Posts Tagged ‘U.s.’
U.S. urges restraint by Gulf nations in Bahrain (Reuters)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 01:50 Written by admin Tuesday, 15 March 2011 01:50
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States urged Saudi Arabia on Monday to show restraint after it sent troops to neighboring Bahrain in a move some analysts said showed the limits of Washington’s influence in the region.
The deployment of 1,000 Saudi troops, at the request of Bahrain’s Sunni royal family, came two days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the island kingdom and pressed its rulers to implement political reforms to defuse tensions with the Shi’ite Muslim majority.
The Pentagon said neither Gates nor Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who also recently visited Bahrain, had been given any indication that Saudi or other forces from the region would deploy to Bahrain.
The United States, which fears Shi’ite Iran could try to exploit the instability in Bahrain, was cautious in its response to the troop deployment, neither criticizing nor explicitly welcoming it.
“This is not an invasion of a country,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said after Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf governments sent troops and police to the tiny kingdom hit by spreading Shi’ite unrest.
Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Pentagon had “communicated to all parties our concern regarding actions that could be provocative or inflame sectarian tensions.”
The State Department sought to spread responsibility between the government of Bahrain and protesters. “Just as Bahrain gov’t must show restraint and respect universal rights, members of opposition also must refrain from instigating violence,” the State Department said in a message on Twitter late on Monday.
The department also urged U.S. citizens to defer travel to Bahrain and suggested Americans there should leave due to the ongoing unrest. It also said in a statement that family members of U.S. embassy staff were authorized to leave voluntarily.
It said that while protests have not been directed toward Westerners, U.S. citizens should “avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.”
CREDIBLE POLITICAL REFORM
In Paris, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had told the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister that Washington believed the solution in Bahrain must come from credible political reform, and not from a military outcome.
The official spoke after talks with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan in Paris, where Clinton was participating in a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight powers.
The turmoil in Bahrain, a small but important U.S. ally and home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, comes as Washington struggles to formulate a strategy in response to political unrest that has already toppled U.S.-allied governments in Egypt and Tunisia, led to violent protests in Yemen and a bloody rebellion against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Saudi Arabia, whose Sunni ruling dynasty is closely allied both with Bahrain’s royal family and with the United States, sent a column of armored troop carriers into Bahrain on Monday to protect government facilities after mainly Shi’ite protesters overran police and blocked roads.
“We urge the government of Bahrain, as we have repeatedly, as well as other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, to exercise restraint,” Carney said. The GCC comprises the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
BAHRAIN REJECTING U.S. ADVICE?
Political analysts said the Saudi military move suggested Bahrain’s royal family had rejected U.S. pleas to work with protesters demanding reforms.
“What this means is that the government of Bahrain has decided to take a hard line,” said Marina Ottaway, head of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank in Washington.
“There has been a struggle in terms of policy advice between U.S. and Saudi Arabia. … The U.S. has been trying to get the Bahraini government to respond by negotiation, by reform and by dialogue. The Saudis have been saying that they have to put the uprising down. They have decided to listen to the Saudis.”
The United Arab Emirates said it was sending about 500 police to help maintain order, and other neighbors including Oman and Kuwait were considering sending at least token forces to support the intervention, diplomats said.
European and U.S. national security officials said the Saudi troops may be used to patrol the streets in Bahrain. Political analysts said it was a signal Saudi Arabia would not tolerate a Shi’ite overthrow of Bahrain’s monarchy.
Saudi Arabia has faced small protests by Shi’ite residents in its own Eastern Province, source of much of the wealth of the world’s No. 1 oil producer, and wants to make clear the limits of political change, analysts said.
“They are clearly sending a signal to Bahrain protesters that you better moderate your expectations or else there’s going to be bloodshed,” said Ken Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
“What the Saudis are saying (to the United States) is: ‘We care about this more than you do and we will do what is necessary to protect our interests in Bahrain. And we expect you to respect our greater interests in Bahrain.”
