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Saudi-Iran crisis a rebuke for US policy

By Dave Clark and Nicolas Revise     •     Yahoo

Washington’s single-minded pursuit of the Iran nuclear deal damaged its alliance with Saudi Arabia, experts say, and fed the escalating crisis in the Gulf.

The United States failed to manage its traditional Sunni Arab allies in the region while it reached out to mend ties with their bitter Shiite foes in Tehran.

As a result, experts warn, Washington has suffered a loss of influence at a time when it needs to implement the nuclear accord and work with both Tehran and Riyadh to end the Syrian war.

“I think the administration has had a one-eyed policy on this,” Salman Shaikh, founder and CEO of regional consultancy the Shaikh Group, told AFP. [Read more...]

Iran Nuclear Deal Restricts U.S. More Than Congress Knew

By Eli Lake & Josh Rogin     •     BloombergView

John Kerry United Nations UN Cease FireMembers of Congress knew the Iran nuclear deal came with strings attached. They just didn’t know how many.

When the administration presented the agreement to Congress, lawmakers were told that new sanctions on Iran would violate the deal. Now the administration is trying to sidestep a recently passed provision to tighten rules on visas for those who have visited Iran.

Since the accord was struck last summer, the U.S. emphasis on complying with its end of the deal has publicly eclipsed its efforts to pressure Iran. In that time, Iranian authorities have detained two American dual nationals and sentenced a third on what most observers say are trumped up espionage charges. Iran’s military has conducted two missile tests, one of which the U.N. said violated sanctions, and engaged in a new offensive with Russia in Syria to shore up the country’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad. [Read more...]

Obama Admin Will Veto Counter-Terror Measures to Save Nuke Deal

Obama admin promises new laws will not violate nuke deal

by Adam Kredo      •     Washington Free Beacon

John KerrySecretary of State John Kerry is working to reassure Iranian leaders that recent congressional efforts to tighten counter-terrorism measures will not harm Iranian interests, according to a letter sent by Kerry to Iran’s foreign minister.

The assurances come following efforts by Congress to tighten restrictions in the visa waiver program, which they claim has gaping loopholes that may enable suspected terrorists to legally enter the United States with few background checks.

Iranian leaders expressed anger over the move in recent days, prompting senior Obama administration officials to convey their own concerns to lawmakers. [Read more...]

Feds can’t say whereabouts of those whose visas were revoked over terror threat

Fox News


The Obama administration cannot be sure of the whereabouts of thousands of foreigners in the U.S. who had their visas revoked over terror concerns and other reasons, a State Department official acknowledged Thursday.

The admission, made at a House oversight hearing examining immigrant vetting in the wake of major terror attacks, drew a sharp rebuke from the committee chairman.

“You don’t have a clue do you?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Michele Thoren Bond, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs. [Read more...]

Hours After Obama Taunts GOP With ‘Widows’ Female Suicide Bomber Explodes In Paris

by John Nolte     •     Breitbart

Once again, reality has intruded on President Obama’s divisive, his anti-science talking points. Just hours after the president used the term “widows and orphans” to taunt the GOP over their opposition to flooding America with Syrian refugees ISIS has promised to seed with terrorists, a female suicide bomber in Paris blew herself up as police closed in.

While overseas, no less, and as Democrat senators Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Chris Coons, all signaled a desire to pause the Syrian refuges process, Obama again proved that the only people he sees as America’s real enemies are members of the Republican Party:

“Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” Obama said of the GOP. “At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three year old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”

Just a few hours later in Paris:

A female terrorist wearing a suicide vest has blown herself up and another jihadi was killed by a grenade during a six-hour siege on a flat where police believe the Paris massacres mastermind and six other ISIS terrorists were hiding.

ISIS is Obama’s legacy.

Paris is Obama’s legacy.

Obama lost a won war in Iraq by abandoning that hard-won country, and ISIS fill the vacuum.

Obama pretended to be using “intelligent patience” as ISIS established and extended its caliphate state into Syria, which included the control and command and training centers that were likely behind the Paris operation.

