World News Summary 5/12/14

Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president

Iran and Assad have won in Syria?
Insiders say western strategy in Syria encouraged radicals and backfired, leading to threat to European security from returning jihadis

Iran and its close ally President Bashar al-Assad have won the war in Syria, and the US-orchestrated campaign in support of the opposition’s attempt to topple the Syrian regime has failed, senior Iranian officials have told the Guardian.

In a series of interviews in Tehran, top figures who shape Iranian foreign policy said the west’s strategy in Syria had merely encouraged radicals, caused chaos and ultimately backfired, with government forces now on the front foot.



Insurgents in eastern Ukraine declare independence

Pro-Russian insuregetns in Ukraine’s Donetsk region declared independence Monday and asked to join Russia.

Organizers said about 90 percent of those who cast ballots in Donetsk and the neighboring Luhansk region backed sovereignty for the sprawling areas that lie along Russia’s border and form Ukraine’s industrial heartland.



UN watchdog seeks to advance Iran nuclear inquiry in talks
Iran flag

The UN nuclear watchdog and Iran began talks on Monday ahead of a deadline later this week for Tehran to provide information about the development of detonators that can be used to help set off an atomic device.

The Iran-IAEA meeting took place a day before the Islamic Republic and six world powers on Tuesday start, also in the Austrian capital, a new round of negotiations on a broad diplomatic settlement of the decade-old nuclear dispute.



Kerry Told Syrian Rebels ‘We Wasted a Year’ in Fight Against Assad
The international community’s failure to coordinate on aid and weapons for the rebels dramatically set back efforts to fight the regime, the secretary of state told opposition leaders.

In a private meeting with Syrian opposition leaders, Secretary of State John Kerry said he believed the international community “wasted a year” by not working together to help topple strongman Bashar al-Assad.

The various countries trying to help the Free Syrian Army had failed to coordinate their efforts effectively for a long time, Kerry said inside the private meeting last Thursday with Syrian Opposition Coalition president Ahmad Jarba, according to three participants in the meeting. And that lack of coordination had dramatically set back the drive to stop Assad’s rampage and counter the growing terrorism threat.



Turbulence for members of Congress flying first class

A bipartisan group of Congressmen introduced a bill Monday that would stop costly first-class flights by lawmakers at taxpayer expense and force representatives and senators to fly coach.

“As representatives of the American people, we in Congress have a responsibility to wisely use the people’s money,” said Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, in a statement. “Members of the House and Senate should never secure their own luxury travel at taxpayer expense, but they especially should not do so when our nation is buried $17 trillion deep in debt.”



A wake-up call in the Middle East
Doubling down with Fatah and Hamas won’t bring peace

After Israel was recently forced to suspend peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), American credibility in the Middle East took another devastating blow. The Obama administration’s insistence that the PA was a legitimate peace partner crumbled following Fatah’s proposed unity government with Hamas.

Now, U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk has doubled down on our failed policy and claims that Palestinian statehood must happen, either through violence or a usurping of long-standing policy by seeking recognition from the United Nations. This stance represents a monumental shift in U.S. policy and will force Israel to both withdraw to indefensible lines and accept a Palestinian state bent on Israel’s destruction.

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