US Opinion and Commentary

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Obama and Putin Struggle to Find a Way Forward on Syria

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 12:09 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin (New York) — More than a year after their last uncomfortable encounter, the presidents of the United States and Russia have managed to conduct a lengthy and civil discussion about the issue dominating this year’s U.N. General Assembly – the multisided, devastating civil war in Syria. Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke […]

Rouhani Wins on Nuclear Deal. Struggles on Human Rights

Posted September 23rd, 2015 at 2:53 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin With Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about to arrive in New York, hopes are fading for the release of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian during this year’s U.N. General Assembly. In the past, Iranian officials have freed political prisoners before the annual diplomatic gabfest. But this could well be the second General Assembly […]

Saudi-Iran Talks Key to Resolving Middle East Wars

Posted September 16th, 2015 at 4:32 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin As desperate migrants from wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East keep pouring onto the European continent, it is hard to imagine diplomatic solutions that can diminish this massive exodus anytime soon. But if the wars are ever to end, one prerequisite is a willingness on the part of […]

Europeans Do Heavy Lifting on Iran Nuclear Negotiations

Posted May 27th, 2015 at 11:16 am (UTC-5)
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Ambassadors to the US from France, Germany and the United Kingdom said none of their governments were about to accept a bad deal with Iran, but one which would relieve sanctions gradually in return for verifiable curbs on the Iranian nuclear program.

Camp David Summit Can’t Address Core GCC Problems

Posted May 12th, 2015 at 4:27 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin White House spinmeisters were in full damage-control mode Monday after Saudi Arabia announced that King Salman would not be attending a Camp David summit expressly arranged to reassure him and other U.S. Arab allies that an impending nuclear agreement with Iran is not coming at their expense. “The Saudis are sending the […]

Iraqi Kurds Navigate a Cautious Path Toward Independence

Posted May 7th, 2015 at 3:21 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq, got head-of-state treatment in Washington this week: two meetings with Vice President Joe Biden with a “drop-in” by President Barack Obama plus talks on Capitol Hill and the State Department and appearances at several Washington think tanks. Barzani governs just a […]

Iran’s Zarif Dancing As Fast as He Can

Posted April 30th, 2015 at 5:56 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin NEW YORK —This week, this reporter got a chance to witness two impressive performances in rather different fields. On Tuesday night, Robert Fairchild, the New York City ballet star turned Broadway phenomenon, managed to eclipse his idol Gene Kelly in a reimagining of the movie musical “An American in Paris.” The following […]

Saudi Arabia Scales Back Yemen Bombing

Posted April 23rd, 2015 at 9:54 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin After four weeks of pounding one of the poorest and most dysfunctional places on earth, Saudi Arabia has wisely reduced its bombing campaign in Yemen. While Saudi officials proclaimed “Operation Decisive Storm” a victory against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the campaign weakened but did not dislodge the Houthis and expanded the power of […]

Congress Can’t Stop Iran Sanctions Unraveling

Posted April 15th, 2015 at 6:21 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin For months now, Russia has been a constructive member of the international consortium negotiating with Iran, often proposing creative fixes to technical hurdles. But this week, just as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was taking up sensitive Iran-related legislation, Russia announced that it was going forward with an old contract to sell […]

A Fourth Arab Country Melts Down

Posted March 25th, 2015 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Reports on Wednesday that the president of Yemen has fled his country underline the latest crisis to strike the state system in the Middle East. Three other Arab nations – Libya, Syria and Iraq – are already fractured among religious, ethnic and tribal groups, with fighting exacerbated by outsiders bankrolling and arming proxies. The Barack […]

Bibi Win Promises More Friction With Washington

Posted March 19th, 2015 at 1:32 pm (UTC-5)
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The voters of Israel have spoken, and their answer augurs more friction with the United States and Europe over issues ranging from Iran nuclear negotiations to creation of an independent Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, campaigning fiercely for his political life, led his Likud Party to an impressive victory, roaring past a somewhat reinvigorated […]

Rising Anti-Semitism in Europe Prompts Exodus

Posted March 9th, 2015 at 1:33 pm (UTC-5)
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Among those attending the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington last week was Roger Cukierman, president of an umbrella group of Jewish organizations in France. Anti-Semitic violence there has gotten global attention since the January attacks on a Jewish deli and the headquarters of a satirical magazine in Paris, […]

Extreme Intolerance Will Doom ‘Islamic State’

Posted February 27th, 2015 at 1:33 pm (UTC-5)
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The group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) can’t abide competition even from the mute remains of its region’s fabled past. An equal opportunity destroyer, IS has gone beyond lopping off the heads of live perceived enemies to demolishing priceless artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia that had survived previous waves of conquest. The group’s extreme […]