About 275 US military personnel are being deployed to Iraq to help American personnel and protect the embassy in Baghdad, President Barack Obama said Monday in a letter to Congressional leaders. The force, which began deploying on Sunday, has been sent "for the purpose of protecting US citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat," Obama wrote. "This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed." The move comes as jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) battle Iraqi security forces for control of a strategic northern town and Washington weighs possible drone strikes against the militants.
President Barack Obama told Congress on Monday the United States was deploying up to 275 military personnel to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the country's embassy in Baghdad after militants seized control of the north of the country. "This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed." The president said he was notifying Congress under the War Powers Resolution.
Barack Obama returned to Washington on Monday after a brief family break in California to find himself confronted once again by the nightmare from which America thought it had escaped: Iraq. Obama ran for the White House as a young leader who opposed the 2003 US invasion, and then won re-election as the steady hand who had finally withdrawn American troops eight years later. But now his generals have brought out the old map once again and the 44th president -- like the 41st, 42nd and 43rd before him -- is contemplating new military action against targets in Iraq. With no more US boots on the ground, Obama's best option to counter a lightning offensive by Sunni extremists militants that has threatened the Baghdad government may be strikes from the air.
The United States said Monday that it had closed ranks with European allies to impose further sanctions on Russia if Moscow continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine. "We are well aligned now on what a next round of economic sanctions would look like, in addition to continuing to look for individuals who one would sanction," Assistant Secretary for Europe Victoria Nuland told a think tank in Washington. The US and the European Union "are now working on a series of sanctions in the energy sector, in the banking sector, in the defense sector," she said at the German Marshall Fund. Nuland accused Russia of undertaking "further efforts to aid and abet separatists in this extremely dangerous way" by sending tanks and rocket launchers, a charge Moscow denies.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN General Assembly Monday approved the nomination of Jordan's Prince Zeid al-Hussein as the next human rights chief, making him the first Muslim and Arab to hold the post. The top diplomat, currently Amman's ambassador to the United Nations, will take over as UN high commissioner for human rights on September 1, replacing Navi Pillay of South Africa. In a first reaction, Zeid told the General Assembly he was "very honored by the confidence" instilled in him, noting he will be the first high commissioner from the Asian continent, as well as the Arab and Muslim world.
Mpeketoni (Kenya) (AFP) - David Waweru was watching a World Cup match in a bar in the Kenyan coastal town of Mpeketoni when fighters from Somalia's Islamist Shebab militants began their attack. The Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists also appeared to follow the same tactic of singling out non-Muslims for immediate execution -- although the town, on the Muslim-majority Indian Ocean coast, is known as being home to mainly Christian settlers from central Kenya.
GM said that the ignition switch may move out of the "run" position if the key is carrying extra weight and is jarred, such as when the car hits a pothole or crosses railroad tracks. Switching out of the "run" position affects power steering and power braking and could cause air bags not to deploy in a crash. GM said it knows of eight crashes and six injuries related to this recall. The company said the recall stems from its review of safety issues following its recall in February of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars for ignition switch problems.
The US Supreme Court ruled Monday it was illegal to buy a gun on behalf of someone else who did not go through the background check. The ruling comes on the heels of a spate of US shootings that have again sparked debate over gun control, with President Barack Obama calling for national "soul searching" over gun violence. The top court ruled five to four against a former Virginia policeman, Bruce Abramski, who made a so-called "straw purchase" of a handgun for his uncle, who was in Pennsylvania. Although both men were legal gun owners, Abramski had indicated on a federal form that he was the gun's actual buyer.
France's longest rail strike in years was set to go into a seventh day Tuesday after unions said a first meeting with management failed to address their demands. The strike has crippled France's rail network as the tourist season enters its peak and has set a crucial test for President Francois Hollande's embattled Socialist government. The secretary general of the hardline CGT union, Gilbert Garrel, dismissed a meeting with management on Monday -- the first since the strike began last Wednesday -- as a "provocation". Garrel said the head of the SNCF rail operator, Guillaume Pepy, had "closed the door" on the strikers "by saying that our demands were off the agenda".
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court handed a victory to gun control advocates on Monday by upholding the conviction of a former police officer from Virginia who lied when he stated he was buying a handgun for himself when it actually was for a relative. In a 5-4 ruling focused on the role of what is known as a "straw buyer" for a gun, the court upheld Bruce Abramski's conviction for making a false statement when he bought the gun. He had filled out a form, required under federal law, saying he was the prospective owner, when the gun was intended for his uncle. The court was split along ideological lines, with the liberal wing in the majority with swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Greece's bailout during the financial crisis would be small change compared to what Ukraine needs to bolster its ailing economy, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Monday. "If we want to help Ukraine -- a country with 45 million people -- then Greece was peanuts compared to that," Oettinger said during a visit to Bratislava, Slovakia, which neighbours Ukraine. It will take ten or fifteen years and will require a multi-billion-worth aid and participation of our taxpayers, voters, European Commission, USA, Canada, International Monetary Fund and others," Oettinger said. Russia cut the flow of gas to Ukraine on Monday after last-ditch talks failed to end a dispute over debts that threatens to disrupt supplies to Europe for the third time in a decade.
Kuwait's premier and a senior royal filed two separate lawsuits to the attorney general on Monday demanding an investigation into allegations of a coup plot and a huge corruption case. The country was shaken two months ago after news surfaced about videotapes allegedly showing former senior officials plotting a coup against the government. Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah sent a letter to the attorney general to investigate "allegations of money laundering, abuse of public funds and dealing with Israel," made during a television interview, acting Justice Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah told state news agency KUNA. The accusations were made by Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, on Saturday.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Monday condemned a series of "cold-blooded" killings of Iraqi soldiers and religious leaders by Sunni militants, saying it amounted to war crimes. "Based on corroborated reports from a number sources, it appears that hundreds of non-combatant men were summarily executed over the past five days, including surrendered and captured soldiers, military conscripts, police and others associated with the (Baghdad) government," Pillay said in a statement. Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group have seized the north Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit and have vowed to move on Baghdad to topple the Shiite-dominated government.