And now Obama believes that screeching emotional blackmail in the form of suicidal political correctness is his real job.

The DC Media obviously got the White House talking points today, orders that demanded Republicans be accused of “playing into the hands of ISIS’ with their caution over these Syrian refugees.

Such good dogs.

The White House Thinks Obama Had a Very Good Year. The Public Isn’t so Sure.

The unemployment rate is down, gas prices and inflation are low, and the president notched some major accomplishments. But Obama remains a polarizing figure, and Americans are feeling insecure.

by George E. Condon Jr.     •     NationalJournal

obama_31By al­most all tra­di­tion­al met­rics, the White House should be cel­eb­rat­ing his 2015 in­stead of of­fer­ing the sub­dued and meas­ured de­fense seen from Pres­id­ent Obama at his end-of-the-year press con­fer­ence. After all, the usu­al num­bers are good—un­em­ploy­ment rate down, job cre­ation up, in­fla­tion low, GDP up, gas prices de­clin­ing. Only the stock mar­ket, which will end the year slightly down, is in neg­at­ive ter­rit­ory.

To add to a bullish ap­prais­al for the pres­id­ent’s agenda, the year saw him pre­vail on some of his top pri­or­it­ies—pro­tect­ing Obama­care, achiev­ing a nuc­le­ar deal with Ir­an, reach­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al cli­mate agree­ment, and push­ing through his rap­proche­ment with Cuba. The pres­id­ent can also point to the low­est “Misery In­dex”—adding un­em­ploy­ment with in­fla­tion—since Harry Tru­man was pres­id­ent. The cur­rent 5.3 Misery In­dex would nor­mally guar­an­tee high ap­prov­al. [Read more...]

Critics: Obama Contradicts Himself on Middle East Strategy

Says he toppled Gaddafi to avert a humanitarian crisis, but failed to do the same in Syria

by Daniel Wiser     •     Washington Free Beacon

obama_frownRecent remarks by President Obama highlight his conflicting approach to dictators in the Middle East, critics say, opening him to charges of an inconsistent and contradictory strategy toward regimes and humanitarian crises in the region.

In his final press conference of the year Friday, Obama defended his efforts to topple former Libyan autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 as part of an international coalition. Gaddafi was “a dictator who was threatening and was in a position to carry out the wholesale slaughter of large numbers of people,” he said. He added that the United States and allied nations worked “to avert a big humanitarian catastrophe that would not have been good for us.”

“Those who now argue, in retrospect, we should have left Gaddafi in there seem to forget that he had already lost legitimacy and control of his country, and we could have—instead of what we have in Libya now, we could have had another Syria in Libya now,” he said. [Read more...]

State Dept. counts ‘bringing peace’ to Syria as a 2015 win

By Eliza Collins     •     Washington Free Beacon

Kerry Syria VoteThe State Department is counting “bringing peace” to Syria as one of its wins in 2015.

A boastful recap of the State Department’s accomplishments, written by spokesman John Kirby, includes the bold subheadline of “Bringing Peace, Security to Syria” above a more modest entry talking about U.S. aid for those affected by the country’s turmoil and the U.S. push for a political transition from President Bashar Assad.

While Secretary of State John Kerry has played an integral role in the Syrian peace talks, the country remains embroiled in a nasty civil war and terrorized by the Islamic State.

“The United States and many members of the international community have stepped up to aid the Syrian people during their time of need — the United States has led the world in humanitarian aid contributions since the crisis began in 2011,” Kirby said. [Read more...]

Obama: I Have “The Best” Strategy To Defeat ISIS, Republicans “Don’t Have An Answer”

RealClearPolitics

In an interview taped Friday and relesased this weekend with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, President Obama says “the approach we are taking” to defeat The Islamic State “is one that is based on the best council, the best advice of our top military, top diplomatic teams.”

“Those who are critics of our administration’s response,” he continued, “in the debates that are taking place between the Republican candidates,” “when you ask them, what would you do instead? They don’t have an answer.” [Read more...]

