Thursday, July 31, 2014

Senior UN Official: Hamas Fires Rockets ‘From the Vicinity of U.N. Facilities’

A senior U.N. official who has served in the Gaza Strip and is a longstanding critic of Israeli policies there acknowledged Thursday that Hamas and other terrorist groups were firing weapons “from the vicinity of U.N. facilities” located in the territory. Read

Iran’s Missiles a Simmering Area of Disagreement in the Nuclear Talks

Fresh Iranian threats to provide more missiles for Palestinian terrorists to use against Israel come at a time when the U.S. and Russia remain at odds over whether a nuclear agreement now being negotiated with Tehran will cover its missiles program. Read

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

As France Grants Asylum to Iraqi Christians, Rep. Wolf Slams ‘Silence’ in Washington

The French government says it is willing to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians in the face of a jihadist onslaught against them. Read

State Dep't. Can't Place Blame for Children's Deaths in Gaza--24 Hrs After Israel Said It Was a Terrorist Rocket

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday decried the deaths of children killed in a Gaza playground on Monday, without noting that the Israeli military almost 24 hours earlier had attributed their deaths to an errant rocket fired by terrorists. Read

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pakistan, Iraq, Vietnam Again Escape Blacklisting for Religious Freedom Violations

Religious freedom advocates welcomed President Obama’s long-awaited nomination on Monday of an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, but there was also disappointment at the decision not to blacklist several countries for particularly severe violations, including Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria and Vietnam. Read

Administration Again Defends Kerry’s Mideast Peace Efforts, Criticized by Israel and Arabs

Administration officials on Monday painted Israeli criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s handling of Gaza ceasefire negotiations as misinformed and unfair, but had little to say on reports that Kerry’s efforts also drew criticism from key Arab players. Read

Monday, July 28, 2014

Saudi King Says Terrorists Have Been Led Astray by ‘Enemies of Islam’

As the world’s Muslims end their fasting month of Ramadan on Monday, Saudi King Abdullah in an Eid Al-Fitr message to Muslims everywhere underlined one situation which he said had tempered the joy of Ramadan. It wasn’t the Gaza Strip. Read

Kerry Accused of Promoting Hamas’ Ceasefire Demands, Prompted by Qatar and Turkey

The Obama administration Sunday disputed reports in Israeli and Arab media suggesting that Secretary of State John Kerry had tried to push a Gaza ceasefire plan promoted by Hamas-supporting Turkey and Qatar, at the expense of proposals put forward earlier by Egypt and backed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Read

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Protests Loom After Abbas Cites Qur’anic Verse ‘That Permits Muslims to Wage War for Allah’

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction is urging mass Gaza solidarity protests across the West Bank after midday prayers on Friday, after Abbas in a speech cited a Qur’anic injunction that those who are wronged are permitted to fight. Read

Pursing Ceasefire, Kerry Looks to Hamas Supporters Turkey and Qatar for Help

The State Department is defending Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to look to Qatar and Turkey for help in achieving a ceasefire in Gaza, notwithstanding the fact the former is a key funder of Hamas and the latter’s prime minister has accused Israel of behaving like Nazis. Read

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flashback: Obama Urged Action to Protect Iraq’s Christians – in 2007

The plight of Iraq’s Christians, targeted by Muslim militants, prompted a U.S. senator to write to the Secretary of State, voicing alarm about “their potential extinction from their ancient homeland” and saying the situation demands “an urgent response from our government.” Read

NGO Asks UN Rights Council: Where Were You When Assad ‘Starved and Murdered’ 1,800 Palestinians?

Ambassadors of some of the world’s more repressive regimes tried to silence the representative of a non-governmental organization who challenged the U.N. Human Rights Council on its failure to respond to abuses elsewhere around the world with the same urgency it is showing for the Palestinians. Read

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dozens of Flights Canceled After Rocket from Gaza Lands Near Israel’s Main Airport

As airlines scrambled to suspend flights to Tel Aviv’s international airport over security fears arising from rocket fire from Gaza, Israeli authorities were urged to reroute flights to a smaller airport in the southern Negev. Read

US Alone Votes No as UN Human Rights Council Adopts Israel-Bashing Resolution

The U.N. Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session on Wednesday to consider a draft resolution that condemns Israel repeatedly for its military offensive against Hamas, but does not mention the terrorist group once. Read

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Iraq’s Ambassador Urges U.S. to Launch Airstrikes Against ‘Evil’ ISIS

Iraq’s ambassador to Washington urged the U.S. on Monday to launch air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) fighters, making the appeal at a time when some lawmakers from both parties are pushing in the opposite direction. Read

