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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,876

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Egypt-U.S. Rift May Imperil IMF Funding as Reserves Threaten Currency Run

By Mariam Fam and Alaa Shahine - Sun Feb 19 08:00:02 GMT 2012

Egypt’s politicians and media are issuing ever-louder accusations of American meddling just as the country seeks loans from the International Monetary Fund, where the U.S. is the biggest shareholder.

“America is behind the chaos,” blared a red headline on the front page of state-run Al-Gomhuria newspaper last week. The Muslim Brotherhood said U.S. money was being spent “to destroy Egypt and ruin its society.” The dispute over the prosecution of employees at U.S.-based NGOs, accused of breaking rules on foreign financing, has opened the deepest rift for decades between the military allies. It’s happening as the government prepares to submit an economic program to parliament that will be the basis for its application for a $3.2 billion IMF credit.

Egypt needs the money to help an economy in stagnation since last year’s uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Tourists and investors have stayed away and the central bank, seeking to avert a currency crisis, spent more than half its reserves. Bond yields rose this month amid investor concern that a worsening dispute with the U.S. will complicate efforts to raise funds.

The rift “adds fuel to the fire and can negatively affect the conditions under which Egypt might obtain an IMF program,” said Sergey Dergachev, who helps manage $8.5 billion of emerging-market assets at Union Investment Privatfonds in Frankfurt. “The IMF is still very much dominated by the U.S.”



Israeli Attack on Iran Would Be Destabilizing: Dempsey

By Katarzyna Klimasinska and Danielle Ivory - Sun Feb 19 20:04:17 GMT 2012

An Israeli attack on Iran would be “destabilizing,” Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

“It’s not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran,” Dempsey said today on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program. The U.S. government is confident the Israelis “understand our concerns,” he said.

Amid U.S. concerns that Israel may initiate military action against Iran’s nuclear sites, White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon began a two-day visit to Israel yesterday to discuss Iran and other issues, such as the turmoil in Syria. Iran has been under United Nations investigation since 2003 over suspected nuclear weapons work.

“A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives,” Dempsey said of the Israelis. “I wouldn’t suggest, sitting here today, that we’ve persuaded them that our view is the correct view and that they are acting in an ill-advised fashion.”



IAEA Visit May Be Iran’s Chance to Stem War Concerns Over Nuclear Program

By Jonathan Tirone - Sun Feb 19 20:00:02 GMT 2012

United Nations investigators begin two days of meetings in Iran today, offering Tehran’s government a chance to stem growing speculation the country’s nuclear program will spark a military conflict.

Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency flew to the Iranian capital yesterday for their second round of talks in a month. The visit begins a week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country will boost production of 20 percent enriched uranium at a mountainside location in Fordo.

“This meeting is a crucial opportunity for everyone, including the Iranians, to get serious,” Arms Control Association Director Daryl Kimball said in a telephone interview from Vienna. “Getting serious means focusing on the near-term problem that 20 percent enriched uranium represents” which drives the “hysterical war talk in some quarters.”

The simmering conflict over Iran’s nuclear work has driven oil prices higher. Israel and the U.S. have refused to rule out military action against Iranian nuclear sites to prevent the country from acquiring a weapon. Iran, which hid its work for more than a decade before 2003, says it wants nuclear power for peaceful purposes.



Iranian Warships Dock At Syrian Port After Crossing Suez Canal

Two Iranian warships docked Saturday at a Syrian port, the Iranian broadcaster Press TV reported.

The vessels - a destroyer and a supply ship - are to provide maritime training to Syria's navy under an agreement between the two countries, according to the report.

The warships reached the Syrian city of Tartous, northwest of the capital Damascus, after crossing the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea.

Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayari told the official news agency IRNA that the latest initiative was to show Iran's naval power and "deliver the message of peace to the nations of the region and the world."



Obama Sends Top Security Aide To Israel As Tension Builds Over Nuclear Iran

By Phoebe Greenwood in Tel Aviv
1:56PM GMT 18 Feb 2012

Tom Donilon, the US president's top security aide, arrived in Tel Aviv on Saturday morning for three days of meetings with Israeli defence and security chiefs.

While Washington claims the visit is simply the latest in a series of "regular, high level consultations between the United States and Israel", it came just days after coordinated attacks launched against Israeli embassies across the world provoked outrage in Jerusalem, which claims with certainly that Iran is responsible.