ISIS is winning and Obama is at fault: Just two in 10 Americans think the U.S. is winning the war on terror

The largest percentage of Americans ever say the terrorists have the upper hand in the war on terror. Additionally, three-in-four Americans say they’re unhappy with the way the war on terror is going. The poll also showed a 14 percent spike in those who said they had zero confidence in the Obama administration’s handling of terror.

By Nikki Schwab     •     Daily Mail

Smug-ObamaAmericans believe more than ever that the terrorists are winning the war on terror.
In a new CNN/ORC poll, just 18 percent of Americans surveyed said the U.S. and its allies were ahead in the terror fight, with 40 percent now saying the terrorists have the upper hand.

The numbers are almost completely flopped from when the question was first asked, just one month after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Then, 42 percent said the U.S. was winning the war on terror, while 11 percent said the terrorists were dominating the fight. [Read more...]

AP Poll: Islamic State conflict voted top news story of 2015

by David Crary     •     AP|The Big Story

The far-flung attacks claimed by Islamic State militants and the intensifying global effort to crush them added up to a grim, gripping yearlong saga that was voted the top news story of 2015, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The No. 2 story was the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that led to legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. But several of the other stories among the Top 10 reflected the impact of the Islamic State, while another group of major stories related to the series of mass shootings in the United States.

Among the 100 voters casting ballots, first-place votes were spread among 17 different stories. The Islamic State entry received 37 first-place votes and same-sex marriage 13. The No. 3 story — the deadly attacks in Paris in January and November — received 14 first-place votes. [Read more...]

Putin Tells Defense Chiefs to Strengthen Russian Nuclear Forces

by Stepan Kravchenko     •     Bloomberg

putin russiaPresident Vladimir Putin ordered defense chiefs to strengthen Russia’s strategic nuclear forces amid rising tensions with the U.S. over the global balance of power.

New weapons should go to “all parts” of the nuclear triad of air, sea, and land forces, Putin told a Defense Ministry meeting in Moscow on Friday. Action must also be taken “to improve the effectiveness of missile-attack warning systems and aerospace defense.”

Russia’s military will have five new nuclear regiments equipped with modern missile complexes next year, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the same meeting. More than 95 percent of the country’s nuclear forces are at a permanent state of readiness, he said. [Read more...]

Murdoch unloads on Kerry, Obama, the left

By Blake Hounshell     •     Politico

News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, in a discursive speech Monday evening, blasted Secretary of State John Kerry and attacked the left for creating an “identity crisis” that he charged has undermined American strength and fostered terrorism around the world.

And he drew a connection between U.S. foreign policy and domestic culture, arguing that “in recent years, there has been far too much institutionalization of grievance and victimhood.”

The Australian-born media mogul, a naturalized U.S. citizen, also touched on the Republican presidential primary, which he said “has articulated a deep distaste for the slow descent of our country.” [Read more...]

Obama’s Islamic State Strategy ‘Highly Dangerous’

Analysts note that terrorist group continues to launch attacks, destabilize Middle East

Islamic State militants / AP

by Daniel Wiser     •     Washington Free Beacon

President Obama’s containment strategy against the Islamic State has failed to prevent the terrorist group from launching further attacks, destabilizing the Middle East and potentially posing a threat to the U.S. homeland, critics say.

In an interview with ABC on Thursday, Obama said that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) is not “gaining strength.”

“From the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them,” he said. “They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave.” [Read more...]

Obama’s Bad Math on Islamic Terrorism

by Josh Gelernter     •     National Review

Obama SmirkObama says 99.9 percent of Muslims reject terrorism. His math is bad.

Since the Paris attacks last week, a lot has been made of the Muslim world’s overwhelming disapproval of terrorism. Let me toss in my two cents:

There are 3,500 Muslims in the U.S. military. Muslims have fought for our side in all of America’s major wars. There are decorated Muslim soldiers buried in Arlington.

There are Muslims in the Israel Defense Forces — all of them volunteers. An Israeli Muslim officer, Major Fehd Fallah, says he became a Zionist after visiting the death camps in Poland as a teenager. Now in his 30s, he is described by an Israeli colonel as “one of the best officers in the IDF.” [Read more...]