Wednesday, February 29, 2012

U.S. Lawmakers Challenge Iran to Spare a Christian Pastor’s Life

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday will take up a bipartisan resolution calling on Iran to spare the life of an Iranian Christian pastor sentenced to death for “apostasy.” Read

Iran Raises U.S. Qur’an-Burning at U.N. Human Rights Council, While Qatar Revives ‘Religious Defamation’

As Iran’s foreign minister asked the U.N. Human Rights Council to condemn the burning of Qur’ans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, his Qatari counterpart breathed new life into the Islamic bloc’s supposedly suspended “religious defamation” drive, calling for “bold steps aimed a banning religious hatred.” Read

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

‘Palestine,’ Not Syria, on the Agenda at Annual U.N. Meeting on Status of Women

At a time when much of the world’s attention is fixed on a conflict in Syria that has left thousands dead, including hundreds of women, a United Nations policy body dealing with women has opened its annual session with an agenda that includes only one “country-specific” resolution -- and that country is not Syria. Read

U.N. Chief Sends Greetings, and an Envoy, to Israel-Bashing Conference in Qatar

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent his Mideast envoy to deliver a message on his behalf to a conference in Qatar this week whose aims include “pointing out the weaknesses of the Jew’s historical arguments backing their claims” to Jerusalem.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hillary in Tunisia Answering Question About U.S. Presidential Candidates Pandering to ‘Zionist Lobbies’: 'It's a Fair Question'

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows at the weekend with comments in Tunisia predicting that President Obama would be re-elected, but less attention was given to the context of her remark--which came in reply to a question about U.S. presidential candidates pandering to “Zionist lobbies.” Read

Qur’an Carnage: Islamic Bloc Calls for Calm, But Iranian General Says Burn the White House

Six days after violent protests erupted in Afghanistan over the unintentional burning of Qur’ans at a U.S. military base, and with more than 30 deaths reported, the world’s top Islamic body Sunday appealed for calm. Read

Clinton on Egypt's Trial of Americans: ‘We Have Problems With a Lot of Our Friends Around the World’

Sidestepping a question linking Egypt’s prosecution of American civilians with the fact it has received billions of dollars in U.S. military aid for 30 years, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday, “We have problems with a lot of our friends around the world.” Read

Friday, February 24, 2012

U.S. Gov’t Condemns Iran Over Death Row Pastor, Urges Pressure on Tehran

Deepening concern about the possibly imminent execution of an Iranian pastor sentenced to death for “apostasy” prompted both the White House and State Department to issue strongly-worded statements Thursday. Read

Taliban's Response to Obama's Apology: 'Kill Them, Beat Them, Take Them as Prisoners'

In the wake of President Barack Obama sending a three-page letter to Afghan President Hamid Kharzai, apologizing for U.S. forces having mistakenly burned some Qur'ans at a U.S. air base in Afghanistan, the Taliban is calling on Muslims to kill Americans or beat them and take them as prisoners. Read

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Republican Says Obama Must Boycott OAS Summit If Cuba Is Invited

A dispute over whether Cuba should be allowed to attend an upcoming summit organized by the Organization of American States shows no sign of resolution, with neither the OAS nor the host government prepared to make a decision on the politically-charged issue. Read

U.N. Human Rights Council Losing Controversial Members, As Others Prepare to Join

The composition of the U.N. Human Rights Council may improve slightly this year, as several of its most controversial members depart – not out of choice, but because council rules do not allow a country to serve more than two consecutive three-year terms. Read

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Qur’an Furor: U.S. Leaders Offer Abject Apologies to ‘the Noble People of Afghanistan’

Despite a series of abject apologies from the U.S. military and the Obama administration, fresh and growing protests were reported in at least two Afghan cities on Wednesday morning over the apparently unintentional burning of copies of the Qur’an at a U.S. military base. Read

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Saudis Refuse to Send Women to Olympics Despite IOC's Ban on Discrimination

