By CNN Political Unit
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made explicit the administration's renewed attempts to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and Palestine Saturday as the United States begins to assume a more muscular role in talks.
At the Brookings Institution's annual Saban Forum on Middle East issues and U.S.-Israeli relations, Obama and Kerry each spoke about a budding interim deal that would work towards a two-state solution.FULL STORY
By Jamie Crawford
Additional sanctions targeting Iran's disputed nuclear program could undermine international progress already made on the issue, President Barack Obama said Thursday.
"If we're serious about pursuing diplomacy then there's no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective, and that brought them to the table in the first place," Obama told reporters at the White House.
Obama said he would like to see if a "short-term, phase-one deal" with Iran can be put in place in the near term that requires Tehran to freeze aspects of its nuclear program while the international community negotiates a more comprehensive long-term deal.
By Kevin Liptak
President Barack Obama's meeting Friday with Iraq's leader will include discussion of how to counter a fresh rise in suicide bombers affiliated with al Qaeda, a senior U.S. official says.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is slated to visit the White House at the end of the week for a meeting with the President as tensions rise between Iraq's Shiite majority and its Sunni minority. Violence has been on the upswing - on Wednesday, a suicide bomber killed at least nine people and wounded 25 others at a police checkpoint west of Mosul. In all, more than 6,000 people have been killed in attacks this year.
A bipartisan group of senators harshly criticized Maliki in a letter to Obama on Tuesday, writing that the recent security deterioration in Iraq was partially the Prime Minister's fault.
"Unfortunately, Prime Minister Maliki's mismanagement of Iraqi politics is contributing to the recent surge of violence," the senators wrote. Signatories included Republicans John McCain, James Inhofe and Bob Corker, and Democrats Carl Levin and Robert Menendez.
"By too often pursuing a sectarian and authoritarian agenda, Prime Minister Maliki and his allies are disenfranchising Sunni Iraqis, marginalizing Kurdish Iraqis, and alienating the many Shia Iraqis who have a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic vision for their country," the lawmakers continued.
By Josh Levs
U.S. raids in pursuit of two terrorists over the weekend threw a question surrounding President Obama into the spotlight: Does he have a guiding doctrine for foreign policy?
The operations in Somalia and Libya, only one of which went as planned, come after the Obama administration silenced its drumbeat toward a possible military attack on Syria.
Some analysts say the developments make Obama's "doctrine" more clear than ever. Others say what's more clear than ever is that this president doesn't have one - which may, or may not, be a good thing.
"The two raids over the weekend show that President Obama remains very comfortable deploying special operations forces in countries the United States is not at war with as a means to combat terrorist groups, just as he is comfortable with the use of CIA drones for the same purpose in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen," says CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen.FULL STORY
By Elise Labott, reporting from the United Nations
The drama over whether President Barack Obama would shake hands with his Iranian counterpart detracted from what diplomats at the U.N. General Assembly described as an acute disappointment with his handling of Mideast turmoil.
A perceived lack of leadership in Syria during its civil war coupled with U.S. handling of the political crisis in Egypt has forced the Obama administration to confront a growing lack of confidence among Middle East allies.
But what's most bewildered American allies in the region was Obama's abrupt decision to back away from threats to use military force over alleged Syrian chemical weapons use in favor of a diplomatic approach to divest it of those stockpiles.
They fear Obama's ambivalence foreshadows a lack of mettle in dealing with Iran.
By Catherine E. Shoichet and Jamie Crawford
A new possibility for a diplomatic solution in the standoff between Syria and the United States surfaced unexpectedly Monday as the war-torn country said it supported a proposal to hand over control of its chemical weapons.
But a key question loomed: Is that a viable option or simply a stall tactic as President Bashar al-Assad's government tries to stave off U.S. military action?
"It's certainly a positive development when the Russians and Syrians both make gestures towards dealing with these chemical weapons," President Barack Obama told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Monday.
By Jill Dougherty
Relationships can be tough, especially long-distance ones. And talking to that special someone all night on the "red phone" isn't easy when you're pulling all-nighters dealing with world crises.
President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin showed one public display of affection on Thursday, shaking hands and exchanging a few words. Officials say the world leaders could have a longer meeting on the margins of the G-20. The issue of what to do in Syria is adding a lot of stress to an already strained relationship.
Back in January 2009 when Obama was sworn into office for the first time, he had high hopes for U.S.-Russian relations after things went south between George W. Bush and Putin.
There was a new young president – Dmitry Medvedev – in the Kremlin and Obama thought maybe Washington and Moscow could start over.
By Tom Cohen
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the red line he spoke of last year regarding Syria's use of chemical weapons came from international treaties and past congressional action, and he challenged the international community to join him in enforcing bans on such armaments.
In direct and confrontational remarks to reporters in Sweden, Obama laid out his rationale for wanting to attack Syria on the same day a Senate committee in Washington will vote on a proposed resolution authorizing limited U.S. military strikes.
He also insisted he had the authority to order attacks on Syria - expected to be cruise missile strikes on Syrian military command targets - even if Congress rejects his request for authorization.FULL STORY
By Elise Labott
As President Barack Obama insisted he has made no decision on how to respond to Syria, behind the scenes American officials insisted Wednesday that ultimately the president will decide on his own timeline, dismissing the notion that maneuvers in the United Nations and British Parliament suggest a longer-term horizon before any cohesive response.
“We can’t wait, we need to act according to our own national interests,” said one senior U.S. official. While the official noted the president has not made any decisions yet, “this is moving quickly.”
The British Parliament is set Thursday to consider a resolution that calls for no military action before the United Nations Security Council considers a report from weapons inspectors who are still in Syria and who are expected to be there for several more days.
“Why do we need to wait for a UN report to tell us what we already know,” said a second senior U.S. official. Any decision to respond would not wait for UN inspectors, he said, noting the United States has told the UN it is not safe to be there. But “if they are there, it is not going to stop us.” Targets would not be in areas where inspectors are located.
By Chris Lawrence
CNN Pentagon Correspondent
The U.S. military has updated options for a forceful intervention in Syria to give President Barack Obama a range of choices should he decide to deepen American involvement in a civil war where new claims surfaced this week about possible chemical weapons use by the regime.
A senior Defense Department official told CNN on Friday that target lists for possible air strikes have been updated. The planning also included updates on the potential use of cruise missiles, which would not require fighter pilots to enter Syrian airspace.
But the official cautioned the steps were taken "to give the president a current and comprehensive range of choices" and that no decisions were made at a national security meeting on Thursday at the White House.
The official said there are certain static targets, like government buildings and military installations, but that forces and equipment of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "continue to move" and thus require flexibility in planning.FULL STORY