Entries in President Barack Obama (9)


Protests in Belfast Ahead of Obama's Trip to G8 Summit

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images(BELFAST, Ireland) -- Belfast's City Hall was the site of a march on Saturday, ahead of next week's G-8 summit.

According to BBC News, the rally was organized by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The march took the group from the city's Custom House square to City Hall.

The protesters believe that capitalism and the policies of the G-8 leaders have led to global poverty, BBC News says.

A second protest, consisting of loyalists against a restriction on flying the union flag at City Hall took place at the same time.

The G-8 leaders, including President Obama, will meet in Belfast on Monday and Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


"Reality" Weighs Heavy on Obama's Mideast Peace Efforts

Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Middle East peace has been slow going for President Obama, as his administration's relationship with Israel has unfolded under his presidency in fits and starts.

In his first year in office, Obama brought the two sides together in New York, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel while the U.N. General Assembly convened.

There was some hope for progress after a Bush administration that largely kept its hands off, constrained by the Second Intifada Palestinian uprising for most of George W. Bush's time in office.

Obama hosted Netanyahu, Abbas, King Abdullah of Jordan and then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for a multilateral summit at the White House in September 2010, but four years into his presidency, Mubarak has been ousted as part of the "Arab Spring" movement Obama championed, and replaced by a parliament in which the Muslim Brotherhood wields much power.

The president has yet to produce major progress -- or at least a major, Clinton-esque photo-op -- in Middle East peace on which to hang his hat.

Thursday, as Obama met with Abbas, it appears unlikely that he will bring the two sides together during this trip.

"He hasn't abandoned the peace process, but he appears to be coming to terms with the reality of it, and acknowledging, at least implicitly, his contribution to getting us to where we are today," said Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, a hard-line, pro-Israel nonprofit that has leveled withering criticism at Obama and fellow Democrats in TV ads.

During his visit to Israel, Obama confronts a new political landscape in his second term.

The president lost more support among U.S. Jews than among any other demographic group between 2008 and his re-election in 2012, except for white 18-29 year olds. His Jewish support fell 9 percentage points, according to national exit polls.

Still, Obama won re-election despite fierce attacks not only from Pollak's group, but from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who aired TV ads criticizing Obama's perceived view of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Despite accusations that he is not a friend of Israel, and despite the drop-off in support, the president won 69 percent of Jewish voters on Election Day, far outstripping Romney's 30 percent.

"The calculus is now different," one American Israel activist, who asked not to be named, said. "With the elections both here and in Israel...he's starting to get a handle on the politics around this issue, and the American Jewish politics on this issue, and how to manage them both on a communal level in Congress."

Obama flashed a willingness to defy his pro-Israel opponents in nominating former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel as his new secretary of defense this year. Hagel drew sharp criticism from Israeli activists and Republican senators who pilloried his record and past statements, including a comment referring to pro-Israel groups as the "Jewish lobby," opposition to unilateral sanctions on Iran, support for talks with Hamas, and opposition to deeming Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group.

Obama met privately last week with a handful of Jewish leaders, reportedly telling them he would not travel to Israel with a "grand peace plan" to offer.

It appears that in the near term -- during this trip, at least -- Obama isn't looking for a sudden leap forward on peace talks. The White House denied a report in Israeli news outlet Yediot Aharonot that the president plans to offer a deal in the next six months, barring progress between the two sides.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama to Move Forward with Iran Sanctions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama is moving closer to imposing sanctions on Iran’s oil exports after determining that there is enough crude oil in the global market to avoid buying from Iran.

Obama made the announcement on Friday in a statement to the departments of Energy, State and Treasury. Iran faced pressure over the last months over its nuclear program and any further sanctions would be imposed on entities that continue to purchase oil from Iran.

“I determine… that there is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions,” according to the statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama Responds to Civilian Afghan Deaths 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama responded to the death of Afghan civilians in Pakistan on Sunday, saying that he was “deeply saddened” by the incident, according to a statement from the White House.

“I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering,” Obama said in a statement. “This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.”

The White House National Security Council also issued a response, saying that it was “deeply concerned” and is “monitoring the situation closely.”

Meanwhile, Obama said he fully supports “Secretary Panetta’s and General Allen’s commitment to get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Protestors in Yemen Remain Defiant Despite Government Crackdowns

GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images(TAIZ, Yemen) -- Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh is still holding onto power and his brutal attempts to crush anti-government protests have left over 120 dead. The Obama administration has not called for President Saleh to go, but some believe the tide may be turning as U.S. criticism peaked this week with one state department official calling the violence appalling.

Another sign may be the Pentagon's proposal Wednesday for $43 million of  military aid to foreign countries. None of it is earmarked for Yemen where the presence of al Qaeda is a top U.S. Concern. Officials say they will take a wait and see approach.  

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Taiz, tens of thousands are marching against President Saleh with many businesses closed to observe a general strike. In the capital of Sanaa, demonstrators are also remaining defiant a day after a bloody gun battle there left three tribesmen dead.

President Saleh said Wednesday he's ready to go to Saudi Arabia to negotiate with the opposition after some gulf states offered to mediate. It's unclear if the opposition who've had their own proposals rejected by Saleh will agree to outside mediation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich Acknowledges ‘Contradictions’ On His Libya Views

ABC News(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Potential 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich defended his shifting positions on whether the U.S. military should have intervened in Libya on Saturday, saying that he was responding to President Obama’s changing views.

“The fact is that on each day I was on television I was responding to where the president was that day,” Gingrich told a gathering of conservative Iowans. “And so obviously there were contradictions.”

“It’s true,” he added, “I was trying to follow Obama.”