Israel's option of launching a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities was expected to be the urgent topic of discussion during Mr Donilon's visit.

Hours before he arrived Iran's navy claimed its warships entered the Mediterranean to show its 'might' to regional countries.



Turkey Will Not Allow NATO To Share Intelligence With Israel

Turkey will never allow any third country, particularly Israel, to use intelligence obtained by a NATO radar system, its foreign minister said on Friday.

"We will never allow any third country to use any NATO facility. Our position will be even more clear if it is particularly Israel," Davutoglu told a joint news conference with visiting NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Ankara.

His remarks came after some media outlets reported that the United States and Israel have carried out a joint missile test by using intelligence gathered by a NATO radar system based in eastern Turkey.

Last year Ankara decided to host in a military facility base near Malatya in the southeast an early warning radar as part of NATO's defense architecture.



In Russia, Putin Allies Sharpen Anti-American Attacks Ahead Of Elections

By Kathy Lally,

MOSCOW — A nasty spate of anti-Americanism set off by Vladimir V. Putin has grown into waves of attacks aimed at the new American ambassador and Russian opposition leaders, raising questions about the future of U.S.-Russian relations.

The attacks started just before the December parliamentary elections and have intensified as the March 4 presidential vote approaches. Although widely viewed as aimed primarily at a domestic audience, they have grown shriller and more aggressive, provoking debate about whether Russia is deliberately giving a cold shoulder to President Obama’s effort to promote more productive relations.

A main target of the attacks is Michael McFaul, the new ambassador, a longtime democracy advocate and Russia expert who as a top aide to Obama has been an architect of what the White House calls a “reset’’ with Moscow.

The anti-American campaign bears trademark Soviet and KGB thinking, reflecting the mindset of many of the high-level officials appointed by Putin as well as their efforts to protect their power and privileges from the gathering opposition.



Fact Check: GOP Claim Of 'Record-Low' Obama Budget For Israeli Missile Defense Ignores Reality

By DONNA CASSATA | Associated Press | 2 hours, 29 minutes ago in

Two powerful House Republicans accused President Barack Obama of jeopardizing Israel's security with a "record low" budget request for a cooperative U.S.-Israeli missile defense program. The election-year claim fails to take into account the billions the administration wants in aid for the Mideast ally and ignores a few Washington realities.

In his defense blueprint released this past week, Obama asked for $99.8 million for a program designed to protect Israel from short-range ballistic missiles and rockets that might be fired from Gaza or Hezbollah in the Lebanese territory or longer range missiles from Iran or Syria. The request for 2013 is slightly less than what the administration sought in 2012, $106.1 million.

"We are deeply concerned that a time of rising threats to our strongest ally in the Middle East, the administration is requesting record-low support for this vital defense cooperation program," said the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Florida. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, California Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon.

In a letter to Obama, they cited his "iron-clad commitment" to Israel's security in the State of the Union address and argued that "such deep cuts in your budget hardly seem to suggest `iron-clad' support."



Guest Lineups For The Sunday TV News Shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC's "This Week" — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Robert Gibbs, adviser to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

CBS'"Face the Nation" — GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

CNN's "State of the Union" — GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul; Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind.

"Fox News Sunday" — GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich; Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Senators Promise War With ‘Nuclear Capable’ Iran, Don’t Define ‘Capable’

Ryan J. Reilly February 16, 2012, 4:20 PM

A bipartisan coalition of senators essentially promised Thursday that the U.S. would take military action against Iran if they become capable of producing nuclear weapons. Just don’t ask them to define “capable.”

Thirty-two senators have signed on to sponsor the six-page resolution that “rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran.” Some believe it amounts to a promise that the U.S. would use force against Iran if they become capable of producing nuclear weapons, though what precisely “capable” means is up in the air.

“I guess everybody will determine for themselves what that means,” Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said at a news conference on the Capitol Hill. “But to me, nuclear weapons capability means that they have crossed a red line and they’re capable of producing a nuclear weapon. In other words, they have all the components necessary to do that. It is a standard that in my opinion is more real, and perhaps in some sense it’s higher than saying the red line is when they actually have the nuclear weapons.”

Lieberman said that Iran has “only two choices: peacefully negotiate to end your nuclear weapons program or expect a military strike to disable that program. Distraction by negotiation why you become a nuclear power is not an option for you, and containment of a nuclear Iran is not an option for us.”


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