Beltway Insider: State of The Union; Saudi King Dies; UK Prime Minster Visits WH; ISIS Update

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President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address calling on all Americans to complete the effort each has invested in rebuilding from the shattered ruins of the economic collapse that had left economies of the world distressed.

 

According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, increased two percentage points to 48% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President decreased two percentage points to 48%. 

Obama Delivers State of The Union

President Obama declaring "tonight we turn the page," delivered the 60 minute speech, with bookends by pundits and rebuttal, which even with the embargoed copy available the speech was expected to issue in light of extremists' violence striking our allies with severe and brutal force, greater challenge enemies of the Union.

Although the President effectively brought an end to the deeply distressing fallout from the worst recession since the great depression and expertly ushered all into the last phase of his presidential plan, the American people have yet to overwhelmingly endorse him as his approval numbers didn't experience any post speech bounce.

Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.  Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.  More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years.

 

Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.  Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain.  And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe.We are humbled and grateful for your service.

 

America, for all that we've endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:  The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.  

Saudi King Dies

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the seventh son of the late King Ibn Saud, of Saudi Arabia died this week. He was 90 and had served as King over the last decade.

A progressive, King Abdullah, one of 45 sons of the late monarch, enriched Saudi Arabia as both a leader in the unstable Middle East and a keeper of his people, advancing democratic reforms, albeit slowly, in the Middle Eastern nation.

A long time ally to the United States, he initiated a range of major economic, social, and educational changes, including the clear directive that women should receive equality in education, a principal and philosophy practically unheard of throughout the region.

Abdullah was a reformer. His desire to leave his country, and people, more focused and advanced than his predecessor reflected his nature a true leader. Not limiting his achievements to the external, the personal monuments that all can see, he initiated the reformation of his own government.

A braver, deeper and more daring challenge as he moved to alleviate corruption in judicial proceedings beginning democratic brand of justice, although most noted by Human Rights Watch programs still considered the reforms deeply inadequate, and enacted laws to formalize the royal succession.

Possibly, as he was ever aware of the brevity of life, his ten year reign was one of dynamic reform and great change for the Saudi people who benefited from his social consciousness as well.

Saudi Arabian's today, especially the disenfranchised which at one time included women, are better positioned as economic leaders for the region and as peace makers.

Abdullah ensured his people understood religious practices and false Islamic claims as his country was strategically positioned in the middle of the rising Islamic state to the north and al-Qaeda to the South.

Abdullah was a longtime friend of both former Presidents George Bush and President Bill Clinton and an ally to the United States. His role as an international statesman resulted in global change and a distinctive presence in regional challenges including terrorism of which Abdullah remained unwavering in his condemnation and his denunciation of false Islamic groups initiating war or personal vendettas in the false name of religion.

His OPEC leadership also established him in the region as clearheaded, slow to speak and strong thinking with an eye to the future as he sought what was best first for the Saudi people, next for the region and thirdly for the world.

Often crediting his formative years, of which he lived simply, in the desert away, from the inclusions of his royal birth, with keeping him grounded. His love for the desert stayed with him throughout his life as did his love for horsemanship. A breeder of pure Arabian horses he founded an equestrian club in Riyadh. He also loved to read and believed in its importance to the fulfillment of a people. He established two libraries in Morocco and Riyadh.

He is succeeded by his half-brother, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The transfer of power is complete with King Salman proclaimed as the seventh King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, January 23, 2015 upon the death of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdullaziz.

World Leaders Gather

For the second time in as many weeks, World leaders have gathered in a show of solidarity. This time as the transition of power with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, leaders from around the globe including President François Hollande of France, Britain's Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron, Spain King Felipe VI. President Obama has indicated he would arrive on Tuesday.

"It is with deep respect that I express my personal condolences and the sympathies of the American people to the family of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and to the people of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah's life spanned from before the birth of modern Saudi Arabia through its emergence as a critical force within the global economy and a leader among Arab and Islamic nations.  He took bold steps in advancing the Arab Peace Initiative, an endeavor that will outlive him as an enduring contribution to the search for peace in the region.  At home, King Abdullah's vision was dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world," said the President in a released statement.

Middle East Analysis

The immediate shift of power in Saudi Arabia, a longtime partner and ally of the United States, is one that is under careful scrutiny and will be intently watched.