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Patricia Zengerle and David Alexander, and Arshad Mohammed in Paris; Editing by Ross Colvin and Philip Barbara)
Mexico arrests alleged gang chief in U.S. agent death (Reuters)
Last Updated on Sunday, 27 February 2011 06:59 Written by admin Sunday, 27 February 2011 06:59
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican Navy said on Sunday it arrested the alleged head of the feared Zetas drug gang in the central city of San Luis Potosi in connection with this month’s murder of a U.S. customs agent by a drug gang.
The Navy said in a statement that Marines arrested Sergio “El Toto” Mora on Sunday morning in a raid in the northern city of Saltillo. Mora was to be transported to Mexico City and handed over to the federal prosecutors’ office for interrogation.
The statement did not provide further details of Mora’s suspected role in the killing.
A news conference where Mora was to be presented to journalists in Mexico City was canceled shortly before it was supposed to begin on Sunday evening.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Jaime Zapata died and his partner was wounded when they were ambushed in broad daylight on a major highway outside of the city of San Luis Potosi earlier this month by alleged drug gang members in one of the worst attacks on U.S. law enforcement personnel in Mexico in more than a decade.
Mexico’s federal prosecutors’ office believes the attack was due to mistaken identity but has come under heavy diplomatic pressure from Washington to capture Zapata’s killers.
Security forces have already arrested six men, four women and a minor in connection with the attack, all of whom are allegedly linked to the Zeta’s drug gang.
The Zetas, formed by renegade Mexican special forces soldiers who deserted to become the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, have grown in power and turned on their former masters last year to battle for control of lucrative drug smuggling routes in northern Mexico.
Escalating drug violence in Mexico, a top U.S. trade partner, has caused alarm in Washington, which is providing $ 1.3 billion in funding and training to help battle the local cartels.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has made crushing the cartels a top priority of his government and has sought to enhance cooperation with U.S. authorities in his fight.
More than 34,000 deaths are blamed on drug violence since Calderon took office in late 2006 and launched his army led campaign against the gangs.
(Reporting by Robert Campbell; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
Obama says Indonesia, U.S. ‘on right path’ – USA Today
Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 November 2010 06:31 Written by admin Tuesday, 9 November 2010 06:31
By Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY
Yet he said progress on that front has not been entirely successful.
“Our efforts have been earnest, sustained,” Obama said. “We don’t expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed … but we do think that we’re on the right path.”
After visiting the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, Obama will deliver a speech today at the University of Indonesia on just who the United States is fighting and why.
The speech was also to focus on what Obama said were shared values of religious tolerance and unity in diversity.
“I have made it clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam,” he said in remarks prepared prior to the speech and distributed to the news media.
“Instead, all of us must defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion — certainly not a great, world religion like Islam.”
Most of Indonesia’s 240 million people follow a moderate form of Islam.
But some Indonesians oppose U.S. policies in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia.
The radical group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia protested Obama’s visit earlier in the week and on Tuesday members of the Muslim movement GPI held a demonstration to criticize what they say is American hunger for Indonesian resources.
Obama’s Kenyan father was a Muslim but Obama is a Christian.
His former elementary teacher Effendi, 65, said that Obama was registered as a Muslim student because of his Indonesian stepfather.
Effendi, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.
“He went to the (Muslim) prayer room on Fridays like the other pupils,” said Effendi, but his parents insisted he study Islam and Catholicism, he said. “Sometimes he didn’t know which classroom he should go to,” Effendi said of the 10-year-old Obama.
Effendi said Obama’s youthful experience here leaves him confident that “Obama can improve relations between the USA, Indonesia and Islam.”
At a joint news conference Tuesday with Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Obama said “what we’re trying to do is make sure that we are building bridges and expanding our interactions with Muslim countries.”
The rise of militant Islam, and terrorist strikes, in Indonesia, has spurred deeper cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism. But some local analysts doubted the speech’s impact.
“He will express his strong commitment to embrace the Islamic world. But it will remain rhetoric,” Azyumardi Azra, an Islamic scholar, told the Jakarta Post newspaper.
