Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ayatollah: Our Missiles Are ‘a Source of Happiness’ for Nations Wronged by US, Israel

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared Wednesday that Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities are crucial for the country’s defense, and – in an apparent swipe at an influential former president – added that those who argue that this is a time for talks rather than for missiles are either ignorant or traitors. Read

Pakistan Pledges Not to Amend Law That Imposes Death Penalty for Blasphemy

Muslim radicals ended a four-day sit-in in a high-security “red zone” near Pakistan’s federal parliament, claiming victory after the government late Wednesday gave assurances it will not seek to amend the country’s notorious blasphemy laws or show leniency to anyone convicted under them. Read

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Opposition Group: Iran’s ‘Cyber Army’ Falls Under the Command of the IRGC

Iran has denied U.S. claims of cyber-attacks following the indictment last week of seven Iranians accused of targeting dozens of U.S. banks and a small dam, but according to an Iranian opposition group a “cyber army” headed by top Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers has been increasingly active since 2009. Read

Trump Doubles Down on NATO Criticism: ‘Doesn’t Cover Terrorism, Okay?’

Reiterating his recent criticisms of NATO, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said Tuesday the transatlantic alliance was “obsolete,” does not deal with terrorism, gets too much U.S. funding, and should be “rejiggered.” Read

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pakistan’s Christians Caught Between Jihadist Bombers and Anti-'Blasphemy' Zealots

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed Monday to root out terrorism after a deadly suicide bombing targeted Christians enjoying an Easter outing, but the scale of the challenge faced by Christians was evident both in the carnage and in a mass protest by radical Islamists angered by the execution of a man they revere for killing a provincial governor accused of blaspheming Islam. Read

Syrian Refugees Admitted to U.S. Since Paris Attacks: 911 Muslims, 4 Christians

The federal government has admitted 916 Syrian refugees into the United States since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) attacked Paris last November, and of that number four (0.4 percent) are Christians. Read

Friday, March 25, 2016

Russia Isn’t Isolated, Says FM Lavrov, Pointing to 18 Meetings With Kerry Over Past Year

Claims about Russia being isolated have “nothing to do with reality,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday, pointing to a record 18 meetings with Secretary of State John Kerry over the past year. Read

After Brussels, State Dept. Declines to ‘Give Europe a Grade’ For Counterterror Cooperation

As questions swirl around self-admitted “errors” by authorities in the lead up to Tuesday’s terror attack in Brussels, the State Department on Thursday declined to “give Europe a grade” on its counterterror cooperation within the bloc or with the U.S. Read

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Iran’s U.N. Allies Fail in Attempt to Shut Down Human Rights Monitoring

An attempt by Iran’s allies at the U.N. Human Rights Council, some of the world’s more repressive regimes among them, failed Wednesday to block the renewal of the appointment of a special investigator into Tehran’s human rights record. Read

In Argentina, Obama Pledges to Help Ensure Accountability for 1994 Bombing Blamed on Iran

President Obama said in Buenos Aires Wednesday that the United States has offered whatever help it can give to hold accountable those responsible for the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in the city. Read

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Iran-Related Arrest in Florida Could Have Political Implications for Turkey’s Islamist Ruling Party

The arrest in Florida of a prominent Iranian-Turkish businessman accused of conspiring to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions may have major political implications in Turkey, where the same man was linked to a corruption scandal reaching into the upper ranks of the ruling party. Read

Cuban Dissidents Give Obama Names of Political Prisoners Denied by Castro

President Obama on Tuesday met with 13 Cuban dissidents at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, and they gave him the names of political prisoners whose existence Cuban President Raul Castro denied a day earlier. Read

State Department: ‘This Isn’t About a Religion’

Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Brussels was not about religion but a “depraved ideology,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. Read

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

House Passes Bill Prodding Foreign Gov’ts to Improve Border Security

The House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation requiring the administration to produce an annual scorecard assessing how well countries around the world are securing their borders against travel by terrorists and foreign fighters. Read

Iran Lobby Urges Clinton to Follow Obama's 'Prudent and Wise Rhetoric and Diplomacy'

An Iranian-American lobby group welcomed Hillary Clinton’s reiteration of support for the Iran nuclear deal, but expressed concern about her tough talk about the regime in a speech Monday, including a comment that “Tehran’s fingerprints are on nearly every conflict across the Middle East.” Read

Monday, March 21, 2016

Pentagon Names First American Service Member Killed in Attack by ISIS in Iraq

The Department of Defense has identified a U.S. Marine who is the first American service member to be killed in an attack launched by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists in Iraq. Read

Obama, Citing His Cuba Trip, Tells Iran: 'It Is Possible For Old Adversaries to Start Down a New Path’

In a Persian new year (Nowruz) message to the Iranian people, President Obama pointed to his visit to Cuba, now underway, as “a reminder that even after decades of mistrust, it is possible for old adversaries to start down a new path.” Read

