Tuesday, May 31, 2016

As NATO Plans More Troops for Poland, Russia Decries ‘Cold War-Era Security Schemes’

NATO’s secretary-general said Monday it will have more troops deployed near its eastern flank with Russia after a summit in the Polish capital this summer, “to send a clear signal that an attack on Poland will be considered an attack on the whole alliance.” Read

Hajj Spat: Saudi FM Says Iran ‘Answerable to Allah’ For Trying to Politicize Pilgrimage

The sectarian-charged rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran widened Monday, with the regional rivals sniping at each other over an Iranian decision not to participate in this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca. Read

Friday, May 27, 2016

Controversial UN Committee Kills Accreditation Application by Press Freedom Group

After deferring a decision for four years, a key United Nations committee on Thursday voted to deny official status to a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on press freedom, prompting strong criticism from the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power. Read

Israeli Delegate Blasts WHO for ‘Naming and Shaming’ Israel

An Israeli delegate lashed out this week at the World Health Organization for politicizing its annual assembly by singling out his country – the only one on earth condemned at the meeting for violating health rights. Read

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Obama’s Japan Visit Starts With Apology–Although Not For Hiroshima

President Obama has said he will not offer an apology when visiting Hiroshima this week, but his trip to Japan began on an awkward note and expressions of regret, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened a press appearance by sternly lecturing him over a murder allegedly perpetrated by a former U.S. Marine on Okinawa. Read

State Department Official Sidesteps Queries on Reauthorizing Iran Sanctions

A senior State Department official on Wednesday underscored the administration’s aversion to seeing Congress reauthorize 20-year-old Iran sanctions legislation anytime soon, but would not answer directly when asked whether doing so would violate the nuclear deal. Read

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pakistani Minister Accuses U.S. of ‘Sabotaging’ Peace Talks by Killing Taliban Leader

Islamabad’s outspoken interior minister has lashed out at the United States for the drone strike that killed Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour in Pakistani territory, accusing it of “sabotaging” peace talks with the terrorist group. Read

Netanyahu: Peace Comes From Direct Negotiations, Not From ‘International Conferences, UN-Style’

In a bid to head off the latest international initiative aimed at pressuring the parties to reach a Mideast peace deal, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has offered to clear his calendar and sit down immediately for one-on-one negotiations with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Read

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Obama Tells Vietnam: U.S. 'Still Striving to Live Up to Our Founding Ideals'

In an address to the people of communist-ruled Vietnam on Tuesday, President Obama made a case for the importance of upholding human rights, prefacing it by saying that the United States, too, “is still striving to live up to our founding ideals.” Read

Vietnam Communist Party Chief to Obama: Respect Sovereignty

Vietnam’s communist party chief Nguyen Phu Trong told President Obama in Hanoi Monday that bilateral relations should be strengthened on the basis of respect for each other’s sovereignty and political institutions and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. Read

Monday, May 23, 2016

U.S. Killed Taliban Leader Immediately After His Visit to Iran

The death of the leader of the Taliban in a U.S. drone strike has turned a fresh spotlight onto the Afghan terrorist group’s relationship with Iran, whose ties despite being of different sects have long concerned the U.S. military. Read

Record 499 Syrian Refugees Admitted to US So Far in May Includes No Christians

The Obama administration has admitted 499 Syrian refugees so far this month, with no Christians among them. Read

Friday, May 20, 2016

As Georgia and Macedonia Wait, Kerry Says NATO Membership Decisions ‘Free From Outside Influences’

As NATO foreign ministers on Thursday welcomed Montenegro as the alliance’s 29th member, two other countries that have been knocking on NATO’s “open door” for many years appear to be no closer to admission, due largely to rigid opposition from neighboring states. Read

Thursday, May 19, 2016

GOP Lawmaker: Securing Iranian Dissidents in Iraq Will Allow US to ‘Reclaim Some of Our Honor’

Securing the safe resettlement of some 2,000 Iranian dissidents housed at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty would allow the United States to “reclaim some of our honor as a country,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said Wednesday, alluding to the way the U.S.-backed, Iran-friendly Iraqi government has treated them. Read

Ayatollah: America is the Major Idolator

In a new verbal attack aimed at the United States despite the recently concluded nuclear deal, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that America is both the “great Satan” and a major idolator. Read

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Foreign Affairs Chair: Did Administration Mislead About Sending Gitmo Detainees to Countries That Could Handle Them?

