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By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Robert Ford
Syria has become al Qaeda's largest safe haven, with more than 10,000 fighters who outnumber the terrorist network's core organization in Pakistan and its affiliates in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
The top U.S. diplomat on Syria defended Thursday the Obama administration's aid to moderate Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad, as senators criticized the assistance as an embarrassment that has made the United States look weak.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has fired Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil for leaving the country and acting without government permission after meeting met U.S. officials in Switzerland, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported Tuesday.
Even belly dancers are making fun of President Obama and his beleaguered ambassador in Cairo, as many Egyptians accuse the U.S. of trying to restore the ousted Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
President Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan is "strategically risky and threatens to plunge" the region back into a safe haven for terrorists, a top House Republican said as he announced plans for a congressional hearing this week.
Western efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad shifted dramatically Wednesday, with Britain announcing it will deal directly with rebel military leaders.
GET OUT OF SYRIA
The U.S. warned Syria it won't be able to deceive the world about compliance with a cease-fire that is just days away, as regime forces pounded more opposition strongholds Saturday in an apparent rush to crush resistance before troops must withdraw. Activists said more than 100 people were killed, including at least 87 civilians.
The Vatican's new ambassador to the United States was at the center of explosive allegations about corruption at the Holy See just before Pope Benedict XVI sent him to Washington.
The State Department on Monday suspended operations at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and pulled all its staff, including Ambassador Robert Ford, out of the country.
The Obama administration has closed the U.S. Embassy in Damascus and pulled all American diplomats out of Syria.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford, who returned to Syria last month, is already resuming the types of verbal assaults against President Bashar Assad and his violent regime that brought death threats and forced a recall to Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held a rare meeting on Tuesday with Syrian opposition figures as the Obama administration returned its top envoy to Damascus, both signs the U.S. is increasing pressure on the Bashar Assad regime and looking ahead to a time when he is gone.
Pakistan's ambassador to the United States resigned Tuesday in a widening scandal over a secret letter to a top U.S. military official, fears of a military coup in Pakistan and accusations between the diplomat and a businessman who claims they plotted to deliver the message to the Pentagon.
Pakistan Ambassador Husain Haqqani is traveling the United States, feverishly defending his country against charges from many in Washington who accuse Pakistan of supporting terrorists who target U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
"Their control of those borders delayed our aid deliveries into Syria," Ambassador Robert Ford told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "The delays were because we had to wait until our friends in the opposition recaptured border points so we could get aid back in to them."
"They are — whether intentionally or not — they are almost acting as allies of the regime. And it is a huge problem for our friends in the moderate opposition," Mr. Ford said.