The former Republican House Speaker originally expressed support for the enforcement of a no-fly zone using American military force, but earlier this week he appeared to flip-flop, calling President Obama’s decision to get involved an act of “amateur opportunism.”

His explanation: “If you had asked, ‘should we jump in the lake?’ I would have said ‘no.’ Once we jumped in the lake I said, ‘swim as fast as you can.’”

On Saturday, speaking before a gathering of conservative Iowans, Gingrich said the NATO coalition must “defeat Gadhafi as rapidly as possible.”

“I would do it by using Egyptian, Moroccan, Jordanian and Iraqi ground forces as advisers and as air controllers with the rebels using all of Western air power as decisively as possible,” he said, adding: “Once you get involved, I believe you get involved decisively, you win quickly, you minimize casualties, you get it over with.”

Gingrich, who was speaking at the Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines along with a handful of other possible 2012 presidential hopefuls, spent much his 17-minute speech criticizing the Obama administration.

“If Reaganomics was the path to prosperity,” he said, “Obamanomics is the path to oppression.”

On energy policy, Gingrich took issue with President Obama’s recent comment to South American businessmen that “we want to be one of your best customers” by buying Brazilian oil.

“That’s exactly backwards,” he said. “I want us to create American energy in America and I want Brazilians to be our customer.”

“In 2012, we could win a historic election and we could end the 80-year dominance of the left,” he said.
Earlier this month, Gingrich announced the exploratory phase of his presidential campaign and said he would make an official announcement in May.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drones Are The New Weapon in Mexican Drug War

AFPI/US AIR FORCE(WASHINGTON) -- There are reports of a significant new weapon in the drug wars along the U.S.-Mexican border.

President Obama did not mention it publicly when Mexico's president was at the White House two weeks ago, but the U.S. is reportedly flying unmanned drone surveillance aircraft deep into Mexican territory.

The New York Times says intelligence information about drug activity is then given to Mexican police. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


How to Deal with an Untethered Dictator?

Photo Courtesy - MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON D.C.) -- Officials analyzing Moammar Gadhafi's rambling speech are concerned that the Libyan strongman is so untethered to reality he may "burn down the house with him," as one put it, putting the Libyan people -- and hundreds of Americans -- at risk, and prompting President Obama to carefully calibrate his words.

In his first public remarks on the crisis Wednesday, President Obama didn't mention Gadhafi's name, not wanting to personalize the crisis as a showdown between him and President Obama. Critics blasted Obama for waiting days to make any kind of statement on the deteriorating situation in the North African country -- and then criticized the comments he did make Wednesday as too timid.

Officials defended the cautious line President Obama is treading, equating it to that of a law enforcement negotiator trying to deal with a hostage-taker; seeking a resolution without inflaming the situation.

The president would have been more forceful in his comments, sources claim, if the hundreds of Americans in Libya had been able to escape the country. But as of now there's a real fear Gadhafi could accuse the Americans of being spies and take them hostage.

At the same time, the president is pursuing a variety of actions aimed at further isolating Gadhafi from the international community: unilateral and multilateral sanctions and a potential travel ban. Next week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet her diplomatic counterparts in Geneva at a convening of the United Nations Human Rights Council -- where she will support an effort to remove Libya from the group.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Targets Two More Iranian Officials for Sanctions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Last September, President Obama signed an executive order imposing sanctions on eight Iranian officials responsible for serious human rights abuses.

On Wednesday,  the Obama administration added two to that list: Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi and the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ notorious Basij Forces, Mohammed Reza Naqdi.

Appointed Tehran prosecutor general in August 2009, Dolatabadi and those under him have charged Iranian protesters with the capital offense of “Muharebeh” -- literally “fighting,” in Arabic, but, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, it’s “the term used in Iran’s Sharia law to describe a major crime committed against Islam and the state. It carries a punishment ranging from imprisonment to death.”

According to the Obama administration, Dolatabadi’s office has denied due process to those facing the death sentence, arrested human rights activists, reporters, and demonstrators. Dolatabadi’s predecessor in the position, Saeed Mortazavi, was targeted by President Obama for sanctions last September.

Dolatabadi is the lead prosecutor in a regime that is significantly increasing its executions. Human rights groups say that at least 83 Iranians were executed by the Iranian regime in January alone. One of them was 45-year-old Zahra Bahrami, a citizen of both Iran and the Netherlands, arrested in the round-ups of anti-government demonstrators and hanged for the crime of drug possession.

Last week, after anti-government protests in Tehran resulted in the arrest and detention of dozens of Iranian activists, reporters, and political figures, Dolatabadi, justified the arrests as having been carried out for "security reasons."

Dolatabadi is also leading the prosecution for espionage of American hikers Joshua Felix Fattal, 28, and Shane Michael Bauer, 28.

According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Naqdi is known as the “Tyrant of the Campus” and in the late '90s was “allegedly involved in the imprisonment and torture of Tehran mayor Qolam-Hossein Karbaschi as well as other prominent city officials.” He is said to have played a critical role in the formation of Ansar-i-Hezbollah, involved in the 1999 attacks on Tehran University students.

More recently, Naqdi was present during the summer 2009 torture of protesters at Kahrizak prison, according to journalist and former Basiji Amir Farshad Ebrahimi.

The Obama administration says Naqdi is responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses committed by the Basij Forces, including the response to the December 2009 Ashura Day protests.

In a statement, the Director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, Adam J. Szubin, said that the “designations highlight the complicity of two Iranian officials in significant human right abuses against the Iranian people. Dolatabadi and Naqdi have no place in the international financial system.”

State Department Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner said Wednesday's action underscores our enduring commitment to support Iranians seeking to exercise their universal rights and expresses our solidarity with victims of torture, persecution and arbitrary detention.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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