WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Turmoil in Yemen and the warnings of attacks that prompted the United States to shut diplomatic missions across the Middle East could hinder President Barack Obama’s plans to close Guantanamo Bay prison.
Obama’s plan to restart the repatriation of Yemeni inmates, a large group at the prison, is coming under increasing scrutiny because of the recent focus on the country as a hotbed of al Qaeda activity.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Intercepted communication between al Qaeda leaders was one component of a broader pool of intelligence that prompted a threat alert closing numerous U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa, U.S. sources said on Monday.
The New York Times reported that the closure of the embassies was the result of intercepted electronic communications between Ayman al-Zawahri, who replaced Osama bin Laden as head of al Qaeda, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of Yemen-based affiliate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After causing weeks of embarrassment for the U.S. intelligence community, the Edward Snowden saga has now cast a shadow over international efforts to end the Syrian civil war and deal with Iran, and could also undermine White House hopes for a nuclear arms reduction deal.
Russia’s decision on Thursday to grant asylum to Snowden threatens to send already-strained relations between the United States and Russia to the lowest point in years and further complicate efforts to work out geopolitical challenges.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Army has refused to bar 43 individuals or companies from getting U.S. contracts in Afghanistan despite information that they support the Taliban or other enemies of U.S. forces, a government watchdog said on Tuesday.
John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said he was concerned by the Army’s refusal to follow his office’s recommendations to prevent alleged supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda from getting or keeping U.S. government contracts.
(Reuters) – U.S. plans to arm Syrian rebels passed one congressional hurdle but may face more when funding runs out in two months, further delaying the flow of weapons, U.S. officials and other sources said.
House and Senate intelligence panels this month agreed to a White House plan to provide arms to rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite lawmakers’ reservations about the its chances of success.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama can go ahead with a plan for the United States to arm the struggling Syrian rebels after some congressional concerns were eased, a key Republican lawmaker said on Monday.
“We believe we are in a position that the administration can move forward,” House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration has made progress in overcoming lawmakers’ objections to its plans to arm Syrian rebels, but some details remain unresolved, a U.S. official said on Monday.
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who questioned the wisdom of arming the insurgents have tentatively agreed the administration can go ahead with its plans, but asked for updates as the covert effort proceeds, a senior administration official told Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are lobbying members of Congress to try to break an impasse over White House plans to send arms to Syrian rebels, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers fear the weapons will end up in the hands of Islamist militants, and will not be enough to tip the balance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad anyway.
ASHBURN, Virginia (Reuters) – U.S. government safety investigators on Tuesday stood by their report on the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 that said faulty wiring likely caused the plane to explode, ahead of the airing of a documentary that suggests a missile may have brought down the plane.
The investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said they had ruled out bombs or missiles during their four-year probe into the crash. The NTSB’s August 2000 report found the Boeing 747 broke apart and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean because of an explosion in the center fuel tank, likely caused by a spark from faulty wiring.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For decades, an Iranian dissident group has seemed to be on the wrong side of history. Suppressed by both the Shah of Iran and then the ayatollahs who deposed him in 1979, its supporters have faced prison, death and exile, and were shunned in the United States as members of a cult-like terrorist organization.
The Mujahadin-e-Khalq (MEK) former guerrilla movement began to shake off its painful past last year when the State Department took it off the official U.S. list of terrorist organizations. The European Union made a similar decision in 2009 after a prolonged court battle.