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May 21, 2015

Despite Obama endorsement, U.S. concerns grow over Iraqi premier

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is publicly voicing confidence in Iraq’s prime minister in the fight against surging Islamic State militants, but privately some U.S. officials question whether he is too weak to bridge the sectarian divide.

Washington is still betting on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who stands at the center of President Barack Obama’s strategy to roll back the latest conquests of Islamic State while keeping the United States from being pulled deeper into a conflict U.S. combat troops left in 2011.

May 17, 2015

U.S. conducts raid in Syria, says it kills senior Islamic State leader

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American special operations forces killed a senior Islamic State leader in a raid in Syria, U.S. officials said on Saturday, an operation that marked a departure from Washington’s strategy of relying primarily on air strikes to target militants there.

Delta Force commandos used UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to punch deep into eastern Syria from Iraq. They engaged in a firefight and hand-to-hand combat with Islamic State fighters, killed a key figure in the group named as Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife, U.S. officials said.

May 16, 2015

With swoop on Islamic State compound, U.S. commandos seek to disrupt financing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After weeks of planning and surveillance focused on a compound near the oilfields of eastern Syria, elite American commandos were finally given the green light to swoop in on their target – an Islamic State commander considered to have acted as the group’s “chief financial officer.”

Mounting a rare raid in a war-ravaged country where U.S. President Barack Obama has long been reluctant to commit “boots on the ground,” the Delta Force unit flew in from Iraq under cover of darkness in the early hours of Saturday on Black Hawk helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

May 16, 2015

U.S. says its troops kill senior Islamic State leader in Syria raid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American special operations forces killed a senior Islamic State leader in a raid in Syria, U.S. officials said on Saturday, an operation that appeared to mark a departure from Washington’s strategy of relying mostly on a bombing campaign to target militant leaders there.

President Barack Obama ordered the overnight operation that killed Abu Sayyaf, identified as an Islamic State commander who helped manage the group’s black-market sales of oil and gas to raise funds, U.S. officials said. His wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured and was being held in Iraq.

May 13, 2015

Obama bets that U.S.-Gulf alliance can survive tensions over Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama may fail to pacify Gulf Arab fears over his Iran nuclear diplomacy at a summit this week, following a pointed Saudi snub of the event. But a bigger question looms for Washington: how much does it matter?

Obama appears confident Washington has enough leverage to fend off Sunni Arab pressure to do more to stop arch-rival Shi’ite Iran from intervening in conflicts across much of the region, underlining diverging interests between the United States and its long-standing Gulf allies.

May 13, 2015

Analysis – Obama bets that U.S.-Gulf alliance can survive tensions over Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama may fail to pacify Gulf Arab fears over his Iran nuclear diplomacy at a summit this week, following a pointed Saudi snub of the event. But a bigger question looms for Washington: how much does it matter?

Obama appears confident Washington has enough leverage to fend off Sunni Arab pressure to do more to stop arch-rival Shi’ite Iran from intervening in conflicts across much of the region, underlining diverging interests between the United States and its long-standing Gulf allies.

May 11, 2015

U.S. rejects notion that Gulf rulers snubbing Obama summit

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) – The White House scrambled on Monday to counter perceptions that the Saudi king’s absence from a summit later this week could undermine U.S. efforts to assure Gulf states it remains committed to their security against Iran.

King Salman’s abrupt decision to skip the U.S.-hosted regional talks shows how Gulf rulers, displeased by what they see as U.S. indifference to Iranian meddling in the Arab world, may hesitate to bless any final nuclear deal that President Barack Obama reaches with Tehran.

May 6, 2015

Obama expected to push for Gulf missile defense at U.S. summit

WASHINGTON, May 6 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama is
expected to make a renewed U.S. push next week to help Gulf
allies create a region-wide defense system to guard against
Iranian missiles as he seeks to allay their anxieties over any
nuclear deal with Tehran, according to U.S. sources.

The offer could be accompanied by enhanced security
commitments, new arms sales and more joint military exercises,
U.S. officials say, as Obama tries to reassure Gulf Arab
countries that Washington is not abandoning them.

Apr 30, 2015

Abe voices ‘repentance’ on WW2, touts Japan’s new security role

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed “deep repentance” over Japan’s role in World War Two in a speech to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, even as he declared Tokyo’s emergence as a global security player in the face of China’s rising power.

Using the high-profile platform to strike a note of measured contrition, Abe insisted that Japan must not avert its eyes from the suffering of Asian people from its wartime behavior but stopped short of issuing his own apology, instead upholding statements by his predecessors.

Apr 29, 2015

In speech to Congress, Japan’s Abe faces challenges on trade, wartime past

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When Shinzo Abe becomes the first Japanese prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, he will face two formidable challenges: convincing skeptical lawmakers about a proposed Pacific trade pact and easing concerns about his views on Tokyo’s wartime past.

The Obama administration has rolled out the red carpet for Abe, seeking to showcase deeper defense ties and advance the long-delayed trade deal as the two allies work to counter China’s rising power in the region.

    • About Matt

      "White House correspondent who has covered news on four continents for Reuters, from Latin American coups and drug wars to the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles to the Balkans conflict to the second Palestinian Intifada to the Iraq war. He has covered George W. Bush and is now covering President Barack Obama."
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