Friday, October 31, 2014

Saudi King’s Religious Tolerance Center Faces Fresh Scrutiny

Two years after a Saudi-funded, U.N.-backed center for interreligious dialogue opened in Vienna, its future in the Austrian capital may be at risk over comments by its deputy head viewed as downplaying concerns about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. Read

Kerry: ‘Worst Stereotypes’ of U.S. Behavior ‘Brought Us to Difficulties We’re Living With Today’

Secretary of State John Kerry argued Thursday that the United States cannot push its weight around in a changing and “complicated” world, and implied that the previous administration having done so has led to today’s security crisis in Iraq. Read

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Susan Rice Says There’s No Crisis With Israel, But Points to Policies of ‘This Israeli Government’

National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Wednesday denied that the U.S.-Israel relationship is “in crisis,” but also said the current Israeli government has taken a stance on settlements that causes disagreements. Read

Hagel: ‘Climate Change Presents Security Issues for Us’

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed hope Wednesday that next week’s midterm election would deliver an outcome that enables Congress to “work together,” in order to deal with critical security issues, including “global warming.” Read

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gender Equality Gap Greatest in Islamic Countries, Survey Shows

Nineteen out of 20 countries with the lowest scores in an annual survey of gender equality around the world are Islamic, and 12 are Arab states. Read

Kerry: Extremism Exploits a ‘Beautiful Religion’

The response to Islamist extremism, which “exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion,” must include offering alternatives to young people who lack opportunities and “feel oppressed,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday. Read

US Envoy: To Defeat ISIS, We Must Highlight ‘Our Profound Respect’ for Islam

A global effort to counter claims by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) that it is acting in the name of Islam must include a counter-narrative that highlights “our profound respect” for the religion, the administration’s point man in the anti-ISIS coalition said this week. Read

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Russian FM Disputes Kerry’s Claim That Russia Has Agreed to Share ISIS Intelligence

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is disputing claims by Secretary of State John Kerry that the two recently agreed to step up intelligence cooperation in the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). Read

Hamas, ISIS ‘Parts of the Same Islamist Front,’ Says Pro-Israel Group

Hamas and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) are “parts of the same Islamist front,” former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar stated at the weekend, arguing against any moves by western governments to grant unilateral recognition to a Palestinian state. Read

State Dept.: Palestinian-American Teen Buried in Hamas Headband Was Not Terrorist

A Palestinian-American teenager shot dead by Israeli soldiers while allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at vehicles is not viewed as a terrorist by the Obama State Department. Read

Monday, October 27, 2014

Condemned for Hanging a Woman, Iran Accuses U.S. of Human Rights Violations

One day after Iran hanged a woman convicted of killing a man she claimed tried to rape her, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted statements on his social media accounts accusing the United States of abusing human rights through its policies in the region. Read

Israel Minister Questions Key Element of Administration’s ‘Two-State’ Policy

Amid new warnings of “a crisis” in Israeli-United States ties, a senior Israeli minister has called into question a lynchpin of the administration’s Mideast policy, saying he envisages the result of a negotiated settlement to be "autonomy" for the Palestinians, not full independence. Read

Friday, October 24, 2014

State Dep’t Defends Abbas; No Comment on His Silence After Deadly Attack

The State Department on Thursday sidestepped an invitation to comment on Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ silence in response to the killing of an American baby in a Jerusalem attack, or to respond to Israeli claims that recent Abbas remarks have incited violence. Read

Chinese Official to Head UN Agency Where Battle for Internet Control Is Underway

Shortly after being elected secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at a high-level meeting in South Korea Thursday, Zhao Houlin told Seoul’s official news agency that while everyone supports the idea of freedom of speech, what constitutes censorship is open to differing interpretations. Read

Thursday, October 23, 2014

State Dep’t Calls for Restraint on ‘All Sides’ After American Baby Killed in Jerusalem Attack

The State Department on Wednesday urged restraint from “all sides” after a three-month old baby girl – said to be an American citizen – was killed when a Palestinian identified as a member of the terrorist group Hamas drove into a group of pedestrians in Jerusalem. Read

Kerry: ‘We Hope to Get Back to Talks’ With N. Korea If It’s Serious About Nuclear Issue

