US Opinion and Commentary

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Saudi Executions Strain Decades of US Ties

Posted January 5th, 2016 at 3:44 pm (UTC-4)
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The turmoil set off by Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute 47 prisoners – among them, a prominent Iranian Shia cleric – has put the Obama administration in a tight spot. Allies since the 1930s, one American administration after another has maintained strong ties with the Saudi kingdom. President Barack Obama appears to have been pinning his hopes on bringing long-time enemies, Saudi Arabia and Iran, together to help solve Syria – and by extension – extinguish the threat posed by ISIS. The United States is not deaf to human rights activists who prove over and over again that Saudi Arabia has silenced political dissent, in this most recent case, by beheading. But the U.S. has banked on the Saudis for cheap oil and influence in the Middle East. In turn, the Saudis had a regular customer and political cover when needed. The Saudis knew this execution would further stoke Shia-Sunni sectarian tensions in the region. What will it do to the cozy relationship between Riyadh and Washington?

Why I’m Going to Havana

Posted August 14th, 2015 at 2:40 pm (UTC-4)
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My visit to Havana, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State in 70 years, comes nine months after President Obama announced a new approach to relations with Cuba. It is an approach based on the ties that bind our people…

Hope Takes Over Havana

Posted July 20th, 2015 at 9:11 am (UTC-4)
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As a long-time visitor, the first change you notice upon arriving in Havana these days is that the anti-“yanqui” billboards are all but gone. The barrage of outdoor posters lambasting American policy that greeted us in previous trips were nowhere to be seen.

Time to Accept Change in Relations

Posted July 3rd, 2015 at 8:38 am (UTC-4)
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Cuban Americans everywhere, but especially the diaspora in South Florida, have been awakening to the reality that Cuba’s isolation was and is not a sustainable strategy.

US-Cuba Rapprochement Advances with Reopening of US Embassy in Havana

Posted July 2nd, 2015 at 1:25 pm (UTC-4)
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More than 50 years after the United States government left Cuba, later this summer Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Havana to reopen the American embassy. The announcement is not entirely a surprise given that normalization of ties had already begun last year.

But while there is widespread agreement that it’s time to let go of Soviet-era policies, activists worry that an uptick in human rights abuses by the Cuban government does not bold well for democracy.