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce on Tuesday questioned the truth of administration assertions that Guantanamo Bay detainees have never been knowingly transferred to countries not equipped to minimize the risk that they’ll return to terrorism. Read

Gowdy, Defending Sen. Cotton, Questions Ben Rhodes’ Qualifications

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) ripped into the administration Tuesday for criticizing Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) over his stance on Iran. Read

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

‘Disappointing But Typical’ Says Oversight Chairman After WH Says Rhodes Won’t Testify on Iran Deal ‘Narratives’

“Disappointing but typical,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted Monday, after the White House said deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes would not testify at a hearing Tuesday on the administration’s “narratives on the Iran nuclear deal.” Read

Kerry May Participate in French-Hosted Mideast Peace Gathering Opposed by Israel

Secretary of State John Kerry may participate in an upcoming French-hosted Mideast peace conference which Israel opposes, the State Department indicated on Monday. Read

Monday, May 16, 2016

Netanyahyu: Iran 'Denies and Belittles the Holocaust and It Is Also Preparing Another Holocaust'

Organizers of a Holocaust-themed cartoon contest in Iran at the weekend disputed accusations of Holocaust denial, saying its aim was to highlight the double standards of the West as seen in publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed. Read

Iran’s ‘Moderate’ Foreign Minister Laments ‘Martyrdom’ of Top Hezbollah Terrorist

Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister hailed by engagement advocates as personifying a supposed “moderate” element in Tehran, has expressed his condolences over the death of a top Hezbollah terrorist linked to the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Read

Friday, May 13, 2016

WH on Republican Critics of Iran Deal: ‘Wildly Misinformed’ or ‘Lying’

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday accused Republican critics of the Iran nuclear deal of being “wildly misinformed” or “lying,” suggesting they appear before a congressional hearing next week to explain their “false narratives.” Read

Kerry Jokes That He Wishes Europeans Could Have Voted When He Ran for President

Secretary of State John Kerry on a visit to Britain this week largely sidestepped an invitation to comment on the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, but did joke that he knew Europeans wished they could vote in the U.S. election – and added that he shared that wish, given his own presidential campaign in 2004. Read

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Trump: Muslim Ban 'Just a Suggestion Until We Find Out What's Going On'

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Wednesday his controversial call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States “is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on.” Read

Lawmakers Introduce Bill Making it Illegal to Ban Any Alien Based on ‘Religious Litmus Tests’

A group of Democratic lawmakers, joined by religious leaders of various faiths, have announced a bill that would make it illegal to deny entry to the United States of any alien on the basis of religion. Read

Ben Rhodes is Proud Administration Never ‘Used Language That Suggests That America is at War With Islam’

Deputy national security advisor for strategic communications Ben Rhodes told a Muslim audience Wednesday night that one of the things he was most proud of was the fact that under the Obama administration “people never have used language that suggests that America is at war with Islam.” Read

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kerry Says Iran Is ‘Open for Business’

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday rejected the notion that it’s America’s job to promote business with Iran following the nuclear deal, but again underscored that the U.S. government is not standing in the way of European companies doing business with Tehran. Read

Kerry: Syrians Shouldn’t Wait Until After U.S. Election to Move Ahead With Transition

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday advised the warring parties in Syria not to delay moving ahead with a political transition until after the U.S. election in November, which could bring “a host of unknowns” from the next president. Read

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Syrian Refugee ‘Surge’ to U.S. in April: 440 Muslims, 10 Yazidis, 1 Christian

The Obama administration’s “surge” of Syrian refugee admissions approved for resettlement in the United States jumped by 37 percent in April – to 451 from 330 the previous month. Read