With Arab Spring still fresh and unrest in neighboring Yeman, the power shift in Saudi Arabia is probably the most watched transition in recent history.

Basher al Assad of Syria, still embroiled in the Arab spring Civil war which has continued for almost four years and his country's haven for ISIS/ISIL and other terrorist organizations, the newly minted King is considered a prime target for seduction by the extremists.

Long time allies of the United States, the Saudi's have been a stabilizing factor in a volatile region. The succession has happened quickly and King Salman, 79, is already in place.

As global coalition, the United Nations and world governing powers recognizing the need for destruction  of ISIS and by extension the removal of Assad it is highly unlikely the Saudi regime would find any common ground with these known terror organization.

"As our countries worked together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah's perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship.  As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions.  One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.  The closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries is part of King Abdullah's legacy," said the President in a released statement.

UK's Cameron Visits WH

President Obama and David Cameron, Britons Prime Minister held a joint press conference at the White House presenting solidarity, in light of recent events, as the two strong allies continue the ambitious plans that will usher in continued economic growth.

As each introduced the other, it was clear, as the global recession has abated the men, both having faced similar challenges are now seeing the seedlings of a more stable economy and lower unemployment is unified.

The horrific events in Paris, which the White House has expertly managed to deflect the global fallout from President Obama's failure to stand with the civilized leaders of the world, shoulder to shoulder with the coalition he helped cement, were discussed jointly.

"Britain and America both face threats to our national security from people who hate what our countries stand for and who are determined to do us harm.  In recent weeks, we've seen appalling attacks in Paris, in Peshawar, in Nigeria.  The world is sickened by this terrorism, so we will not be standing alone in this fight.  We know what we're up against, and we know how we will win.

We face a poisonous and fanatical ideology that wants to pervert one of the world's major religions, Islam, and create conflict, terror and death.  With our allies, we will confront it wherever it appears.  In Iraq, the U.K. is the second largest contributor to the anti-ISIL coalition.  But most important of all, we must also fight this poisonous ideology starting at home.  In the U.K., we're passing a law so that every public body must combat extremism.  And this morning, we have agreed to establish a joint group to identify what more we can do to counter the rise of domestic violent extremism, and to learn from one another," said Prime Minister David Cameron.

"We'll continue to count on our British allies as our -- one of our strongest counterterrorism partners, whether it's helping countries fight back against al Qaeda affiliates or Boko Haram in Nigeria.   The Paris attacks also underscored again how terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL are actively trying to inspire and support people within our own countries to engage in terrorism, "the President said.

ISIS Update

ISIS, the single most targeted international terror organization, has initiated war against American ally Japan with the murder of one of the two Japanese hostages shown in a released video, in what has become the telltale sign of forthcoming action.

Demanding a ransom of 200M, the black robed Jihadist appearing in the message does not appear to be the same "Jihad John" responsible for James Foley's death who was rumored to have been killed in airstrikes.

"The United States strongly condemns the brutal murder of Japanese citizen Haruna Yukawa by the terrorist group ISIL.  Our condolences today are with the people of Japan for their terrible loss.  We renew our call for the immediate release of Kenji Goto and all other remaining hostages.  We stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally Japan and applaud its commitment to peace and development in a region far from its shores.  We will work together to bring the perpetrators of these murders to justice and will continue to take decisive action to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL," the President said in a released statement.

The initial video which called for the ransom, the first of its kind, demanded the 200M from the nation of Japan, and indicated if the deadline was not met one of the hostages would be killed.

A video released after the deadline passed show Kenji Goto, 47, a journalist, still alive. The other hostage, Haruna Yukawa,  42, captured earlier this month was beheaded.  Yukawa, known as an adventurer, ignored state warnings to travel in the volatile region.

The newest demands from ISIS/ISIL marked a turning point for the terror organization. The recent murders in Paris and the subsequent global solidarity, from every civilized nation, friend or foe of the United States, has aligned themselves with the destruction of the terror group.

The stronger than 40 nation coalition dedicated to the destruction of ISIS/ISIL has each pledged support including air support which have continued to dismantle key infrastructure points near the core of  Mosul, Iran's second largest city and an ISIS stronghold.

For more information on President Barack Obama: www.whitehouse.gov

Sources: Whitehouse.org, Wikipedia.com,

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