U.S., Jordan discuss placing Patriot missile batteries in Jordan
May 31st, 2013
07:37 PM ET

U.S., Jordan discuss placing Patriot missile batteries in Jordan

By Barbara Starr

The United States and Jordan are actively discussing the possibility of sending American Patriot missile batteries to Jordan to boost its defenses as the civil war in Syria continues to threaten the region, according to a senior Pentagon official.

He emphasized that an agreement to undertake such an operation has not yet been reached.

Even though Jordanian officials have long said they do not believe the Syrian regime would attack Jordan, there have been increased efforts by Amman to boost its military cooperation with the United States as violence spreads.

If an agreement is reached, the Patriot batteries could be reassigned from other areas in the region, although U.S. officials declined to say where they are currently located.

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Analysis: Path to Syria peace talks littered with obstacles
Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris on May 27, 2013.
May 31st, 2013
04:30 PM ET

Analysis: Path to Syria peace talks littered with obstacles

By Elise Labott, reporting from Jerusalem

American, Russian and U.N. officials are set to meet next week in Geneva, Switzerland, to prepare for peace talks on Syria. Those talks would bring together officials from the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and members of the Syrian opposition to discuss a political transition.

Proposed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, they are tentatively scheduled for mid-June. But unresolved disagreements among members of the international community and continued disputes within the Syrian opposition cast doubt on whether the talks can be held so soon, or at all.

Russia is proving to be one of the primary spoilers of its own diplomatic initiative. Even as Kerry flew home from Paris after meeting with Lavrov to discuss plans for the Geneva conference, Moscow announced its decision to sell advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. The S-300s can intercept manned aircraft and guided missiles, and their delivery could improve al-Assad's chances of retaining power.

At best, a move of weapons to the regime to further its violence against the Syrian people casts doubt on Russia's stated intention of finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
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U.S. tightens screws on Iran's economy
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
May 31st, 2013
03:25 PM ET

U.S. tightens screws on Iran's economy

By Jamie Crawford

The United States imposed new sanctions on Iran on Friday in an effort to further squeeze its crippled economy and pressure Tehran into curbing its nuclear ambitions.

The latest Treasury Department action targets the petrochemical industry, Iran's second-highest source of revenue after oil production, which is also under sanctions.

Treasury targeted eight companies under the authority of an executive order signed by President Barack Obama last year to stem the flow of money that can be diverted to Iran's nuclear program.

Western powers believe Iran is aiming to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says its intentions are peaceful.
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Filed under: Iran • Quds Force • Sanctions • Treasury
May 31st, 2013
03:36 AM ET

State Department releases annual U.S. report on terrorism

By CNN's Paul Courson

A country-by-country study of trends in terrorism finds unilateral and "lone wolf" threats rising alongside state-sponsored acts, according to findings released Thursday by the U.S. State Department.

The 200-page study, "Country Reports on Terrorism 2012," includes a strategic assessment, a survey of counter terrorism efforts and reviews of what researchers believe are state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations.

The Iranian government was cited for a "resurgence" of what the report calls "state sponsorship of terrorism" through Iran's military intelligence apparatus and support for terrorist operatives associated with Hezbollah, who carry out attacks outside Iran.

The report also concluded that independent terrorist activity exists without obvious support from organized governments.  Counter-terrorism efforts are having an impact on al-Qaeda, it said, evidenced by splintered leadership.  That has forced the group to operate in smaller, more local venues, the study found.

The report's Strategic Assessment said al-Qaeda's "ability to direct the activities and attacks of its affiliates has diminished, as its leaders focus increasingly on survival." The study cautioned that the group retains influence operating from its safe haven in western Pakistan.

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Filed under: State Department • Terrorism