Pentagon Says U.S. Forces in Yemen for 'Short Term' But With No End Date

The presence of a small number of U.S. troops in Yemen has no announced end date but would be “short term,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Monday, three days after Americans learned of a military deployment targeting Islamic terrorists in yet another Arab country. Read

Poll: Liberal Democrats’ Sympathies Now Lean Towards Palestinians Over Israel

Liberal Democrats in America sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel in the Mideast conflict for the first time in 15 years of Pew Research Center polling on the issue. Read

Monday, May 09, 2016

Kerry Swipes Trump: ‘Hiding Behind Walls’

In a barely-veiled attack on Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke out Friday against an isolationist mindset and calls for a border wall, deriding “soundbite salesmen and carnival barkers who pretend the most powerful country on Earth can remain great by looking inward and hiding behind walls.” Read

Seeking to Disconnect Religion From Terrorism, Kerry Oddly Invokes ‘Arab Spring’

Reiterating his argument that a lack of jobs, more than religious ideology, lies behind the “scourge” of terrorism, Secretary of State John Kerry in a commencement speech Friday pointed to the fact that those who ignited the so-called “Arab spring” five years ago were not motivated by religion. Read

Vulgar, Crime-Busting Mayor Looks Set to Become the Philippines’ Next President

Tens of millions of voters were casting ballots across the Philippines on Monday, in an election that looks likely to hand the presidency of the Southeast Asian U.S. ally to an outspoken mayor who has courted controversy with pugnacious rhetoric and no-holds-barred tactics in tackling violent crime. Read

Friday, May 06, 2016

Obama Adviser Quoted: ‘We Created an Echo Chamber’ to Sell the Iran Nuclear Deal

A lengthy New York Times Magazine profile of President Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes portrays him as a spinmeister contemptuous of the foreign policy establishment who fed credulous journalists a misleading narrative to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the American people. Read

Thursday, May 05, 2016

US Envoy: Regime Actions in Aleppo Should ‘Revolt’ UN; The War Only Ends When Assad Goes

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday the world body should be revolted and galvanized by the fact that a U.N. member state was responsible for the fact that Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city, is “burning.” Read

Iranian Prisoner, Deliberately Blinded in One Eye, Faces Loss of the Other

Fourteen months after Iranian authorities deliberately gouged out a man’s left eye as punishment for an acid attack that left his victim blind, the imprisoned man has been told he is to lose his remaining eye within days, an Iranian opposition group reports. Read

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

UK Labor Leader Faces Challenge in Local Gov’t Elections Amid Anti-Semitism Row

A deepening row over anti-Semitism in Britain’s official opposition Labor Party could see the party’s left-wing leader punished in his first key electoral test – local government elections on Thursday – and may even jeopardize his eight-month old position at the helm. Read

WH: Navy SEAL Was ‘Killed in Combat,’ But ‘Not in a Combat Mission’

A Navy SEAL killed during an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) attack in Iraq was “killed in combat,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Tuesday, but was “not in a combat mission.” Read

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Ayatollah to US: Conduct Your Military Exercises in Bay of Pigs, Not ‘Our’ Persian Gulf

The United States military should get out of the Persian Gulf, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday, suggesting the U.S. forces go to the “Bay of Pigs” instead to conduct its military exercises. Read

Pakistan to Trump: We’re Not a U.S. Colony; You Give Us ‘Peanuts’

Stung by Donald Trump’s assertion that as president he would get Pakistan to release “in two minutes” the doctor who the U.S. says helped to track down Osama bin Laden, a Pakistani minister said Monday his country was not a U.S. colony and dismissed U.S. aid as “peanuts.” Read

Monday, May 02, 2016

Islam Under Fire in Europe’s Two Biggest Nations

A right-wing party in Germany that made gains in recent state elections has adopted a party manifesto declaring that “Islam is not part of Germany.” Read

CIA Renacts Bin Laden Raid With ‘Live Tweets,' Raising Questions About Appropriateness

The Central Intelligence Agency used its Twitter feed Sunday to re-enact in “real time” (plus five years) the May 1, 2011 raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden – an unusual use of social media that drew a lot of attention. Read