Qatar’s announcement that it will include women in its Olympic team for the first time leaves just Saudi Arabia and Brunei as the remaining holdouts among the 204 national teams, but the International Olympic Committee is not making the issue a condition of participation in the London games this summer. Read

New Fears for Iranian Pastor on Death Row Who Refuses to Renounce His Christian Faith

In what it described as “an extremely dangerous turn of events,” the American Center for Law and Justice said Monday it had learned from contacts inside Iran that Youcef Nadarkhani, the Christian pastor on death row for “apostasy,” looks increasingly likely to be executed. Read

Monday, February 20, 2012

Crisis in Egypt-US Ties: Trial Set for Sunday

With a trial date now set in Egypt for a group of American and other non-governmental organization staffers accused of receiving illicit foreign funding and interfering in Egypt’s political process, a report in a state-run newspaper suggested that a court decision may provide a way out of the diplomatic dispute with the U.S. Read

Friday, February 17, 2012

Repressive Regimes Rally Around Syria at the U.N., But Little Support From Islamic Nations

Some of the world’s most repressive governments rallied around Syria on Thursday as the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning “widespread and systematic” violations by the Assad regime and urged it to cease the bloodshed. Read

Democrat Blocks Rand Paul’s Attempt to Cut Aid to Egypt Because of Its ‘Insolence and Disregard’

A senior Democratic senator Thursday shot down an attempt by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to call up an amendment cutting off all U.S. aid to Egypt unless the authorities allow Americans being detained there to leave the country. Read

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Obama Wants to Restore U.S. Funding for UNESCO, After It Admitted ‘Palestine’

The Obama administration’s attempt to circumvent U.S. law that bans funding for any U.N. agency that admits “Palestine” will send a “disastrous message” that U.N. bodies will continue receiving American money irrespective of their actions, a top Republican lawmaker has warned. Read

Muslim Brotherhood ‘Has Overwhelmingly Supported’ Egypt’s Crackdown on NGOs, Lawmakers Told

U.S. lawmakers examining the troubled relationship with Egypt Wednesday heard experts debate the relative culpability of the military and holdovers from the Mubarak regime, but were also advised not to ignore the role of the rising Muslim Brotherhood in the dispute. Read

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Obama Administration Silent on Saudi Journalist Accused of Online Blasphemy

The plight of a young Saudi journalist accused of blaspheming Islam’s prophet on the Internet is prompting growing concern around the world, although the Obama administration has been silent on the case so far. Read

Iran Accused of Exporting Violence, With Attacks in Thailand, India and Georgia

Iran has denied responsibility for a series of blasts Tuesday involving at least three Iranian nationals in the Thai capital, Bangkok, the latest in several attacks this week evidently targeting Israelis in foreign cities. Read

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Administration Seeks $4.1 Billion for Int’l Bodies, Including ‘Palestine’-Embracing UNESCO

The State Department budget request for fiscal year 2013 includes $4.1 billion for contributions to the United Nations and other international bodies. Among the intended recipients is the U.N’s cultural agency, which lost U.S. funding in FY2012 after it became the first U.N. agency to grant full membership to “Palestine.” Read

State Dept. Budget Seeks to Spend $770 Million on ‘Arab Spring’ Reforms in 11 Countries

Requesting nearly $800 million to encourage political and economic reforms in the Arab-Islamic world, the State Department in its fiscal year 2013 budget request Monday identified 11 specific targets. Read

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hamas Leader Promises Iran Never to Recognize Israel

Amid growing speculation of a split within the top ranks of Hamas, Iranian leaders at the weekend urged the terrorist group’s Gaza leader to continue its campaign of violent “resistance” and pledged continuing financial support. Read

Muslim Brotherhood Warns U.S. Aid Cut May Affect Egypt’s Peace Treaty With Israel

A top Muslim Brotherhood official has warned that any cuts in U.S. aid to Egypt could affect Cairo’s peace treaty with Israel – the latest sign that Egypt’s emerging political forces intend to call Washington’s bluff over the diplomatic dispute triggered by a crackdown on non-governmental organizations. Read

