Friday, May 31, 2013

U.S. Reports ‘Marked Resurgence’ of Iranian Sponsorship of Terrorism

Just weeks before presidential elections in Iran set the course of Iran-U.S. relations for the next four years, the State Department in a report Thursday accused Tehran of escalated terrorist activity around the world. Read

State Dep't.: Al-Qaeda Headed for ‘Defeat’, But Arab Turmoil Helping Other Terrorists

The State Department’s annual report on terrorism, released Thursday, echoes President Obama’s assertion that al-Qaeda is “on a path to defeat” but concedes that it remains capable of inspiring and carrying out attacks. The report also highlights how Islamist terrorists have been able to take advantage of “tumultuous events” in the Arab world, from Libya to Syria. Read

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pakistan Complains About U.S. Drone Strike That Killed Terrorist It Had Itself Wanted to 'Annihilate' in 2009

Pakistan complained about a U.S. drone strike Wednesday near its border with Afghanistan, but the terrorist reportedly targeted and killed in the operation was once the subject of a Pakistani government “wanted dead or alive” reward. Read

Sunni Extremists Call for Jihad Against Shi’ites Over Syria

In a further sign that Syria’s civil war is increasingly becoming a theater of battle between Shi’ite and Sunni extremists – under the respective flags of Hezbollah and al-Qaeda – a group of Sunni radicals in Egypt is citing the Syrian situation in its appeal to Sunnis everywhere to support a jihad against Shi’ites. Read

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

European Court Rejects Appeal of 3 Christians Who Claimed Workplace Discrimination

Christians voiced concern and secularists celebrated Tuesday after Europe’s top human rights court ended a lengthy legal battle brought by three British Christians who claimed workplace discrimination because of their beliefs – including Christian views on marriage. Read

Kerry’s $4-Billion West Bank Plan Faces Hurdles, Skepticism

Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement of an ambitious plan to secure $4 billion worth of investment to boost the West Bank economy--and thus peace efforts--comes just weeks after the resignation of the Palestinian politician most often credited with providing reassurance to foreign investors. Read

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Iran to Chair U.N. Agency’s Budget Committee

Six months after a U.S. foreign policy advocacy group urged a United Nations agency to stop cooperating with the Iranian regime, the agency’s members have appointed Tehran to head a body overseeing its budget and work program for the year ahead. Read

It's Terrorist Against Terrorist in the Widening Syrian War

As Syria’s civil war increasingly spills across its borders, a weekend speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah marked one of the most significant developments in the conflict so far: The world’s foremost Shi’ite terrorist group effectively declared war on the world’s leading Sunni terrorist movement. Read

Friday, May 24, 2013

In NW Pakistan, Incoming Gov’t Takes Aim at U.S. Drones

As President Obama addressed the issue of drone strikes publicly for the first time Thursday, the party set to head the government in the Pakistani province closest to the tribal belt where most of those strikes have occurred said its very first resolution will target the strikes. Read

As Syria Burns, the U.N.’s Top Health Body Singles Out Israel

The Obama administration says it has unswervingly challenged the United Nations’ disproportionate criticism of Israel, but at the U.N. World Health Organization’s annual assembly this week, that anti-Israel bias was once again clearly on display. Read

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Support Grows in Europe for Listing Hezbollah as Terror Group

Reversing long-held positions, the governments of Germany and France have both signaled their support for the European Union to designate Hezbollah – or at least its purported “military wing” – as a terrorist organization. Read

Tehran Says U.S. Criticism of Its Electoral Process Offends Iranians’ ‘Political Maturity’

Iran lashed out Wednesday at the United States for criticizing its electoral system after a small body appointed by the supreme leader rejected 678 aspiring presidential candidates, allowing just eight to run in elections on June 14. Read

British PM Declines to Comment on Claims That London Attackers Were Known to MI5

British police investigating the brutal murder of a young soldier on a London street raided several houses and made two further arrests Thursday, as government sources said the two attackers had previously come to the attention of the country’s intelligence services. Read

