Friday, February 28, 2014

Kerry: '7- to 11-Thousand Foreign Fighters' in Syria Pose Terror Threat

Secretary of State John Kerry defended the need for intelligence surveillance Thursday, saying the U.S. and other countries “have a global interest in trying to know what terrorists are going to do before they do it,” and citing “seven to eleven thousand foreign fighters” in Syria who could pose a security threat on their return home. Read

Ukraine Crisis: Crimea Airport Seized by Shadowy Gunmen

Unidentified armed men seized the airport in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, Russia’s Interfax reported in the early hours of Friday morning, signaling a deepening in the Ukraine crisis hours after Secretary of State John Kerry said Moscow had promised to respect its neighbor’s “territorial integrity.” Read

Russia Seeks Access to Bases in Eight Countries for Its Ships and Bombers

At a time of escalated tensions with the West over Ukraine, Russia says it is negotiating with eight governments around the world for access to military facilities, to enable it to extend its long-range naval and strategic bomber capabilities. Read

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Activists Point an Accusing Finger at Members of U.N. Human Rights Council

On the eve of a new U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva, a gathering of human rights activists in the city this week heard accounts of rights violations from dissidents, including some whose persecutors will be represented in the council chamber on Monday. Read

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kerry Tries to Placate Russia Over Ukraine: ‘This is Not Rocky IV’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to react publicly to the ousting of his Ukrainian ally, but on Wednesday he ordered military drills in the district bordering Ukraine, and Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia to be “very careful in the judgments that it makes going forward here.” Read

Obama Tells Pentagon: Plan for Full Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan

NATO defense ministers began two days of talks in Brussels on Wednesday, frustrated by yet another unmet target date for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement pivotal to any ongoing foreign troop presence in the country beyond year’s end. Read

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Kerry Calls for 'Global Understanding,' U.N. Enforcement to Protect the Oceans

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed support Tuesday for “a global structure” within the United Nations to enforce regulations on how the oceans are managed and protected. Read

Uganda Could Lose U.S. Aid, Face Sanctions Over Its Homosexuality Law

A review of the U.S. relationship with Uganda in response to newly enacted anti-homosexuality legislation could lead to options such as cutting aid or imposing sanctions, a State Department spokeswoman indicated on Monday. Read

Russia Weakens Another U.N. Security Council Resolution on Syria

For the second time in less than five months, Western powers have given in to Russian demands to water down a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, even as the Assad regime’s backsliding on the earlier resolution illustrates just how toothless they are. Read

Monday, February 24, 2014

No Ukraine-Type Protests Here, Says Leader of ‘Europe’s Last Dictatorship’

With a wary eye on developments in neighboring Ukraine the president of Belarus, the former Soviet republic dubbed “Europe’s last dictatorship,” declared Sunday that its armed forces would meet their “sacred mission” to preserve peace and stability. Read

Taliban Says It's Suspending Prisoner-Swap Talks, Which WH Says Aren’t Happening

An announcement by the Taliban Sunday saying it was suspending talks with the U.S. over a possible prisoner exchange came five days after the White House denied that “active negotiations” were taking place. Read

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Susan Rice: Russian Military Intervention in Ukraine ‘Would Be a Grave Mistake’

Any Russian decision to send forces into Ukraine to restore a government it views as favorable “would be a grave mistake,” national security advisor Susan Rice said Sunday, after dramatic turns in the country’s standoff saw President Viktor Yanukovich effectively removed from office. Read

Friday, February 21, 2014

EU Imposes Sanctions After Ukraine’s Deadliest Day

European Union foreign ministers agreed Thursday to impose sanctions “as a matter of urgency” including an asset freeze and visa ban against individuals “responsible for human rights violations, violence and use of excessive force” in Ukraine. Read

U.S. Official: No Formal, Written Framework on Iran Nukes, ‘But We All Know What It Is’

Closed-doors talks between Iran and six world powers ended in Vienna Thursday with a reported agreement on a “framework” for resolving the long nuclear standoff, but nothing has been put down on paper. Nevertheless, a senior U.S. official insisted that “we all know what it is.” Read

Chavez’ Heir Threatens to Expel CNN From Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro threatened Thursday to remove CNN from the air if it does not “rectify” its coverage of political turmoil in the Latin American country. Read

