WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Struggling Syrian rebels that President Barack Obama once derided as “former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth” now form a key pillar of the U.S. leader’s strategy to beat back the militant insurgency known as Islamic State.
For over three years, Obama has kept the so-called moderate rebels at arm’s length. While giving verbal and limited material support, he and his spokesmen often said publicly that adding more weaponry to the civil war would only make things worse.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even for a freelance journalist covering the tumult in the Arab world, Steven Sotloff’s travels seemed nonstop.
In October 2012, the American reporter was in Benghazi, Libya, covering the aftermath of the deadly raid on the U.S. diplomatic compound there. In December, he was in northern Syria, writing about the lives of destitute, displaced Syrians and the war, according to his published reports and his communications with colleagues and editors.
WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – After Islamic State’s
beheading of journalist James Foley, President Barack Obama’s
administration is making little headway in efforts to secure the
release of three other Americans held by the insurgent group in
Syria, officials said.
Journalist Steven Sotloff and two others whom Reuters is not
naming are among fewer than 10 Westerners that Islamic State
(IS) is holding in kidnappings that until recently were aimed at
simply raising ransoms, they said. The U.S. government has said
it does not pay ransoms or negotiate with IS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.