Emotion, Anger as U.N. Security Council Strongly Condemns Plane Attack

Members of the U.N. Security Council voiced outrage Monday about the violation of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine, with Russia coming under intense criticism for not preventing its armed allies from tampering with evidence and moving – and reportedly looting – victims’ bodies. Read

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kerry Heads to Mideast After Calling Israel’s Gaza Offensive ‘a Hell of a Pinpoint Operation’

Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to the Middle East to push for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, hours after appearing privately to call into question Israel’s stated attempts to be doing its best to avoid civilian casualties in its Gaza Strip operation. Read

Mass Rallies Held For Gaza, But Much Larger Death Toll in Syria Ignored

As hundreds of thousands of people held pro-Palestinian rallies in cities around the world over the weekend, the death toll in Syria continued to mount, with relatively little attention. Read

Kerry: Europe Should 'Join the U.S. and President Obama in Taking the Lead' on Russia

Secretary of State John Kerry did the round of Sunday talk shows to lay out evidence of Russian complicity in Thursday’s shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine, but when asked what steps the U.S. will take in response, he pointed each time to sanctions that were already put in place before the deadly incident. Read

Friday, July 18, 2014

After Plane Downing, Australian PM Decries ‘Bullying of Small Countries by Big Ones’

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came close to accusing Russia of having a hand in the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine, and told lawmakers in Canberra Friday the Russian ambassador was being summoned. Read

Malaysian PM: Don’t Remove Black Box Or Interfere With Evidence at Plane Crash Site

Malaysia’s prime minister called early Friday for an international investigation into the downing of a Malaysia Airlines aircraft over eastern Ukraine, saying no one should interfere with evidence at the crash site or remove the “black box” flight data recorder. Read

Obama: At Least 1 American Killed in Malaysian Plane Attack

A full day after the crash, there's still no word on how many Americans may have been among the almost 300 people killed when the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday. Read

Thursday, July 17, 2014

As Deadline Nears, Obama Hints Iran Nuclear Talks May be Extended

President Obama said Wednesday he would determine in the coming days whether to extend the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program beyond Sunday’s deadline, but he also hinted that he may do so. Read

U.S. Amb. Blames 'Climate Change' for Hotel That Collapsed 12 Yrs Ago on African Beach

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power posted photos on Twitter Wednesday to illustrate the purported effects of climate change on a West African nation’s coastline, but the pictures show a hotel that collapsed into the sea 12 years ago, the victim of erosion blamed largely on years of illegal mining of coastal sand. Read

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

U.S. Selling $11B in Weaponry to Gulf State That Supports Hamas, Syrian Jihadists

At a time when Hamas continues to fire salvos of rockets into Israel while rejecting a ceasefire proposal, the United States has finalized a deal to provide the Palestinian terrorist group’s leading supporter, Qatar, with weaponry worth $11 billion. Read

Ban Ki-moon’s New Climate Envoy Supports Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies

A new “special envoy” on climate change appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – the fourth in seven months – has voiced support for divestment from the fossil fuel industry, which she accuses of helping to fund global warming denialism. Read

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WH: We've ‘Substantially Improved the Tranquility of the Global Community’

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday the Obama administration’s foreign policies in a number of areas have enhanced the world’s “tranquility” – a word that raised eyebrows as reporters pointed to situations in Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Ukraine and the South China Sea. Read

Israel Accepts, Hamas Rejects Gaza Ceasefire Proposal

Israel’s security cabinet agreed early Tuesday to accept an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire to end a week of fighting between Israel’s armed forces and Hamas, but the radical Palestinian group which controls the Gaza Strip looked unlikely to follow suit. Read

Monday, July 14, 2014

No Call From Islamic Leaders For Hamas to Stop Attacking Israel

Arab League foreign ministers will meet in Cairo on Monday to formulate a response to Israeli military operation in Gaza, but largely absent so far in the regional response to the crisis have been calls for Hamas to stop firing rockets from the territory into Israel. Read

Russian Foreign Minister Skips Key Iran Meeting to Attend World Cup

The Obama administration insists that the six powers engaged in nuclear talks with Iran are united. But as a deadline for a final agreement looms, and as Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Vienna to lend urgency to the process Sunday, his Russian counterpart had a more pressing engagement 6,000 miles away – the soccer World Cup final in Brazil. Read

Friday, July 11, 2014

Kerry Cites Climate Change Cooperation As Highlight of His Talks With China

Asked late Thursday to highlight one thing that stood out during two days of high-level security and economic dialogue with China, Secretary of State John Kerry pointed to cooperation on major issues of global concern, and used climate change – “one of the defining threats of our time” – as an example. Read