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bloodied Attacker Invokes 'Allah' After Hacking Soldier to Death on London Street

British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a trip abroad and a government emergency security committee was meeting late Wednesday after two men allegedly hacked a soldier to death on a busy London street, invoking “almighty Allah” and justifying their act by saying Muslims were “dying every day.” Read

An Iranian Role in Syria Peace Conference Remains Under Discussion

A senior State Department official said Tuesday it remains to be seen whether Iran will be invited to an international conference aimed at pushing forward a peace plan for Syria. That official also suggested that the U.S. continues to see Iran as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Read

Senators Demand Transparency in U.S. Taxpayer Funding of United Nations

Some American taxpayers know that they contribute more than one-fifth of the United Nations operating budget, but the full extent of U.S. contributions to the world body – a much larger figure – has been less well known since a congressional reporting requirement lapsed in 2011. Read

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Vietnam Again Escapes Blacklisting, As State Dep’t. Cites ‘Positive’ Moves on Religious Freedom

At a time when Vietnam’s communist authorities have introduced new regulations placing burdensome bureaucratic restrictions on religious worship, the Obama administration’s point woman on international religious freedom cited Vietnam twice on Monday as a country where the U.S. had seen positive progress. Read

Hosting Burma’s Leader, Obama Repeatedly Calls the Country ‘Myanmar’

Setting aside a long-held U.S. policy, President Obama -- when hosting the president of Burma in the Oval Office on Monday -- used the military-backed regime’s preferred term for the country, Myanmar – and not just once or twice, but a total of 16 times in half as many minutes. Read

Monday, May 20, 2013

Will U.S. Designate Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria As Religious Freedom Violators?

As the State Department prepares to release its annual report on international religious freedom Monday, a key issue for many Americans concerned about religious persecution is whether it will blacklist a handful of particularly egregious violators – or, as in previous years, ignore the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Read

Fierce Fighting Reveals Deeper Hezbollah Involvement in Syrian Civil War

After months of half-denials and doublespeak, Hezbollah appears now to be openly intervening in Syria’s civil war, fighting alongside regime forces amid new signals of defiance from President Bashar Assad. Read

Friday, May 17, 2013

Plans for Syria Conference Dogged by Russian Insistence That Iran Take Part

President Obama said Thursday a planned international conference seeking a solution to the Syrian crisis “may yield results,” but with Russia insisting that Iran takes part and the Syrian regime and opposition at odds over a role for President Bashar Assad the prospects are looking slim. Read

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Amid U.S. Uproar Over AP Phone Records, Turkey's PM Gets a Pass on Press Freedom

Campaigners urged President Obama to raise press freedom concerns with visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday, but the only media freedom issue raised during their joint press conference was much closer to home – the secret seizure of Associated Press phone records. Read

Kerry Touts US CO2 Reduction Achievements – Then Says it Hasn’t Done Enough

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the United States was now emitting less carbon dioxide than required by both the expired Kyoto Protocol and an aborted U.S. cap-and-trade bill – but then added that it was still not doing enough to combat climate change. Read

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

China Seeks Foothold in Arctic Group As Competition Heats Up for Region's Resources

China is one of several countries hoping to obtain a foothold in a grouping of nations with territory lying within the Arctic Circle, a resource-rich area of fast-growing economic and strategic significance. Read

Nigerian Leader Admits Parts of the Country Now Under Control of Jihadists

Acknowledging that the state has lost control over some territory to radical Islamists, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in three northern states. Read

WH Benghazi Documents Show CIA, State Both Wanted Terror References Removed from Talking Points

After days of media leaks and back-and-forth wrangling about administration officials’ deliberations on talking points about the Benghazi attack, the White House late Wednesday released documents showing that both CIA and State Department officials pressed for the removal of all references to al-Qaeda and previous terror activity in Libya. Read

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Administration Will Avoid U.N. Disarmament Session Chaired by Iran

