Warren's Feed
Aug 21, 2014

In case of slain journalist, negotiations, silence, then a chilling warning

WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) – After months of silence from the captors of American journalist James Foley, on the night of Aug. 13, his family received a chilling message: Foley would be executed in retaliation for U.S. air strikes on the militant group Islamic State.

The family passed the message on to the U.S. government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which handles cases involving kidnapped American citizens, helped craft a response, pleading for mercy, said Phil Balboni, chief executive of GlobalPost, the Boston-based online news publication that employed Foley.

Jul 29, 2014

Special Report – Where Ukraine’s separatists get their weapons

DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – On the last day of May, a surface-to-air rocket was signed out of a military base near Moscow where it had been stored for more than 20 years.

According to the ornate Cyrillic handwriting in the weapon’s Russian Defence Ministry logbook, seen by Reuters, the portable rocket, for use with an Igla rocket launcher, was destined for a base in Rostov, some 50 km (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border. In that area, say U.S. officials, lies a camp for training Ukrainian separatist fighters.

Jul 29, 2014

Where Ukraine’s separatists get their weapons

DONETSK, Ukraine, July 29 (Reuters) – On the last day of
May, a surface-to-air rocket was signed out of a military base
near Moscow where it had been stored for more than 20 years.

According to the ornate Cyrillic handwriting in the weapon’s
Russian Defence Ministry logbook, seen by Reuters, the portable
rocket, for use with an Igla rocket launcher, was destined for a
base in Rostov, some 50 km (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border.
In that area, say U.S. officials, lies a camp for training
Ukrainian separatist fighters.

Jul 25, 2014

As Russian arms flow to Ukraine, more U.S. sanctions expected

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Evidence that Russia is moving more weapons into Ukraine to arm rebels is likely to trigger more U.S. sanctions against Moscow once the European Union likely agrees its own sanctions next week, senior U.S. officials said on Friday.

“If the EU pulls together a package of sanctions in the coming week, the U.S. would want to complement that,” said a European diplomat in Washington, who requested anonymity to discuss diplomatic strategy.

Jul 19, 2014

Tougher Russia sanctions would mean tough choices for Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Despite levying six rounds of increasingly tough economic sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, President Barack Obama has left two rich targets untouched: Moscow’s natural gas export behemoth and its main weapons exporter.

Financial warfare against Gazprom or Rosoboronexport could invite Russian retaliation against U.S. European allies and negative consequences for Washington – highlighting the dilemmas Obama faces as he weighs how to respond to the shoot-down of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

Jul 18, 2014

Downing of airliner seen as pivotal moment in Ukraine crisis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine could be a turning point for the Ukraine crisis, if it convinces reluctant Europeans to get behind tougher “sectoral” sanctions long-sought by U.S. President Barack Obama.    Although it’s unclear exactly who was behind the apparent ground-launched missile that destroyed the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, U.S. allies who have tried to occupy the middle ground in the worst crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War may now support bolder action to end the fighting in Ukraine.

“Some people thought Ukraine didn’t have anything to do with them. They are now discovering their error,” one senior U.S. official said, adding that this could shatter the view in some European capitals that the conflict was largely contained.     Current and former U.S. officials, as well as independent analysts, say the tragedy would sharpen global attention on Ukraine’s raging separatist conflict and Moscow’s role in fueling it. That, in turn, could be a catalyst for stronger sanctions that could inflict real damage on Russia’s economy.

Jun 30, 2014

Special Report: How Iraq’s Maliki defined limits of U.S. power

WASHINGTON/BAGHDAD (Reuters) – In November 2010, the United States faced a painful dilemma in Iraq. The man Washington had picked from near-obscurity four years earlier to be Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, had narrowly lost an election but was, with help from Iran, maneuvering to stay in power.

    The clock was ticking as a U.S. troop drawdown gathered pace. American diplomats and Iraqi politicians cast about for alternatives to lead Iraq. But Iraqis had elected a hung parliament and there were no candidates with clear-cut support. Fearing chaos, Washington settled again on Maliki.

Jun 21, 2014

U.S. sanctions net snares the innocent, burdens business

WASHINGTON, June 21 (Reuters) – On a Friday afternoon in
March, Jose Luis Zamora pulled into a Lexus dealership in Dallas
to test-drive a new car with his wife. Ready to pay, Zamora
instead waited more than two hours before being informed his
name had popped up on a government watchlist that blocks those
linked to money launderers, groups alleged to have committed
terrorist acts and other enemies of the United States from doing
business in the country.

A routine credit check matched him to Jose Hernan Zamora, a
Colombian who is no relation to the Texas resident and was added
to the Treasury Department’s sanctions list around 1997 for his
ties to narcotics traffickers.

Jun 16, 2014

U.S. pressures Iraqi leader to curb sectarian governance

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. security officials prepared on Monday to brief President Barack Obama on options to counter militants threatening Baghdad as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki came under increased U.S. pressure to curb religious partisanship in his government.

Brett McGurk, the State Department point man on Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft met with Maliki in Baghdad on Monday as part of a U.S. effort to prod leaders of Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated administration to govern in a less sectarian manner, officials said.

Jun 5, 2014

Inside the White House’s decision to free Bergdahl

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For President Barack Obama, it seemed like the right thing to do, according to officials in his administration: Release five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison in return for Bowe Bergdahl, the only known American prisoner of war in Afghanistan.

As a political firestorm engulfs the White House over that deal, Reuters interviews with current and former Obama administration officials involved in the negotiations, along with U.S. lawmakers, reveal how a close-knit circle in the Obama administration pursued the plan despite intense discord in the past over similar proposals.