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Obama on Keystone Pipeline: ‘We Only Have One Planet’

President Obama conceded Wednesday that the lengthy process of evaluating whether to move ahead with the Keystone XL oil pipeline was probably viewed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as “a little too laborious” but added that economic growth had to be balanced against environmental concerns, as “we only have one planet.” Read

Obama: Ukraine, Syria Are Not ‘Some Cold War Chessboard’

The United States does not view the crises in Ukraine and Syria as a “Cold War chessboard” in which the U.S. and Russia are vying for influence, President Obama said on Wednesday night. Read

Russia Blames Ukraine Bloodshed on ‘Western Countries That Interfered’

As European Union foreign ministers prodded by the U.S. mull sanctions in response to the political crisis in Ukraine, Russia said that “Western countries that interfered” shared the blame for the violence in Kiev, which it called an attempt to topple the government by force. Read

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ukraine Violence Comes After Contrasting Messages From U.S., Russia

Tuesday’s bloodshed in Ukraine’s capital Kiev comes days after Ukraine’s leaders received two contrasting messages from U.S. and Russian government figures, one appealing for a non-violent resolution to the political crisis, the other suggesting the government has no choice but to use force against protestors. Read

Vietnam Keeps Hunger-Striking Catholic Rights Defender Behind Bars

Vietnam’s communist authorities on Tuesday rejected a legal appeal by a prominent Catholic lawyer, blogger and human rights defender, who was jailed following his conviction on what are widely viewed as politically motivated charges of “tax evasion.” Read

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Missiles Are Not Up for Discussion, Iran Tells US on Eve of Nuclear Talks

On the eve of a new round of Iran nuclear talks Tuesday, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei became the latest regime figure to challenge the Obama administration’s assertion that Iran’s missile program will be dealt with under a comprehensive nuclear deal due to be negotiated in the coming days and months. Read

Kerry Hints at Shift in Strategy on Syria

Expressing renewed frustration over Russia’s support for the Assad regime and the failure of recent Syria peace talks, Secretary of State John Kerry hinted Monday that a shift in strategy may be needed, although he also said the administration still believes in a political rather than a military solution. Read

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kerry Welcomes New Lebanese Gov’t, Which Includes Hezbollah

Secretary of State John Kerry has welcomed the formation of a new Lebanese government that breaks a 10-month political deadlock in the country – even though members of the Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah are included in the cabinet. Read

Venezuela Accuses U.S. of Lying, Prepares to Expel Embassy Officials

( – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Sunday he was expelling three U.S. consular officials, as his left-wing government accused the U.S. government of “lying” about tensions in the Latin American country. Read

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kerry: 'Science of Climate Change Leaping Out At Us Like Scene from 3D Movie'

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday slammed “loud interest groups” and “a tiny minority of shoddy scientists” who challenge claims on climate change, a phenomenon he described as “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” Read

Friday, February 14, 2014

Karzai: Afghan Release of Dangerous Militants ‘of No Concern to U.S.’

Less than a year after Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “great confidence” that U.S. interests would be protected regarding Afghan prisoners, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that his government’s decisions on prisoner releases are “of no concern to the U.S., and should be of no concern to the U.S.” Read

State Dep’t Clarifies After Kerry Appears to Announce Policy Shift on Japan-S. Korea Dispute

The United States has not changed its position on a sensitive territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan, the State Department clarified Thursday after Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to say that the U.S. considers the contested islands to fall under its mutual defense treaty obligations with South Korea. Read

Thursday, February 13, 2014

State Dep’t Challenges McCain to ‘Say What We Should be Doing’ in Syria

The United States has been “very clear in condemning” the Assad regime’s bombing of Syrian civilians and has asked Russia to pressurize its ally on the issue, but “at the end of the day, we can’t impose outcomes here,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday. Read

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CAIR Trying to Have Anti-Islamist Muslim Kicked Off Religious Freedom Panel

Having failed in an earlier attempt to scupper the appointment of a prominent anti-Islamist Muslim to a statutory international religious freedom watchdog, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is actively trying to have him removed from the post. Read

Religious Freedom Commissioner: Administration 'Sends a Message...That We Don’t Care’