The United States will not send an ambassador to a session of the United Nations’ Conference on Disarmament that will be chaired by Iran in the coming weeks, the U.S. Mission to the U.N. said Monday. Read

Muslim Brotherhood Stokes Anti-Israel Sentiment: ‘Israel Is Our Enemy’

Two months after the Obama administration released $250 million in aid to Egypt in what Secretary of State John Kerry called “a good-faith effort to spur reform,” the country is witnessing a surge of anti-Israel sentiment, much of it stoked by the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. Read

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sharif’s Election Victory in Pakistan May Further Strain Relationship With U.S.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Pakistan on a weekend election that marks its first-ever transition between two democratically-elected civilian governments, but the outcome promises to bring new challenges to an already troubled relationship. Read

Syria Denies Role in Turkey Bombings, As Turkey Seeks ‘Joint’ World Response

Syria denied responsibility for car bombings in a Turkish border town that killed 46 people, as Turkey’s government urged the world to act against the Assad regime but stopped short of calling for NATO intervention. Read

Friday, May 10, 2013

Kerry Pledges to ‘Leave No Stone Unturned’ on Benghazi Culpability

Amid potentially damaging new revelations about the State Department’s early assessments regarding attribution for the Benghazi consulate attack, Secretary of State John Kerry pledged Thursday that if any disciplinary action is found to be necessary, he will ensure it happens. Read

U.N. Human Rights Official Again Links Boston Bombing to U.S. Foreign Policies

A non-governmental organization accredited to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday circulated a “draft resolution” calling on the council to terminate the mandate of an appointed human rights expert after fresh comments viewed as blaming U.S. foreign policies for the Boston Marathon terror attack. Read

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Diplomat: State Lawyers Told Me Not to Speak to GOP Lawmaker Probing Benghazi

A senior U.S. diplomat in Libya was instructed by State Department lawyers – for the first time in his 22-year foreign service career – not to speak to a visiting lawmaker who was investigating last September’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, a congressional panel heard Wednesday. Read

‘Democracy’ in Iran: Many Will Register As Presidential Candidates, But Few Will Compete

For five days this week, Iranians aspiring to become their country’s next president in upcoming elections are registering their candidacies. Then a 12-member body appointed by the supreme leader will decide who can actually run. Read

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Kerry in Russia: Assad’s Future Is for Syrians, Not Me, to Decide

The United States and Russia, deeply divided over the crisis in Syria, announced a new push Tuesday to get the Assad regime and opposition rebels to negotiate an end to the conflict. Read

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Benghazi Bubbling: 25,000 Sign Petition in 24 Hours Demanding Answers

As a congressional committee prepares to hear what is expected to be explosive testimony Wednesday from State Department whistleblowers on last September’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, a petition demanding that the administration come clean about the incident attracted 25,000 signatures in just 24 hours. Read

U.N. Human Rights Panel Says No ‘Conclusive’ Proof About Chemical Weapons in Syria

A United Nations human rights panel backed away Monday from claims by one of its members a day earlier that Syrian rebels were strongly suspected to have used a chemical weapon in their fight against the Assad regime, adding further confusion to a situation that presents a growing challenge to the Obama administration. Read

Lawmaker Slams ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ in Case of Doctor Who Helped Find Bin Laden

The Obama administration’s “quiet diplomacy” aimed at securing the release of a Pakistan doctor who helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden is not working and should be replaced by tough steps against Islamabad, a Republican lawmaker said Monday. Read

Monday, May 06, 2013

Pakistan’s Looming Election Doesn’t Bode Well for U.S. Interests

When Pakistani voters go to the polls later this week, the choice they face includes parties tainted by corruption allegations and those led by politicians appealing to anti-Western sentiment. Read

Arabs Condemn Israeli Airstrikes in Syria As American Lawmakers Urge U.S. Action

The Arab League and its leading member, Egypt, may want to see the end of the Assad regime, but Israeli airstrikes against Syrian regime targets in recent days drew condemnation from both. Read