Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Iran Accused of Interfering in Iraq’s Attempt to Build a Coalition Government

Claims of Iranian interference and legal maneuvering by narrowly defeated Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are raising concerns that the difficult task of forming a coalition to govern Iraq may lead to fresh sectarian conflict. Read

Hillary Clinton’s Comments on ‘Legal, Safe Abortion’ Stir Canadian Debate

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waded into an explosive political debate in Canada Tuesday, with remarks on abortion certain to have embarrassed her hosts at the end of a two-day Group of Eight meeting. Read

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tensions Simmer in Lebanon Over Long-Running Assassination Probe

As the international investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri moves towards identifying those responsible, allies of Syria and Hezbollah – both of which have come under suspicion in the plot – say the probe is being “politicized.” Read

Obama Administration Says Engagement With Burma Will Continue Despite Deepening Political Crisis

The Burmese opposition’s decision not to participate in the first elections in two decades poses a new challenge for the Obama administration, which decided to engage the military junta in a policy shift last September. Read

Friday, March 26, 2010

Top Russian Lawmaker Predicts Republican Opposition to Arms Control Treaty

Ahead of an anticipated announcement on a new U.S.-Russia strategic arms reduction treaty, a leading Russian lawmaker Thursday pondered the chances of Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocking the move, a key foreign policy priority for President Obama. Read

Islamic Drive Against Religious ‘Defamation’ May Be Losing Steam

The Islamic-led drive against the “defamation” of religion achieved its lowest-ever level of support in a United Nations vote Thursday, despite attempts to breathe new life into the flagging campaign by linking it to the recent Swiss vote banning the construction of minarets. Read

Thursday, March 25, 2010

U.S. Decision Not to Extradite Confessed Mumbai Terror Suspect Angers India

India plans to challenge a U.S. plea bargain agreement barring the extradition of a Pakistan-born U.S. national who admitted playing a key role in planning the deadly November 2008 terror assault in Mumbai. Read

Israeli Leftists Accused of Stirring Up Jerusalem Housing Issue to Make Trouble for Netanyahu

Left-wing Israeli critics of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released “news” of a Jerusalem apartment project – which received approval eight months ago – as he was preparing to meet with President Obama just to “stir up provocation,” the city’s municipality says. Read

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Palestinian Poster Calling for Israel Boycott Includes Logo of U.N. Agency

The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, which has given a Palestinian non-governmental organization around $100,000 a year for the past decade, says it will carefully review any future partnership after UNICEF’s logo appeared on a poster for a television program promoting a boycott of Israel. Read

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ball in Beijing’s Court After Google Stops Censoring Search Results

Google’s decision to stop censoring search results in China – by automatically routing mainland users to its uncensored Hong Kong site – drew fire from Beijing Tuesday. It also left millions of Internet users waiting to see whether the authorities would escalate the dispute by blocking returning search results. Read

Pro-Israel Gathering Hears Dueling Views on Building in Jerusalem

“Jerusalem is not a settlement,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told thousands of pro-Israeli activists in Washington on Monday evening, hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the same audience that construction in the city undermines the ability of the U.S. to play “an essential role” in Mideast peace efforts. Read

Monday, March 22, 2010

Netanyahu, on Eve of U.S. Visit, Insists on Israel’s Right to Build in Jerusalem

Ahead of what may be a prickly meeting with President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu signaled Sunday that the recent diplomatic dispute with the U.S. has not changed his government’s stand on Israel’s right to build freely in Jerusalem. Read

A Divided House Passes Health Care Bill After Obama Deal Defuses Abortion Rebellion

A bitterly divided House of Representatives late Sunday night passed the Senate’s sweeping heath care legislation 219-212 after a day-long debate, with not a single Republican voting in favor. Read

Friday, March 19, 2010

Obama's Cancellation of Indonesia Visit Could Have Implications for U.S. Interests, Trade

President Obama’s decision to postpone a visit to Australia and – for the third time – to Indonesia, to focus on the final push for health care legislation comes after a year in which administration officials repeatedly have stressed that the U.S. is “back” in Asia after a period of disinterest or distraction by Obama’s predecessor. Read

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gen. Petreaus Discusses Effect of Israeli-Arab Hostilities on ‘Moderate’ Mideast Governments

The U.S. military command overseeing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has not formally asked the Obama administration to add the Palestinian territories to its area of responsibility but officers have discussed the idea, according to Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the U.S. Central Command. Read

Obama Claims ‘Success’ in Isolating Iran, Although China and Others Still Resist Sanctions

President Obama claimed Wednesday that his efforts to win international support against Iran over its nuclear activities have been successful, despite no sign from China, a permanent U.N. Security Council member, that it has shifted its opposition to sanctions. Read

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Islamic Officials Stoke Anger Over Jerusalem, Warn of ‘Religious War’

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is accusing Israel of risking “religious war” by rededicating a restored 300-year-old synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City. Read

Saudi Lawyer Hopes to Win ‘Significant’ Damages Over Mohammed Cartoons in British Courts

The Saudi lawyer acting for “descendants of Mohammed” who claim their forbear was defamed by cartoons published in Danish newspapers hopes to use courts in Britain, a popular center for “libel tourism,” to secure damages. Read

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Islamic Organization Urges Indonesian Muslims Not to Protest Obama Visit

Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization is calling on the country’s Muslims not to oppose next week’s visit by President Obama, saying that despite unmet expectations, the president was apparently committed to improving relations with the Muslim world. Read

