US Opinion and Commentary

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Terror Payout Latest Challenge to U.S.-Iran Reconciliation

Posted April 26th, 2016 at 3:23 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Chances for a more constructive U.S.-Iran relationship in the aftermath of a landmark nuclear deal are eroding with new disputes over missiles, Iran’s access to its assets in foreign banks and now a Supreme Court judgment allowing distribution of $2 billion in Iranian government money to relatives of U.S. victims of alleged Iran-backed terrorism. […]

Mideast Peace Takes a Back Seat in Race to White House

Posted April 20th, 2016 at 2:26 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin With the results of the New York primary in, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once again seems to be the inevitable Democratic nominee, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is back to being a longshot. Before he fades into campaign history, however, Sanders deserves credit for pushing uncomfortable truths about the American […]

Can Obama Mend US-Saudi Ties?

Posted April 12th, 2016 at 4:15 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin As President Barack Obama prepares to fly to Saudi Arabia next week for a summit of Arab Persian Gulf states, the future of the long American alliance with the conservative Muslim kingdom is increasingly hazy. The two countries have faced serious crises in the past, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, […]

Putin Shrugs off Panama Papers

Posted April 6th, 2016 at 12:28 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin The massive leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm that specialized in setting up offshore tax shelters has rattled world political leaders and claimed at least one victim. Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced to step aside following a public uproar over an offshore company he created just before his country’s […]

Obama’s Last Chance to Bolster Nuclear Security

Posted March 29th, 2016 at 10:57 am (UTC-5)
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 By Barbara Slavin Terrorist attacks in Belgium and Pakistan lend a greater sense of urgency to President Barack Obama’s final nuclear security summit, set to open on Thursday in Washington. Leaders of more than 50 nations will discuss further steps to reduce and safeguard stockpiles of nuclear materials that would pose an even more serious threat to […]

Defeating ISIS Requires Maximum International Cooperation

Posted March 23rd, 2016 at 1:21 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin In the aftermath of the terrible bombings in Brussels, the knee-jerk reaction among some American politicians is to close borders to immigrants and hit harder at the Middle Eastern enclaves of the Islamic State. Thinking aloud as his wont on Twitter, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump vowed, “This madness must be stopped and I will […]

Putin’s Surprise Syria Move Leaves World Wondering What He’ll Do Next

Posted March 16th, 2016 at 10:24 am (UTC-5)
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Critics sometimes rail at President Barack Obama for devising foreign policy largely on his own, but Obama is a model of consultative comity compared to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last September, the Russian leader stunned Obama and everyone else by dramatically intervening in Syria’s civil war ostensibly to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) but actually to save embattled Syrian […]

Turkey, Russia Use Syria Refugees to Blackmail E.U.

Posted March 9th, 2016 at 10:33 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin As the European Union struggles to find a way to reduce the inflow of Syrian refugees to manageable proportions, it is under pressure to downplay human rights violations by Turkey and Russia. Turkey, which has lost much of its democratic luster in recent years because of a crackdown on political opposition by […]

Trump ‘Foreign Policy’ Unnerves American Allies

Posted February 29th, 2016 at 1:23 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin The battle for the Republican presidential nomination this year has made many Americans squirm as they watch grown men fling potty-mouthed playground insults at each other in lieu of serious discourse.  Overseas, however, concerns are mounting at the prospect of a possible presidency by New York real estate magnate Donald Trump, whose […]

Turnout Key to Iran Election Strategy

Posted February 23rd, 2016 at 1:16 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Election Day in Iran is this Friday and the country’s leaders are urging Iranians to vote in large numbers, even though the candidates exclude key members of the embattled reform movement and the governing bodies being chosen have limited power within Iran’s hybrid political system. Voters are to select a new 290-member […]

Yemen Teeters on ‘Fringes of Famine,’ Top US Aid Official Says

Posted February 16th, 2016 at 11:51 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin With global attention focused on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, an increasingly dire situation in Yemen is not receiving sufficient notice. Some 21 million of the country’s 26 million people need outside aid, according to Andrew Pitt, director of North African and Arabian Affairs at the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID). By […]

Have Russia and Iran ‘Won’ in Syria?

Posted February 10th, 2016 at 12:59 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin As Russia continues to pound Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, sending thousands more desperate people surging toward the Turkish border, it is hard to deny that U.S. diplomatic strategy on Syria is in disarray. Secretary of State John Kerry, facing reporters Tuesday, conceded the obvious: “Russia’s activities in Aleppo and in the region […]

Obama Mosque Visit Confronts Rising Anti-Muslim Sentiment

Posted February 4th, 2016 at 12:56 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin During his seven years in office, President Barack Obama has visited mosques in foreign countries, in part, to show respect for one of the world’s major religions as a way of countering perceptions that Americans are anti-Islam. His belated presidential visit, his first, this week to an American mosque reflected acknowledgement that bigotry is […]

Peace in Syria Still Looks Like Mission Impossible

Posted January 29th, 2016 at 11:09 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Expectations had never been high for Syrian peace talks scheduled to open Friday in Geneva — and the refusal of the opposition to come only underscores the fragile state of the negotiations. “They will start as planned, but I don’t have a time, I don’t have a location and I can’t tell […]

Paradigm Shift With Iran Has Uncertain Future

Posted January 18th, 2016 at 10:47 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin The last few days have witnessed major milestones between the United States and Iran, including implementation of a landmark nuclear deal, a prisoner exchange and resolution of a financial dispute that goes back to the severing of diplomatic relations between the two countries 36 years ago. It’s all been rather breathtaking given […]