‘¿Que bolá Cuba?’ Obama Tweets from Havana, Hours After Regime Detained More Dissidents

President Obama landed in Cuba on Sunday afternoon, hours after dozens of dissidents from the Ladies in White movement were detained during a post-Mass, pro-democracy march, in what has become a weekly ritual of protest and arrest over almost a year. Read

Friday, March 18, 2016

Weak Resolution, Approved by U.S., Makes Action Against Iran's Missile Activity Unlikely

Eight months after allowing weak language in a U.N. Security Council resolution relating to Iran’s ballistic missile activity, the Obama administration now faces the likelihood that repeated missile launches by Tehran will bring no tougher response from the council than a reprimand. Read

GOP Bill Would Set Aside 10,000 Refugee Slots Annually for Religious Minority Syrians

On the day that the Obama administration acknowledged that terrorist atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq amount to genocide, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced legislation Thursday requiring the government to set aside 10,000 refugee resettlement places annually, for five years, for Syrian religious minorities. Read

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cuban Rights Groups to Obama: We Never Imagined Democratic World Would Legitimize the Castros

President Obama’s outreach to communist-ruled Cuba risks “legitimizing the deeply entrenched Cuban regime,” Cuban human rights and opposition groups warned Wednesday, days before Obama is scheduled to become the first sitting president to visit the island nation in almost 90 years. Read

State Dept. on Deadline for Genocide Declaration: ‘We Certainly Respect the Deadlines Congress Lays Down’

The administration “certainly respect[s]” deadlines laid down by Congress in legislation, but Secretary of State John Kerry needs more time to make a determination on whether atrocities by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) against Christians and other religious minorities amount to genocide, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday. Read

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hezbollah Denies Pulling Fighters From Syria After Russian Exit and Arab States’ ‘Terrorist’ Designation

Amid as-yet unconfirmed reports that Hezbollah is pulling fighters out of Syria, fallout continues over an Arab League decision designating the pro-Assad, Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite militia as a terrorist group. Read

Days Before Obama's Visit, Cuba's Allies Try to Block Dissident From Speaking at UN Human Rights Council

The Castro regime, backed by representatives of some of the world’s most repressive regimes, tried on Tuesday to prevent a prominent Cuban dissident from speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council, repeatedly interrupting Rosa Maria Paya who expressed the hope that President Obama in his March 21-22 visit will defend human rights. Read

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

US Allowed Weak Language on Iran Missile Activity That Russia Is Now Using As Excuse Not to Act

The Obama administration on Monday accused Russia of “quibbling” by saying Iran’s repeated ballistic missile launches are not a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted eight months ago – but the administration itself allowed that same measure to pass with watered-down language. Read

Top Saudi Prince to Obama: ‘You Throw Us a Curved Ball,’ Tell Us to ‘Share Our World’ With Terror-Sponsor Iran

A senior Saudi prince has responded sharply to reported questioning by President Obama about the kingdom’s value as an ally, and in a scathing attack derided the administration’s policies from supporting the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt to engaging Iran. Read

Monday, March 14, 2016

0.4% of Syrian Refugees Admitted to U.S. Since ISIL Attacks in Paris Are Christian

Out of 776 Syrian refugees admitted into the United States since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) carried out terrorist attacks in Paris last November, three are Christians – 0.4 percent of the total. Read

House Votes Today on Genocide Resolution; Kerry Has 3 Days to Deliver Verdict

The House of Representatives on Monday evening is expected to vote on, and pass, a bipartisan resolution declaring that atrocities carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) against Christians and other religious minorities amount to genocide. Read

Days After $500,000 US Contribution, U.N. Green Climate Fund Increases Staff by 150%

The U.N. Green Climate Fund’s governing board has approved a proposal to hike the number of permanent staff at the body’s secretariat by 150 percent by the end of next year – from the current 56 positions to 140. Read

Friday, March 11, 2016

Calls Grow in Caribbean Nation for Gay U.S. Ambassador's Removal

A little over two years after Obama campaign bundler and LGBT advocate James “Wally” Brewster arrived in the Dominican Republic, accompanied by his spouse, Bob Satawake, to assume his duties as U.S. ambassador, calls are growing in the conservative country for his recall. Read

Iran Aiming to Shut Down UN Human Rights Investigator Critical of Its Record

Iran is maneuvering with its allies at the U.N. Human Rights Council to block Western attempts to renew the mandate of a special investigator into Tehran’s human rights record – a man who has drawn contemptuous criticism from the regime for highlighting abuses. Read

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Abbas’ Fatah Praises ‘Heroic Martyr’ Who Murdered U.S. Veteran

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization on Wednesday praised as a “heroic martyr” the killer of West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, according to an Israel-based media monitoring group. Read

Is Robert Levinson, Missing in Iran for 9 Years, a Hostage? State Department Sidesteps