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday held out the possibility of resuming long-stalled nuclear talks if North Korea was “prepared to talk seriously” about denuclearization, saying steps in that direction could ultimately mean a reduced U.S. military presence in the region. Read

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

U.S. Calls on ‘All Sides to Respect the Status Quo’ of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power warned Tuesday against “provocations” at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, calling on “all sides to respect the status quo of this holy site” but making no mention of recent Palestinian rioting there. Read

Russian FM: We and the US Are Arming Opposing Sides in Syrian Conflict

Russia is not a member of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition because its military actions are “paradoxical” and not in line with international law, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week. He pointed out that the coalition and Russia were arming opposing sides in the Syrian civil war. Read

Russia Annoyed to Hear U.S. Ranks It Number-2 Threat to Int’l Peace and Stability

Russia is unhappy about recent remarks by President Obama and a senior NATO official, which Moscow views as equating its intervention in Ukraine with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) threat – and in Obama’s case, to the Ebola outbreak too. Read

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kerry, Campaigning Against ISIS Ideology, Meets With Muslim Leader Who Enforces Shari'a Punishments

Secretary of State John Kerry met with several Southeast Asian leaders on Monday to promote the anti-ISIS campaign including the need to delegitimize its ideology. The people he met with include a Muslim ruler who less than six months ago introduced the death penalty for apostasy, stoning for adultery and limb amputation for theft. Read

Turkey: FSA is the Only Rebel Group in Syria That Should be Supported

Turkey’s foreign minister said Monday Ankara and Washington were in agreement that the Free Syria Army (FSA) is the only rebel group in Syria that should be supported, since it was fighting against both the Assad regime and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). Read

Monday, October 20, 2014

Despite Turkey's Objections, US Airdrops Weapons to Syrian Kurds Fighting ISIS

For the first time, U.S. aircraft on Sunday night dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Syrian Kurdish forces defending the strategic border town of Kobani against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). Read

Al-Qaeda Urges Attacks on ‘Achilles Heel of Western Economies’

A new al-Qaeda propaganda publication urges Muslims everywhere to “target” the United States, and it includes an article highlighting the vulnerability of maritime chokepoints through which the bulk of world energy supplies are shipped. Read

As Fighting Rages, Turkey’s Erdogan Rejects Any US Plan to Arm Syrian Kurds Battling ISIS

Turkey’s president on Sunday rejected U.S. proposals to arm Syrian Kurds fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) near the Turkish border, shortly after the White House said he and President Obama had pledged to “strengthen cooperation” against the jihadists. Read

Friday, October 17, 2014

Most Western Democracies Supported Venezuela’s Successful UN Security Council Bid

Just 11 of the 193 U.N. member-states withheld their support from Venezuela in Wednesday’s election for a U.N. Security Council seat, a reflection of the Obama administration’s decision not to oppose the candidacy of one of the America’s most virulent critics. Read

Pakistani Court Upholds Blasphemy Death Sentence Against Christian Woman

A high court in Pakistan on Thursday upheld the death sentence for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who in 2010 became the first Pakistani woman to be sentenced to death for “blasphemy,” after Muslim fellow laborers accused her of insulting Mohammed. Read

Kerry: Extremism Not Linked to Islam; Factors Include Deprivation, Climate Change

Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday night rejected any link between Islam and extremism practiced by the likes of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh), pointing instead to factors such as poverty among youthful Mideast populations, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and climate change. Read

Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Overwhelming Proportion of UN Member States Approve Anti-US Venezuela for Security Council Seat

Venezuela on Wednesday easily secured a seat on the U.N. Security Council for 2015-16, receiving 181 votes from the 193-member General Assembly. The Obama administration appears resigned to the prospect of sharing the horseshoe-shaped table in New York for two years with one of America’s harshest critics. Read

Despite Administration’s Efforts, Voters Give Climate Change Low Priority in New Poll

Despite the administration’s high-priority focus on climate change, the issue is at the bottom of a list of 13 concerns that are most pressing for registered U.S. voters in next month’s midterm election, according to a new Gallup poll. Read

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kerry: US and Russia Now Talking About ‘Many Other Issues Besides Ukraine’

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday defended his talks with his Russian counterpart despite deep differences over Ukraine, saying there were important areas where the two countries could cooperate. Most of the discussion, he said, had dealt with issues other than Ukraine. Read

