by those preferring to leave that task to the private sector – the Obama administration is reportedly planning to rejoin. Read

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

U.S. Recognizes Honduran President-Elect, But Regional Leftists Balk

The Obama administration said Monday it recognized the outcome of Honduras’ presidential election, but it stressed that an end to the country’s political crisis would require further steps, including the reinstatement of the ousted former president for the remaining weeks of what would have been his term. Read

Iran’s Seizure of British Yachtsmen Underscores Safety Concerns in Gulf Waters

The Iranian government has detained five Britons whose yacht “may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters” in the Persian Gulf. The news comes amid a legal dispute over where to hold the upcoming America’s Cup race, given concerns about the safety of American yachtsmen in Iran’s neighborhood. Read