A reporter asked State Department spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday whether the administration considers Robert Levinson, the retired FBI agent who went missing in Iran nine years ago, a “hostage,” but in an exchange that lasted three-and-a-half minutes, Kirby sidestepped the question. Read

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Iran’s Latest Ballistic Missile Test Comes Despite New U.S. Sanctions

After Iran reported carrying out new ballistic missile tests Tuesday – and underlined that Israel is within range – State Department spokesman John Kirby said if the reports were confirmed, the U.S. would consider using “unilateral and multilateral tools” in response to Iran’s behavior. Read

'Slush Fund': Senator Slams State Dept. for $500M Payment to Green Climate Fund

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday slammed the administration’s handover of $500 million to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, asking a State Department official how the “handout to foreign bureaucrats” could be justified at a time when there were “real problems” that need to be addressed at home. Read

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Islamic Leaders: Yes, Our World is in Crisis But Palestine Must Remain ‘The Central Issue’

Islamic nations’ leaders meeting in Indonesia Monday acknowledged the chaos wracking parts of the Muslim world, but said that should not move the spotlight away from “the central issue” for the world’s Muslim community: Palestine. Read

India's Refusal to Admit U.S. Religious Freedom Watchdog Seen As Attempt to Hide ‘Crimes’ Against Religious Minorities

India’s refusal to admit a delegation from a U.S. religious freedom watchdog is an attempt to hide its “crimes” against religious minorities from the world, a Sikh advocacy group declared after the Indian government questioned the legal standing of an outside body to judge India’s record. Read

Monday, March 07, 2016

Pope Mourns Nuns Slain in Yemen: Victims of Their Killers and of ‘Indifference’

Pope Francis said Sunday that four nuns from the Missionaries of Charity were who were murdered in war-torn Yemen on Friday were victims not just of their killers but also of global “indifference.” Read

World’s Biggest Islamic Country Pushes Back Against LGBT Promotion

At a time when the United Nations is promoting its “Free & Equal’ campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, the world’s biggest Islamic country is pushing back, with politicians speaking out on the issue and a government ministry drafting a law prohibiting online content viewed as promoting homosexuality. Read

Friday, March 04, 2016

95 GOP National Security Figures Sign Letter Against Trump

Scores of Republican national security, defense and political experts – 95 by Thursday evening – have signed an open letter declaring GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump unfit to be commander in chief. Read

Trump Denies Voicing Admiration for Putin: ‘Wrong, Wrong’

Donald Trump’s views on President Vladimir Putin were once again a focus of discussion during Thursday night’s Fox News Republican presidential debate, with the frontrunner denying claims that he has expressed admiration for the Russian leader. Read

Kim Jong-Un Orders Nuclear Arsenal Ready ‘At a Moment’s Notice’; Cruz Blames Clinton-Era Deal With Pyongyang

Responding to reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his country’s nuclear arsenal to be ready “at a moment’s notice,” Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday night laid the blame at the feet of the Clinton administra-tion for a deal it made with Pyongyang 22 years ago. Read

Thursday, March 03, 2016

US Admiral Proposes 4-Nation Effort to Safeguard Freedom of Navigation in Asian Waters

For the second time in ten days, a senior U.S. official has raised the prospect of joint U.S.-India naval patrols in a region where China’s expanding territorial and military ambitions have raised tensions, and this time the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific suggested widening the proposed cooperation to include Japan and Australia as well. Read

Hardliners Will Continue to Dominate Iran’s Government

Despite mainstream media assertions to the contrary, Iran’s recent election for parliament and for the body that will choose the next supreme leader was not a sweeping victory for “moderates,” according to some veteran Iranian observers. Read

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

State Dep’t: ‘Vast Majority’ of Shi’a Militia in Iraq Not Linked to Iran, IRGC

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that the “vast majority” of Shi’a militias involved in the anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq have no connection with Iran or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Read

Top US Commander in Europe: Terrorists, Returning Fighters Now a ‘Daily’ Part of Refugee Flow

he top U.S. military commander in Europe told lawmakers Tuesday that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) is infiltrating the ranks of refugees entering Europe, and that terrorists, returning foreign fighters and criminals are now part of the “daily” flow. Read

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Asked If He’s Concerned About Image Trump Conveys of USA, Kerry Jokes, ‘I’m Concerned About Anybody Who Isn’t Me’

Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday declined to comment on the presidential campaign, after being asked whether he was concerned about “the image that Donald Trump conveys of America.” Read

Amid Regional Turmoil and Terrorism, Islamic Bloc Plans Special Summit – on ‘Palestine’

At a time when the conflict in Syria is fueling sectarian enmity across the Middle East, and instability and terrorism rattle countries from Iraq to Yemen to Libya, the bloc of the world’s Islamic nations is holding an “extraordinary” summit at the weekend – focusing on “Palestine.” Read