Kerry Insists: Turkey ‘Certainly Has Allowed the Use of Certain Facilities’

Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Tuesday that Turkey has agreed to make available some of its facilities for the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), but did not elaborate. Read

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WHO Chief: Ebola Is Important, But So Is Tobacco-Control

The head of the World Health Organization took time out from the emergency response to the Ebola outbreak Monday to attend a convention in Russia on tobacco control, and said that as important as Ebola was, so too was the anti-tobacco campaign. Read

Turkey Not Interested in Saving Kobani; Says Assad Regime Is Main Target

Turkey says it has not agreed to allow U.S. forces to use facilities including the Incirlik air base for the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), despite expressions of optimism by National Security Adviser Susan Rice and other administration officials. Read

Monday, October 13, 2014

ISIS: Sexual Enslavement of Yazidi Women Helps Muslims Avoid Sin

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria says that shari’a law allows the enslavement of women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority because they are pagans, a religious class deemed even worse than “apostates” like Christians and Jews who may be given the convert-or-die option. Read

Support Grows for Security Council Resolution on ‘Palestine’

Russia expressed its support Sunday for a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would set a 2016 deadline for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Read

Monday, October 06, 2014

Pakistani Taliban Pledges Support for ISIS, Then Reverses Course

The Pakistani Taliban terrorist group, which has been riven by divisions in recent months, on Sunday retracted a statement made the previous day declaring support for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). Read

Biden in 2012: ‘We Are Working Hand in Glove’ With Sunni Allies on Syria

Vice President Joe Biden’s stinging assessment that Sunni allies had been “our largest problem” in fueling extremism in Syria – comments for which he has now apologized – are in contrast to remarks he made two years ago when he said the U.S. was “working hand in glove” with those countries on Syria. Read

House Majority Leader Voices Support for Ground Troops Against ISIS

A week after House Speaker John Boehner said the U.S. may ultimately “have no choice” but to deploy ground forces if the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) is to be defeated, the second highest-ranking House Republican concurred that U.S. “special forces and others” will likely be needed. Read

Friday, October 03, 2014

Turkey Voted for Military Action to Go After Assad, Not ISIS, Opposition Says

Amid the fanfare surrounding a vote by Turkey’s parliament Thursday authorizing military intervention in Syria and Iraq, opposition parties charged that the government’s first priority was not to tackle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), but to go after President Bashar Assad’s regime. Read

Left-Wing Group Timed Release of 2-Year-Old Jerusalem Housing Plan to Coincide With Obama Meeting

The Jerusalem housing plans slammed by the administration hours after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with President Obama are a two-year old proposal that went through a bureaucratic step a week ago, but only made headlines on Wednesday because a left-wing group opposed to the move timed a press release to coincide with the Oval Office meeting. Read

Austria Aims to Stop Funding for Islam, Promote Standardized Version of Qur’an

Amid growing concern across Europe about the threat of spreading jihadism, Austria’s coalition government on Thursday unveiled far-reaching legislation which aims to stamp out foreign influence on and funding for Austria’s Muslims, and also envisages a standardized German-language version of the Qur’an. Read

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Chinese Foreign Minister Slaps Down Kerry Over Hong Kong

After Secretary of State John Kerry voiced support Wednesday for the democratic aspirations of Hong Kong’s people, his Chinese counterpart reiterated Beijing’s rejection of what it views as outside interference in its “internal affairs.” Read

Netanyahu to Obama: Hope Iran Won't Get Nuclear Deal It Wants from You

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised President Obama Wednesday for leading the effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but described the Iranian nuclear issue as “even more critical” and voiced the hope that negotiations with Iran would not leave it on the threshold of nuclear weapons capability. Read

9,862 Aliens From Terror-Linked States Apprehended in FY13

Some 9,862 aliens apprehended by agencies falling under the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal year 2013 came from 15 countries that are either state sponsors of terrorism, considered terrorist safe havens or have otherwise been associated with terrorism in recent years. Read

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Taliban Threatens ‘Sharia Judgment and Punishment’ After New Afghan Gov’t Signs Security Agreement With U.S.

The Obama administration welcomed Tuesday’s signing of a document governing the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond Dec. 31, while the Taliban vowed to continue its jihad against American “infidels” and to deliver “shari’a judgment and punishment” on the Afghan leaders who signed it. Read