Obama Administration Mum on Germany's Expulsion of CIA Station Chief

A State Department spokeswoman demurred Thursday when asked if the U.S. would respond to Germany’s expulsion of the CIA’s station chief at the embassy in Berlin over fresh allegations of U.S. spying on its European ally. Read

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Saudis Deny Supporting ISIS, Following Report of ‘Substantial and Sustained Funding’

The Saudi government has responded heatedly to British media reports implying that the kingdom has a hand in funding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Instead it laid blame for the growth of terrorist-affiliated groups on “the lack of international involvement” in the Syrian civil war. Read

Senators Frustrated As State Dep’t Again Threatens ‘Sectoral’ Sanctions Against Russia

A senior State Department official took flak from skeptical senators Wednesday after saying that so-called “sectoral” sanctions against Russia – measures targeting specific sectors of its economy – could be imposed “very soon” over its actions in Ukraine. Read

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Despite His February Promise, Obama Still Hasn’t Filled Religious Freedom Post

More than five months after President Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast that he looked forward to nominating an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, he has yet to nominate anyone. Read

Rep. Wolf: Int’l Religious Freedom Commission Gives ‘Unvarnished Truth’ About Allies, Foes

At a time when religious persecution is on the rise across the globe, the U.S. House voted Tuesday to reauthorize a statutory religious freedom watchdog. The move was welcomed by the bill’s sponsor, who said the independent body is not constrained by diplomatic considerations when shining a spotlight on abusers. Read

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

U.S. Calls for Investigation, As Fraud Allegations Cloud Afghan Presidential Election

Afghanistan’s presidential election, touted in advance as its first ever democratic and peaceful transition of power, looks set instead to deliver a verdict that could deeply divide the country just months before most U.S. troops are due to depart. Read

Iraqi Lawmakers Delay Formation of New, 'Inclusive' Gov’t by Another Month

Two weeks after Secretary of State John Kerry visited Iraq to urge the speedy establishment of a new and more inclusive government in order to confront the “existential” jihadist threat, the country’s parliament on Monday delayed its key session for a second time, pushing it back this time by more than a month. Read

Monday, July 07, 2014

Self-Appointed ‘Caliph’ Makes First Public Appearance

The group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) -- recently shortened to "Islamic State" -- has released an online video purportedly showing its leader delivering a sermon in its Iraqi stronghold, as Sunni Islamists battle online over ISIS’ recently-proclaimed caliphate. Read

Netanyahu: We Don’t Treat Killers as Heroes – Unlike Our Neighbors

Reacting to the arrest of several Israeli suspects in the murder of a Palestinian teenager which triggered days of violent protest, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday that the boy’s killers would face justice, saying that unlike its Palestinian neighbor, Israeli society does not treat killers as heroes. Read

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Experts: Al-Qaeda May Attempt Terror Attack in Bid to Stay Relevant

As the Department of Homeland Security signals enhanced security at foreign airports for U.S.-bound flights, some Mideast experts view the biggest potential threat right now coming not from the burgeoning Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) but from al-Qaeda as it seeks to reassert its claim to lead the global jihad. Read

State Dep’t Struggles to Explain Its View of the Hamas-Backed Palestinian Unity Gov’t

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the unity government set up by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas a month ago, and the reconciliation agreement with Hamas which made its establishment possible, were “different” – but also “linked.” Read

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Envoy: Iraq ‘Desperately’ Needs US Military Support, But Will Accept Help From Whomever Offers It

Iraq will have no choice but to look to countries like Iran and Russia for help if the United States cannot provide urgently-needed military aid in its fight against a Sunni insurgency led by al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists, Baghdad’s envoy to the U.S. warned Tuesday. Read

Putin Warns Again That Russian Military Could Intervene in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a fresh warning that Russia could intervene militarily in Ukraine, where he said Russian “compatriots” were under threat after a ceasefire between the government and pro-Moscow separatists lapsed. Read

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Obama, Kerry Deplore Killing of Israeli Teens; Silent on Hamas and 'Unity' Gov't

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry both issued statements Monday condemning the killing of three Israeli teenagers, but neither mentioned Hamas or called on Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to end his unity deal with the terrorist group, which Israel holds responsible for the murders. Read

China Leery as Japan Steps Away From Decades of Official Pacifism

Risking increased tensions with a deeply suspicious China, Japan’s cabinet was set Tuesday to approve the country’s most far-reaching security policy reform in six decades, reinterpreting its pacifist constitution to allow limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense. Read