GOP roars back to take U.S. House; Democrats cling to Senate majority – CNN International
Last Updated on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 02:05 Written by admin Wednesday, 3 November 2010 02:05
- NEW: Republicans also make strong gains in state legislatures
- Republicans nab at least 60 more House seats, based on CNN analysis of exit poll data
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defeats Republican Sharron Angle in Nevada
- President Obama calls House Minority Leader John Boehner to congratulate him
Watch CNN live on TV, online and on your iPhone to get all the news and results from the hotly contested 2010 midterm elections. And share your election experiences with CNN iReport.
Washington (CNN) — Republicans took voters’ distress over the stubborn jobless rate and a stalled economy and turned it into a sweeping takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections, while Democrats were able to hang onto their majority in the Senate, though in smaller numbers.
With results still coming in, the extent of the Republican takeover of the 435-member House was still to be determined. But CNN projected that Republicans would win at least 60 more House seats than they currently hold to wipe out the Democratic majority of the past four years.
President Obama called House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio to congratulate him. They had a brief but pleasant conversation, according to Boehner’s aides.
The two discussed working together to focus on the top priorities of the American people, which Boehner has identified as creating jobs and cutting spending. Boehner thanked the president for the call.
Obama, Boehner try to set positive tone
Republican candidates also were running strong in governors’ races, while Democrats were guaranteed of holding at least 50 of the 100 Senate seats with a handful of close races still outstanding, according to the projections based on CNN’s analysis of exit poll data.
An energized conservative electorate, fueled by the anti-establishment Tea Party movement that emerged in 2009, helped Republicans to what could be their biggest gain in congressional elections in decades.
“With their voices, the American people are demanding a new way forward in Washington,” said Boehner, who is expected to become House Speaker in January when the new GOP majority takes over. He called for conservative policies favored by the Tea Party such as cutting spending and reducing the size of government.
More on the Senate races
Tea Party-backed Republicans Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida won their Senate races, while another GOP candidate, John Boozman, will defeat incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, according to the projections.
In Indiana, conservative Republican Dan Coats was the projected winner to take over the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Evan Bayh, while the GOP’s Ron Johnson toppled Democratic incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.
Obama’s former Senate seat in Illinois went to Republican Mark Kirk, who defeated Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, retained his seat by defeating Republican Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favorite.
Democrat Chris Coons was the projected winner over Republican Christine O’Donnell, another Tea Party-supported candidate, in Delaware’s Senate race for the seat formerly held for decades by Vice President Joe Biden. In Connecticut, Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will defeat Republican Linda McMahon, the former professional wrestling executive, for the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Chris Dodd.
Whatever the final make-up of the Senate, it will include no African-American members. The only current African-American senator, Roland Burris of Illinois, is retiring, and none of the three African-American candidates won on Tuesday.
Blog: No African-Americans in next U.S. Senate
Both Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and O’Donnell rode Tea Party support to defeat mainstream Republican candidates in their GOP primaries.
Paul’s projected victory showed the influence of the movement that emerged in 2009 in opposition to expanded government and the growing federal deficit.
Another Tea Party backed candidate, Republican Carl Paladino, will be handily defeated by Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the New York governor’s race, the projections show.
CNN projects Democrat Jerry Brown will defeat Republican Meg Whitman in California for the governorship now held by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is stepping down under term limits.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who gained national attention for her support of Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, defeated Democrat Terry Goddard to retain office.
Republicans needed a net gain of only three governorships Tuesday for a majority nationally. Often overshadowed during midterm campaigns, governorships can impact national politics by their influence in the redistricting of state electorates.
More on gubernatorial races
Conservative candidates also made strong gains in state legislatures. The Republican State Leadership Committee estimated that at least 16 state legislative chambers had moved from Democratic to Republican control in Tuesday’s voting.
Those changes have the potential to reverberate far beyond the state level: By seizing control of legislative chambers in several key states, the GOP significantly strengthened its hand heading into what promises to be contentious congressional redistricting process, where legislatures decide how congressional districts are drawn. That can mean the difference between an incumbent having an easy path to re-election — or seeing his or her district drawn out of existence altogether.
