Jim Lobe

Washington ends its diplomatic embargo on Syria

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Ending a four-year diplomatic embargo on Damascus, the administration of United States President Barack Obama Tuesday confirmed that it is sending two high-level officials to Syria this week for “preliminary conversations,” presumably on improving relations. The trip, which will be undertaken by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro, a senior staffer on the National Security Council who also served as one of Obama’s top Middle East advisers during his presidential campaign, was announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem. 

Poll: Muslims reject US military bases

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Strong majorities of people in predominantly Muslim countries reject terrorism but support key goals of al-Qaeda, notably expelling United States military forces from the Islamic world, according to a major new study of public opinion in seven nations and the Palestinian territories released here Wednesday. Nearly 90 percent of Egyptian respondents, 65 percent of Indonesians, 62 percent of Pakistanis, and 72 percent of Moroccans said they agreed with al-Qaeda’s goal of “push(ing) the US to remove its bases and its military forces from all Islamic countries.” 

US media didn't report Israeli ceasefire violation

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Consumed by coverage of the 4 November presidential election, US mainstream media ignored a key Israeli military attack on a Hamas target that some Palestinians claim marked the effective end of the ceasefire between the two sides and set the stage for the current round of bloodletting. While the major US news wire Associated Press (AP) reported that the attack, in which six members of Hamas’s military wing were killed by Israeli ground forces, threatened the ceasefire, its report was carried by only a handful of small newspapers around the country. 

Unity, and peace, hinge on US

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Eighteen months after Hamas evicted Fatah forces from Gaza, the prospects for restoring Palestinian unity are more elusive than ever, with both factions believing that time is on their side, according to a new report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) released Wednesday. But changes in the regional and international landscape, particularly if United States President-elect Barack Obama follows through on his campaign pledges to engage with Iran and Syria, could spur a reconciliation, one which a growing number of experts here believe is essential for progress toward a Palestinian-Israeli peace accord. 

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia on the rise in Europe, decline in US

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have risen in Europe over the last four years, according to a survey conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center. While attitudes towards Muslims are substantially more negative than those against Jews across Europe, anti-Jewish sentiment as grown steadily in five of the six countries surveyed on the question.