Failure to give high priority to promoting religious freedom abroad “sends a message to other countries that we don’t care,” a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Read

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

‘Euroskeptics’ Welcome Swiss Vote to Curb Immigration

A Swiss referendum narrowly supporting immigration quotas is being welcomed by “euroskeptic” political parties hoping to ride a wave of discontent over European Union policies and perform strongly in the forthcoming E.U. parliament elections. Read

Iraqi Paper Bombed, Staff Threatened Over Picture of Supreme Leader

On the eve of Tuesday’s 35th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution, the Baghdad offices of an Iraq newspaper were hit by roadside bombs after the paper published a picture of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which some of his supporters found offensive. Read

Assad’s Resignation ‘Not on the Agenda,’ Regime Says at Round 2 of Talks

As a new round of U.N.-hosted talks on the Syria crisis began in Geneva, representatives of the regime made it clear Monday that the departure of President Bashar Assad was not under discussion. Read

Monday, February 10, 2014

Iran Warship Heading to Atlantic Barely Survived Earlier Tangle With U.S. Navy

One of two warships which Iran says it is sending to the Atlantic Ocean to send a “message” to the United States had a serious run-in with the U.S. Navy 26 years ago, and barely survived to tell the tale. Read

Kerry Misleads on Muslim States’ Readiness to Normalize Ties With Israel

Secretary of State John Kerry continues to assert, misleadingly, that the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement will immediately usher in peaceful relations between the Jewish state and the world’s Islamic nations. Read

Friday, February 07, 2014

U.S. Diplomat’s F-Bomb Overshadows Russia’s Warning on Ukraine

A media furor over a leaked phone conversation between senior U.S. diplomats discussing the Ukraine crisis is overshadowing a Kremlin adviser’s accusations of U.S. interference in Ukraine – and his warning that Russia could intervene to maintain its security. Read

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Spain’s Move to Strengthen Abortion Laws Reflects Wider Trend, Says Legal Analyst

A move by the Spanish government to reverse a four-year-old law allowing abortion on demand up to the 14th week of pregnancy has triggered a storm of protests, but a legal scholar says that far from violating international norms as critics contend, it is in line with a new political trend in Europe and the U.S. Read

Kerry Disputes That Chemical Weapons Deal Strengthened Assad

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday conceded that President Bashar Assad’s position in the Syrian civil war has improved “a little bit,” but disputed that this was because of a Russian-brokered deal last fall to remove the regime’s chemical weapons. Read

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Administration Indicates Support for Karzai’s Secret Talks With Taliban

On a day when President Obama met with senior security officials to discuss Afghanistan, the State Department took issue with suggestions that the U.S. would disapprove of secret contacts between President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban. Read

U.S. Nuclear Negotiator: If Iran Can’t Get the Bomb, Its Ballistic Missiles Will be ‘Almost Irrelevant’

A senior State Department official played down concerns Tuesday that the nuclear agreement she helped to negotiate with Iran is silent on its ballistic missiles. If Iran is prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon, then the fact that it may develop delivery systems would be “almost irrelevant,” she said. Read

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Pakistan Launches Another Peace Bid with Terrorists

Pakistan’s government on Tuesday was set to launch a new peace initiative with terrorists whose demands include the severing of ties with the U.S. and constitutional changes to make shari’a the supreme law of the land. It's the latest in a series of failed peace attempts going back a decade. Read

State Dep’t Denies Kerry Called US Syria Policy a Failure or Advocated Arming Rebels

The State Department Monday pushed back against reports that Secretary of State John Kerry told a group of senators that the administration’s Syria policy is failing, and that with the al-Qaeda threat “getting out of hand” it was time to arm moderate elements among the rebels. Read

Monday, February 03, 2014

White House Will ‘Make Sure’ Syria Meets Its Chemical Weapons Obligations

As Syrian President Bashar Assad continues to defy the U.N. Security Council and undermine an Obama administration foreign policy achievement by dragging out a timeline for surrendering his chemical weapons stockpiles, the White House said Sunday the U.S. would “make sure” the regime complies. Read

Russia, US Face New Strains Over Missile Defense

As Russia prepares to host America and the world at the winter Olympics in Sochi, its relations with the United States are facing new strains over old disputes, focusing on key arms reduction treaties. Read