Obama Administration Under Fire for Its Stance on Israel

The Obama administration took flak from pro-Israel lawmakers Monday for its public dressing down of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Despite pressure from Washington, the Israeli leader shows no sign of backing down over plans for more housing construction in Jerusalem. Read

Monday, March 15, 2010

Partial Iraqi Election Results Show Maliki Leading and Pro-Iran Parties Faltering

Leading the vote count in seven of Iraq’s 18 provinces including the most electorally valuable, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began the week looking well-placed to head negotiations to form a governing coalition, although final results are not expected before the end of the month. Read

Obama Administration Looks for Israeli Concessions After Jerusalem Housing Flap

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has apologized four times for the fact that an announcement about a new housing project in Jerusalem was made while Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel. It appears the Obama administration intends to use the incident as a lever to force new concessions from Israel. Read

Friday, March 12, 2010

Morocco Rejects Criticism for Expelling Christians Accused of Proselytizing Abandoned Muslim Children

The government of Morocco has launched a public relations effort to fend off criticism about its decision to expel 20 foreign Christian aid workers it accuses of trying to convert Muslims. Read

State Department’s Annual Human Rights Report Does Not Examine U.S., But the Next Report Will

This year’s annual State Department report on human rights around the world does not include a section on the United States, but the department is already working on a report that does focus on the U.S. In releasing the report on Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters the Obama administration was “committed to holding everyone to the same standard, including ourselves.” Read

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Indirect Mideast Talks Off Again, Arab League Says

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has decided to withdraw from indirect U.S.-mediated talks with Israel that were supposed to begin soon, in the latest fallout over plans to build more housing in the Israeli capital. Read

Seventy Days After Deadline, Sanctions Against Iran Appear No Closer

Amid mounting skepticism about the likelihood of robust U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran, attention is turning to calls for unilateral measures targeting gasoline shipments. Read

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Giving Iran a Seat on U.N. Rights Council Would Legitimize Its Brutality and Encourage Other Violators, Iranian Says

An Iranian whose fiancée’s death by gunfire became a symbol of opposition to the regime during post-election protests last year made an impassioned appeal Tuesday for Tehran to be denied a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council in elections this spring. Read

Burma Junta’s New Election Law Denies Opposition Leader a Political Role

Preparing for Burma’s first election in two decades, the military junta has begun to unveil polling laws that will reinforce critics’ belief that the military intends to retain control beneath a veneer of democracy. Read

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Lebanon Resumes ‘National Dialogue,’ But Hezbollah Refuses to Discuss Its Weapons

Lebanon’s political parties are holding a “national dialogue” on Tuesday to discuss a defense strategy for the country, but Hezbollah has made it clear that the subject of its weapons arsenal will not be on the table. Read

Turkey, Angry at U.S., Pledges Support for Iran

As the Obama administration scrambles to contain the diplomatic fallout with Turkey over the “Armenian genocide” resolution in the U.S. Congress, Turkey’s tilt towards Iran continues largely unnoticed. Read

Monday, March 08, 2010

Timetable for U.S. Troop Withdrawal on Track, Obama Says, After Iraqis Vote

The timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq remains on course, President Obama said Sunday as he hailed the country’s national election as a “milestone.” Read

Reported Arrest of American Militant in Pakistan Could Lead to First Treason Trial in Decades

Conflicting reports about the possible arrest of American al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Yahya Gadahn in Pakistan are focusing attention once again on the first person to be charged with treason against the United States in more than half a century. Read

Friday, March 05, 2010

Geneva Summit Will Focus on Countries Ignored by U.N. Human Rights Council

When the U.N. Human Rights Council continues its month-long session in Geneva on Monday, a coalition of human rights groups will hold a parallel event focusing on some of the items kept off the HRC agenda by its powerful members. Read

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Libya’s Gaddafi Not Amused by State Department Jibe

A senior State Department official has incurred the wrath of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with a throwaway line at the end of a Friday afternoon press conference. Gaddafi is now threatening “negative repercussions” in bilateral ties, just days after the first U.S. trade mission to Libya in decades. Read

U.N. Employees Seek U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Immunity for Top Officials

The U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether senior United Nations officials should be exempt from prosecution, after a lower court this week upheld immunity in a case involving allegations of sexual harassment and vindictive conduct by top U.N. figures. Read

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Obama Administration’s Stance on Falkland Islands Dispute Seen As Betrayal by Some in U.K.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Latin American tour aims to improve ties with countries in the Western hemisphere, but her stance on a long-running territorial wrangle has sparked tensions with a close traditional ally further afield. Read

New Calls for Obama Administration to Add Venezuela to Terror-Sponsor List

Accusations about links between the Venezuelan government and terrorists in Colombia and Spain add weight to calls to designate Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism, a Latin American specialist said Tuesday. Read

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

‘Descendants of Mohammed’ Confront Newspapers Over Cartoons, Demanding Apologies and Eyeing Lawsuits

After securing an apology from one Danish newspaper for publishing a cartoon satirizing Mohammed, a Saudi lawyer now plans to confront another 15 newspapers, filing lawsuits against them if necessary. Read

Monday, March 01, 2010

U.K. Conservatives See Their Lead Erode as Election Approaches

With 10 weeks to go until the likely date for Britain’s general election, the Conservative Party’s hopes of returning to power for the first time in 13 years took a blow Sunday with a poll giving it the narrowest lead over the ruling Labor Party in two years. Read

In Continuing Defiance of U.S., Syrian President Meets With Leaders of Iran and Hezbollah

After scorning the Obama administration’s appeals to move away from Iran, Syrian President Bashir Assad late last week disregarded another appeal from Washington by holding talks with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Read