Friday, February 10, 2012

Obama Administration Waiting to See How Fatah-Hamas Deal Unfolds – But Wants PM Fayyad to Stay On

The Obama administration is sending mixed signals on the controversial Palestinian reconciliation agreement reached this week between Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. Read

Bipartisan Senate Resolution Says U.S. Is ‘Absolutely Determined’ to Stop a Nuclear-Armed Iran

A bipartisan trio of senators are preparing to introduce a resolution that would make it clear the U.S. Senate opposes any policy that would settle for, and seek to “contain,” a nuclear-armed Iran. Read

Thursday, February 09, 2012

India’s Reluctance to Comply With Iran Oil Sanctions Draws Fire on Capitol Hill

The Obama administration’s nominee to serve as ambassador to India assured lawmakers this week that concerns about India’s energy relationship with Iran will be among her “top priorities” if she’s confirmed. But after India’s foreign secretary held talks with senior U.S. officials the same day, the State Department’s readout of topics discussed made no direct reference to Iran. Read

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Obama-Erdogan Partnership Comes Amid Rising Concern Over Turkish Policies

A visit by Turkey’s foreign minister this week for high-level talks in Washington draws fresh attention onto the deepening relationship between the Obama administration and Turkey’s Islamist-leaning government at a time of rising criticism over its increasingly authoritarian policies. Read

Signs of Movement on Long-Stalled Japan-US Military Realignment Plans

Almost six years after Washington and Tokyo finalized a painstakingly-crafted agreement aimed at easing tensions over the U.S. military presence on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, there are signs that the long-stalled deal is about to inch ahead, in amended form. Read

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

State Dept. Sidesteps Opportunity to Criticize Palestinian Unity Deal: ‘An Internal Matter’

The Obama administration stopped short Monday of condemning a deal that brings the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas into a “unity” government, in stark contrast to Israel’s prompt denunciation of the move. Read

Monday, February 06, 2012

U.S. Seeks New Alliance Outside U.N. to Hasten Departure of Syrian Leader

Following Saturday’s U.N. Security Council showdown over Syria, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised the idea of like-minded countries uniting outside the U.N. to ramp up the pressure on President Bashar Assad to step down. Read

U.S. Military Aid to Egypt at Risk for First Time in Decades

With more than a billion dollars in U.S. aid potentially in jeopardy, Egypt’s foreign minister claimed Sunday that the country’s military government has no control over the judiciary’s decision to crack down on foreign-funded, non-governmental organizations. Read

Friday, February 03, 2012

Banished: Shari’a Court Orders 3 Christian Pastors and Catholic Missionary Out of India's Kashmir

India’s Christian minority has long faced harassment at the hands of militant Hindus, but in the Indian-controlled portion of Muslim-majority Kashmir the threat is coming from Islamic fundamentalists. Read

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Arab Upheavals Leave Hamas Looking for New Home, Sponsors, Strategy

Hamas’ Gaza-based leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is due to visit Iran on Friday, further fueling some of the heaviest speculation in years about shifts in the terrorist group’s alliances and strategies resulting from the political upheavals in the Arab world. Read

Iran-Venezuela Links Examined Amid Fresh Calls for Terror-Sponsor Designation

U.S. lawmakers will turn a spotlight Thursday on the deepening links between Iran and leftist regimes in Latin America, at a meeting that will likely hear fresh calls for the administration to designate Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism. Read

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

State Dep’t Official Discusses Promotion of ‘Human Rights for LGBT People’ Around the World

A State Department official adopted a cautious tone Tuesday while discussing the administration’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) foreign policy initiative, saying the focus was on advocating “human rights for LGBT people” rather than – as suggested by a questioner – promoting “gay rights.” Read

Clinton Accuses Assad of Setting Syrian Minorities Against Each Other

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday accused the Syrian regime of a “divide-and-conquer strategy” aimed at setting the country’s religious and ethnic groups against each other. Read