The GOP also significantly increased its pool of viable future U.S. House and Senate candidates.
Exit poll data analyzed by CNN showed the economy was the dominant issue on the minds of voters and indicated that key constituencies shifted from supporting Democrats in 2008 to voting for Republicans this time.
For example, senior citizens who comprised 24 percent of the total electorate supported Republicans much more strongly on Tuesday than they did two years ago, the exit polling showed. According to the data, 39 percent of senior citizens voted for Democrats, compared with 49 percent in 2008, while 58 percent supported Republicans, compared with 49 percent two years ago.
One reason is likely opposition to the health care reform bill pushed through Congress over Republican opposition by President Obama and Democratic leaders. While Obama pledged the reforms would improve Medicare, Republican opponents warned of service cuts and higher costs.
The long and bitter campaign season drew more than $ 3.5 billion in spending, making it the most expensive nonpresidential vote ever, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group.
The rise of the Tea Party movement added a new element to the election cycle, roiling Republican races by boosting little-known and inexperienced candidates to victory over mainstream figures in GOP primaries across the country.
No matter how many of the so-called Tea Party candidates win against Democratic opponents Tuesday, the influence of the movement has shifted the Republican agenda to the right.
Election projects fuel Tea Party fervor
“They tell me they want people who can work together in Washington,” DeMint, one of the leading backers of Tea Party candidates, said in his victory speech. “I tell you this: I’m ready. I’m ready. Anyone whose guide is the constitution and whose goal is limited government, I’m ready to work with them today. But I’m not going to compromise with anyone who doesn’t believe in that.”
Exit polling showed voter dissatisfaction with both parties, as each received a 53 percent unfavorable rating. The economy was rated the most important issue by 62 percent of voters, far eclipsing health care reform (19 percent), immigration (8 percent) and the war in Afghanistan (7 percent), according to the exit polling.
Most voters, 88 percent, rated economic conditions as not good or poor, and 86 percent said they were very worried or somewhat worried about the economy, the exit polling showed.
Voters across the country offered a variety of reasons for their choices Tuesday.
Poll: Voters less pessimistic than 2008, but unhappier than 2006
In Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, restaurant manager and internet entrepreneur Stephen Smith, 40, went to the polls hoping “that the entrenched incumbents get booted out of office,” he said.
Melissa Bacon, 24, of Sacramento, California, cast her ballot partly for the thrill of the experience, she said.
“You don’t get to vote every day. It’s sort of its own holiday. You research the issues, vote and then wait to see if your position was the majority. It’s as exciting to me as the World Series last night,” she said on the heels of the San Francisco Giants’ victory.
Unemployment, at a rate of 9.6 percent amid a slow recovery from economic recession, has been a dominant issue, with Republicans accusing Obama and the Democrats of pushing through expensive policies that have expanded government without solving the problem.
Obama has led Democrats in defending his record, saying that steps such as the economic stimulus bill and auto industry bailout were necessary to prevent a depression, while health care reform and Wall Street reform will lay the foundation for sustainable future growth.
Observers warned that the expected Republican gains offer little chance of compromise or bipartisan approaches on major issues.
Boehner already has signaled little appetite to negotiate with the White House or congressional Democrats, saying last week that “this is not a time for compromise.”
In the Senate, legislative gridlock is likely as Republicans strengthen their current minority of 41 seats. The Democrats’ simple majority in Senate doesn’t give them power to block filibusters.
Democrats are also wary of a recent comment by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who told the National Journal, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
The first test of a new relationship will come in mid-November, when Congress convenes a post-election lame-duck session to try to clear unfinished legislation before the newly elected Congress gathers in January. Among other issues, lawmakers must decide whether and how to extend Bush-era tax cuts.
CNN’s Tom Cohen, Michael Pearson, Dana Bash, Ted Barrett, Deirdre Walsh, Paul Steinhauser, Rebecca Sinderbrand, Jessica Yellin and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.